POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — It didn’t take long for incoming Georgia tailback Kenny McIntosh to figure out how the recruiting game worked.
As the 6-foot-1, 215-pound McIntosh was tearing through talent-rich South Florida defenses the past three seasons, more letters and phone calls arrived each day.
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“They’d all say the same things,” McIntosh told DawgNation. “They’d say how bad they want you, how you fit in their program, how they have history and tradition, and how you can play right away and get the best education at their school.”
But McIntosh learned before signing with Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs that what some schools say and what they actually mean are two different things.
Richard McIntosh could feel himself burning when the text message arrived on his phone. It was a picture of what he was told was an Alabama staff recruiting list that had his youngest son in a less-than-flattering place entering the 2018 season.
“The list had a lot of names on it,” Richard McIntosh said, “and Kenny’s was listed under ‘Second Tier.’ ”
Richard McIntosh knew enough to know the list was real, and he also knew to expect the unexpected when it came to recruiting. He had been through the recruiting process before with two of Kenny’s older brothers, RJ and Deon.
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RJ McIntosh, now with the New York Giants, stayed close to home and played at Miami. Deon signed with Notre Dame and after a junior college stop is headed to Washington State this season.
But for this list to come up, purportedly from the desk of an Alabama staff member, was something different.
Kenny McIntosh admits being labeled “second tier” is added motivation, and his unofficial visit to Alabama rubbed him the wrong way.
“It’s just how Alabama was; one of the coaches said, ‘If you come here we’re going to win, and if you don’t, we’re still going to win,’ and that’s how they came off,” McIntosh said. “Coach (Kirby) Smart didn’t and doesn’t come off like that.
“He knows how to talk to players, and I think it was because he played,” McIntosh said. “You know how Nick is, he’s not really with the players, but you see how Kirby was in the locker room (celebrating) with players after beating Auburn.”
As for the 2018 preseason list, former UGA tailback commit and LSU signee John Emery was listed under “Top Tier” and eventual Tide tailback signee Trey Sanders was “3rd Tier.”
Kenny McIntosh admits it’s not something he will soon forget.
“I think it will probably come up when I get a chance to play them,” Kenny McIntosh said. “Everybody wants an Alabama offer, because after that, you feel like you can get any other offer.
“I know they have a lot of great players, and I know they win. But Georgia has a lot of great players and Georgia wins, and is on the verge, could’ve beaten Alabama, and I think this is the year we do it.”
Richard McIntosh’s favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, and Ezekiel Elliott is one of Kenny McIntosh’s favorite players.
It only made sense the Buckeyes, who Elliott played for in college, were an early leader for Kenny after he attended their “Friday Night Lights” camp entering his junior year.
“They brought me in a room and showed me plays of what Ezekiel Elliott does without the ball,” Kenny McIntosh said. “They have a great history of running backs, and I was getting sold on it. I thought I could have been there. I liked the way their running backs coach communicated.
“I liked it, and my dad and my family are from Ohio, so they were gong to be among the top schools.”
The Buckeyes, however, had their sights set on other running backs, even as they were pressing McIntosh for a verbal commitment.
“They wanted two running backs to commit, and I wasn’t ready to commit,” Kenny McIntosh explained. “So once they got two running backs committed, they stopped calling.”
Ohio State ended up with Steele Chambers (Roswell, Ga.) and Marcus Crowley (Jacksonville, Fla.) as their two running back signees in the 2019 class.
Entering last October, however, the Buckeyes’ backs committed were Chambers and Sampson James.
When James “flipped” to Indiana, Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford reached back out to McIntosh.
“Once (James) de-committed, they got with me that night and asked if I’d be interested,” McIntosh said. “I told them I’d sleep on it, but I knew I wasn’t big on it.
“I texted back the next day that I wasn’t interested, and that I wasn’t going to have them in my top eight.”
Alford seemed shocked in his text message reply: “Wow. I was hoping to hear something different than that. Can you tell me why?”
McIntosh didn’t feel the need respond.
RUNNING BACK U
Kirby Smart doesn’t waver on his offensive philosophy.
“We’ve got a set of plays, our core belief that we always have,” Smart said last fall. “Balance, being powerful, being able to run the ball at our will, not somebody else breaking our will. That’s always going to be the identity we have.”
But the Georgia run game has its nuances, and they shared them with Kenny and his family.
“Georgia was the only school that took the running backs they have had and compared them with Kenny in the film room,” Richard McIntosh said. “Of all the places we went, Georgia had the best presentation by a long shot, and you know Georgia is going to run the ball.”
Kenny McIntosh’s interest was piqued by the detail Smart and his offensive staff went into when explaining how he fit into the Georgia game plan.
“They brought all the offensive coaches in the room, and they’d show a play of me, and then a play of Sony (Michel),” McIntosh said. “They showed how he ran the ball on the play and how I ran the same play.”
The Georgia staff took the next step with McIntosh, too, showing an understanding of the two-way street required for players and program to mesh effectively.
“They showed the money that you make depending on where you get drafted,” McIntosh said, “and they showed how the plays they run now are the same plays being run in the NFL.”
Other schools had done the same.
“Coach Saban called me a couple of times and he said a lot of the same things,” McIntosh said. “How me playing running back would fit into that offense. But Alabama didn’t show it like Georgia did.”
Neither did Ohio State.
The Tide and the Buckeyes did, however, light a fire under McIntosh still burning as he prepares to report May 29 to Georgia.
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