Georgia head coach Kirby Smart may be using local ties to draw the interest of a coveted running back prospect.
Dameon Pierce has been an Alabama pledge for nine months. But Smart has returned to his hometown of Bainbridge to try and pry the four-star running back away from his commitment. Smart spent nine seasons at Alabama as its defensive coordinator and a primary recruiter before heading back to his alma mater.
Pierce has openly explored his options, despite holding the pledge to the Crimson Tide. After a visit to Florida and Florida State throughout the Spring, Pierce confirmed to The Telegraph that he will attend Georgia’s spring game on Saturday.
“I’m looking to see good intensity and effort from the players,” Pierce said. “I’ll be looking to talk to Kirby first thing, but I’m also looking to build a better relationship with (Georgia running backs coach Dell) McGee.”
Georgia was able to put on a display for its recruits at the spring game a year ago as over 93,000 fans packed the seats of Sanford Stadium for the first head coaching appearance for Smart. Consequently, the Bulldogs saw a significant boost to their 2017 recruiting class, which eventually finished as the third-best group nationally.
A year later, a “sellout” in Athens may not be as likely of an outcome. But the list of prospects will once again be lengthy as a host of 2018 and 2019 prospects will spend time touring the facilities and speaking with the coaching staff. Pierce is the latest addition to the visitors list, yet the timing of the Georgia visit coincides with Alabama’s spring game – which is also slated for Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve been meaning to visit Georgia for a while,” Pierce said. “I went up to Alabama last weekend. I’m still committed and all but I’m still visiting places with my mom to get her take and opinions on things.”
What are his mom’s thoughts on Pierce’s future destination?
“She doesn’t have a preference but she wants me to be well taken care of and have a good education,” Pierce said. “You know, the things that any mom would look for.”
In his junior campaign at Bainbridge, Pierce collected 1,686 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. As a result of his success, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound playmaker holds 18 offers and is rated as the sixth-overall running back for the 2018 class.
For Georgia, it will graduate the backfield duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. To fill the soon-to-be void, the Bulldogs landed Pennsylvania product D’Andre Swift in the recruiting class of 2017 and are heavily recruiting Scotland County (NC) running back Zamir White.
Now, Pierce could see himself in that picture of prioritized targets. Georgia offered Pierce on May 12, 2016 and he visited for a camp on June 2. The recruiting efforts from the Bulldogs tapered after the in-state product announced his pledge elsewhere. As those efforts amplify once more, Pierce senses a connection with he and Smart both growing up in Southwest Georgia.
“I think he knows how hard it is to come from a small town. I think he relates to that well,” Pierce said.”