GAINESVILLE – Georgia landed its eighth commitment of the 2011 recruiting class on Friday. And he’s a good one.
Sterling Bailey, a 6 foot-5, 268-pound defensive end/outside linebacker from East Hall High School, chose the Bulldogs from an offer list of 25 colleges. Bailey said his finalists were Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee.
As seems to be a recurring theme in Georgia’s 2011 class, Bailey said family and Christianity played a big part in his decision.
“The reason I chose Georgia is I like being close to my home and family,” he said. “It’s far enough away to be on my own but close enough to come home and see my family. And I also like it because Coach [Mark] Richt, when I talk to him it’s not all about football. He talks to me about spiritual things in life. I like that he’s a spiritual man. I’m a spiritual man myself.”
Bailey was accompanied during his announcement by his parents, Kevin and Laura Bailey, and two of his pastors from Church of Life Deliverance Tabernacle in Lula (his hometown). Also in attendance was his brother, Korentheus Bailey, who plays defensive tackle at Western Kentucky, and his older sister Lelonda and East Hall coach Bryan Gray.
A small crowd of about 50 friends, family and teammates were scattered throughout the bleachers in the East Hall basketball gym. Among them was teammate Chaz Cheeks, a Georgia Tech commitment who did his best to get Bailey to follow him to The Flats.
Bailey said his bond with Georgia went beyond Richt. He spoke early and often about new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
“When he first arrived at Georgia, three days later he was at my high school,” Bailey said. “That really made an impression on me. Him being one of the top defensive coaches in the NFL coming from the Cowboys, where Demarcus Ware ends up with 20-something sacks, and he flies all the way here, and on the third day he comes to visit me? That made an impression on me that him and Georgia really were interested in me. I’m really looking forward to playing with him.”
Bailey is projected to play the outside linebacker position in new defensive coordinator Grantham’s scheme. He gets a three-star rating from Scout.com but is among the top 10 to 20 prospects in the state of Georgia. Hence the all-star list of offers.
Why now, he was asked. “Just because I passed the graduation test, I passed the ACT and I’m about to take the SAT,” he said. “I just wanted to get everything out of the way and focus on my senior year.”
Bailey said he actually made up his mind on Georgia in late February. But he said he wanted to make sure it was the right decision and continued to listen to the overtures from other schools. Finally he decided this week to pull the trigger with an announcement.
Bailey said he has become good friends with quarterback Christian LeMay and several other committed prospects and that they’re working together to build the Bulldogs’ 2011 class. He said LeMay called him right after pledging UGA on April 30 and Bailey plans to pass that philosophy forward.
“I believe the 2011 class will be the No. 1 class in the country. I really do,” he said.
UGA can only hope that Bailey is just first commitment of the weekend. Justin Scott-Wesley, a wide receiver/defensive back from Camilla’s Mitchell County High School is slated to make an announcement Saturday in Jefferson and also has the Bulldogs among his finalists.
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♦ Here’s SOME VIDEO I posted of Bailey’s announcement on the AJC College Sports Recruiting Facebook page this morning. Be sure to become a fan (click “Like”) of the AJC Recruiting Page for all kinds of photos, videos and other extras.