A couple of priority targets for the 2019 class took a mid-week trip to Athens and received significant attention from the Georgia coaching staff.
Wide receiver Jashawn Sheffield and athlete Jaylin Simpson have built a bond as teammates at Frederica Academy in St. Simons and are now discovering the opportunity of playing together at the next level. Simpson received an offer from the Bulldogs and Sheffield came away with some reassurance that the Bulldogs were one of his top contenders.
“The visit was good,” said Sheffield, who has held an offer from Georgia since November 2015. “I’ve been there so many times that I have seen what I needed to see. I just liked the one-on-one time with the staff. (Head coach) Kirby (Smart) keeps it real.”
Along with Smart, Sheffield is actively recruited by receivers coach James Coley. The 6-foot-2 playmaker holds 20 offers as a rising junior, so the Bulldogs will have some recruiting battles lying ahead. Nonetheless, Sheffield’s relationships with many tied to the program may give Georgia an advantage.
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Sheffield is a cousin of freshman defensive back Richard LeCounte III, who continues to be an active recruiter for future classes after playing an integral role in Georgia landing the third-best prospect haul in 2017. The two met up once more on the visit in Athens, in which LeCounte echoed the words of the coaching staff. In addition, Sheffield has built a relationship with Bulldogs’ commit Nolan Smith, who is a mutual native of coastal Georgia.
As the recruiting process continues, the Bulldogs currently stand in good position for the four-star.
“They’re up there,” Sheffield said. “I would say Georgia is tied with Ohio State and Clemson, and Florida State right behind them.”
Simpson took his first trip to Athens, and came away with a similar impression as his long-time teammate Sheffield. But he also had the opportunity to visit the Bulldogs’ basketball program, visiting with associate head coach Phillip Pearson for nearly an hour at Stegeman Coliseum.
Simpson has garnered interest from programs both in football and basketball, despite not yet holding any collegiate offers on the hardwood as of yet. Nevertheless, it’s to the advantage of the rising junior that the exposure to coaching staffs has begun in both sports.
“I would like to play basketball and football in college, but it’s not a make-or-break deal,” Simpson said. “I hope to pick up some offers when I start camping this summer. (Coach Pearson and I) spoke about the history of the program, how close of a family that the team has become and just hung out.”
If Simpson is to have the opportunity to play both major sports for the Bulldogs, it would be the first Georgia athlete to do so since Jay Rome, who played tight end for Mark Richt from 2011-15 and forward for head coach Mark Fox during his freshman year in 2011.
While there is interest in participating in both sports, a majority of the attention for Simpson remains with football. His visit to the football facilities involved donning the home uniform for the first time, and speaking with Smart, inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
“I enjoyed the time I got to spend with the coaching staff and the brief time with the players, especially Richard,” Simpson said. “Kirby told me to finish my semester hard academically and to keep working hard athletically (shortly before he told me about an offer).”
Simpson said that Ohio State leads and Georgia falls right behind. The Buckeyes are squarely in the competition for both Simpson and Sheffield, but it's not necessarily a package deal as to where one school will land both of the Georgia products.
As the process of choosing a program continues, Simpson and Sheffield will keep that desire in mind, but will make the best decision regarding personal needs.
“We always thought (Jashawn) would get the football offers, and I would get the basketball offers, but things ended up a little different,” Simpson said. “It’s cool to think that we could be playing at the next level. If it happens to be at the same school, cool. If not, then we will support each other from wherever.
Both of the 2019 four-stars have played together since the days of youth league football, and think highly of each other.
“That’s family, like my brother. I’m happy to see him blow up,” Sheffield said.