Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this four-star or that five-star might be leaning and sprinkle in a dab of perspective to help folks figure out what it all means.
Picture Kirby Smart as Uncle Sam.
Go ahead and replace that top hat with a visor. The Georgia “We Want You” recruiting poster would have Smart pointing a finger, but a rewrite is needed for the catchphrase.
“We Want Linebackers” would be the Smart imperative for 2017. Georgia aims to sign up to six of those in this cycle, and 4-star prospect Jaden Hunter is the only current commitment.
Leonard Warner III (Brookwood High School/Snellville, Ga.) would be near the top of that wish list. He could play inside or outside and put his hand on the ground as a “Jack” defensive end.
He said earlier this summer the easy thing to do would be for him to commit to Georgia. The Bulldogs continue to recruit him as hard as any other school. Warner already knows he will be in Athens for the Tennessee game on Oct. 1. That sounds like it could be his official visit.
“Georgia just keeps telling me more of the same,” Warner said. “They’ve been on me pretty hard for a long time and they have made it clear I am a priority and if I came there I would have a chance to play. But that chance would not be to just play but to also be an important part of the defense and maybe even a leader on the team.”
He is “not very far” from a decision. It sounds like he’ll be committed by the time mid-October rolls around.
“When I feel it, I’m just going to commit,” Warner said. “I might decide to do something special but at this point, it is just going to be when I feel it. When I know, I’m going to let the coaches know. Then I’ll let (everyone else) know after they know.”
He hopes to play in an All-America game, and there is some thinking left with his decision regarding one of those events. Warner and his family might elect to become a silent commitment prior to October or early October and then wait to publicly reveal that choice at an All-American event.
Florida State, Georgia Tech, Ohio State and Stanford are the other main contenders for Warner.
“I know that is a lot of schools to say that are really close to the top of my list including Georgia,” Warner said. “But they are all really close.”
He currently feels the need to visit Stanford before he makes his decision. He hasn’t been yet.
“I think I need to go to Ohio State as well,” Warner added. “Those trips aren’t really set, but those are the official visits we are definitely considering because of the distance and my interest in those schools.”
There’s a trend among elite in-state recruits with official visits to Georgia. It no longer seems efficient to burn an official visit on that short trip. The program’s top targets take unofficial visits to Athens very frequently. That trip usually requires only a full tank of gas, if that.
Warner, the man in the middle for the Broncos, could buck that trend.
“Georgia is one of the schools I am considering the most strongly so I still believe I’ll take an official visit there,” he said. “I’m not saying that is concrete, but that’s how I look at that trip right now.”
Warner processes information fast and soaks up coaching. He could gather in the defensive calls from the sideline and get everyone lined up appropriately very early at whichever program he chooses. That’s why Georgia feels he could rapidly become a key part of the defense.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder is a 4-star recruit that slots as the nation’s No. 9 prospect at inside linebacker. Warner had a tremendous game in Brookwood’s opener against North Gwinnett. The stat line includes a blocked punt which he recovered for a touchdown.
Warner even used his 4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash to snatch an interception.
As for Stanford, the Georgia fan base received an education in the last cycle regarding the requirements for admission and official visits with 5-star receiver Demetris Robertson. Warner told DawgNation he believes he has already met the requirements for that process. A high grade-point average and requisite ACT or SAT score sounds likely given that Warner’s ambition and career goals lend themselves to NASA or the NFL.
The big factors in Warner’s decision
He aims to major in engineering and said Georgia Tech would be the best academic fit at the next level. Georgia does offer a degree in mechanical engineering which would suit him on that front.
“Trying to find better ways to make things go,” Warner said. “Like propulsion and creating energy.”
Warner is very studious, but the degree is just one of several factors regarding his choice.
“It is definitely going to be a hybrid,” Warner said. “It is a four-year decision that sets up a 40-year decision for my lifetime and my career. But at the same time if I’m miserable for four years I won’t enjoy that. I will regret it. I want to be sure I go to a place where I can see myself having fun, getting my education and living well for four years, too.”
