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UGA recruiting: What was different for 5-star KJ Henry on his official visit?

KJ Henry-UGA recruiting
5-star DE/OLB KJ Henry took his first official visit to UGA last weekend.

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 call for today is another official visit review for a 5-star visitor from last week. That’s North Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker KJ Henry.


Georgia set the bar high with the official visit from 5-star defensive end/outside linebacker KJ Henry.

It was a good first official. But do you want to know what was really different for Henry (West Forsyth H.S./Clemmons, N.C.) compared to the last time he saw a game in Sanford Stadium?

That chapel bell rang out.

His last trip was the Oct. 15, 2016, homecoming game that saw Vanderbilt upend the Bulldogs. That was not a great day.

This trip was better.

KJ Henry looked to have had a very good time on Saturday on his official visit to UGA. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

“Just the fact that they won this time,” Henry told Hale McGranahan of SEC Country. “The last time I went down there, they lost to Vanderbilt, so the energy was definitely there. But they’ve been very consistent with me so far.”

Henry brought a lot of family with him to Athens. His mother. Both grandfathers. His father, Keith Henry, the running backs coach at Charlotte, was not able to attend.

“I just enjoyed myself,” Henry told McGranahan. “Obviously, a big win for the Bulldogs versus stout competition. They treated my family very well. That’s really big, as far as my decision process. Knowing they enjoyed their time, that made me happy.”

Henry has said he will enroll early at the school of his choice. He expects to announce his decision during the early signing period and then enroll in school after the Under Armour All-America Game.

He has a final 5 of Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

KJ Henry has a good relationship with 5-star quarterback Justin Fields

KJ Henry ranks on the 247Sports composite as the nation’s No. 2 weakside DE and as the No. 16 overall prospect.

It seems as if every Georgia recruiting story these days likely has a Justin Fields tie-in. It sort of feels like that old game that involved movies with linking actors to Kevin Bacon in six movies or less.

Fields links to Henry quite easily. They are both Under Armour All-Americans. They were together at The Opening Finals in Oregon this summer.

KJ Henry also spent a good amount of time chatting with undecided 5-star junior Owen Pappoe at the Mississippi State game. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

They also spoke to one another on Henry’s official visit. It marked the second consecutive unofficial visit to Georgia for Fields. It was also the fifth time (at least) that Fields has visited Athens since mid-July.

How would Henry describe his relationship with Fields, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect?

“A guy that I’m very comfortable with and we have a very good relationship,” Henry told McGranahan. “So just getting to see him down there [in Athens] was fun. Just got to hang out with him and we got to build our relationship.”

Henry said he also is close with 5-star junior UGA commit Nolan Smith, who sounds as if his commitment to UGA has strengthened over the last month. He also said “something special” is on the way at Georgia.

But Henry also said that he is close with Trevor Lawrence and Xavier Thomas, two blue-chip players committed to Clemson. They are also rated as the nation’s No. 2 and 3 overall prospects for 2018, respectively.

“It’s been a lot of different guys that I’ve built relationships with, and that’s why I love this game,” Henry said. “I get to meet some great people, but those are some of the guys.”

A quick tour through KJ Henry’s 5 finalists

Henry told SEC Country on Wednesday that his second official visit will take place Oct. 21 at Virginia Tech for the North Carolina game. He also said he was honored to be selected for the Under Armour game.

“It’s hard to put into words,” he said. ““Ever since I was about my little brother’s age, 11 years old, seeing these guys perform on TV, I was jealous. To be at this point in my career, I’m definitely blessed.”

Henry shared a few thoughts regarding his thought process on his five finalists.

Alabama: He’s always been impressed by the Crimson Tide’s pecking order in college football and the program’s vast tradition. Henry likes how the Tide put players in the league. He has just seen more of the same from Alabama’s top-ranked team on the field so far.

Henry on Alabama: “Doing what they usually do. Dominating. I expect nothing less from them. Coach Saban, honestly, has all of those guys in check. To be a part of that program right now, I know they’re smiling. They’re looking very good this year.”

Five-star KJ Henry received his Under Armour All-American jersey on Wednesday at his high school. (Intersport/special)

South Carolina: Coach Will Muschamp is the driving force in Henry’s recruitment. Muschamp has been to one of his games this year and is in contact with Henry more than any other head coach.

