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The answer to the question was delivered politely and succinctly.
I asked Gainesville quarterback Blake Sims – arguably the best overall player in the entire state — if there was any chance at all he could end up at Georgia.
“No, sir,” the longtime Alabama commitment stated flatly on Wednesday.
By itself that would not seem a stirring statement. He’s going to go where he said he said he was going to go. But placed in the context of the last few weeks it resonates powerfully.
Sims, as I have reported, grew up a Bulldogs’ fan. Living just 41 miles from Sanford Stadium, he attended their camps for four years and his parents have framed photos of Sims and coach Mark Richt on the walls of their Gainesville home.
But it was the Crimson Tide that was the first to offer this dynamic athlete last spring. And Sims accepted a day later. But the day before Sims practically begged Georgia to come forth with a scholarship offer.
“Georgia would be the only school that I would change my position for because I like them a lot and they are close to home,” he told the AJC’s Michael Carvell last April.
That offer did not come.
What kept Georgia from truly getting excited about Sims before this season remains a mystery. But the Bulldogs finally stepped up their efforts with the AJC Super 11 selection about a month ago. In fact, Richt was going to get personally involved, or so Gainesville coach Bruce Miller and Blake’s father Sonny Sims told me at the time.
Sims said that hasn’t happened.
“I really haven’t talked to [Richt] since the last time I went up there for their summer camp,” he said.
UGA wide receivers coach Tony Ball was on the sidelines for Gainesville’s first-round playoff game last Friday (a 42-0 win over Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe). But, again, Sims said it didn’t have an effect on him.
“I didn’t really get to speak to [Ball] so I didn’t really hear what he had to say,” Sims said. “It was nice to see him but I’m still committed to Alabama.”
Ultimately, Georgia just wanted a second chance to rekindle its relationship with Sims. The Bulldogs made a push to get him to visit for the Auburn game this past weekend. Sims didn’t make it.
It has been reported elsewhere that a “personal matter” came up that prevented Sims from making the trip to Athens. But Sims offered no such excuse to me. “I just didn’t go,” he said.
If you’re a Georgia fan and you’ve seen Sims play, all this is distressing news. Playing quarterback for the Class AAA’s top-ranked Red Elephants (11-0), the 6-foot, 180-pound Sims has amassed 2,573 yards total offense, including 1,692 passing and 717 rushing. All Sims’ skills were on display in last weekend’s opening-round rout as he accounted for five touchdowns in three quarters of play.
Sims is listed as the proverbial “athlete” on most recruiting boards. Sims said he’d like a chance to remain a quarterback — Georgia has assured him he could — but he’s not sure what he might play at Alabama. Again, that does not seem an issue.
“I do not know right now,” he said. “I don’t think they know right now. But I’ll play wherever the team needs me.”
Georgia’s not the only school to stay after Sims. He said Tennessee continues to recruit him hard. But Sims said he’s excited about the opportunity to play for the Crimson Tide, which is undefeated and in the national championship hunt for the second consecutive season under third-year head coach Nick Saban.
“I’m happy about the commitment I made,” Sims said. “I’m just ready to go to school up there and just jump on that boat and give everything I have for the Crimson Tide and continue what Coach Saban has started and even more.”
As for the Bulldogs, Sims said he harbors no hard feelings or bitterness.
“That’s just how things work out sometimes,” he told me. “It was my dream to play for Georgia but sometimes dreams don’t come true.”
Here’s a link to Sims’ latest video highlights.