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Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com
Marist TE John FitzPatrick was one of the many top prospects on hand at G-Day this weekend.

UGA recruiting: Kirby Smart is very involved in recruiting 6-foot-7 TE John FitzPatrick

 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 which way an elite prospect like John FitzPatrick or Cammon Cooper might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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Georgia is recruiting a tight end who shot up about four inches in height when he was a high school freshman. He stands 6 feet, 7-plus inches now. He plays on a triple-option offense but can still shake and bake safeties and linebackers with aplomb.

The gyros in his hips and ankles formed after years of competitive club soccer, but John FitzPatrick eventually just grew too big. Gronk replaced Messi on the career horizon.

He hails from a highly-educated family as the baby brother of the group. His four older sisters are part of a family unit known for achievement. There are Ivy League diplomas and master’s degrees going up on the walls in his household.

“It was really fun how they were all here for awhile and now they are all off to college,” he said. “I’ve been an only child for about two years now. It has been a little quieter at the house and that’s meant all of the attention has been on me. I miss them. I definitely love when they come visit.”

Kirby Smart-UGA football-G-Day-2017
UGA coach Kirby Smart has been personally recruiting 6-foot-7 Marist tight end John FitzPatrick. (David Barnes/AJC)

The rising senior loves both UCLA and UGA but there are still plenty of miles up ahead in his recruitment. Fitzpatrick told DawgNation that he’s so high up on the board that he now hears from Kirby Smart on a daily basis.

“Coach Smart has been texting me every day just checking up on me,” FitzPatrick said. “He told me congrats on the MVP award at the Rivals camp. He’s just reaching out to me every day and connecting with me as much as he can.”

That is an interesting progression for a player that was just offered by UGA last week.

FitzPatrick has no set timeframe in mind, but it is clear Marist football and his senior year means a lot to him. Look for him to make his decision this summer prior to his final year of high school ball.

Georgia tight ends coach Shane Beamer zeroed in on FitzPatrick last week.

“He talked to me about how I could fit into the offense and have early playing time which was definitely a huge positive,” FitzPatrick said. “He really took me under his wing on G-Day showing me everything about the program and what it has to offer.”

The Bulldogs clearly made an impression. He called it “eye-opening” and didn’t understate that. Georgia’s recruiting director Marshall Malchow called him over from the sidelines and led him through pre-game warmups.

“I snaked through an offensive line drill to the middle of the field to where coach Smart was coaching up (Jacob) Eason and he goes ‘Wait’ and says hello to me and tells me to be sure to wait until after the game so he can talk to me after the game. That was cool. That was very cool. That showed how much he cares about getting to recruit me.”

He said he’s already excited about his next visit to UGA.  He rated that G-Day visit right with a trip where he received a lot of personal attention from UCLA coach Jim Mora as his best college recruiting visits up to this point.

Where John FitzPatrick wants to go to school

FitzPatrick knows SEC football. He can talk it up. Deliver the speech that would make for a great Saturday afternoon commercial for the Game of the Week. But his decisions will be focused on academics.

When a young man describes chalks a 25 on the ACT as a disappointing first try, that clearly shows where his head is regarding his college plan. When he speaks about goals, he thinks very specifically long-term.

John Fitzpatrick
6-foot-7 Marist tight end John FitzPatrick is now a priority at UGA. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

“The dream I have to play in the NFL for a good amount of years,” he said. “At least five. That’s to get the pension. Then I want to attain a business degree from whatever school I plan to go and go into finance specifically and have a successful future in that regard.”

He’s not sure which school checks off which school stands out if his choice was just based on academics yet.

“I want to visit these schools and see what their business major has to offer exactly so I couldn’t say like which schools I have ahead of others because I don’t know all I need to know about their business programs and how they compare to others.”

He picked up his first offer from UNC-Charlotte prior to his junior year. The 3-star tight end checks in as nation’s No. 56 prospect at his position per the 247Sports Composite, but it is clear UGA values him more than that.

FitzPatrick picked up an offer from UGA last week but wasn’t planning on going to G-Day. But he quickly reversed that call on Friday.

“I definitely think Georgia, UCLA, Virginia and Vanderbilt are probably recruiting me the hardest right now,” he said. “I am calling them a lot. They are texting me every day and checking in on me.”

The John FitzPatrick player parallel

He’s rated as the nation’s No. 56 overall prospect at the tight end position.

The measurables don’t jump out for FitzPatrick even though he did win the MVP for the tight ends at the Rivals camp on Sunday afternoon. FitzPatrick clocked a 5.06 in the 40 at the Nike Atlanta Opening regional, but he knows what he can and can’t do.

But his size jumps out.

“I am more of a pass catcher type of tight end who can go up and get a ball,” FitzPatrick said. “The dream is to be a tight end like what (Rob Gronkowski) is doing right now for the (Atlanta) Falcons or the (New York) Giants. That would be awesome. That would be the dream scenario.”

FitzPatrick holds the unique distinction of having scored an international touchdown. Put him on the short list of UGA prospects who can say they have scored a touchdown somewhere outside North America. He pulled down a touchdown in Ireland last year when Marist traveled overseas to kick off his junior season.

John FitzPatrick
6-foot-7 John FitzPatrick has actually caught touchdown passes in two continents playing for Marist. (Jeff Sentell / SEC Country.com)

He spent some time in the tight ends room at Georgia about two weeks ago. That allowed him the chance to get to know Beamer well along with young Georgia tight ends Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner.

That’s especially why he got fired up when he saw Woerner’s stampede that he turned into a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Eason.

“They were having fun talking in the room about how Woerner and the tight ends didn’t have any swagger with their touchdown celebrations,” FitzPatrick said. “They said Nauta didn’t have any swagger, too. So it was fun to see him get that touchdown but also dive into the end zone like he did there. He got to show off his swagger there.”

Beamer told FitzPatrick that UGA still plans to take two tight ends in 2018.

 

Quick Cammon Cooper update

Georgia offered QB Cammon Cooper last week. He took an unofficial visit to Athens that he was able to squeeze in before an extended trip to Tennessee.

The Volunteers had already offered and had been recruiting him extensively prior to the Georgia offer.

Cooper told DawgNation this week that both trips went well.

“They are both great programs,” he said. “It will be a tough decision.”

The 3-star recruit rates as the nation’s No. 26 pro-style prospect for 2018. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder was impressed by what he saw in his first trip to UGA