UGA recruiting: 10 things to know about the Zamir White decision
Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. Now, we cover the news and focus on 5-star Zamir White to add some perspective to this big decision to help fans get a sense of his status.
Zamir White will make his decision at high noon on June 27. That’s his mother’s birthday. We’ve been calling that day Z-Day on the DawgNation.com message boards this month.
He decides next Tuesday. What else is there to know about White’s decision? A detailed conversation with Scotland County (Laurinburg, N.C.) coach Richard Bailey provided the context for a lot of this quick-hitting information. Bailey said White has shut down all interviews with reporters leading up to his decision day.
5 things to know about the upcoming Zamir White decision
- It will be announced from the Scotland County High School cafeteria. Look for him to have hats on the table and literally pick the best fit. (No word yet if they will all be broken-in or brand new flatbills to add to the confusion.)
- Expect to see five hats on the table: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio State. It may come down to just three.
- The biggest shocker out of those five would be Clemson. He just hasn’t made the trips to see that school as he has the others.
- It appears that North Carolina has made up the most ground as of late.
- There will be no academic issues with White. DawgNation has been told he is already fully qualified.
— Scott Cole (@scottcole_lbg) June 20, 2017
5 more things to know about the Zamir White decision
- White will have a morning practice that day and then go home, change clothes and prep for his decision.
- Bailey said he believes the decision has already been made. They’ve prepared a statement and posts that will be on social media that convey the school he’s picking and why. “I told him the other day he needs to learn how to play poker because he’s been good at keeping that close to his vest a little bit.”
- There are no visits planned for this weekend.
- When White makes his announcement, his head coach won’t even be there. He’s planned a family trip to Hawaii for over a year. He’ll leave this Thursday. “I’ve kind of told him that I don’t want to know,” Bailey said. “I don’t know if he will tell me or not. He might. I kind of told him I’d just as soon find out as the rest of America.”
- The feeling around his community and the coaching staff is Georgia is in the lead. “Most of his teammates and the coaching staff here would say that things are looking that way,” Bailey said. “I still think Georgia is the team to beat. I would not be shocked if he pulled up another hat, but I would be a little bit surprised if he pulls a hat other than Georgia.”
The feeling around Georgia right now with Zamir White
Bailey said the Tar Heels have made up the most ground of late. If asked to rate the shot for each school five weeks ago, he would’ve put North Carolina last.
“They’ve really ascended now to the top of the list,” Bailey said. “As it gets closer to that decision day Zamir has seen the value of staying close to home and his family being able to see him. That has started to resonate with him.”
But there is a comfort level with Georgia that has lasted since he pegged Georgia as his leader “by a lot” in 2015. That’s when former Georgia running backs coach Thomas Brown told Bailey that White was better than anyone the staff was after in the 2016 and 2017 classes.
“He definitely has a comfort level with Georgia,” Bailey said. “I think this all starts with Zamir. [He] fashions himself a little bit like Todd Gurley. I’ve kind of always compared him to Todd a little bit. The fact that Todd went there was the initial push. Just the history of running backs at Georgia.”
The Scotland County coach offers genuine praise for the recruiting efforts made by Georgia assistant Dell McGee. McGee has been there every moment he could be in Scotland County.
“I’ve told Dell during football season that I was going to start retaining him on staff,” Bailey said.”He’s just really built a good relationship with Zamir. Zamir has a comfort level there. He’s obviously been to Georgia on multiple upon multiple occasions. I always tell people to follow where they are going.”
White has been to North Carolina the most, followed by Georgia.
“Georgia has been the one that has been with him the longest,” Bailey said. “They are the one that is always in the picture near the top. Throughout this process, it has always been so-and-so and Georgia to me. It might have been Ohio State and Georgia at one time. Then it was Alabama and Georgia. For a long time, it was Clemson and Georgia. Now I think it has gotten to where it is North Carolina and Georgia. Georgia has always been that one, and that school at the high end of his list for him.”
Bailey’s teams have posted a 59-5 record over the last few seasons. He’s felt that distance was always a major factor and always felt that Clemson, Georgia and North Carolina would be the pick. That’s because they all fell within a five-hour radius of White’s Scotland County roots.
“Alabama is relatively high here,” Bailey said. “He sent me a picture from Alabama with a No. 34 jersey on and said, ‘Pretty nice fit don’t you think?’ and that was three weekends ago.”
The smart way the Scotland staff helped Zamir White
White is quizzed about which school he will attend roughly 8,000 times per month around his community.
Bailey wanted to make sure White thoroughly vetted this decision. The Scotland County staff sat him down two weeks ago and put every team that’s in contention up on the board.
“We ranked 15 categories he thought were important and prioritized them, with 15 being the most important thing to him, and we rated those schools from number one to number five,” he said.
The school that ranked No. 1 in his most important factor got 75 points. The next school got 60 points as they fleshed out that list.
“We sat and talked about it,” Bailey said. “I let him talk it out and rank them. I told him it was like choosing to be a Republican or a Democrat. He’s not going to agree with what one party says but he needs to find out what are the most important things to him.”
Bailey shared a few morsels. He would not reveal exactly how that turned out.
- It was very close. All of them have some pros and cons.
- The position coach was the fourth-most important factor in White’s mind. The head coach wasn’t as vital.
- Playing time was the most important thing to him.
- System fit and the comfort among the players on the team were areas that UGA scored well in.
- The other factors: academic support; campus life; chances to win a Heisman Trophy; chances to win a national championship: commitment to player success; education; distance from home; playing in certain weather; program impact; uniforms.
The way UGA could’ve already locked this thing up
File this with a coulda woulda shoulda label. It did not happen.
That said, it is a very interesting story. North Carolina inside linebacker Jonathan Smith is “blood brother”-close to White. He was a 3-star prospect from Scotland County and rated as the nation’s No. 21 ILB for 2016.
“The biggest draw with North Carolina, other than being close to home, was his best friend is there,” Bailey said. “That’s a young man he almost lives with a lot of times. If Zamir is not at his house, he’s at his house. There is the lure there of being able to play with his best friend.”
The Bulldogs were recruiting Smith, but he was always that next guy left on the board.
“The funny part is that Jon is a huge Georgia fan and had Georgia offered him, he would have gone to Georgia. This would be a done deal,” Bailey said. “Zamir would be going to Georgia and there would be no doubt about it. His best friend would be at Georgia. The other part was Jon really was good enough to be a Georgia recruit. He had a bit of playing time last year as a true freshman at North Carolina before he got hurt.”
I cringe at the thought of any big-time program offering two scholarships to land the one elite 5-star, but that would’ve made perfect sense. Smith was a solid ILB prospect. White was called a generational player by the coach at one of those final five schools.
Watch the film. It seems to me that maybe he’s spot on with that.