Wide receiver Tai-ler Jones recently committed to Notre Dame. He said he grew up a Georgia Bulldogs’ fan. So says linebacker A.J. Johnson, who committed to Tennessee last week. Safety Daunte Carr lists “Georgia” as a school of interest on his recruiting profile but committed to Stanford this summer. Quarterback Blake Sims, a longtime Alabama commitment, says he grew up dreaming of playing for the Bulldogs.
What do all these prospects have in common?
They all live an hour’s drive west of Athens and play football for Gainesville High School. That’s the home of the Red Elephants, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAA.
So if all these Gainesville players are so crazy about Georgia, how come none of them are headed that way?
I called Red Elephants’ coach Bruce Miller Tuesday to find out if he thought there was some kind relationship problem with UGA. Not at all, he said adamantly.
“Here’s what I think happens: I think Coach Richt is a man of such character that he doesn’t want to make a false promise to a kid and then have to come back and take it back,” Miller said. “I think that’s how we need to look at this thing. I have to be honest with you, some of these schools are jumping off and making offers unbelievably fast. I think, in Coach Richt’s case, he’s trying to do the kids right. He doesn’t want to make an offer and have to come back and rescind it. He won’t rescind it, I can tell you that. If he makes an offer he’s not going to come back and take it back. I think that says a lot about him and his program.”
The Bulldogs do not currently have any Gainesville High alums on scholarship nor any current commitments from school. But Richt is trying to change that.
Miller confirmed that Georgia’s head coach is now personally recruiting Sims and asked this week “for the chance to sit down and talk with” him and his family. And all indications are that Richt is going to get that chance.
Sims — an AJC Super 11 selection and early favorite for all-classification player of the year in the state – could play any skill position for the Bulldogs. Generally, the 6-foot-180-pound athlete projects as a defensive back or wide receiver in college. But he is primarily a quarterback for the Red Elephants and he has 1,114 yards and 16 touchdowns passing, 345 yards and 6 TDs rushing and two catches for 148 yards and 2 TDs receiving.
That Georgia didn’t go after Sims harder or earlier is perplexing. He attended the Bulldogs’ football camps every year since the ninth grade and actually has a personal relationship with Richt.
“Coach Richt has been part of Blake’s life since the ninth grade,” Sims’ father Sonny Sims said. “We have pictures of him all over the house. . . . I think Coach Richt is just a real honorable and real respectful man. And that might hurt him in this world we live in today because everybody’s so aggressive.”
“Some of these colleges are throwing out scholarship offers like their candy,” he said. “They’re like, ‘if you don’t work out we’ll just take it back.’ . . . I think they’re just very deliberate and want to make the best decisions and not hand out scholarships like candy. They’re not going to offer 25 scholarships to 130 people.”
Miller guesses that Sims will probably honor his commitment to Alabama.
“What Coach Saban told him back during the summer was, ‘You’re committed to us. Now go back and enjoy your high school senior year and when everything’s over we’ll work all this out and get you signed’,” Miller said. “I think Blake will probably stay pretty loyal to that. But you never know with high school kids. They have a different girlfriend every week.”
If Sims doesn’t change his tune, the Bulldogs could be the latest jilted suitor.