Syracuse LB commit Juan Wallace calls UGA trip his ‘best visit’ so far
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 weigh the chances of a potential flip from Syracuse LB commit Juan Wallace plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Juan Wallace has a 4.02 grade-point average. He’s a National Honor Society member and is rated as the nation’s No. 37 inside linebacker in the Class of 2018, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
The Washington, D.C., product also had a very good visit to UGA last week, but he made it clear that he is still solid in his commitment to Syracuse at this time.
Add all of those factual statements together and that’s something new for DawgNation to chew on this morning. It has nothing to do with a “suddenly single” 5-star QB making or not making goo-goo eyes at UGA yet.
The Bulldogs gave him a lot to think about on his 10-hour drive from Athens back to the Beltway.
“I was thinking about playing in that conference and playing in that stadium,” Wallace said. “Man, Georgia felt good. It was a great visit. I enjoyed the coaches there, the facilities and the environment around Georgia. I just enjoyed the city of Athens around Georgia. It was a great city.”
How does that compare to Syracuse?
“Right now I’m just committed to Syracuse,” Wallace said. “I’m just taking visits right now to see where I am, but Georgia was a standout visit. An eye-popping visit. It was an eye-catching visit that will really impact my decision.”
Wallace, a 6-foot-1 and 215-pound inside linebacker prospect, has been seen as a versatile linebacker by the college coaches who have been recruiting him.
“They all see me playing ‘Mike’ and ‘Will’ or ‘Sam’ because I am very athletic and agile,” Wallace said. “I feel comfortable playing at the ‘Mike,’ sitting there in the middle of the defense.
The UGA trip showed him a lot. The big stadium. Expansive facilities. Wild fans. Does that fit with what he hopes to experience in college?
“Yes,” he said. “Yes, it does.”
What will he tell his Woodson High School teammates about Georgia?
“Man, it is a special place,” he said. “Special.”
Look for him to take a visit to West Virginia soon, too.
Where does Juan Wallace fit in at UGA?
Wallace wants to major in engineering in college. He likes the variety at UGA because he doesn’t know which engineering discipline he will study. He’s working to enroll early in January 2018.
He said Kirby Smart spent about 30 minutes chatting with him last week.
“We talked about every aspect of my abilities,” Wallace said. “We talked about all my intangibles and the fact I was intelligent and could really play the ‘Mike’ and be comfortable there. He liked the way I move and my physical ability. He said that was very important when it comes to linebackers.”
Where does the visit rank?
“What has been my best visit?” he said. “I would say Georgia right now.”
What moment really turned his head?
“I can’t pick out one moment,” he said. “It was basically everything. … They are making me a priority definitely. I felt that when I was down there. They are one of the top schools which are recruiting me the hardest.”
Look for him to give UGA an official visit in the fall. At least.
Wallace said UGA has been recruiting him hard since the end of May. That’s when Georgia assistant Dell McGee visited his school and offered him.
He said his parents and two brothers joined him on the trip south to visit Georgia. His parents, he said, were impressed.
“They loved it as well,” Wallace said. “My parents loved the education aspect. My brothers loved the atmosphere with me as well. I just loved the whole picture.”
Checking in on UGA’s board at ILB
Wallace has been in contact with UGA inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann since the visit. Schumann has told him that the Bulldogs plan to take one inside linebacker for this cycle.
That’s a contested spot, with players such as Michael Harris (Tucker High School), Andrew Johnson (Tift County H.S.) and standout Channing Tindall Spring Valley H.S./Columbia, S.C.) all vying for that spot. The Bulldogs told him he was in a good position when it came to that board.
“Coach Schumann and I talk a lot on the phone, and when we met in person, it was really exciting,” Wallace said. “He’s a great coach. He knows what he is doing. He knows what it takes to get to the NFL and he knows how to separate the good from the great.”
Look for the Bulldogs to further evaluate their board. Wallace was told they will come to a decision soon. Wallace made a point to work out for the staff when he was in Athens.
“I did a workout session,” he said. “It went well. I moved my feet and had great hips. I [was] very comfortable at the workout and felt very loose.”
He’s confident in several aspects of his game, and his tape reflects that. He has good footwork and can flip and open up his hips. He looked competent in checking the tight end coming out of the slot and covering the backs spilling out of the backfield.
The Matt Corral conundrum
We like to use the phrase “Follow the visits” around these parts. That’s the unspoken communication of which way a recruit might be leaning with his choice. (Might make a good T-shirt on ShopDawgNation.com, by the way.)
A 5-star recruit might tell a reporter one thing, but the visits say something else. Happens all the time.
There’s another. Deleted Tweets. Those usually matter. Nobody talks trash to an opponent they can easily dust. That’s just a waste of time. I’m of the opinion that nobody deletes a tweet unless it is something they would rather not have seen after all.
That’s the case with 5-star QB. and now former Southern Cal commit Matt Corral. On Saturday, he de-committed from a pledge he made to the Trojans in February 2016.
