ATHENS — Both Roquan Smith and his coach at Macon County High had their phones silenced and weren’t taking phone calls as they talked to friends and conducted interviews in the wake of Smith’s nationally-televised decision to sign a football scholarship with UCLA.
But when they finally got around to checking their texts, they found out that their phones had been blown up by members of the Georgia coaching staff.
“It was everybody on the staff,” Macon County Athletic Director and football coach Larry Harold said Thursday. “Coach (John) Lilly was the first I heard from. We weren’t answering our phones, I wasn’t answering mine and he wasn’t answering his. All the sudden these text messages started coming in. They said, ‘RED ALERT: READ THIS.’ Somebody screen-shotted (the website) FootballScoop(.com) and it grew from there. It was crazy.”
The Bulldogs have long recruited Smith and consider the xxxx linebacker one of the most important pieces in their 2015 recruiting class. They had already been informed by Smith that he intended to sign with the Bruins. But before he sent his signed letter-of-intent to Los Angeles, the UGA coaches wanted to be sure Smith knew that Jeff Ulbrich wouldn’t likely be at UCLA when he got there.
Ulbrich, the Bruins’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, is expected to be introduced as the new linebackers coach for the Atlanta Falcons any day now. Ulbrich was Smith’s lead recruiter for UCLA.
“Oh, yeah, they got it to us ASAP,” Harold, laughing, said of the Georgia coaches “Yes, sir, they did.”
As a result, Smith’s decision is now on hold. UCLA and Georgia are still in it, but so are Michigan and Texas A&M. And Harold said they’re not going to be in a hurry to make a final decision.
“It’s not an open recruitment really, it’s just the same four schools and he’s going to take a week or so to decide,” Harold said. “He’s going to take this weekend off, spend time with his family and relax, be a teen-ager. And then next week maybe he’ll start calling some coaches again and rehash it all.
“(The recruiting period) isn’t over until the end of April, so there’s no rush. You know, it is a big decision and he needs to take his time, especially in lieu of what happened with the coach at UCLA leaving. So there’s a lot for him to consider. These things happen. But he needs to do what’s best for him and his family just like Coach Ulbrich did what’s best for him and his family. Everybody needs to do what’s best for their situation.”
As for Ulbrich, he’s actually in Atlanta Thursday, touring the Falcons’ facilities in Flowery Branch and meeting with head coach Dan Quinn and the rest of his staff. Indications are he’s set to join the team. Harold believes it’s a done deal.
He never came out and said it but he did say last night he was strongly considering it,” Harold said. He’s supposed to be in Atlanta today visiting the facilities and meeting with them and probably signing a contract. It seems pretty strong that he’s gone.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Bruins are out of it or the Bulldogs are a shoo-in.
“I’m happy because he seems so relaxed now, and that’s all I care about,” Harold said. “I just told him, ‘take your time, take your time.’ He’s going to enjoy the weekend. He’s saying a week or so. But if it takes longer than that, it’s fine to.
“All the coaches have called me and let me know that the scholarship offers are still good, so it’s all good.”