Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Inside the Dawg House: Dawg Night
By Radi Nabulsi and Kipp Adams
ATHENS, Ga. -- The annual Dawg Night recruiting camp at the University of Georgia always draws some of the region’s most coveted prospects. This year was no different, and four of them decided to become Bulldogs. But what of the other recruits that have offers or earned new ones? Here are a load of updates and scoop from this year’s Dawg Night camp.
Things are getting down to the nitty-gritty for cornerback Kendarius Webster (Stockbridge, Ga./Stockbridge). Back from his visit to Georgia for Dawg Night, the 5-11, 177-pound cornerback plans to visit Florida State on Thursday and Ole Miss Saturday. A decision could come soon after he returns home.
“I have narrowed it down to three -- FSU, Georgia and Ole Miss,” Webster said. “I hope to make my decision before August. When I first went up to Georgia I was not getting much love. But this time I actually enjoyed myself, so that meant a lot.”
Webster is the top -- and possibly only -- target on the board at cornerback for Georgia in the Class of 2014. The coaching staff made sure the Peach State prospect knew that before he left campus.
“The Georgia coaches told me I need to come back and lock down the corner position so they can end the process and finish out the defensive back class for them,” Webster said. “That means a lot because there are a lot of athletes in the country they could go after, so to be the No. 1 cornerback on their board is special.”
At least one person in the Webster household feels that is exactly what he should do.
“My mom thinks it is a great opportunity for me to stay close to home and that it is a great spot for me to be in,” Webster said. “I could finish my career out here in Georgia.”
Ole Miss and Georgia are ahead of Florida State for Webster, who will now take his mom with him to see the Seminoles and Ole Miss. The Bulldogs have set the bar high for his final two visits.
“Right now Georgia is the leader in my mind really,” Webster said.
Inside the looking glass with UGA safety commit Nick Glass
Glass shared some insights from the heart of Dawg Night with us.
“We were all sitting in the film room next to Mark Richt’s office and it was me, Jeb Blazevich, Elisha Shaw, Raekwon McMillan, Detric Dukes and C.J. Hampton and we were all talking about how this would be a dream team for us. Then Mark Richt came in to talk to all of us and he said it would be huge if we got all these guys to commit. He said regardless of the size if we get those spots filled we will have the No. 1 class.”
“Coach Grantham was telling Christian Miller that he would be coming off the edge with Kendall Baker at defensive line. He says Miller could make a big impact and since they feel that Jordan Jenkins will only have one more year after 2013, outside linebacker is a huge need for 2014.”
“Kendall could play free safety or grow into the star position, so I think we have a shot at C.J. Hampton, although he is a top player in Mississippi, so that will be tough to get him out of there.”
“UGA has a huge chance with CB Kendarius Webster. I talk to him a lot and I know they were one of his dream schools.”
“People do not think so, but I think we get Raekwon McMillan. We gave him a lot of love during his visit and he said “I guess I got to come here with all of you.” We will see.”
“We have six spots left, so I think Georgia ends up with Elisha Shaw, Lamont Gaillard, Christian Miller, Kendarius Webster, Keyon Brown and Raekwon McMillan.”
“Lorenzo Carter is so open. I think he is stuck on Alabama and Florida. I think he ends up at Alabama to be honest."
Georgia’s top target was in town for Dawg Night, giving the coaching staff a chance to try and make up ground they lost recently when ESPN 300 defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) named Florida his leader. The No. 10 prospect in the nation spent most of his time talking with the Georgia coaches.
“It was cool but I really didn’t do too much,” Carter said. “I sat down and talked to Coach [Todd] Grantham and walked around with Coach [Bryan] McClendon. We just hung out really. It was just a chance to be up there.”
Nothing has changed for Carter though.
“Florida is still on top followed by Alabama and Georgia, Florida State and Notre Dame. They are still the same,” Carter said. “I mean it is a long recruiting process. Opinions are going to change, the way I feel about schools is going to change so if they keep doing things the right way, the Georgia way, I guess we will see.”
The top player in the Peach State plans to return to see the Bulldogs in action.
“I think I will take an official to Georgia for the [Senior] Gala and I will make a few games.”
ESPN 300 defensive tackle Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) now has even more pressure on him to choose the Bulldogs. The 6-6, 300-pound rising senior is already close friends with half of the Bulldogs’ committed prospects, but last month his teammate Detric Dukes also picked Georgia.
“They are on me hard,” Shaw said.
Shaw spent Dawg Night talking with the coaches a bit and most of the other time hanging out with the Georgia commits. Afterwards he said that Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss are still his top three in no particular order. Defensive line coach Chris Wilson made sure Shaw left with one simple message.
“He said that he really wants me there and that I am the No. 1 recruit on his chart,” Shaw said.
The No. 75 prospect for 2014, Shaw plans to announce his decision at the Army All-American game.
Newly ranked No. 61 in the ESPN Junior 300, McEachern (Ga.) High School offensive lineman Chuma Edoga impressed the Georgia coaching staff by running a 4.78-second 40-yard dash and flying through the position drills. He left Athens with an offer from the Bulldogs.
