NEW ORLEANS – One of UGA’s top remaining targets in this year’s recruiting class has been impressed with how the Bulldogs have rallied around Devon Gales.
Gales is the player from Southern University who suffered a spinal injury while playing against UGA last month. He remains in a treatment facility today, and it’s unknown if he will walk again.
UGA’s coaches and players have visited Gales at the hospital, and the Bulldogs have helped raised money to pay for medical bills.
The outpouring of love from the UGA community has left an impression on Willie Allen, a 4-star offensive tackle from Louisiana that is high on UGA’s recruiting board.
Allen told DawgNation that UGA’s actions after Gales’ injury have helped solidify his opinion that the Bulldogs would be a good fit if he were to commit there .
“When they played Southern, the guy that got hurt, the whole town of Athens donated money to him, sent him letters, visited him in the hospital, and that says a lot about coach (Mark) Richt and the Georgia staff,” Allen said. “It sharpened up my opinion a lot because knowing if that was me on the opposing team or on Georgia’s team, I know they would have my back. It’s not all about football. It’s about family and faith.”
The 6-foot-7, 300-pounder is a very religious young man, which also helps UGA in its recruitment of him because Richt is a devout Christian like Allen. The elite prospect remembers the first conversation he had with Richt, and it’s something he won’t forget.
“When I first spoke to coach Richt, he just wanted to talk about life and not football,” Allen said. “He told me he wasn’t a perfect Christian until he lost one of his close friends in college. He was just telling me how he changed his life in college. Coach Richt is a good guy. I can tell he is God first.”
The nation’s No. 10 offensive tackle also speaks to his good friends Jacob Eason and Ben Cleveland often. Eason and Cleveland, the first two UGA commits in this recruiting class, have been working hard to get Allen to join them. Allen says he will visit UGA in December for its annual team awards banquet with Eason and Cleveland.
“I talked to Ben. He’s a pretty cool guy,” Allen said. He was just telling me about Georgia itself and how they love you – not just because you’re a football player, but just the community is so welcoming no matter where you’re from.
“Jacob – We call him ‘Skinny.’ He’s 6-foot-7, just like Ben and I. He has no problem slinging the ball all over the field. We have a good relationship. We kicked it at Dawg Night (prospect camp in July). We had dinner together. He hung out with my grandfather. He’s a cool guy.”
Allen says he hears from LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, Ohio State, TCU and Tulane on a weekly basis. He will take official visits to UGA, LSU, Auburn and Ole Miss. The fifth school remains unknown right now.
Those visits are likely to happen after his season. For the most part, Allen has shut down his recruitment and social media use because he is focused on helping his team compete for a state championship this season.
“My team comes first,” he said. “They were there for me when I wasn’t being recruited as a freshman. Even when football is over, these guys will be there for me. The next four years of my life are going to be pretty important, but I just want to make my last year of high school the best ever.”
Allen and the John Curtis High School team lost a heartbreaking 40-37 overtime game to Brother Martin three weeks ago. The loss still stings.
For now, his future team and teammates will have to wait for his decision, because Allen won’t be satisfied until his team is playing in the Superdome this December for a championship.
“I’m just taking my time right now. I kind of put recruiting to the side. I just feel like the best school will win. I’m thankful for every university that has offered me a scholarship to come make an impact as a freshman. Everyone will just have to wait until February,” Allen said.
Allen is the No. 6 overall prospect in Louisiana.