UGA will host a potential starter for this fall on an official visit this weekend

UGA offensive line coach Sam Pittman is still looking for a potential starter for this year's signing class.

Demetris Robertson isn’t the only other prospect UGA could add to its recruiting class this year.

The other hopeful is on the other end of the spectrum compared to a five-star high school receiver. Tyler Catalina, 23, will take one of his last two official visits to UGA this Friday. He’s currently committed to Iowa State and has already visited that school along with Boston College and Florida.

The fifth-year transfer candidate will fly back out on Sunday. “Big Cat” will do so via the graduate transfer route. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder has played his last two seasons at left tackle for Rhode Island. He logged 12 games at right tackle as a redshirt freshman.  

Tyler Catalina has started for the last two seasons at left tackle at Rhode Island. (Rhode Island Athletics)

“Everybody so far has told me I have the ability to play in the NFL,” Catalina said. “The FCS level is good competition, but if you really want to impress the scouts and play on Sundays then you have to play at the highest level possible and put out good film.”

UGA reached out to Catalina about three or four weeks ago, he said. He’s already gotten a good read on new line coach Sam Pittman.

“So far from the conversations I’ve had he sure sounds like a great guy,” Catalina said. “He knows what he is doing and he expects the most out of his players and is a straight-forward guy.”

Catalina said all schools are selling him to come in right away and be a contributor at one of the tackle spots. He feels all of his choices are all lobbying him extremely hard. There’s not one school standing out, he said.

What is he looking for? Not much on the academic side even though it sounds like the sports management program would be a good fit. He’s looking at this fall as a one-year audition to play on Sundays.

“If the next level stuff for me doesn’t take off as planned I would love to get into coaching,” he said.

Catalina was a team captain for Rhode Island last fall. He was named second-team all-conference as a junior and third-team all-conference as a sophomore. His recruiting interest at the BCS level opened up after he shared his film from a standout game against Syracuse in 2015.

He was hardly recruited coming out of high school in 2012 and had to take the prep school route as a late qualifier. He also suffered through a 1-10 season last fall so he understands the opportunities that are now before him.

“It has never been easy from high school to prep school and here at Rhode Island,” he said. “It has always been a grind. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder because I have always known I have been good enough to play at any level even though everyone is quick to point out flaws and what you can’t do well. It helps you propel yourself to make yourself better by hearing that stuff.”

He doesn’t have a deadline in mind per se, but will visit Auburn next weekend. He doesn’t see this process stretching out too far for his own sanity, he said. He said the coaches noted his footwork and athletic ability and feel they can hone his schools at the next level.

The Massachusetts native has been timed at 4.9 seconds in the 40 and can dunk a basketball.   

What does he think about UGA?

“Just growing up and seeing the history and the perception of the program they have always been one of the top schools in the nation year in and year out,” Catalina said. “To be recruited by them and other top SEC schools is an honor. I am happy about that.”

He’s also been offered by Missouri and Texas A&M in the SEC.

 

 

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

Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com 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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