Avery Young’s high school coach told the AJC he was not part of a “package deal” that went wrong. Or part of any type of package deal with the 5-star OL prospect who broke UGA’s heart when he picked Auburn on signing day.
A few eyebrows were raised in recruiting circles when Chris Davis, Young’s high school coach from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was recently named as the new head football coach at Cedar Shoals High School – which is located in Athens and only a few miles away from UGA’s campus.
With Young as the “big fish that got away” from UGA, some have wondered if there was a connection between the two events: Did UGA put in a good word for Avery’s high school coach to get the local job with the hopes that his 5-star recruit may follow? And why would the coach want to leave what some would consider a “dream job” along the Florida coastline for, out of all the job opening across the Southeast, Athens?
There are never-ending conspiracy theories in recruiting, and Avery Young’s coach set the record straight about his situation.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, and that was obvious with the way things turned out, with Avery going to Auburn,” Davis told the AJC. “There was never any connection to Georgia’s recruitment of Avery Young, and me pursuing the coach’s job at Cedar Shoals. I want to be very clear on that.”
Davis, 37, is considered to be one of Florida’s top young coaching talents, and led Palm Beach Gardens to the third round of the state playoffs last year. Davis was in the process on building a successful program in an area that is affluent and rapidly growing in population along the Florida coast. Why leave? Why Cedar Shoals?
“My wife and I drove to Athens for a Nike camp awhile back, and she looked at me and said ‘Hey, this is where I want to live,’” Davis said. “I said yeah and I kind of laughed. She said ‘No, I’m serious; this is where I want to live.’ It just kind of went from there.”
For the record, Davis did list Mark Richt as a reference on his job application (It’s common for coaches to have other coaches as recommendations at all levels). Davis only got to know Richt well through Avery Young’s recruitment, but has longtime friendships with other members of UGA’s staff, including offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, offensive line coach Will Friend, and tight ends coach John Lilly.
“It’s kind of cool,” Davis said. “Coach Bobo recruited a quarterback of mine years ago. Coach Friend, his dad gave me my first job. John Lilly, I’ve known him since he was at Florida State. I’ve known a lot of those guys for years. When they offered Avery, it was nice to re-unite with them.”
So what happened with Avery Young and UGA? The Bulldogs were considered a co-leader with Auburn during the final weeks but ended up finishing third for Young behind Florida on signing day.
“I’m just a [contact] between the coaches and the players,” Davis said. “I think with Auburn, he just felt most comfortable there. That was the biggest thing. It was a family decision, Avery talked it over with his family, and they decided that Auburn was the best fit.”
Davis will begin working at Cedar Shoals at March 19. “We’re looking forward to it, and I think there’s a lot of work to do. We’re going to go in there, work hard and get things going in the right direction. There’s a lot of great people there, and I’m looking forward to getting to work.”
IT’S RAINING RECRUITING STORIES
INSTANT AJC RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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