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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Kearis Jackson says he doesn't want to play college football too far from his home in Fort Valley, Ga.

UGA recruiting: WR target Kearis Jackson is visiting Auburn

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 a 4-star prospect such as Kearis Jackson might lean, plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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I spoke to wide receiver Kearis Jackson for the first time in early April 2016. He’d just picked up his second offer, this one from coach Mark Richt and the Miami Hurricanes. Miami’s offered followed one from Western Kentucky.

He was one of those quick-twitch kids at Peach County High School. That program’s reputation means something. An athletic kid in Fort Valley, Ga., is akin to a salesman pointing out that real expensive Ferrari on the lot.

A lot has changed for Jackson since then. The 4-star receiver has picked up offers aplenty. Georgia offered on April 25, 2016. He also somehow won a state championship in the shot put. That’s pretty rare air for a pass catcher.

Jackson even is set to become a big brother to a new addition to the family. His baby sister, Madeline, is on the way.

Kearis Jackson-UGA recruiting
Kearis Jackson is a major priority for UGA in the Class of 2018. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The other grand reveal for the family will be where Jackson will choose to play college football. The nation’s No. 24 receiver for the 2018 cycle, per the 247 Sports Composite, is set to announce his choice on Aug. 19.

UGA will be anticipating that day. The folks at Peach County told me at their spring game that Georgia receivers coach James Coley has had him as a top priority at the position since last season.

Which teams are in it for Kearis Jackson? 

Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State sound as if they are real contenders here. Florida State and LSU also made his top 7. Are any of these schools rising to the top, with a strong closing kick?

Kearis Jackson-UGA recruiting
Kearis Jackson says he plans to make his college decision on Aug. 19. (Jeremy Birmingham/Land of 10)

“It is probably like Auburn, Alabama and Georgia,” Jackson said. “It is probably going to come down to those three because I don’t want to go too far off.”

Most of the industry points to Jackson as a Georgia lean. He’s worn the bands and done the video bombs. But he’s at Auburn this week on a big visit.

He’s been to Auburn more this summer than to any other school. Jackson hasn’t been to UGA at all this summer. He’s not even sure if he will be at UGA this weekend for what folks on the DawgNation.com message board have been calling the “Kir-B-Q” cookout event.

He has visited Georgia more than he has Auburn, but he is scheduled to visit The Plains on Thursday. It will not be an overnight trip.

“I may go to Georgia on the 14th [Friday],” Jackson said. “But I don’t know about Georgia. I know I am going to Auburn this week, though.”

How many times has Jackson been to Auburn?

“A lot,” Jackson said. “I’ve been to Auburn the most this summer. That’s the only school I have been to this summer.”

The visit count sounds like “about 10” overall to UGA.

Kearis Jackson-UGA recruiting
Kearis Jackson was laser timed at a strong 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash in March at Nike’s The Opening regional. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The trip this week to Auburn will be his fifth this summer. There, he’ll meet up with 5-star QB Justin Fields. They are expected to throw in Jordan-Hare Stadium with 4-star wide receiver Matt Hill of Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.) High School.

“We are all going to throw together,” Jackson said. “I know Matt really well. We were all planning on going to Auburn together for this visit.”

This will just be the second time that Fields and Jackson have taken a college visit together. Does Jackson have a good idea of what he wants to do yet?

“I don’t know,” he said. “It is going to be tough. It is going to depend on the next few visits I take.”

Auburn is closest to his home, about an hour and 45 minutes away. Georgia is about 30 minutes farther away than that. The Bulldogs were the first SEC team to offer him, with Alabama’s offer not far behind.

What keeps Kearis Jackson coming back to Auburn? 

That answer is two-fold.

“I just like their receivers coach a lot,” Jackson said. “I like coach [Kodi] Burns a lot. We have a good relationship. I can see the things he is trying to do at Auburn, plus that quarterback [Jarrett Stidham] they just got over there at Auburn is pretty good.”

The big reason is there in plain sight for all to see. That depth chart.

“That depth chart is not so loaded, either, or full,” Jackson said.

