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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Five-star junior outside linebacker Owen Pappoe has the Bulldogs in his top 3 schools.

The big reasons why Owen Pappoe put UGA in his top 3

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The budget for Wednesday calls for setting up the decision that 5-star junior outside linebacker Owen Pappoe likely will make in the next few months. 

Owen Pappoe started out rated as a safety. That’s what happens when a young man already looks like a high school junior with SEC offers coming out of middle school.

Owen Pappoe-UGA recruiting
Owen Pappoe is rated as the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker prospect for 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Pappoe was one of those “mid-varsity” offers. That’s the term we use around these parts for an elite player who picks up very big-boy offers in the summer between his middle school and high school years.

Pappoe, a talented defender from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., was one of those players. I remember when he was the most important defender for the Rams during the playoffs of his freshman season. He was picking up double-digit tackles per game back in 2015.

Stop and process that for a minute: Pappoe was a freshman. He was doing that during of the playoffs within the most competitive classification of Georgia High School Association football.

Time flies. He had big offers before Donald Trump ran for president, before Empire was big and before Jon Snow was slain. He was mentioned back then as a potential No. 1 running back for the Rams one day. He was just that talented.

The explosive defender turned every head at Nike’s The Opening Atlanta regional during the spring of his freshman year. He was named to The Opening after a ridiculous 40 time in bitter weather conditions. Pappoe likely will be the only three-time Opening camper next summer.

Time flies. Now, he’s a junior. Pappoe is also rated as the nation’s No. 5 overall prospect for 2019 by the 247Sports composite.

That safety has evolved into a linebacker. He named his top 3 schools Tuesday night, and Georgia was right in the middle of that important ranking last night, too. On the list: Georgia, Clemson and Nebraska.

3 reasons why UGA is a contender for Owen Pappoe

Why is Georgia in it for Pappoe? That’s has nothing to do with that shiny new No. 1 ranking.

Owen Pappoe-UGA recruiting
Will Owen Pappoe choose UGA as 5-star peer Nolan Smith did? If he does, then he will be the fourth prospect with that elite 5-star ranking on board for 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

1. Momentum. Pappoe has made back-to-back home-game visits to Athens and has enjoyed each trip. He fits in well with current UGA commits and already seems very much at home. The coaching staff has made him a priority. Kirby Smart was at his game earlier this month while Georgia was on its bye week.

Smart visited both Pappoe and Justin Fields that day. That shows that Pappoe is as important to the Bulldogs as any recruit within a helicopter’s range from the Butts-Mehre Building on a Friday night.

Pappoe does not keep coming back to UGA for those frozen Minute Maid lemonade cups. But he does consider them to be quite a treat.

2. The fit. This one is two-fold. Pappoe is an outside linebacker at Grayson. He’s rated as a 5-star for 2019 and as the nation’s No. 1 prospect at that position. But Georgia sees him in an even greater role.

Pappoe has a lot of smart football minds in his circle. They know the game and have played it at a very high level. The fit for him on Saturdays isn’t at outside linebacker. Not at his frame.

Georgia is pitching him to be the next great inside linebacker for the red and black. The 6-foot-1, 212-pounder could be the next Roquan Smith for the Bulldogs. He’s very fast and explosive ― check that freshman year Sparq rating ― and knows the game. It is a very good player parallel.

3. A perfect storm of opportunity. Pappoe is close with several of UGA’s top commits for 2019. The location is also a great fit, given Grayson’s proximity to Athens. His parents already like the school. But those aren’t the only factors.

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Four-star defensive tackle Travon Walker (left) is another priority target for the Bulldogs in 2019. The Bulldogs would love to see him team up with Pappoe (right) on Saturdays. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Georgia is flush with blue chips for 2019. These players have grown up together and all seem to like the same core of two to three schools. That said, Georgia is the only one of those programs on target to have the top-rated class in 2019.

It is a matter of playing with your friends at a school that is already a very good fit ― and finally is winning big games. That same school is also the closest big-time program to Mom and Dad and the family at home. The Bulldogs are recruiting Pappoe and several of his peers as hard as any other program in the nation.

If the Bulldogs were to land Pappoe, then he would be the fourth prospect who carries that elite 5-star ranking in the fold for 2019. That would give UGA commitments from four of the nation’s top 12 players for that cycle.

Time flies. It is still hard to believe that Pappoe once was that middle-school student who already stood 6 feet tall and weighed in at about 185 pounds. Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina, Miami, Kentucky, Boston College, Michigan and West Virginia already had offered. He now has 41 offers, according to 247Sports.

He’s down to a top 3, but he still has about 15 months before he will enroll in college.

How does the still 17-year-old Pappoe feel about Georgia? He has noticed everything the program has done so far this season.

The staff told him to look for it on the field.

“Just the message that they are sending to me, and I am seeing it,” Pappoe told DawgNation earlier this month. “What they told me was going to happen all summer, I am now seeing it on the field. That is really standing out to me.”

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed faster than Georgia All-American candidate Roquan Smith can find the football after the snap.