Corral also took a visit to Georgia in April right around the spring game. He was hosted by several faces of the Bulldogs program, and that trip went well according to accounts I’ve heard regarding that topic.
On all of the media and message boards that cover Georgia, the same thought bubble seems to be forming over the heads of well-informed UGA fans.
Will it be 5-star pro-style QB Matt Corral or 5-star dual-threat QB Justin Fields this year for UGA?
I checked in with a couple of sources about that early this morning, and the answer isn’t that simple. It seems apparent the recruiting for both of these players had heated up well before they made their de-commitments.
Does UGA have at least a good chance with each? Yes. But that’s not to say that a bunch of other high-profile programs can’t say the same this morning, too. Still, DawgNation is no doubt very happy to see two very attractive QB options flooding the news cycle right now. After all, it looked for a couple of months earlier this year like the Bulldogs might have to settle for some out-of-the-blue 3-star from Alaska or South Dakota for 2018.
The daily Justin Fields blurb
My colleagues at SEC Country got the chance to speak with 5-star Harrison QB Justin Fields over the weekend at the NFA IMG 7-on-7 nationals. Fields met with the media, but it seems nothing earth-shattering was covered.
Zach Alboverdi has a pretty extensive summary of the conversation, but I’ll share a few things that stood out to me regarding that talk.
He said Florida and Georgia were recruiting him the hardest, but then he quickly lumped Florida State into his answer regarding that topic.
Fields listed a few factors that he said he feels are at the core of his decision.
“Academics, player development, just knowing that the coaches can make me into a better quarterback and the relationships I have with the coaches and the relationship that my parents and the coaches have and just how well the guys get along at that certain school,” Fields told SEC Country.
There’s a running narrative in coaching circles around the state that he’s currently trending to Florida State at this time. That doesn’t seem to be congruent with what he said over the weekend.
“I’m not sure yet. I have no idea. I honestly do not know where I’m going to go,” Fields told SEC Country.
He also continued to show off a humble side when it comes to how he looks at his decision. He said that the most surprising part of his recruitment was that he didn’t know he was “this good.” He said he feels like he doubts himself sometimes and shouldn’t.
UGA will have to find a DT elsewhere
A few players who used to stand pretty high on the UGA board have made their decisions recently. Florida 3-star TE George Takacs thought highly of UGA back in late February and early March, but he chose Notre Dame last week.
Emmit Gooden, the nation’s No. 3 JUCO defensive tackle this cycle, also had Georgia pretty high on his list but wound up committing to Arkansas on Sunday evening.
Gooden chose the Razorbacks simply because it “was the best fit.” He told me that Alabama was his next choice and that Georgia wound up third.
He seemed uncertain on the topic of unofficial visits but said that he could travel to UGA again, should he think he will need other visits.
6 things that are quicker than a hiccup
- Spoke to linebacker J.J Peterson (Colquitt County H.S./Moultrie) for a good bit last Friday at the Corky Kell Classic. It still seems as if Alabama is in the lead, followed by Auburn and UGA. He’s been to Athens six times, which doubles the visit to any other school. Georgia assistant coach Kevin Sherrer will be big here for Georgia’s chances.
- Lots of folks think Alabama is a done deal here, but Peterson estimated he’s only about 25 percent of the way into his recruiting process. He’ll make a late decision. Look for him to take an unofficial visit to Oregon later this month while he is there for the finals of Nike’s The Opening. He said he’s always liked the way the Ducks have played over the years. He loves to play fast and that up-tempo style.
- Defensive lineman Jamarcus Chatman (Rome) de-committed from LSU on Sunday morning. He was part of that triple package deal with 4-star OLB Adam Anderson and 3-star DL Jaquon Griffin. Griffin just picked up an offer from Tennessee. I don’t think there’s any way that Anderson goes to LSU at this time, especially if Chatman and/or Griffin both are not there with him.
- 4-star DE Derrick McLendon is one of the state’s top players for 2019. He’s from Tucker High School, and there’s a pull to UGA with former Tucker players such as Jonathan Ledbetter and Dominick Sanders in Athens. But it sounds to me as if the Bulldogs currently have some catching up to do behind SEC rivals Alabama and Florida. Alabama sounds like it is in a very good spot here. McLendon has a mature approach to his decision. He could commit as early as late September of this year. That’s because he is pondering committing on his birthday.
- Can a talented player in Metro Atlanta still be a “hidden gem” when he is entering his senior year? Seems hard to believe, but that looks to be the case with Central Gwinnett burner Khmari Thompson. The 6-foot receiver meshes well with QB Jarren Williams, his former teammate who is committed to Kentucky. Those two were the most lethal big-play connection at the Corky Kell Classic last Friday.
- The Knights, who won the event, were sparked by Thompson. He’s a runner who can blister the 100 in about 10.8 seconds and has webs for hands. Thompson told me that he hasn’t played football since his freshman year. He moved from Central Gwinnett to Archer. He also can clock a 21.49 in the 200. His favorites are Tennessee and Washington, but he has SEC-bound written all over him.