When we were at The Opening, I had two detailed interviews with 4-star cornerback prospect DeAngelo Gibbs.
Where is he going? I’ll address that first: I think he does not know. It seems like the nation’s No. 4 cornerback has heard so many great pitches for three-plus years as a big-time recruit that he’s oversaturated with the major selling points from his top schools.
I presume Gibbs has not made a secret commitment to anyone, either. The nation’s No. 35 prospect could just be trying to keep everyone guessing, but it just sounds like he doesn’t have all his answers yet.
There were several reporters who got the chance to speak with him in Oregon and Mr. Gibbs was gracious with his time. Perhaps as much as any other top recruit. It was an extended conversation, but when I reviewed the material I just didn’t feel the need to immediately write anything.
Georgia is still recruiting him harder than anyone. He still loves Georgia a lot. The current Bulldog commits are on him hard. The recent transfer of his cousin J.R. Reed to Georgia will help the program’s chances. Yet he’s still wide open. He still has a lot of schools to see and needs to make a quicker decision than his peers because he plans to enroll early.
That’s the speed read on his decision, but he did share some strong thoughts about Reed. He’s now urging him to come join him at Georgia more than any other player out there. But there were other stories to write from Oregon so I didn’t feel the urge I had to have a Gibbs update up for everyone to read.
Then I went back and spoke to him one-on-one the next day and offered up an introductory question: Which school would it be the hardest for him to say no to?
He appreciated the topic. Gibbs has told me he gets a lot of “crying baby” questions about recruiting all the time. He has to answer those questions all the time. Answer the same questions. Make it stop. Just like a crying baby. All the time. That’s probably the best description an athlete has ever shared about what it is like to answer the same recruiting questions all the time.
But I digress. Which school would be the hardest to say no to is a query that is grounded in essential Gibbs information. He now has one cousin (Nigel Warrior) on the roster at Tennessee and another cousin (Reed) at Georgia. Most feel that those are the top two teams in the race for Gibbs. Georgia also has secured a commitment from a very close friend, linebacker Breon Dixon.
“When I come out with my Top 5, I believe it will have my eventual top school in there but also four other great schools I feel will be the hardest to say no to,” Gibbs said.
He’s still not sure about when he plans to release that Top 5 list, too.
Sometimes peer reporters ask me about Gibbs and discuss how tough of an interview he can be. But the tone is not about being defiant or harsh in any way. Far from it. Gibbs has oodles of charisma and can have his own endorsements one day. It is more a description of him simply not giving up much ground on his decision. The same way Gibbs would never allow a top receiver a free release off the line from his cornerback spot.
He knows exactly what to say, but he also knows what he’s not saying. Gibbs has a black belt in that art by now, but I believe the mystery expounds because he doesn’t have everything figured out internally yet.
Gibbs noted all the commitments Georgia has had of late and the momentum around Kirby Smart’s program. He also said his cousin’s transfer helped Georgia’s chances. Reed eventually chose Georgia over Tennessee.
“It is always possible for Georgia to keep opening my eyes,” Gibbs said. “It is always possible for Georgia or any other school to do more things that increase their chances with me.”
Will he be a silent commitment?
“Doubt it,” Gibbs said. “When I’ve got it, I’m going to come out with it.”
He isn’t sure if he will make his decision at the U.S. Army All-American game, but he’ll likely have to. If he enrolls early, he will also have to sign financial aid papers with multiple schools if he hasn’t made his decision by early December. He will have to get accepted. That’s the same situation 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta faced a year ago. What would be his decision be if National Signing Day was next week?
“I’d be watching it,” Gibbs said. “Wouldn’t be making any decision that fast.”
I’ll offer one last tidbit: A Georgia commitment told me he felt there was a 70 percent chance Gibbs winds up in Athens.
That’s the first big riddle with Gibbs. We won’t even get into the topic about him playing safety instead of cornerback. That’s something for another day.
