Aubrey Solomon said “Miami” when it came time to tell the world where he was going to play college football.
How odd was that? Well, the Hurricanes didn’t even make his final top 4.
He meant to say “Michigan” in front of all those ESPNU cameras. But there was a good reason why.
His mother Sabrina Caldwell had coached him up.
When she urged him to relax and calm his nerves prior to that moment, his mind went to something that put the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle at ease.
It does fit in with perhaps the wildest and most-watched recruiting story of the 2017 cycle.
“Aubrey was nervous on signing day,” Caldwell told DawgNation. “I told him to relax and think of something happy. When I saw the video of where he said “Miami” I asked what was going through his mind. He said to be honest he was thinking about (UGA defensive line coach Tracy) Rocker and (former Georgia coach Mark) Richt.”
Let that be the first of many strong statements she made that she hopes will counter the unsubstantiated narrative out there regarding her 5-star son, Rocker and why he chose Michigan instead of UGA.
When Caldwell first learned that her family’s name was being associated with why Rocker is no longer at Georgia, she had a powerful reaction.
“Ticked off” is the polite way to put that. Words really can’t convey it, she said.
“I found the news to be disturbing, distracting and unnerving especially to find out while at work trying to figure out what these people are talking about,” she told DawgNation. “I thought it was a joke and laughed till they showed me.”
For the record: Georgia finished second behind Michigan. She said Rocker was not the reason.
She explained what her son meant by the “Richt and Rocker” stuff. She said her son felt very comfortable with playing for those two men in Athens.
Like most players and potential recruits, her son knew Rocker as “Rock.”
“It sure seems like it as why would he think of them two (on National Signing Day) then,” Caldwell said. “He said he remembered when he first met ‘Rock’ and with all that emotion I understand it and with ‘Rock’ not there (at Georgia) he no longer feels bad leaving him behind.”
That’s a very supportive statement of Tracy Rocker as a defensive line coach. But she continued on.
She said her son would be thrilled if Rocker ever got the chance to coach him at Michigan.
Georgia lost the race for her son and she said Rocker had nothing to do it. There was no argument with Rocker. No disagreements.
She further described the Rocker theories as “baseless” and “upsetting” and shared why.
“UGA put up the biggest fight I’ve ever seen or witnessed,” she said. “I mean good grief they fought all the way to the end. Unfortunately it didn’t matter who was trying to recruit my son as he saw something he wanted to further explore. If Aubrey didn’t have that zeal then he would have been one of many beloved Bulldogs. The heart wants what it wants and Michigan stole it.”
She said her son knows Rocker has a unique spirit. Caldwell said that she has a lot in common with Georgia’s former defensive line coach.
“Aubrey likes Rocker because he is just like me,” she said. “And I like me a lot.”
She said no argument ever occurred. If there was a “disagreement” then that was definitely not in the context currently being portrayed regarding the Rocker narratives and her family.
“Aubrey knew that Rocker had a one-year contract, ” she said. “It was in news when Kirby took over and I told my son, ‘Don’t look at relationships with people as they may not be there.’ I told him to look at everything else and let your heart decide.
“He didn’t pick Georgia because he wanted to have a fresh start in a place unfamiliar to him. That’s why he chose Michigan twice.”
She described a dream staff she would love to mold her son. Georgia Director of Player Personnel Jonas Jennings would be on that team. So would Alabama assistants Derrick Ansley, Tosh Lupoi and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
But the first name she mentioned on that roll call was Rocker.
Why did he not choose Georgia? She noted that people can believe what they want. It might seem easier to believe a dramatic story about an argument, but that wasn’t her answer.
She said a big reason why Georgia didn’t sign her son centered on coaching decisions and not anything specific in their recruiting relationship.
Caldwell said they were affected by the scholarship that was no longer there for 4-star Texas RB and longtime UGA commit Toneil Carter.
Adding to the confusion: SEC All-Freshman kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was not extended a scholarship offer despite what he did to win games for the Bulldogs last season.
She said that was not her family’s fight but that it was a factor into how they perceived UGA.
“We were concerned with the scholarship issues of those not either receiving (them) or getting it pulled and again (this was) not our fight but it played a factor,” she said.
Why did her son not take a last official visit to Georgia when he had one left? Why did Kirby Smart not get one last in-home visit?
Caldwell said that a final visit was planned. That’s when their family would’ve asked about the Blankenship and Carter situations. They wanted to find out those answers.
What happened there? Caldwell said the birth of her grandchild in late January was a factor. There were complications that extended that hospital stay there for her daughter. Her 5-star son also got to be an uncle. The Southwest Georgia storms were also cited as a factor.
She said her son spent time volunteering with cleanup and storm relief efforts in a neighboring county.
But there was one more point she made very clear about Rocker. Those “baseless” rumors angered her.
“I’m quite upset as there was no argument and cannot see why someone or anyone would say that,” she told DawgNation. “Aubrey and I have not only respect for what he does but who he is.”