Why prized defensive tackle Rashad Cheney might or might not flip to an SEC rival
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 like Rashad Cheney might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Rashad Cheney Jr. is a hot target these days. The rising junior defensive tackle from Washington High in Atlanta committed to Georgia on Feb. 18.
Since then, the rest of the power brokers have come his way. Alabama. Florida. LSU. Ole Miss. Penn State. South Carolina. Tennessee.
Cheney got the offer from UGA and committed in a very emotional moment. He was almost brought to tears because he was that humbled by the chance to play for the Bulldogs.
That doesn’t stop everyone else from trying to pry him away. Especially South Carolina. The 6-foot-2.5, 267-pound prospect said he hears a lot from the Gamecocks.
And the nation’s No. 8 defensive tackle for 2019 (247Sports) is listening intently, too.
“Everybody is coming hard,” Cheney said. “Everyone is still trying. Especially South Carolina.”
The gentleman knocking on the door for the garnet and black is defensive line coach Lance Thompson. Thompson, a Georgia native, has a well-earned reputation as one of the nation’s finest recruiters.
“I really kind of favor South Carolina,” he said. “It is going to be a hard process [to earn his final decision] when everything is said and done.”
Cheney realizes that paragraph will continue to cause one fan base to sweat while the spirits will soar for another.
“South Carolina has kind of got in my mind a little bit,” he said. “They haven’t got in my mind about flipping this early yet. But I’m still committed to Georgia. I don’t plan of flipping. But if South Carolina continues to come at me this way then it is going to be a real hard decision.”
How Georgia can hold onto Rashad Cheney
Georgia has his commitment. Those feelings are strong. Cheney said the best way for the Bulldogs to retain that pledge is to continue to recruit him with the same intensity that South Carolina will until he signs his scholarship papers.
Tray Scott, the first-year defensive line coach at UGA, will have to be the man for the Bulldogs there.
“He’s doing a great job,” Cheney said. “It is going to be hard to take me away from Coach Scott. He’s cool. The two of us, me and him, we just have that touch or that click with each other. We get each other. He understands me.”
Does he have that same relationship with any other recruiter?
“Yes,” Cheney said. “Coach Thompson.”
There is one thing that sets those two coaches apart from everyone else.
“The one thing that both of those guys have told me is to take my time,” Cheney said. “They have said that wherever I go to play college football they will still keep in touch and still contact me. Those are the only two that have told me that.”
“The other thing they want me to do is to visit all the schools. Make sure that I am making the right decision. They want me to see everything because they know this is a once-in-a-lifetime decision and they want to make sure that I get it right. Those are just about the only ones that have told me that. That really caught me right there about those two.”
My interpretation here is it sounds like Cheney is wavering. Just a bit. But he also tends to look at where he lives. No matter what Thompson does, he can’t change the fact that Cheney is a Georgia boy.
“What’s the one thing that keeps me committed to Georgia?” Cheney said as he repeated that question. “I just like playing for my home state one day. There’s nothing like it. Every time I go to Georgia I just get chills. Man, I dream about coming out on that field being in that red and black. I do, man. I really do.”
Cheney has a wish list of prospects he would like to see join him in Athens. That goes:
- 4-star Upson-Lee defensive lineman Travon Walker (nation’s No. 5 defensive tackle per 247 Sports)
- 4-star Callaway guard Keiondre Joens (nation’s No. 4 guard)
- Unrated Emanuel County Institute defensive lineman Curtis Fann Jr. (just picked up his UGA offer last week)
He will visit UGA on June 1. Cheney also plans to visit Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee this summer. He would like to check out Penn State, but acknowledged that will be a long trip to get up there.
Where Rashad Cheney Jr. currently stands as a prospect
DawgNation caught up with Cheney at the FBU camp in Atlanta on Sunday. It was a rare chance to see him in a camp setting. To see where he is at and what he has to work on.
The young man has skills. No doubting that. But he is not as technically advanced as other elite peers in the 2019 class. His size, strength and ability allowed him to win the camp’s overall MVP honor.
Those traits were also the big reasons why he went from unranked to the nation’s No. 8 defensive tackle prospect for 2019 in about 2-3 months. But he has a lot to sharpen up.
To his credit, he said the entire camp was a learning experience for him.
“I got a lot out of this technique-wise today,” Cheney said. “The biggest thing was as far as the fundamentals. I’ve never been trained how to do some of this stuff I know now. That just adds to my game. To make me even better as a player.”
Big event on tap for today
Cam Newton’s annual Memorial Day 7-on-7 tournament kicked off Monday morning at Shiloh High School in Gwinnett County.
The 18-team event will feature some of the elite targets in the Southeast.
Harrison Bailey, Trey Dean, Marquez Ezzard, Justin Fields, Jadon Haselwood, Kearis Jackson, Tyreke Johnson and Chris Smith will be in action. Just to name a few. There will be teams from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Newton fields two teams and serves as the offensive coordinator for his main squad. The event comes with the typical Newton flair. The flashy huddles and intense competition. Newton holds tryouts for his teams and drafts a squad of elite prospects every year.
My favorite moment from the 2016 tournament at Lakewood Stadium came in the middle of a long day. The seeded tournament stretched past 7 p.m. and there was a moment when tempers ran high. Players from two squads got chippy.
That’s when Cecil Newton stepped in. The blasting hip-hop beats were removed from the soundtrack booming from the public address system. Everyone heard gospel music for about the next 30 minutes during the tournament until clearer heads prevailed.