The latest on Walter Grant
I got the chance to speak with 3-star outside linebacker Walter Grant on Sunday night after he got home from his three-day Georgia visit. He said not much has changed with his decision. Georgia and Alabama are still his top two schools and he cannot declare a leader. Florida and Florida State are the next two schools right off that pack.
Grant will visit Alabama next weekend. He hopes to have a decision sometime in October around the middle of his senior season.
“Georgia didn’t really do anything new this weekend to open my eyes,” Grant said. “I’ve been up there four other times. It is really the same, but I am getting more comfortable with the people who would be around me at Georgia. The more I go up there, the more comfortable I get with the people around the facility.”
He said he can see himself playing at Georgia. Grant said hanging out with the players was the best thing about his visit. He also got to try on a No. 22 black jersey. The recruits all got a chance to try on those black jerseys and those images spread rapidly across social media.
Grant said a conversation with Smart stood out.
“I spoke to Coach Smart about my education,” Grant said.”We were talking about me coming in the middle of this year and hopefully getting my degree from Georgia in about three-and-a-half years.”
He said the Bulldogs stressed the ability for him to come in, compete hard and earn the right to play right away. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound prospect could line up at outside linebacker or defensive end. He’s really a Swiss Army knife defender. He can even play inside and not look foolish doing it.
“Georgia is really low on linebackers right now,” Grant said.
The Cairo High School senior said Georgia is recruiting him harder than any other school at this time. His wingspan was measured at a whopping 82 inches in Athens this weekend.
Where was the news?
Bulldog fans have been trained to expect news out of every “Dawg Night” or final Georgia team camp situation from the Mark Richt era. Derrick Henry and Brice Ramsey were part of a pack that committed one summer. Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason did so back in 2014. Deejay Dallas and Elijah Holyfield did the same last July, but one of those was a silent commitment.
The final three days of the Kirby Smart Camps in Athens yielded zero public commits. A couple of offers went out to a pair of South Carolina defensive linemen Sunday, but there was scattered news aside from that.
Expect Kirby Smart’s program to be different than what we’ve seen in the past. There should be no expectations coming out of events like these moving forward. Georgia has 14 public commitments and might have silent pledges from at least 4-5 more prospects. They are likely holding onto slots in the 2017 class for at least another five prospects beyond that.
This could just be an example of Georgia having already done its homework prior to a big media splash day in late July. There are 10 big names that Georgia would like to add to its 2017 class. It is very likely that there might not be a lot more spots to fill with commitments. Each one of those guys has their own commitment timeline. My only surprise from this weekend was the program not securing a commitment from a member of the Class of 2018 or 2019.
Decision days to keep in mind
I asked Richard LeCounte III in Oregon about any dates or time frames to keep in mind regarding future commitments. He said next month would be a big one for Georgia fans, according to his information. He would know. LeCounte has very strong intel about Georgia recruiting and I’m thankful he’s too busy smoking friends in Madden PlayStation football or snaring highlight interceptions to have him own blog.
That said, here are a few players and likely commitment dates to keep in mind over the next 30-45 days.
- 4-star senior ATH Tray Bishop (Terrell County High / Dawson, Ga.) — July 25
- 5-star senior ATH Jacoby Stevens (Oakland High School /Murfreesboro, Tenn.) — End of July or early August
- 5-star junior QB Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville High School / Cartersville, Ga.) — Approximately August 1
- 4-star senior ILB Kenney “KJ” Britt (Oxford High School / Oxford, Ala. ) — Expected to be Aug. 6
- 4-star senior DE Malik Herring (Mary Persons High School / Forsyth, Ga.) — Could potentially be in August
- 4-star senior RB D’Andre Swift (St. Joseph’s / Philadelphia, Penn. ) — Approximately Aug. 31 or Sept. 1
- 4-star senior WR Mark Webb, Jr. (Archbishop Wood / Warmister, Penn. ) — Approximately Sept. 1 or Sept. 2
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.