Jacob Eason told the Everett Herald in Washington he’s still committed to UGA, but also that he will now choose between the program he’s been solid with for 18 months and Florida.
Give the Gators credit for sensing an opening with the dismissal of Mark Richt and taking advantage of it. According to Eason’s quarterback trainer Lavelle Durant, it is now a two-team race between UGA and Florida for the No. 1 QB in the country.
“The people on his visit to Florida were real kind to him,” Durant said. “He spent a good deal of time with (Florida head coach Jim McElwain) and he enjoyed Mac’s presence and they started to build a recruiting relationship. So overall he said it was a really fun trip.”
It is now UGA’s turn for an important counter. New UGA head coach Kirby Smart flew all the way out to Washington to meet with Eason on Monday night. He left right after his introductory press conference at UGA.
“That’s real smart on his behalf,” Durant said. “This was the right time for him and UGA to come right back with a visit.”
What might be one factor that still works in UGA’s favor? Durant feels that 18 months of him still being committed to UGA will loom large.
“I do know Jacob really cares about the relationships he has built with the Georgia fans, the Georgia players and the Georgia commits,” Durant said. “I feel that could be where his heart is right now with Georgia.”
What could be working against UGA?
“Its tough with Georgia cleaning house and having a new coach come in and him not knowing what style of offense yet the new coach will run,” Durant said. “That’s versus knowing exactly what the offense is out there at Florida and knowing that offense favors you and the quarterback competition at Florida will be wide open. That’s a tough decision. In one hand, he is committed to a school and doesn’t want to let people down and in the other hand you have something that favors you and that’s something that is going to probably work out the best for you right now.”
Does that mean Durant doesn’t think the quarterback situation at UGA would not also be wide open for Eason?
“I mean Georgia seems like if he goes in and learns the scheme and does what he is supposed to do and handles business at Georgia then he will have a shot to compete,” Durant said. “I wouldn’t say the job is wide open for him to take the job, but it is a shot for him to go in and compete.”
Think about this. Florida head coach Jim McElwain made his mark as an offensive coordinator. So did former UGA coach Mark Richt. Smart, for all his many impressive traits, will never be able to say that.
That’s why his choice as offensive coordinator will be very important. Smart said at his first press conference he would seek out a balanced offense.
“Once we see who his offensive coordinator is then he will probably feel a little bit more comfortable with the style he is actually going into,” Durant said. “Balance is always good. I think every kid would like to hear the word balance, but how balanced is it going to be? That’s the big question.”
There’s also the concern just how much of a role a defensive guru like Smart would have on the offensive system at UGA.
“Kirby’s a defensive coordinator and a great defensive mind,” Durant said. “He may give more of the reins to that offensive coordinator who comes in.”
Eason just moved up to the No. 1 rated QB slot with the release of the postseason rankings from the recruiting services. The nation’s No. 4 overall prospect has signed a financial aid agreement with UGA, which allows for unlimited contact.
That’s one other advantage for UGA and Smart in the race to retain the most important commitment of the 2016 class.
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.