Oconee County High School is less than 10 miles away from Sanford Stadium — home of the UGA Bulldogs.
His hometown of Watkinsville, Ga., a suburb of Athens, is what UGA LB target Jaleel Laguins has known his entire life. He was born and raised there.
So on the eve of arguably his biggest life decision yet, Laguins was talking about leaving what he knows and “branching out.”
“Maybe it’s not the hometown that’s best for me,” Laguins told the AJC. “Everybody wants you to stay at home. Maybe it’s best for me to branch out as a man and grow as a man and develop as a man, so I need to get away from home so I can think on my own. I won’t have my mom waking me up every morning. Yes, I do love my family and I’m not trying to get away from them necessarily, but at the same time I do feel like I need to branch out and grow as a man.”
So where is that place where he may branch out at in his college years? Auburn.
The 4-star LB made a last-minute visit to the school this past weekend, and just like all of his previous visits there — it felt like a home away from home.
“It went great, just like how all of the Auburn visits go,” Laguins said. “I don’t know what it is, but every time I go there it feels like home.”
The 6-foot-2, 213-pounder has already made his decision. There will be no second-guessing this one. There will be no 11th-hour swaying done by any coach or any player. He has thought long and hard about where he’ll commit Wednesday morning.
“I feel pretty confident with my decision,” he said. “I prayed about it, thought about it, prayed about it again, again and again. I talked with my pastor and we prayed about it some more and it just feels right to me.”
Laguins told the AJC last month that his finalists are UGA, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida and Nebraska. Even though four fanbases are not going to agree with his decision, his recruitment will not be done until National Signing Day.
“I’m not going to completely close my recruiting process,” Laguins said. “I plan on taking a few official visits and plan on taking a few unofficials just so everyone can get a fair chance to recruit me. I don’t think it’s fair for the schools who haven’t seen me in person for me to just say, “well I’m not going to go there.” It kind of isn’t fair going up there as a commit, either, but it isn’t fair to them that they haven’t gotten the chance to recruit me before I made my decision at the same time. I feel like everyone should have an equal amount to impress me. I don’t want “oh, he’s 15 minutes away from Georgia. He’s automatically going there.” That’s not the case. “
For someone who was rumored to have committed at UGA’s Dawg Night prospect camp last month, it doesn’t sound certain that the school is right for him.
He told the AJC last month that he is “a Georgia boy,” but maybe he means what he says about branching out. Perhaps he just wants a change of scenery.
The linebacker does have one message for fans before his commitment at 7:45 a.m.
“Try not to blow up my Twitter tomorrow with hate mail,” he said.
The AJC will broadcast Laguins’ commitment live at Oconee County High School Wednesday morning. More details to come.