Kearis Jackson-UGA recruiting
Kearis Jackson has made four recent visits to Auburn. It is the only school he has visited this summer.

How does that compare to his opportunity to sign with UGA?

“Georgia seems like it has a list full of receivers and Auburn does not,” Jackson said.

Jackson said that his recruiting experience has been similar to what he expected.

“It is going how I thought it was going to go,” Jackson said. “Some coaches are going to mess with you and really recruit you because they want you. Some are not. It is starting to really show right now.”

He noted that Auburn, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State have recruited him the hardest.

“Alabama is starting to hop on board a lot now,” Jackson said. “But when I went out to Oregon [for The Opening Finals], I just saw how things would be going out far like that. I thought about that and going up to Ohio State and Michigan. I don’t think I could play in that cold.”

And it wasn’t that cold up in Oregon that week.

“But in the mornings it was cold,” Jackson said. “Kinda.”

Jackson said he would not mind running track in college for one of those schools.

What does Justin Fields think about Kearis Jackson? 

Harrison High’s Justin Fields, the 5-star QB on everyone’s mind, makes it clear that he would like to play with Jackson.

“I feel like he is underrated,” Fields said, in reference to Jackson. “Seeing him work up in Oregon and how he did having never played with his quarterbacks and stuff showed me that. I saw him play, and I felt like those quarterbacks didn’t really trust him. I trust him. If he was on my team, then he would have had about 8 touchdown catches.”

Justin Fields-UGA recruiting
QB Justin Fields, a 5-star prospect from Georgia, said he would like to play with Kearis Jackson at the next level. (Jeremy Birmingham/Land of 10)

Those two speak often. They talked just after the news broke that 247Sports had moved Fields up to the No. 1 overall ranking for the Class of 2018.

“I called to congratulate him,” Jackson said. “I had told him that was going to end up happening, and then he told me there was a good chance that we were going to play together.”

Jackson said there is a 90 percent chance that they will play together in college.

“I think I will decide first,” Jackson said. “I don’t know, but I think he might take his officials and stuff. I’m not real sure about that. I don’t know if anyone else is.”

It is starting to look like top-5 season

Andrew Johnson, a 3-star LB from Tift County in southern Georgia, released his top-5 list Tuesday afternoon.

Take a look. That’s a pretty stout collection of options for the nation’s No. 27 outside linebacker.

Johnson has all these offers because of some pretty rare athleticism. He was a sprinter on the Tift County track team this past season, competing in the 100 and 200 meters.

DawgNation chronicled his story and interests earlier this spring. I feel he will slide inside on Saturdays.

He’s camped at Alabama and UGA of late. It is a logical conclusion to surmise that he ranks near the top of the board at inside linebacker for all of those programs among that final group.

Another nugget about big 4-star DT Rick Sandidge Jr.

DawgNation published a pretty extensive report on Concord (N.C) DT Rick Sandidge Tuesday.  His upcoming commitment has all the moving pieces of a decision that’s still going to take some time.

But there was one other aspect of his decision that was worth a read: deadlines.

Rick Sandidge-UGA recruiting
Rick Sandidge rates as the nation’s No. 11 DT for 2018 by the 247SportsComposite. (Jeff Sentell/SEC Country)

Sandidge said that some schools have placed a deadline on when they need to have an answer from him regarding his decision. That sounds rather significant, given that he sounds comfortable with taking at least until January or February to make up his mind.

South Carolina has said that he has until National Signing Day to make his decision.

“I have heard that from South Carolina,” Sandidge said. “They have said by (National) Signing Day. Virginia Tech has said they might run out of spots on the defensive line and try to move me over on offense. That’s something that I don’t want to do. I don’t know about that.”

Georgia was one of the schools that did not place a deadline on his decision.

“Even if they do say that about a deadline, it is not going to rush me at all,” he said.

He did appreciate the fact that some schools have not brought up to the topic of deadlines. That shows Sandidge that they really want him in their program and that he’s not just one of a quota of defensive linemen they need for the Class of 2018.

“That shows me something,” he said. “It does.”

 

 

 

 

 

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