The Georgia football program has had success with products from the Marist School in Atlanta and with tight ends. It had more success Wednesday with another big hit.
John FitzPatrick committed to UGA in July, signed with the Bulldogs on Wednesday. He will join an already crowded tight end room, but he should immediately stand out, especially when they’re all standing.
- At 6-foot-7, FitzPatrick will be one of the team’s tallest players, and perhaps the tallest tight end. (Isaac Nauta is listed at 6-4 and Charlie Woerner at 6-5, while Jackson Harris is 6-6.) FitzPatrick, who weighs in at around 230 pounds, is a reminder of the days of Leonard Pope, who was 6-7 when he starred at tight end for the Bulldogs from 2003-06.
- FitzPatrick is ranked No. 16 among all tight ends nationally, per the 247Sports composite, and the No. 37 overall prospect in the state of Georgia.
- The Marist School is also the alma mater of two notable Georgia offensive linemen, one current and one former. Kendall Baker (Marist, Class of 2014) is Georgia’s starting left guard as it heads to the Rose Bowl. This year Marist and FitzPatrick made it to the GHSA Class 4A state title game, where the War Eagles fell to Blessed Trinity.
- There’s another important connection for FitzPatrick: Paul Etheridge, the offensive coordinator at Marist, was a Georgia tight end from 1989-92. Etheridge, who has joked that his UGA letter jacket would be taken away if his protégé didn’t sign with his alma mater, has served as a mentor and sounding board for FitzPatrick. Etheridge, in praising FitzPatrick’s maturity, has called him “a 24-year-old in a 17-year-old body.”
- If FitzPatrick hadn’t signed with Georgia, he likely would have chosen UCLA. That’s where his oldest sister goes to school.
Immediate playing time may be difficult for FitzPatrick because of the presence of Nauta, Woerner and Harris. But those three will all be upperclassmen, so the Marist product has a chance to develop into a key cog in the offense.