RoIt was a busy Monday for UGA targets at the Under Armour All-America Game check-in in Orlando, Fla. What did those guys say?
Was it good news or bad news? Or meh? Here’s a quick recap of what’s out there. There a lot of information and coaching transitions to sort through with these major UGA targets.
1. Lyndell “Mack” Wilson, 5-star LB, Montgomery, Ala.
Recap: The nation’s No. 1 OLB told Derek Tyson of ESPN that Florida was his leader, but also that he was leaning toward Florida and UGA. His UGA official visit, as reported previously, will be on Jan. 15. His buddy Jeawon Taylor, a Florida commit, will also be on an UGA official visit that weekend.
What it means: The fact that UGA has essentially came out of nowhere since Smart’s hiring cannot be overstated. Especially since he told Tyson that his relationship with Smart has now placed UGA over the in-state Crimson Tide.
That said, the term “all over the place” might apply to Wilson. He also told SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi he is “all even” and is leaning toward no one and yet also said that Florida is his No. 1 school. He added that Florida and Alabama are tied and UGA is a distant third. He said the decision was 40 percent Florida, 40 percent Alabama and 20 percent UGA.
2. Willie Allen, 4-star OL, River Ridge, La.
Recap: Allen took his official visit to UGA with Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason. Cleveland told DawgNation earlier this year he feels UGA is in great shape with Allen, but that was before Richt’s dismissal. Allen told multiple reporters in Orlando on Monday that his mind was essentially made-up and he could make his decision before he takes another trip. Scout.com’s Chad Simmons reported Allen said his decision was 80-85 percent made up and his decision could come this week.
What it means: Home state LSU looms here, but the fact Allen said he doesn’t need to make any more trips is a bit of a head-scratcher. He’s only taken official visits to UGA and TCU. His brother just graduated from TCU. He told ESPN’s Jeremy Crabtree the Richt factor was huge for UGA’s chances, but he also likes the new coaching staff. That said, he can’t really build a relationship in two months. It doesn’t seem like a wild guess here to think UGA’s biggest attraction to Allen is the chance to play with Cleveland and Eason. All three of those guys love country music, cowboy boots and are all at least 6-foot-5 in height. They’ve stayed in touch since Allen came to Dawg Night back in July.
3. Shyheim Carter, Sr., 4-star DB, Kentwood, La.
Recap: There was one report that said he was down to a final three, but Carter disputed that with SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner. The main nugget from Kirschner’s report said Carter had a good relationship with new UGA head coach Kirby Smart and “he could see himself playing at UGA.” Carter was committed to Alabama for a long time, but he re-opened things. He was close with Pruitt and he’s also tight with Ole Miss. The Rebels have done a great job recruiting Carter and welcoming his children to campus on any visit. Pruitt is now at Alabama and that relationship is another major factor. Carter has made it clear he considers Pruitt “one of the best men around.”
What it means: Another thing to watch with Carter is if UGA retains personnel director Sam Petitto. Those two are closely connected and have a long relationship. Smart gives UGA a chance here, but one way to look at it is that Pruitt and Smart cancel one another out and he goes to Ole Miss. That’s closer to his family.
4. Michail Carter, 4-star DT, Jackson, Ga.
Recap: Carter told 247’s Keith Neibuhr that he plans to take all of his official visits once the dead period ends, but that means it will include a couple of mid-week trips. UGA got his last official visit before Jan. 29. Clemson gets an official on Jan. 15 and Georgia Tech on Jan. 22. The 6-foot-4, 302-pounder said he had no leaders. Alabama was said to be recruiting him the hardest.
What it means: That last official visit is always prime real estate. It looks like UGA has maintained his attention during the transition to Kirby Smart’s staff. The retention of Tracy Rocker as defensive line coach cannot be understated here.
5. E.J. Price, 4-star OL, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Recap: Price spoke to multiple reporters on check-in day in Orlando. There was one report which stated he was down to a final three, but he told DawgNation that wasn’t the case. He told 247’s Luke Stampini that his top three now consists of UGA, USC and Oklahoma in no particular order.
Price has already taken an official visit to USC and plans trips to Oklahoma (Jan. 15), LSU (Jan. 22) and Auburn (Jan. 29) once the dead period ends. He was a frequent visitor at UGA games this fall. There should not be a big worry about an official visit there.
What it means: Price was committed to UGA for about three months this year, but pushed the reset button on that choice. The fact that Auburn is not among his Top 3 bodes well for UGA. Price has already told DawgNation he likes what he’s heard so far from Smart’s new offensive line coach. Sam Pittman has already made an impression on him.
6. Devwah Whaley, 4-star RB, Beaumont, Texas
Recap: 247sports.com’s David Lake reports that Miami and former UGA coach Mark Richt are pushing for a late official visit. Whaley de-committed from UGA after the transition from Richt to Smart. Some reports are out there that Whaley will make his public commitment at the Under Armour game, but Lake’s information says that is still up in the air.
There are multiple reports out there from Monday’s check-in that UGA’s only ties to Whaley were former running backs coach Thomas Brown and Richt. Those two men are not at UGA, but will be at Miami next year. Whaley also told reporters yesterday that Smart has called him and plans to make an in-home visit once the dead period ends and his duties at Alabama have been discharged for the 2015-2016 season.
What it means: UGA has no relationship with Whaley at this time. The chances will not improve until mid-January and UGA has yet to name a running backs coach to replace Brown. Kirby Smart and his staff will have about two weeks to lure him back in. That doesn’t seem possible if he’s already made a commitment. Look for Arkansas or Texas here.
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.