That’s the same approach that Muschamp is applying to 4-star North Carolina DT Rick Sandidge. Sandidge also ranks very high on Georgia’s board.

Henry on South Carolina: “Coach Muschamp, I think he really hits hard on me. That’s definitely been a guy, whenever I want to talk to someone there, he’s the one I’m calling, so I think our relationship is very well. To have that relationship with the head coach, that speaks volumes.”

Clemson and Virginia Tech: Henry told DawgNation that the team to beat during his junior year was Clemson. That has changed, and this decision is tougher now.

Henry and his family are exploring taking an official visit to Clemson for the North Carolina game. As stated earlier, his next official visit will be to Virginia Tech. He really likes what the Hokies have to offer with the defensive tradition that has now been balanced out with an offensive-minded coach.

Those two schools meet this week. He will take a good look at that contest.

Henry on Clemson and Virginia Tech:  “I expect it to be a close game. Clemson is obviously hitting very well, on all cylinders. The quarterback is playing very well and, obviously, the defensive line is doing what they’ve always been doing. But, on the same side, coach [Bud] Foster’s defense has definitely been one of the best in the country, every single year. I think he’s done a great job with those guys and the new story is [Virginia Tech] coach [Justin] Fuente’s offense. I see why they hired him. It’s been very successful and efficient with those guys on the offensive side of the ball.”

Another round of DawgNation Hurry-up Intel

  • UGA did not move up in the 247Sports team composite rankings with the addition of 3-star Louisiana S/LB hybrid Aaron Brule’ over the weekend. The Bulldogs still rank fifth in the SEC and at No. 14 overall.
  • Georgia offered Auburn commit Matthew Hill on Wednesday. I’ve been high on the Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.) athlete for some time. I had two initial thoughts when news trickled out that Hill had finally garnered a UGA offer: The best player in the state without a UGA offer now has one, and the length of time Georgia spent evaluating Hill won’t be easy to overcome.
  • IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) cornerback Brendan Radley-Hiles seems a lot like Jamyest Williams in the 2017 class. Williams has more ability on returns and as a running back/slot receiver on offense. But they both play with the same all-out style that earns the respect of every coach or player they face. Radley-Hiles told me UGA still has not offered. Size is the major issue there. The 5-8 1/2, 180-pound player does not fit what Georgia is looking for at cornerback. Radley-Hiles did get off a block and chase down and tackle major Georgia running back target James Cook in a high school game last Friday night. Clemson is pursuing Radley-Hiles, but he remains committed to Nebraska.
  • Standout cornerback Ken Montgomery Jr. (Hillsborough H.S./Tampa, Fla.) was not able to make it to UGA last weekend. The UCLA commit has said he now plans to just take his official visit to Georgia.
  • Trevor Trout, a big 4-star target at defensive tackle (Chaminade/St. Louis), weighed in on what Georgia did on the field last week. “They play some defense,” Trout said.
  • Curtis Fann, a 4-star junior target from Emanuel County Institute (Twin City, Ga.), also checked in with his thoughts on the win: “That was huge for me. It showed me that the defense improved tremendously, and I’m a defensive player. So that’s great.”
  • Wanya Morris, a 4-star offensive tackle (Grayson H.S./Loganville, Ga.) for 2019, also visited Georgia in back-to-back weeks. He’s currently committed to Florida State but had this to say about those Georgia trips: “I love it. It was fun. The atmosphere was incredible and the team chemistry was incredible. … All I’m going to say is it may have me thinking.”
  • Owen Pappoe, a 5-star linebacker (Grayson H.S./Loganville, Ga.) who rates as the nation’s No. 5 prospect for 2019, said he was “really impressed” with the way Georgia played last Saturday.
  • Kevin Swint, a 4-star outside linebacker prospect for 2020 (Carrollton, Ga.), told me he took his first visit of the season last Saturday to Georgia, which remains his top school. His take on the game was one of the best I collected over the weekend: “The game was like an earthquake. The crowd was into it the whole game, and the Bulldog defense is showing what they are really made of.”

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed faster than Georgia All-American candidate Roquan Smith can find the football after the snap.


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