A Q&A WITH CHRISTIAN LEMAY . . .
Georgia nabbed one of the best quarterback prospects in the country this past Friday when Christian LeMay of Matthews, N.C., chose the Bulldogs from a top five that included Clemson, Texas A&M, Auburn and Notre Dame. I attended LeMay’s well-orchestrated and carefully-scripted announcement at his father’s church, Champion Christian Center, in Pineville, N.C. Hopefully you got a chance to read my initial news reports on that. But most of what you have already read in those accounts came from LeMay’s time on the podium in front of dozens of cameras and hundreds of people. I got the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with LeMay after the ceremony was over to get a little more detail on his decision, his thoughts about UGA and the recruiting process. Following is a Q&A from that brief but insightful session:
Q: Congratulations on reaching a decision, Christian. I thought it was an impressive ceremony. It looked like you fooled a lot of folks with your orange shirt and your early remarks about Clemson. Was that the plan?
A: “That was the point [laughs]. We were shopping this week I was sitting in the store looking at shirts and I was, like, ‘I’m going to throw them off with this.’ So I got an orange shirt. I thought it out. This one lady in my church, Ms. Cynthia, she actually went to Clemson and is a Clemson grad. She’s been telling me, ‘you need to go to Clemson; you need to go to Clemson.’ But I kept telling her, ‘I’ve got to listen to what God tells me.’ I was just having a little fun.”
Q: What was your first indication that Georgia would be your choice?
A: “God just put it in my heart. I was sitting there with my family as I was talking to Coach [Mark] Richt and I was thinking, ‘man, this really feels good.’ So I called him again and that was it. I could tell. It was like God was just telling me this is where you need to be.”
Q: When did you actually reach the decision?
A: “Wednesday of this week. Somebody said Georgia and it just put a smile on my face. And then Coach [Mike] Bobo and all the coaches came in [to visit] and that did it right there. I told Coach Richt on Monday, but I felt really good about it on Wednesday after other coaches came to my school. I just knew it couldn’t get any better than Georgia for me.”
Q: Obviously you’re a preacher’s son and religion plays a big role in your life. But which would you say was more prominent in your decision: Coach Richt’s Christian beliefs or his pro-style offense and the Bulldogs’ depth chart at quarterback?
A: “It was a mix of both, but it was mostly the off-field intangibles. Every school that offered me has great football, great academics, great everything. But it was all the other intangibles at Georgia that set them apart. I could tell by how the players acted. They weren’t acting crazy and out there randomly cussing and going off [at practice]. I’ve been around Florida and a lot of other places where that’s not the case. That right there got me and sold me. They’re really changing lives there. And also going out in the community and seeing how big an impact Coach Richt has on people. People are just really gravitating to his Christian faith and going with it.”
Q: You addressed your reasoning in “choosing a leader” rather than “making a commitment.” But is having an appointed leader mean your decision is any less secure than being committed?
A. “The term leader equals pretty much commitment. I’m committed to Georgia and I’m recruiting Georgia kids to come with me and play. So the only reason I didn’t say commitment is in case something crazy happens like there’s a Heisman Trophy winner at Georgia. Then I might not want to be there and sit for three years behind [Aaron] Murray. If that happens or if [offensive coordinator and quarterbacks] Coach [Mike] Bobo or Coach Richt were to leave. There are just a whole lot of things that would have to happen for me to not fulfill my leader/verbal commitment.”
Q: You spent most of your years in Gainesville, Fla., while your father was ministering to Florida football players and you were, understandably, a big-time fan of the Gators. So how difficult was it to eliminate Florida and pledge your services to a team that pretty much recruited you to beat the Gators?
A: “It wasn’t difficult at all. They took [Jeff] Driskell. And it was time for me to move on and go somewhere else. It will be a little different when we play them. But I’ll shake hands with Coach Urban [Meyer] and say ‘thank you for everything you’ve done for me and all the coaches.’ We’ll shake hands and go about our business and play ball.
Q: Yours has been a long and pretty intense recruitment. What are your emotions now that you’ve got this decision behind you?
A: “It feels great right now, just letting the world know I’m going to remain a Dawg and stay in the best colors in the world [Butler High is also the Bulldogs and their team colors are red and black].