UGA recruiting: Previewing huge official visit by 4-star gem Alontae Taylor
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet for Friday calls for a look at Tennessee receiver Alontae “Tae” Taylor.
When it comes to media coverage, it seems safe to say that Tennessee 4-star receiver Alontae “Tae” Taylor has been put through the washer of late.
His name grabbed headlines and it wasn’t long before he became an outright de-commit as the Butch Jones era came to an end in Knoxville. Taylor will take an official visit to Georgia that begins on Saturday.
A pair of Georgia receivers were jockeying on Thursday night to be able to host Taylor.
Taylor has made himself very available to the media during this time of transition. It is a time when most recruits simply shut down, but Taylor’s approach has been uncommon.
There is #ONERZN for that. That’s the hashtag that sits atop his Twitter bio, and it reflects a very special relationship he had with his grandmother.
Her name was Ginger Burnette. She passed away March 13, 2009. Taylor was just 10.
“My granny passed right about that time as a kid when you start to learn more about life,” Taylor said. “I was just starting to get older and start learning more. My granny taught me how to love. She taught me what the word ‘love’ means. She showed me how to care for others and be there for others, listen to others and try to help out people as much as possible. So I feel like my granny taught me that at a young age.
“I feel like I’m at that age now where I should start doing it.”
Taylor felt led to honor Burnette in his speech Thursday when he received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey in front of his school community.
“I mentioned my granny and wanted to tell her that she was my motivation and to fly high,” Taylor said.
His official visit this weekend will be big. But the decision road he’s on now will include official visits to Georgia, Wake Forest, Alabama and Louisville.
Taylor said he intends to commit and sign on Dec. 22. That’s not the first day of the early signing period.
There’s #ONERZN for that, too.
Burnett’s birthday fell on Dec. 24. Taylor chose the closest day he could to her birthday to further honor her memory.
“A lot of things have changed in my life with my family since she passed,” Taylor said. “As far as what we do as a family. So I miss her a lot. Because I know that if she was still here that I know that my family would be a lot closer than what we are now. So I’m living my life now off the things she taught me at a young age.”
That’s why that hashtag will probably always lead off the top of his Twitter account. His cousin also adopts the same philosophy.
“We have one reason why we are doing this,” Taylor said. “It is for her.”
What are his thoughts heading into his visit this weekend?
“I have a feeling for UGA,” Taylor said. “I just feel that being able to stay overnight and hang out with the players and talk to the players and stuff like that will help let me know if that is where I need to be. But I can honestly say that while I was committed to Tennessee that I could see myself at Georgia. I felt like I was at home in Athens as well.”
Why this official visit matters for Alontae Taylor
Georgia only will get to host Taylor on his official visit across two days. The way his schedule sets up, he will have three-day visits along the rest of those trips.
Will that limit the Bulldogs?
“Of course not,” Taylor said. “I’ve been to Georgia twice. The only thing I am missing out on is I haven’t been to a game. So that’s a plus. I will get to spend a lot of time with the coaches on Sunday and I will get all the questions that I need to know an answer.”
It will actually be Taylor’s second UGA game of the year. He saw a quasi-home game when Tennessee hosted UGA. The Bulldogs routed the Volunteers and turned Neyland Stadium into an annex of their home field on a very rare October date in the series.
He noticed the exuberance of the UGA fans then.
“They were crazy,” Taylor said. “They have a lot of passion to be the away team. I’ve seen a lot of things about Georgia. I’m just ready to experience it in person.”
Here are a few things to know about the trip:
- Even if UGA delivers an out-of-this-world visit, he will still take his appointed official visits.
- He might take those visits as a silent commit, but he’s not expecting that.
- He would be OK with playing on both sides of the ball at UGA. He meshed very well with Georgia wide receivers coach James Coley and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker when he shined at a prospect camp this summer.
What Alontae Taylor hopes to hear from Kirby Smart
Taylor has just a few questions for the UGA staff this weekend. The biggest of those will deal with timing.
“There is something I want to talk to coach Smart about,” Taylor said. “I’m set on committing on the [Dec.] 22nd and signing somewhere. I would want to ask him what is my deadline and when do I need to let them know with that. Because you never know. The door could close.]
“That’s something I need to ask coach Smart and see what he has to say. Whatever his response is will be what I go by.”
What else would he like to hear from Georgia?
That response was interesting. The Georgia class is going to be packed in tighter than a kid’s Halloween sack.
Taylor’s reply went beyond just hoping UGA would tell him when it was down to its last available scholarship slot for 2018.
“Just for coach [Smart] to tell me that whenever I am ready that they will take my commitment,” Taylor said.
If he hears that from Georgia, it might be the mic drop. That’s evident by the text message exchange he had this week with 5-star quarterback commit Justin Fields.
“I texted him this week and I was like, ‘Your boy might commit this weekend,’ ” Taylor said. “He was like, ‘Are you going public with it?’ and I told him that I didn’t know.”
Taylor said Fields told him they would see each other this weekend and hang out in Athens.
Can UGA pull Alontae Taylor and Cade Mays in 2018?
Cade Mays, the 5-star offensive tackle prospect, once was the top commit for Jones at Tennessee for 2018. That’s when things weren’t so rocky in Knoxville. Taylor ranked third in the class.
Can UGA really lop the cream off the top of that former Vol class? Taylor had an interesting thought.
“I was still committed to Tennessee when he visited Georgia this month,” Taylor said about Mays. “So when he left Georgia, I was like, ‘Do you like Georgia?’ and he was like, ‘It is the place’ and he was telling me that it was a really special place. I told him when I was taking my official, and he was telling me I would have a blast.”
Those two have continued to swap messages.
A few choice emojis may or may not have been used. DawgNation may have confirmed the use of a pair of googly eyes.
“I was telling him that I have been waiting for this weekend for so long and he just kept telling me to enjoy it and that we would talk about it afterward,” Taylor said.
There seems to be some irony there. A pair of longtime Tennessee commits could only watch as the staff they committed to would no longer lead that program.
Most times, it would mean they no longer have the chance to play together. But now there is a chance they can still play together. It would be at Georgia.
“I don’t feel like it is ironic there but I do feel like it is going to be what it is going to be,” Taylor said.
Jordan Davis commitment coverage
The Bulldogs picked up a mammoth 4-star defensive tackle last night in North Carolina native Jordan Davis. We continue to bring up North Carolina as a very important state for the Bulldogs this year, and it looks as if the Tar Heel State has delivered two gems to the class in 2018.
There’s 5-star running back Zamir White plus Davis. KJ Henry, another 5-star talent, also looms as a potential third.
Davis showed a real impressive big team, little me side to his personality with his commitment tweet. That detail meshed nicely with the DawgNation story on Davis that chronicled his commitment and what the Bulldogs were getting.
It also gave us a pretty good read of the “UGA bump” in terms of his Twitter account. Davis had approximately 560 followers at the beginning of the week. He was up to 1,050 early Friday morning.
That’s not bad considering he committed around 9 p.m. on Thursday night.
The Davis news was followed by the usual wave of tweets from the UGA coaching staff and the previous 2018 commits, too. But then there was an interesting wrinkle that involved Taylor.
I’ll let you good folks pick your own emoji to describe that one.
Must-see Justin Fields
The senior highlights for 5-star QB Justin Fields are complete. His season was cut way too short by a broken finger, but there are enough highlights here to fill a couple seasons’ worth of tape for any top recruit.
Fields, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, is still considering whether he will sign and enroll early with Georgia. Those decisions are in progress, but I think it is a safe bet that he will sign early.
Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed faster than Georgia All-America candidate Roquan Smith can find the football after the snap.