“I was pretty excited about it because I have worked for this offer for a while,” Edoga said. “I have gone to a couple camps there and I go up there a lot, so getting the offer was pretty exciting.”
The 6-4, 275-pound rising junior’s tenacity made an impression:
“Coach Richt said, ‘You came up for your team’s 7-on-7 camp and had a good workout with us. Then you came in for Dawg Night, which was nice, when we didn’t think you would come back. That shows you work hard,’ ” Edoga said. “He said that I proved myself during Dawg Night in the one-on-ones and that they wanted to offer me.”
Despite his 11 previous offers, the Bulldogs went straight to the top of Edoga’s list.
“Georgia is at the top for me,” Edoga said. “Florida State, Clemson and Auburn are up there too.”
Class of 2017 sensation shows out
Coming into Dawg Night, class of 2017 athlete Dylan Moses (Baton Rouge, La./University) had already competed at LSU and Texas and arrived in Athens already having accumulated nine scholarship offers to date.
The 6-1, 215-pound rising freshman competed with hundreds of prospects much older than him, but the Bulldogs’ staff informed him after Dawg Night that they could not see a difference between him and the rising seniors. Following the event, Moses was taken to Richt’s office, where he was informed he now had 10 scholarship offers.
As Moses said in the video interview for ESPN the Magazine, the Georgia offer was one he really wanted.
“My favorite running back ever played at Georgia in the eighties,” Moses said. “His name is Herschel Walker. Getting the offer from Coach Richt felt good; it felt as good as the Alabama offer.”
Moses has been to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Texas and Texas A&M this summer and does not plan to take any more trips before he begins his high school career. Although he feels every visit went equally well, Moses did point out some highlights from his first trip to Georgia.
“I liked how big the campus was and everything about the visit to Georgia,” Moses said. “But my favorite part was meeting head coach Mark Richt. He was very different than any other college coaches I have met because of how religious he is.”
With four years of high school left before he can sign with any college program, the recruiting process could soon become a very daunting endeavor for the young phenom. Richt gave Moses some words of advice.
“He told me to stay humble, keep working hard, and take my time with everything,” Moses said.
Moses says Georgia offered him as a running back, but he feels that over time he could grow into an outside linebacker or defensive end at the next level.
“It felt great to get that offer from Georgia and I know that if I do go to Georgia I would get a chance to make No. 34 proud,” Moses said.
ESPN 300 linebacker Christian Miller (Spring Valley, S.C./Spring Valley) will check out Alabama one more time on Wednesday, but after that he has no plans. Tennessee is working hard to get the 6-4, 212-pound linebacker on campus, as is Florida, so that is a possibility for next week. After that is anyone’s guess.
“Right now I really do not have a strong passion for any one school, so I am taking my time,” Miller said. “It might happen early during my senior season or midway through, but whenever I feel like I am ready I will do it.”
Until that time, Miller is trying to see as many schools as he can in order to narrow things down. At the moment, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and UCLA are in his top five, with Alabama, Florida and Georgia in ahead at the moment.
While in Athens, Miller was able to spend time with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who was out of town during the initial visit for the four-star target. His father, former South Carolina and NFL linebacker Corey Miller Jr., was able to spend time with Grantham and Richt. The former Gamecocks standout had mostly positive things to say about the Bulldogs.
“He said it was a lot better than here,” Miller said. “He is not really big on the Bulldogs, but he said it was a lot nicer than he thought and he really likes Coach Richt and all of the coaches there. I think he likes it at Georgia.”
Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) had never been to Dawg Night, so Friday was an opportunity for the five-star linebacker to spend some quality time with other Georgia commitments and players on the team. Former ESPN 300 cornerback Shaq Wiggins had a message for the No. 2 prospect in Georgia during his overnight stay in Athens.
“He just told me if I came to Georgia, I could have everything that I would want from an out-of-state program, but because I would be playing for my in-state team, I would get love from my community and I would be close to home,” McMillan said.
McMillan stated during the spring that if Georgia brought in the top talent in state, it would be a no-brainer decision. While the Bulldogs have added several commitments, two of the Peach State prospects he has grown close to are also looking elsewhere, and he says he is simply following suit.
“Guys like Lorenzo Carter and DeShaun Watson that I have built great relationships with -- those are the ones you want to play with,” McMillan said. “Lorenzo is looking at Georgia but looking around and DeShaun has been committed to Clemson for a while, so why not check out other places too? At the end of the day though I have to decide for myself.”
As for what McMillan took from his latest visit to Georgia, the 6-2, 249-pound inside linebacker says he was able to see the real side of the Georgia and get input from the players. He says he will return for an official visit, likely for the LSU game. The upcoming season will have a big impact on where McMillan commits during the Under Armour All-America game.
“I tell the Georgia coaches all the time it really depends on how it goes during the season for my top five -- Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia and Ohio State, “ McMillan said. “I would love to see Georgia make a national championship run and if they did it would be hard for me to leave the state. If they play in the championship game that could seal the deal for me. They told me there is no doubt that they have been knocking down the door to that for the last four years and that it is time to kick the wall down now.”
At the moment McMillan says there is no order among his top five, although he admits that changes quite often.