UGA seems poised to add another defensive stalwart to this year’s signing class

Mykelle McDaniel is still waiting on his signing day.

Mykelle McDaniel is waiting on a green check mark.

That’s a departure from an active prep career living in backfields. The three-star prospect in the Class of 2016 was so adept at timing snaps he forced three fumbles last year inside the 1-yard line.

He also scored a 23 on his first rep with the ACT and aspires to become a doctor.

That green check mark is a nod to what those close to him term a “likely” clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse. McDaniel was homeschooled up until his ninth grade year at Grayson High School. He took a few high-school level courses as an eighth-grader from an accredited association. He’s now playing the waiting game for those to be approved on his transcript.

McDaniel had 13 sacks as a senior at Grayson last fall. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

When it happens, he can revel in  a long-awaited signing day one that sounds like it will come down to UGA and South Carolina. McDaniel took an unofficial visit to UGA last week and plans for an official visit back. He has scheduled an official visit to South Carolina for March 19.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder tallied more than 100 tackles and 13 sacks in 2015. He’s looking for an expressway to playing time. Both schools offer that and McDaniel projects to play outside linebacker on Saturdays.

McDaniel came away very impressed by his UGA visit. It was his first time meeting most of the new staff, but he said he has a “great relationship” with defensive line coach Tracy Rocker that dates back to his freshman year.

“I like UGA,” McDaniel said, who feels that the academic programs in Athens also set up well for his career in the medical field.

UGA coach Kirby Smart has given him every assurance that he’s wanted by the program.

“He told me as soon as I get that green check that he will have a scholarship for me waiting,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said his visit went so well that if he had that green check mark, he likely would’ve signed with UGA.

“Georgia will be a school that goes down to the final, final second,” he said.

Will he consider any other schools down to that final second?

McDaniel (center) is waiting on some courses he took in as a home schooler in the eighth grade to be approved by the NCAA. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

“If I’m being honest with you, since I left Georgia (that answer is) no,” McDaniel said. “But like I said, I’m still going to South Carolina next weekend.”

He thinks highly of the Carolina offer. He feels he can go in there, work hard and earn immediate playing time. The potential to get on the field quickly seems to be about the same at UGA and South Carolina. That’s because of two new coaching staffs on the defensive side of the ball.

What’s his first move once that green check mark arrives? He surmises he might set up signing-day plans, but can’t say for certain. He even expects to take a visit to Texas A&M in the interim until that NCAA clearance arrives.

“I don’t know how my emotions are going to be once I see that check,” said McDaniel, who has taken just one official visit so far to Mississippi State.

The waiting, and missing out on National Signing Day when it was so special for other big-time recruits, hasn’t been easy. He’ll admit that, but doesn’t talk about it much.

“It was a letdown, but I know God has a plan for me and I didn’t need that glitz and glamor then at that time, but it will all play out,” McDaniel said. “It is going to happen for me.”

He’s constantly asking his mother about it, and constantly being told to be patient. He said he’s been asking his mother to go check online at least five times a week.

The other thing to know McDaniel is his signature hairstyle. That look — long and wavy — makes him hard to forget.

“I really just got tired of taking care of it,” McDaniel said. “I’ve always wanted to grow out my hair and do my own thing. I was always begging my mom about that and finally she said I could when I got to high school. I’ve been growing my hair out for about three years now.”

His coaches at Grayson regard him as a pleaser, someone who has grown up to be more than a player who likes to rush the passer. Whenever a chance presents itself to do community outreach, he’s among the first to volunteer.

“I just love giving back and that is a way to give back,” McDaniel said. “I look at it as me taking an hour out of my day to try and make somebody else’s day. If I could do that, then I will do it. Why would someone not want to do that?”

His career path has been shaped by his family. He has seen aunts and grandmothers make their living as registered nurses. The future Dr. McDaniel will be a pediatrician.

“I like working with kids and I like helping people,” McDaniel said. “I just see that as a good life for me.”


Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.

Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.

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