The puzzle pieces for Georgia at linebacker in the Class of 2017 are constantly in motion.
The Bulldogs have a commitment from 4-star double legacy Jaden Hunter but also plan to secure commitments from at least five more prospects at that position leading up to National Signing Day in February.
The need to fill six slots at linebacker creates a long list of names for that fluid situation. The most constant possibility is 3-star ILB Monty Rice of James Clemens High School in Alabama. The Huntsville product continues to tout Georgia as his leader, and that has not changed during the last several months.
Rice told DawgNation that Georgia was his clear leader after his team’s 28-6 win against Clay-Chalkville last Friday night. The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder said if National Signing Day were this week, he would sign with Georgia and it would be a painless decision.
Georgia inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann watched Rice against the Cougars last weekend. Rice had a stellar game, with at least a dozen tackles. He also picked off a pass and returned the ball about 50 yards to halt a scoring drive.
“It was special knowing that Georgia came out here (Friday night) just to see me and watch me play,” Rice said. “That shows me that they really want me. Georgia continues to be my leader because they show a lot of love. (Georgia coach) Kirby (Smart) is a great coach. He’s very good at coaching linebackers, so why not?”
Rice is rated as the nation’s No. 22 ILB in the Class of 2017. His stock isn’t as high as others, and that might be why the Crimson Tide are not recruiting him that heavily.
“I really don’t know what they are doing,” Rice said of Alabama. “But that’s what it is. That is college football. Anything can happen.”
Rice told DawgNation he will enroll early, and he will be at the Tennessee game this week. That will not be his official visit. His official visit to Georgia could be after the season or for the Auburn game. He’s also planning to take official visits to Cal and Florida State.
He’s been watching Georgia. The funny part is even though he’s a defender, Rice has paid close attention to the future of the program at quarterback.
“Jacob Eason is a heck of a player,” Rice said. “He made a real clutch throw earlier to win that Missouri game. I’ve really been impressed with him. Georgia could be real special with him at quarterback.”
Rice said he struck up a friendship with Georgia commit Trey Blount during the summer. Blount gave him an extremely favorable view of the future in Athens.
“He really believes in what the coaches are doing,” Rice said. “He wants me to be a ‘Dawg with him, and he said back in the summer that by the time we are sophomores at Georgia we could really be national champions.”
He said the closest teams to Georgia in his thought process would be Auburn and LSU. Those schools will get official visits.
New timetable for Leonard Warner III
Brookwood High ILB Leonard Warner had been trending as a name to know as one of the most likely recruits who potentially could commit to Georgia in the short term. Warner had told DawgNation in mid-August that he hoped to have his decision made by October.
That no longer seems to be the case. Don’t expect Warner’s decision to come that fast. He still needs to take a few more official visits before he’s set to make his decision. Warner already has used one of his officials to check out Florida State earlier this month.
A big trip to Stanford also is required. Warner is a highly intelligent prospect, and he’s already qualified for admission. The hard part regarding that trip will be finding the time to take the long trip to California when his Brookwood team is on a bye week.
Leonard Warner Jr., his father, told DawgNation on Monday night his son will not take an official visit to Stanford this week. The Broncos are on a bye, but they could not get that visit worked out.
“The issue with getting out to California is that off week,” Warner Jr. said. “We want to get out there when we (Brookwood High) are on an off week. But the week we are off, then Stanford is away. The two times we are off they are away. We will have to work something out and figure that one out.”
The 4-star ILB instead will take another trip to see Georgia this weekend, but it will not be an official visit.
“He really wants to get out to Stanford and take that visit and see what it is like out there,” his father said. “But, at the same time, I think he is ready to make a call. … I will let him answer that one because I really want this to be his decision with all of this.”
Warner plans to take officials to Georgia and Georgia Tech during his recruiting process.
“He likes Georgia,” his father said. “He really does. He likes being there and being around those coaches. Georgia will always definitely be in the hunt.”
Duke also sets up as the most likely school to get Warner’s final official visit.
UGA commit will take at least one official visit
According to reports, 4-star DE Robert Beal will take an official visit to Alabama this weekend. Beal previously was fine with the notion that he didn’t need to take any more official visits.
“I’m done,” Beal told DawgNation after his IMG team defeated Grayson last month.
Beal rates as the nation’s No. 3 weakside defensive end in the Class of 2017. He is Georgia’s third-highest-rated commitment in this year’s class. He’s slotted as the nation’s No. 38 overall prospect for this cycle.
The 6-3, 230-pounder is expected to visit Alabama with a horde of his IMG teammates this weekend.
— Zac Smith (@zacsmith49) September 27, 2016
5-star JaCoby Stevens clarifies his LSU position
Oakland High School (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens weighed in on Monday about the recent events at LSU. Stevens, an LSU commit, was quoted in a Daily News Journal report regarding the firing of Les Miles.
Stevens, as we discussed Monday on DawgNation, appears to be holding his ground. He told DNJ.com reporter Cecil Joyce that his commitment was strong.
“I’m still committed to LSU,” Stevens said. “It’s still a defensive back university; it’s DBU. They still have coach (Corey) Raymond, the (defensive backs) coach, and coach Austin (Thomas). I love him like a brother.”
Stevens once had UGA as his leader during the spring and summer. When he reached his decision in August, he chose LSU. Alabama wound up his No. 2. Georgia was third.
“I’ll pay attention to see who they hire as head coach,” said Stevens, who has 22 tackles and 4 interceptions through five games this season for the Patriots. “If they don’t mess with the defense, I’m still heading to Baton Rouge.”
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Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.