Thing that makes me go hmmm….
If Warner does commit to Georgia, it will continue an uncommon trend. It would be pretty easy for one of the graphic designers in the football office to conjure up an edit which relates to the many namesakes in the 2017 class. That would be…
- 5-star S Richard LeCounte III from Liberty County
- 4-star WR Cecil “Trey” Blount III from Pace Academy
- 4-star CB William Poole III from Hapeville Charter Academy
- 4-star ILB Leonard Warner III from Brookwood High School
That screams Photoshop and a big Roman Numeral “III” with the pictures of all those Bulldogs scattered about.
The latest on Poole
Poole might have kicked his infatuation with Florida to the curb. The 4-star prospect committed to Georgia in April, and the Gators were the only other serious contender at that time.
Poole, who’s now in the process of setting up his officials, does not plan to visit Florida. He already has official visits to Auburn for the LSU game on Sept. 24 and USC for the Oregon game on Nov. 5.
“I’m going to take my official visits to five places I’ve never really been before,” Poole said.
He’s not sure if he will take an official visit to Georgia but plans to be in Athens for every Saturday home game which will not conflict with another official visit.
Poole says Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) defensive back DeAngelo Gibbs would be his ideal choice among the remaining 2017 recruits to join him in the UGA secondary. Four-star Latavious Brini and 5-star Richard LeCounte III are the other two defensive back commitments on the board.
Poole said he’s in contact with several players at Georgia, including freshmen Mecole Hardman Jr. and Brian Herrien along with veteran safety Dominick Sanders.
He’s already been prepped for the “hard workouts” demanded of players. He said some of the new faces lost their lunches on the first day of those drills.
“They told me to get ready to focus and on getting my head into the playbook,” Poole said. “That’s the most important part. That’s getting on board and learning all the plays and coverages. All of the athletic parts are going to be there for you. They said that will be easy. The mental side is the big thing.”
Poole no longer plans to enroll early but still seems set along his path to Athens. He even wore a pair of Georgia socks at practice the other day. It sounds like those might be his favorite pair.
He did say Auburn and Florida were the two schools that are still trying the hardest to flip him.
The ones who got away
This likely won’t be a popular topic, but from time to time, the Intel will (briefly) touch on a few players that were very high on Georgia’s board but did not wind up in Athens.
Have these former recruits made a quick splash in college football? Did the Georgia staff have a good evaluation? Here’s a snippet on five prospects that rated extremely high on Georgia’s board, but signed elsewhere.
4-star OT Willie Allen (LSU): Reports coming out of Baton Rouge have the 6-foot-7 offensive tackle in line for a redshirt year because of a knee injury. Allen was a 4-star prospect, but that decision might say as much about the offensive line depth at LSU as it does about him needing time to develop.
5-star DT Derrick Brown (Auburn): Brown — along with two other major UGA defensive line targets in DE Marlon Davidson and DT Antwuan Jackson — have impressed the coaching staff this fall. The words “young” and “talented” applies to each member of that trio. They all seem in line to get considerable playing time as the season goes along.
4-star DE Brian Burns (FSU): Burns was one of the three biggest defensive targets in the 2016 class at UGA. Burns chose in-state FSU, and Jimbo Fisher has heaped praise on him in fall camp. Defensive end isn’t the deepest position in Tallahassee. He could quickly earn reps as a situational pass rusher this fall.
5-star WR Demetris Robertson (Cal): “D-Rob” has become one of the faces of the program at Cal. There was that viral 63-inch box jump, but he’s established a habit of being the last man to leave the field at practice. There’s already been some chatter about a match race — perhaps for charity — with former Golden Bear Bryce Treggs, who’s already in the NFL.
4-star RB Devwah Whaley (Arkansas): Whaley will make a lot of ESPN and SEC Network highlights this fall. It seems like Arkansas coach Bret Bielema raves about him more than he pokes rival coaches in press conferences. Whaley was actually committed to Georgia for about a month, but it seems like a safe projection to put him down for at least 700 yards this fall in that run-heavy offense.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him 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.