The 2016 Georgia Bulldogs recruiting class just got stronger as 3-star tight end Garrett Walston committed to play for the Dawgs on Tuesday. What he brings to the table may just be complete stardom.
Related: More on Garrett Walston
The Georgia Bulldogs have always had a knack for honing in on and retaining good talent when it comes to the tight end position. Many of the tight ends that have played for the University of Georgia have had illustrious careers “Between The Hedges” and then moved on to the NFL, such as Benjamin Watson, Leonard Pope, Orson Charles, and Arthur Lynch.
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Mark Richt and company had a good year last year using the tight end combination of Jay Rome and Jeb Blazevich. Many have predicted that Blazevich will assume the main duties this 2015 season and that he is poised to be an All-American barring any setbacks or injuries he should face in the future.
Blazevich participated in all 13 games this past 2014 season and logged 18 receptions for 269 yards along with 3 touchdowns. His numbers would have been much higher had he not had to split time with Rome at the position. Regardless, Blazevich legitimized himself as a valid threat at the tight end position as a true freshman and his numbers will no doubt be even higher as he moves into his sophomore campaign with new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer calling the shots on offense.
Blazevich is a Charlotte, North Carolina, product and his stock is trending upward as time moves forward. Exactly how long Jeb Blazevich will remain in Athens remains to be seen given the lure of the NFL and in light of how many players leave school early to embark on a professional career. In any event, if Blazevich indeed does decide to leave early, his replacement may have already been found in another North Carolina native. His name is Garrett Walston and his commitment to play for the Dawgs on Tuesday was the 12th for the 2016 recruiting class for the Georgia Bulldogs.
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Walston’s decision came as a surprise to many as 247Sports.com Crystal Ball predictions had him at about an 80% chance to play for his in-state school of the University of North Carolina. He is large in frame, coming in at 6-4 and 220 pounds, thus making him a big target to pass the ball to much like Blazevich (6-5, 232). He hails from Wilminton, North Carolina, and plays for New Hanover High School. The 3-Star prospect is ranked the 17th overall TE and the 19th overall prospect in the state of North Carolina in the 2016 Class 247Sports.com Composite Rankings.
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Walston is ranked a 4-Star per Scout.com player rankings so there is a lot of upside ascribed to the incoming senior regarding his athletic skills. The Wilmington product is large in stature, possesses excellent hands which are proven to be trustworthy, has the ability to rack up yards after being hit, and is a legitimate red zone force to be reckoned with. In his 2014 junior campaign at Hanover he racked up 44 catches for almost 850 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The talented tight end has not gone without offers either during his recruitment process as North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Maryland all reached out to Walston to join their programs.
As previously mentioned, it came as a surprise that Walston chose the Dawgs over UNC. He had recently visited the North Carolina Tar Heels Freak Show camp only a short 10 days ago so it appeared that his heart was set in stone to take his talents down “tobacco road”. However, he then took an unofficial visit to Athens on June 27 and committed to become a Georgia Bulldog three days later.
“It says a lot that [Mark Richt] flew home from his vacation to spend some time with me and my family and then flew back for the rest of his vacation.”
Walston told Scout.com’s Michael Clark that upon his unofficial visit to Athens that “they really rolled out the red carpet for me” and that “when I was there, I just had this feeling inside of me that Athens was the place to be.” It would also seem that UGA head coach Mark Richt and Georgia tight ends coach John Lilly made a big impression on him as well.
Walston elaborated on that connection in reference to Lilly by stating that “I definitely have a close relationship with coach Lilly,” and that “he has a great track record with tight ends, too. And I have a goal to be one of the best, so I feel like being coached by one of the best is a good way to try an achieve that goal.”
When speaking of Richt, Walston noted that “it says a lot that he flew home from his vacation to spend some time with me and my family and then flew back for the rest of his vacation,” and that “he’s a first-class guy and a first-class coach. He really preached how he wants to develop his guys not only as football players, but as good people, who are successful off the field. I can’t wait to play for him.”
Such remarks on the influence of Georgia’s coaching staff and their role in reeling in the North Carolina prospect should be commended and leave Dawg fans proud of the hard work the coaching staff has put in to recruit the best talent they can to don the “red and black” in the future.
For an inside look at exactly what the Georgia Bulldogs are getting with the Walston, commitment check out his junior highlights below from Hudl.com. Oh, and as always…Go Dawgs!!!
Garrett Walston Junior Highlights – HUDL