DALTON — Dalton’s Watts Dantzler had fun with the recruiting process to the very end.
He showed up at Dalton High School on Sunday wearing a green tie with a black shirt, intent on not giving up the the secret he’d known since Monday. At the time of the big reveal, Dantzler stepped away from the lectern from which he spoke and struggled mightily to remove the shirt over his head. The crowd began to chant, “take it off, take it off” as a necklace became entangled in the fabric.
Finally a glimpse of red was revealed, then the whole of a Georgia Bulldogs’ shirt. Then he doffed a UGA cap, officially making the 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive tackle a Bulldogs’ commitment.
It was a humorous end to an emotional day for Dantzler, who had narrowed down a list of about 30 offers to finalists Auburn and Georgia. He originally was going to wait until his birthday of Nov. 16th to make his selection but decided to move it up to today, Fathers Day, to honor his late father, Danny Dantzler.
“Georgia was the best school for me because basically I felt at home there,” said Dantzler, whose father lettered as an offensive lineman at Georgia from 1971-73. “I’ve been going there since I was a little kid and always dreamed of putting on the red and black. Hopefully soon that will be a reality.
“One thing my dad taught me when I was a little kid was to say, ‘Go Dawgs, sic ‘em, woof, woof, woof!’”
A clearly pro-Georgia crowd of more than 100 cheered and whistled at the news, which Dantzler had shared with the Bulldogs’ coaches on Monday.
Earlier in his announcement Dantzler had to choke back tears as he talked of his father, who passed away 16 months ago after a long battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Doing this on Fathers Day truly means more than anything to me,” Dantzler said, his words muffled and strained. “I had and still have the best dad in the world and I know he’s going to be proud of me today.”
But Dantzler tried to keep it light. Immediately after struggling to get that out, Dantzler turned toward his mother, Jean, sitting in the audience.
“Mom’s sitting right there,” he said. “The only thing she has been good for has been cooking, cleaning and washing my clothes.”
That brought forth a big laugh from mom and sisters Perry and Delancey and brother LeLand, and all those in the crowd who know how very close Dantzler is to his mother and the rest of his family.
“They’ve been the greatest role models for me by far,” Dantzler said.
Dantzler insisted the Dogs weren’t the slam dunk so many people thought. He said he took a total of about 40 visits to at least a dozen different schools, including six times to Auburn.
“About two weeks ago it was real tough,” Dantzler said after the ceremony. “It was Georgia and Auburn and they were right even with each other. But some things changed recruiting wise and it just dawned on me, there is no other place I want to play football.”
Dantzler becomes the 12th commitment for the Bulldogs’ Class of 2011 and the 11th from the state of Georgia.
GEORGIA 2011 COMMITMENTS
* LB Jarvis Jones (6-3, 236) of Carver-Columbus, a transfer from Southern Cal, counts toward the Class of 2010.