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Jeff Sentell / AJC
Vidalia senior Nate McBride is rated as the nation's No. 1 ILB for 2017.

Sentell’s Intel: The nation’s No. 1 ILB Nate McBride can now focus on his upcoming decision

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 4-star or 5-star might lean and add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.


TIGER, Ga. — Vidalia senior Nate McBride played the last game of his high school football career on Friday night in Rabun County.

It was a sad night for his Indians. Moist eyes — as per the norm — came with the final game of their 2016 season. That means the nation’s No. 1 ILB prospect for 2017 will now shift his focus toward the next phase of his career.

That’s college football. DawgNation rates McBride as the No. 3 most important target in a recent tally of the most important remaining undecided recruits for Georgia.

DawgNation had a conversation with McBride after the hugs and more hugs and photos that come with any senior player’s last game.

He said a lot of things about Auburn and Georgia and Alabama and Oregon but before we get to that I’m going to share what he told me before and after we started talking.

“Thank you for coming tonight to see us,” McBride said. “I really appreciate it.”

The words were sincere. Even with a sting of a 42-7 loss in his final high school game no doubt occupying his thoughts.

4-star UGA target Nate McBride (far right) posed with several of his Vidalia HS teammates after his final game. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
4-star UGA target Nate McBride (far right) posed with several of his Vidalia HS teammates after his final game. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The 4-star ILB has only taken one official visit up to this point (Oregon) and that’s what the month of December will be used for.

“I might go home and do a little more crying,” McBride said. “I might get in a deer stand. Might play some video games. I don’t know what’s up next yet. Maybe do some homework.”

The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder might not take an official visit to one of those aforementioned schools.

“We should take those now,” McBride said. “All of them we need to take definitely. I don’t know about Alabama but Auburn and Georgia, though. Auburn definitely will get one. Georgia as well. We just go there all the time so it will still get one. Just take those officials. Take it day-by-day.”

Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams was at the Rabun County-Vidalia game on Friday night. Williams has added a trio of stout linebackers in 4-stars Kenney “KJ” Britt, T.D. Moultry and Chandler Wooten. Georgia extended an offer to all of those guys.

Britt was a major recruiting target. Just like McBride.

“Auburn is definitely high on my list,” McBride said. “I respect him a lot as a coach and definitely already respect him as a person. He’s a great guy and he got “KJ” to go over there and he’s pulling me over there now, too. I don’t know about that yet but Auburn is still definitely in the running with me, though.”

McBride said that things have remained the same with him and Oregon. He said nothing has changed from the distinction of “co-leaders” he had for Georgia and Oregon at his U.S. Army All-American jersey ceremony.

“It is all good out there with me still,” McBride said.

He wasn’t sure which school would get the next official visit first between Auburn and Georgia. McBride is rated as the No. 87 overall prospect for the Class of 2017.

Vidalia came first 

McBride has done things his way so far with his recruiting. He kept a lot of the recruiting stuff at bay until the proper time and place. He was an Indian. Vidalia came first.

“That’s just Nate,” his father Jason McBride said. “He’s just been that kind of kid who walks to his own beat and his own drum. He loves his teammates. Loves his school. Loves everything that goes along with it. Ice baths. Goofing off. I’m proud of him and everything he stands for as a person more than anything he does as a football player.”

McBride, a U.S. Army All-American, is rated as the nation's No. 1 ILB for 2017. (Special / Army All-American Games)
McBride, a U.S. Army All-American, is rated as the nation’s No. 1 ILB for 2017. (Special / Army All-American Games)

It was clear that he didn’t want to dwell too much on the next jersey he was going to wear until his last season at Vidalia High ran its course.

“There are things we could have done differently tonight,” Nate McBride said. “(Rabun) played a heck of a game. We should have played better but we didn’t and now final is final. We can’t do anything about it. I’m just going to miss playing with all of my boys. College is going to be fun. I’m going to meet a lot of new people but there isn’t anything like playing with your hometown boys. This is going to hurt.”

The U.S. Army All-American chose to separate high school from college.

“It was not my time to play college football yet,” Nate McBride said. “I still owed my team a great season and the best season I have. That was what I wanted to give to them. I was a Vidalia Indian and didn’t want to go choose a new team until after the season was over. All the players around me deserved everything I had to give like that.”

Recruiting spike in the 2018 class

The after-effects of the Auburn win continue to be seen on the recruiting trail. Perhaps the biggest imprint to this point has been with the Class of 2018. That’s especially true for the in-state prospects.

Crisp County 4-star junior OLB Quay Walker was stunned by what he saw on his unofficial visit to Georgia for the Auburn game. Walker is rated as the nation’s No. 20 OLB at this time, but look for that stock to rise when he shows his wares in the off-season camp circuit.

4-star LB Quay Walker is rated as the nation's No. 20 OLB prospect for the Class of 2018. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
4-star LB Quay Walker is rated as the nation’s No. 20 OLB prospect in the Class of 2018. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Walker told DawgNation that the Bulldogs hit the trifecta on that visit. That unofficial became the best college visit he’s ever been on, that the program showed him he was really wanted and that UGA was his new leader.

“They are showing me how bad they want me to be a part of Georgia football,” Walker said. “I’m not getting that feeling from anybody else and when you hear that and are starting to get that great bond with the coaching staff that means a lot.”

Wait, there’s more.

“(Georgia) told me they are recruiting me like I’m a senior even though I am just a junior,” he said.

Walker loved how he got to be in the Georgia locker room after the game. He enjoyed watching the current Bulldogs celebrate that victory.

The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder can really do a lot of things and he already excels in coverage at outside linebacker. He’s got the ability to plug-and-play all over the defense. He can chase and rush and he has really emerged this season.

He lines up on the same defense with major 4-star senior UGA target Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant each week, but I’ve heard from some coaches that the junior OLB is already just a big of a problem to deal with as his talented older teammate.

That should not be seen a slight to Bryant in any capacity, but simply as a credit to Walker’s growth this fall.


Georgia has impressed another 2018 priority

Stockbridge junior OLB Brenton Cox was also in the throng of unofficial visitors for the Auburn game.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder is rated as a 3-star recruit and as the nation’s No. 20 strong-side DE up to this point, but that’s another rating that will soar in the off-season. DawgNation profiled his interest in UGA last month, but it seems his recent unofficial visit to UGA has turned the volume up on things to another level.

Stockbridge 3-star DE Brenton Cox was an unofficial visitor at UGA-Auburn on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Stockbridge 3-star DE Brenton Cox was an unofficial visitor at UGA-Auburn on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

“I feel like in the next two years they are going to be unstoppable,” Cox said. “I really like the visit. It really gave me a new look about UGA.”

Cox has always thought of UGA as his dream school. That was the school his entire family favored growing up.

Cox posted double-digit sacks in the first eight games of his season this year. His Tigers are still alive in the quarterfinal rounds of the Georgia state football playoffs.

Despite the heavy interest, the junior still does not have a leader.

“Not really,” Cox said. “UGA is just recruiting me the hardest.”

He said that Georgia really talked to him about his future in the defense during that Auburn visit. Georgia outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer is his primary recruiter. He’s made Cox a priority since this summer.

“The best part of the visit was the game,” Cox said. “What stood out was when Coach Sherrer told me in the 3-4 defense the outside linebacker is looked at as an outside linebacker and defensive end so it puts (your value) as a higher (NFL) draft pick.”

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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.

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