The NCAA is now allowing high school prospects to once again visit college campuses on Tuesday, June 1, following a year-long ban during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will allow athletes to make official visits to the University of Georgia’s campus for the first time since March 2020, which is when the pandemic started.
For the past 15 months, prospects were allowed to visit college campuses with their families and friends on their own time, but now, they will be able to tour facilities and speak with coaching staffs as the” dead period” has been lifted by the NCAA.
The UGA Athletic Association convened last week at the Reynolds-Lake Oconee Ritz Carlton hotel to discuss a matter of topics. It was led by J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks and UGA President Jere W. Morehead.
Among the topics discussed was an update on the Butts-Mehre building expansion and renovation project. Associate AD Matt Brachowski talked about ‘Phase One’ of the $80 million project that was completed in late April. Currently, the UGA Football and Sports medicine programs are in the process of moving into the expanded facility.
Since its addition, this week will be the first time the UGA coaching staff will be able to show off the new facilities, which includes a new locker room, weight room and offices. Having face-to-face interaction with the prospects is a huge deal because over the last year-and-a-half, recruits could only meet with coaches over Zoom teleconferencing. So, needless to say, this week is huge from a recruiting standpoint for head coach Kirby Smart and his staff.
Georgia is expected to have a few big-time recruits from the 2022 recruiting cycle this week, including five-star Bear Alexander out of Fort Worth. Alexander committed to UGA back on Feb. 3, which was National Signing Day. This will be the first time the 6-foot-3, 285-pound edge defensive tackle will be able to officially meet with coaches since the start of the pandemic.
Georgia currently ranks No. 1 overall in the country for the 2022 class with a 0.9444 mark, per 247Sports. Smart and his staff have 12 commitments as of now, which includes in-state talents like quarterback Gunnar Stockton (Rabun County) and Malaki Starks (Jefferson, Ga.). With Alexander being in Athens, the coaching staff will look for him to be an influence on other visiting prospects.
Another big-time name to watch for this week is West Forsyth prospect Oscar Delp, who will visit UGA on June 4. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end is ranked No. 80 nationally, per the 247Sports Composite. Delp has hauled in 58 receptions for 976 yards and nine touchdowns over the past two seasons at West Forsyth. A number of schools, including Florida, Michigan, Alabama and South Carolina are actively recruiting the Cumming native.
There’s also rumors circulating that Georgia could land two transfers in LSU tight end Arik Gilbert and former Clemson defensive back Derion Kendrick.
Gilbert, who is from Marietta, was a five-star out of high school and signed with the Tigers. He announced earlier this year that he would be entering the NCAA student transfer portal, citing that he “wanted to be closer to home.” Many thought he would land at UGA, but ended up committing to Florida at the end of January. His pledge to the Gators didn’t last long and he backed off his commitment nearly a month later. Now, the smoke is circulating that he will end up in Athens sometime in the next few weeks.
Kendrick was released from Clemson by head coach Dabo Swinney towards the end of February before the start of spring practice. He faced some adversity after being charged with “unlawful carrying of a handgun” when police officers in Rock Hill, South Carolina found him asleep in his vehicle with the gun on his lap (two weeks after his dismissal from the team), per a report from FoxNews. The report also said that he was kicked off the team because of lack of communication between him and the coaching staff while taking care of his child, who was then in the hospital.
Kendrick recently said on the ‘Around The Block’ podcast that he has no ill-will towards the Tigers.
“I give thanks to Dabo (Swinney) for believing in me while I was there, ‘’ Kendrick stated, “and always being on me trying to get me better, on the field and off the field, and everyone around me pulling for me..”
Both Gilbert and Kendrick would be huge gets for Georgia, and could help the team moving forward, alongside the prospects from the class of 2022.
The Lake Oconee News will bring updates in next week’s edition of the paper.