If he’s being honest, DeAngelo Gibbs has felt some fatigue with the recruiting process. The top-rated prospect in Georgia for 2017 was in the eighth grade when he got his first offer.
The nation’s No. 10 overall player understands every offer is a blessing, but for years now, he’s lived days when he had to charge his phone every three hours. That’s because of all the texts and Twitter direct messages or notifications he receives. He’s a big fan of that low-power mode.
“I’ve already seen everything,” said Gibbs, who had to create a new Twitter account. “There’s nothing I think a school can show me on a visit or hear I haven’t seen or heard before. … Every time I go to a school it kind of already feels like an official visit.”
And he still has to see more. That’s because the rising senior at Grayson doesn’t know — despite holding 35-plus offers — where he wants to go. When he takes those trips, there’s always something new he learns about a school on his mind.
What he does know is how UGA feels about him. When asked which school is coming after him the hardest, his answer was as swift as he is clamping down on routes in a summer 7-on-7.
“The school recruiting me the hardest right now is Georgia,” Gibbs said. “They are on me recruiting me hard hard. They know it will be a long race to get me. They know it, but they are willing to run that race. They are. A lot of schools are.”
Alabama, Florida, LSU and Tennessee are also recruiting him with purpose. Clemson is another school he mentions that will be big. So the Bulldogs are standing out as the lead dogs — if only in terms of recruiting attention — among that loaded pack of would-be suitors.
“They text me or direct message me all the time,” Gibbs said, who is rated as the nation’s No. 2 cornerback prospect for 2017. “I am talking about twice a day. Minimum. I bet it is getting to the point where they are getting the whole staff to start talking to me each day.”
The nearly 6-foot-2 rising senior has two uncles who played double-digit seasons in the NFL. Jake Reed was a receiver. Dale Carter was at cornerback. Does UGA project him to play one of those positions?
“They just have me on the recruiting list pretty high,” he said. “I don’t pay attention to whether it is at receiver or corner or safety or athlete. I just know I’m pretty high up on their list.”
DawgNation projects he’s the overall No. 1 remaining target on Kirby Smart’s list for 2017. He’s highly rated, but could fill multiple positions (including kick and punt returner) as an impact freshman.
Gibbs has already been to UGA several times to see the new staff, but would be slow to publicize those. Reread those first few paragraphs. That’s why a recruit who carries the nickname “D-Lo” would like to keep his moves on the down low.
His former Peachtree Ridge teammate Chad Clay is at UGA. His new Grayson teammate Breon Dixon is already committed to Smart’s program.
“It is convenient to go to UGA, but at the same time I learn something new every time I go,” Gibbs said. “It is the backyard pretty much. The coaches always tell me to come back all the time.”
He knew the players at Georgia before Clay, Dixon and the 2016 enrollees and signees came on board. He values the opinions of current Bulldogs Rico McGraw and Jonathan Ledbetter.
“They tell me what’s real and what’s not,” Gibbs said. “They always have. I’m thankful for those guys. They’ve told me straight-up what you do in workouts and how hard you work determines whether you play. They kept it real about (Jeremy) Pruitt when he was there and all the coaches. They didn’t sugarcoat a thing.”
Coaches sell a dream and the pitch. Those guys gave him reality.
Gibbs already knows new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker very well. Tucker came from the NFL and only coached one season at Alabama. Gibbs happened to be at Alabama for a visit when Tucker held his first position meeting as the new defensive backs in Tuscaloosa. Tucker and Kirby Smart are both handling his recruiting for UGA.
It sounds like Gibbs has a few officials in mind, but does not feel comfortable talking about those just yet.
“I honestly feel like I could take 50 official visits,” Gibbs said. “That would be great. That would help out. But you only get five. I’m really going to manage those and think about that whether I’ve been to this place and that place so many times.”
UGA and Tennessee are still the schools he’s visited the most. That’s similar to the philosophy employed by 5-star Mecole Hardman, Jr. last season. Hardman had seen those two schools so much through unofficial visits that he didn’t take an official to either school.
Gibbs will not be afraid of attending the likes of Miami, Oregon, USC or UCLA. His older sister went to play basketball at Southern Cal, so he’s not afraid of leaving home.
“There are no boundaries for me or my family,” he said. “My family just wants the best for me and I want to find the best fit for myself also. At the end of the day, I’m going to have to make a decision not based on boundaries or travel, but what is truly best for me.”
Dixon and 5-star commit Richard LeCounte III continue to pepper him. They are not letting up. They tell him he already knows he is coming to UGA. Gibbs is not so sure about that but he does enjoy the clever ways they try to communicate the pro-UGA message all the time.
Gibbs does plan to enroll early. His signing decision could take place at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl or the Under Armour All-American Game. He’s not sure which one of those games he will play in yet.
Where will he visit this summer? He didn’t say he was going to see Ole Miss, but rather he was going to see coach Hugh Freeze. That’s an interesting reflection of how a Georgia five-star views that program.
He also wants to hit team camps and compete. Part of that is to pay it forward. He remembers the elite seniors who competed against him when he was coming up. That helped him sharpen his game and skyrocket up those recruiting boards.
“I honestly think I have it all right now and don’t have much to gain from camps,” Gibbs said. “All I really need now is a state (championship) ring, but I still want to compete against those guys because the best guys gave me a chance when I was coming up. Camps are all about getting better that day or giving exposure to guys. Recruiting is all about exposure.”
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
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.