You have to appreciate the emotions that must have been running through Kenyan Drake’s head during the Georgia-Georgia Tech game this past Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
The Hillgrove High junior running back showed up in Athens fully expecting to receive a scholarship offer from the Bulldogs. But he arrived a little late and did not end up with a recruiting host. As a result, he “kind of got lost” among the 100 or so recruits who flooded the game as visitors. So he never got a one-on-one meeting with any coaches, including head coach Mark Richt, who he was hoping to spend some time with.
Then the game ensued. Drake is close with former and current Hillgrove teammates Synjyn Days, a Georgia Tech freshman quarterback, and linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days, a Tech commitment. And he has long held his only offer from the Yellow Jackets. So Drake’s instincts told him to root for the team in white and gold. But he said he grew up following the Bulldogs, has long hoped for an offer from the state university and, of course, was there as UGA’s guest.
“To tell you the truth, I was confused on who to root for,” Drake said with a laugh. “As the night went on and I didn’t hear from anybody [from Georgia], I got kind of skeptical. At the end I just wanted to see who wins.”
Drake didn’t know how to react after the Bulldogs put the finishing touches on a wild and wacky 42-34 victory.
“Even when we went into the [Georgia] locker room, I was still feeling sort of weird,” he said. “They kept telling me to wait around. I waited all the way until after the all the media things, about midnight. That’s when Coach Richt came up to me and asked me to step outside. He told me they were wanted to offer me a scholarship. He said it was supposed to happen before the game but it didn’t work out that way.”
Make no mistake about it, Drake was both happy and relieved to get the offer.
“It felt great,” said Drake, who led the Hawks into the Class AAAAA quarterfinals before bowing out to Brookwood this past weekend. “I think it’s a pretty big accomplishment. I grew up watching Georgia and Georgia Tech since I was a kid. It’d be a dream to play for either of them. I’ve always liked Georgia and I’m interested in what they have to offer.”
The interest in Drake is understandable. The 6-foot, 188-pound athlete is considered by Scout.com to be one of the top 20 juniors in Georgia in the Class of 2012. In addition to impressive showings at camps and combines last summer, Drake has proven to be productive and versatile on the football field. He had right at 1,000 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns and more than 600 yards receiving and another eight scores.
All the production and notoriety is nice. But Drake would trade it all to still be playing. Hillgrove made one of the more exhilarating runs through the playoffs this year, knocking off Stephenson and No. 1-ranked Camden to reach the quarterfinals. Brookwood used a late rally to finally knock off the Hawks 45-35.
“It was tough when I had to stay after school [Monday] to turn in my pads,” Drake said. “That’s when it really hits you that it’s over.”
But it’s really just beginning for Drake. Tennessee surprised him with his third offer Monday night. He has been invited to junior combines at the both Under Armour and the U.S. Army All-America games and has been selected to play in the new Rising Seniors All-Star game in January.
As for where he’ll eventually end up, Drake has no idea.
“No, no leader,” he said. “It’s basically a wide open race. Hopefully more offers will be coming.”
That he can count on.