Editor’s Note: The Bulldogs travel to Baton Rouge this week to face LSU in an SEC cross-divisional matchup between two storied programs inside the Top 15. DawgNation will highlight several topics this week of interest to the rare road trip to the Pelican State. UGA hasn’t visited LSU since 2008 and will not return until the 2030 season. The topic for today is the big commitment from 4-star ATH Makiya Tongue.
Wide receiver? Athlete? Speed tight end? H-back? Defensive athlete? Those could be all the positions that the versatile Makiya Tongue will play for the Bulldogs once he arrives in the class of 2019.
Tongue, whose father retired after nine years in the NFL, is strong to Georgia. He is pleased with how the Bulldogs have performed in 2018.
“I feel like Georgia has been playing great and I think they have a chance to win it all,” Tongue said. “I still feel great about my decision and I’m 100% with the Dawgs.”
His University Lab (Baton Rouge, La.) squad is now 6-0. MaxPreps.com rates that team as the No. 18 team in the nation at this time.
He has already taken his official visit to UGA. That came prior to his decision. So he hasn’t been able to get to Athens for a game yet.
But he has two in mind over the next month. Tongue will be in Baton Rouge for the game this weekend. He also has already planned to return to UGA for another star-studded gameday for Auburn.
Why Makiya Tongue committed to Georgia
Tongue answers to “Ki” a lot to his family, friends and teammates. The 6-foot-2.5, 215-pound senior has been working on his craft so far this year at receiver.
His mid-year highlight reel is already at a strong three minutes.
He will not enroll early. University Lab does not allow a mid-year graduate program to its seniors.
What did the Bulldogs get when he committed to that G? For starters, there’s a spirit within him that understands the grind it will take to not just dwell but excel at the next level.
Tongue understands the need to wake up at 5 a.m. and work out with his teammates. That’s a mindset he is comfortable with.
“I’m one of the hardest-working people that you will meet,” he said. “I may not be the fastest dude out there. May not be the biggest dude. But I am going to show you that I am going to work harder than you and try to be great.”
Where will he play? Some wonder if he will be shown the way to the receiver spot in Athens and if he doesn’t wow immediately, then there’s always the defensive side of the ball.
Makiya Tongue considers itself both a burden and a blessing to be the son of a former NFL player. (Makiya Tongue/Special)
His father did play almost a decade in the NFL at safety. But he’s already bigger and faster than his father was at this age.
A guy that flashes his athleticism, ball skills and toughness on offense would make for an ideal SEC defender, but that’s not the case here. Tongue showed the Bulldogs what he can do and how he can move in space during a camp workout in Athens over the summer.
That receiver spot is where he will get a good first look. That’s what he prides himself in right now.
“I think I am a great receiver,” Makiya Tongue said. “I think my hands are really good and I think my route running is good for how big I am. But most of all I am a hard worker who will work for everything that I have.”
His favorite part about playing football is hard to define. But it speaks to the player he is.
“I can’t name just one,” he said. “That’s too hard. There’s a lot that I love about the game. But my two most favorite things about football are hitting people and catching the ball. That’s really really what I like.”
Tongue also doesn’t mind the burden and expectation that he’s shouldered all his life being the son of an NFL player.
“I think it is a blessing,” Makiya Tongue said. “Being able to have a father who played at the highest level and him knowing how to work and what to do to get to the highest level has done nothing but help me. Everything he has told me I have put into my game to help me to get where I am right now.”
“But on the other side, it kind of brings a lot of expectations to you. But I like it. I see it as a blessing and a burden at the same time. Really I want to earn what I get and make sure I get what I get and that’s part of the reason why I work so hard. I don’t just want to make it off what my father did. It is really all on me anyway. So it is a burden and a blessing but I see it as more of a blessing.”
Check out his look for his final Homecoming dance earlier this fall.
How does UGA plan to use Makiya Tongue?
Tongue got the chapter and verse on that plot. He heard that directly from offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
Makiya Tongue planned to shut down his whole recruitment after he committed to Georgia. He plans to be at LSU for this week’s game and will also return to UGA for the Auburn game next month. (Makiya Tongue/Special)
“The way that coach Chaney explained he wanted to use me was kind of like an outside ‘X’ receiver but like a ‘Z’ receiver at the same time,” he said. “Kind of like a hybrid slot and outside kind of guy. That’s because I don’t have that straight-line 4.3 speed that some of those ‘X’ receivers have but my size allows me to be able to play outside and kind of a slot position also. That’s how they kind of see me.”
It seems laughable to ask the young man how he feels about blocking. He’s going to be an asset at that from the jump at the receiver spot. If he was on the team right now, he’d be the biggest wideout. Senior Jayson Stanley, who tips the scale at 207 pounds, is the only other Bulldog within 14 pounds of him.
“That goes with the nature of football and being a receiver,” Tongue said. “That seems pretty standard for me to realize that when you are not getting the ball, then you are blocking for the person who is for them to score. I think that I can block really well.”
He tried on the No. 9 jersey in black in Athens. There’s a reason for that.
“I look up to Ju Ju Smith-Schuster a lot,” he said. “So after seeing him at USC and seeing what he does on the Steelers I kind of see myself as a younger version of him. He’s about 6-foot-2 and 215. He doesn’t have that crazy speed but he’s a football player. He can block. He’s real physical so I look up to him a lot.”
He chose the Bulldogs over high interest in both Arizona State and Texas. There was some late interest from Alabama, but when he chose UGA he was glad to get his recruiting process over with.
It really came down to Georgia and Texas. Cortez Hankton, a Louisiana native, worked him out that weekend of the UGA “reveal.”
“Coach Hankton and I did a little workout,” Makiya Tongue said. “That was good. He put me through a few drills and everyone out there was watching. It might have been the whole staff watching. I was kind of nervous going out there but I just focused and did it. They really liked it.”
“They really saw for my size that I can move well. I guess that was something I had to prove because they had not really seen me in front of them to work out before. I like doing that.”
He was planning to go back to Texas but then saw no need. He enjoyed the time he had to hang with Hankton, coach Kirby Smart and even freshmen QB Justin Fields for two days on that trip.
That was a highlight of his commitment weekend.
“The most fun part was probably hanging out with Justin Fields,” Tongue said. “He’s a cool dude and he’s a great quarterback. He will probably be throwing me the ball the most when I am there. That was a really cool experience.”
UGA wanted Makiya Tongue more than LSU did
Did he have an offer from LSU? There was some interest, but it was not serious.
It was interesting how the team that went into overtime in the national championship game in January wanted him, but not his home state Tigers. Especially since he plays high school ball not that far at all from Tiger Stadium.
Makiya Tongue said he likes the “family environment” that Georgia has the best about the program. (Makiya Tongue/Contributed photo)
How did he handle that?
“When I was a freshman I went to the LSU camp and to be honest I wasn’t very good my freshman year,” he said. “So I understand why they didn’t pull the plug there. But as time went on and I started getting more offers and LSU started talking to me I kind of felt it as maybe if they would have offered me sooner (than the other name out-of-state schools) that maybe I would have approached it differently. But they kind of talked to me and said ‘Wait and give us a chance’ and I was really like telling that I was already starting to narrow down the schools from the offers I already had.”
The waiting game kind of there kind of created his interest in leaving the state. It worked out. He’s committed to the nation’s No. 2 team right now.
“It kind of did ensure that LSU was never going to be a team that was going to be of great interest to me personally.”