After rushing for 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns last fall, running back Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) was invited to participate in the weeklong Rising Seniors program in December in Atlanta. After impressing in practice all week at receiver, Kamara shined during the Georgia Junior Bowl, making a game-high eight catches for 117 yards.
His versatility and explosiveness have made the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Kamara one of the most coveted running backs in the Southeast, with double-digit offers from programs including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and USC. The Georgia Bulldogs were lucky enough to get Kamara on campus last weekend, and although they invited him to return Saturday for VID Day, he had made plans weeks ago to be elsewhere this weekend.
Then things changed.
A few days ago, Kamara came down with the flu. What had him feeling down and out might have actually helped the Bulldogs in their pursuit of the talented offensive weapon.
“I had been scheduled to visit Clemson for a month now and all of the coaches had expected me to be there, but I got sick with the flu and had to cancel,” Kamara said. “But then on Saturday my mom said she wanted to go up to Athens since it was only 45 minutes away.”
It was definitely a pleasant surprise for the Georgia staff.
“The Georgia coaches wanted me to visit Saturday, but were not expecting me so when I popped up around the corner Mark Richt saw me and was, like, 'Alvin?' And then he was all excited that I made it,” Kamara said. “Then I went into the running backs meeting with Coach [Bryan] McClendon and Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee) and he was not expecting me either, so he was pretty excited when I came through the door.”
Henry has been committed to Georgia since last July, but the 6-foot-3, 242-pound running back’s presence on the Bulldogs’ commitment list hasn't deterred Kamara from considering playing for the defending SEC East champions. In fact, he thinks the two could do very well together.
“I feel like me and Derrick Henry could do some good things in that offense,” he said. “In the SEC one back cannot carry the entire load, so we could be that 1-2 punch and make big things happen in Athens.”
Kamara and his mom were in Athens for only a short time Saturday, but the highlight of the day might boost Georgia’s chances to sign the top in-state running back.
"We went out to the field and watched the pregame video on the JumboTron, and then when we went to eat lunch I got to talk with Mark Richt with my mom for 45 minutes,” Kamara said. “We talked about everything from academics to football, and life, really.”
Kamara’s mom took advantage of the time and put the Bulldogs’ head coach to the test.
“My mom asked Coach Richt every question in the book," he said. "She was grilling him."
One question in particular stood out to Kamara.
“She was like, 'If Alvin came here, would he play?' and then Mark Richt said, 'Heck, yeah, he would play!' and I had to laugh,” Kamara said. “My mom was laughing too, though, so ... she was happy with his response though.”
According to Kamara, it seems Richt and his staff have earned the support of Kamara’s mother, possibly including her blessings to stay in-state and suit up in the red and black.
“Last week was the first time my mom got to visit a college with me, and she loves Georgia,” Kamara said. “She wants me to stay close to home, so she definitely loves Georgia. Of course I am going to listen to my mom’s input, and she says, 'At the end of the day it is your decision, but I would understand if you went to Georgia.' ”
With this decision affecting the next four to five years of his life, Kamara is trying to keep everything in perspective when comparing college options.
“I am forming a list in my head with who is on top and who is fading out, but I am not ready to release that yet,” Kamara said. “I have a top school in mind, but I am trying to stay open right now and try to see as much as I can. I have no idea when I will decide; it will all depend on when it feels right.”
With back-to-back visits, the Bulldogs have positioned themselves well with Kamara.
“I am thinking pretty highly on UGA right now,” Kamara said. “I have been there two weeks and I am getting a good feel for Athens.”
Instead of returning home to rest and get healthy Saturday, Kamara instead went to compete in the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 Southeast tournament in Atlanta. Even though he was still under the weather, he made several impressive catches and showed why he is thought of by many as one of the top overall athletes for the 2013 class.
“I felt like I was 30 percent out there, but I am just competitive,” Kamara said. “I feel like even if I get knocked down I will get right back up. I just wanted to go out there and have fun and show out for Georgia. I just popped in a few aspirin and tried to keep moving.”