Walter Grant is a four-star outside linebacker from Cairo, Ga. (Cairo), and he recently decided to give his commitment to the Georgia Bulldogs. As an in-state commit, Grant is a pretty big deal for Kirby Smart and his UGA staff.
The state of Georgia is routinely pillaged by just about every major college football program in the country, looking for their next star recruits. Outside of Florida, Texas and California, there are few states that possess the high school football talent that Georgia does on a yearly basis, thus it’s a very popular pipeline on the recruiting trail.
For the Bulldogs, that’s a good and bad thing.
The good? UGA has an instant advantage with most elite in-state recruits because of 1) proximity and 2) likely affinity. Recruits know they don’t have to go far from home to play in the SEC at Georgia, and many of them grow up fans of the Bulldogs.
That is what Smart has going for him.
What he doesn’t have going for him is the phenomenon described above. Programs from coast to coast are always trying to get their foot in the door down in Georgia. Case in point? Just this cycle alone, the top recruit from the state, five-star quarterback Davis Mills, is committed to Stanford. South Carolina (2), Clemson (2), Auburn, and Oklahoma all have commits within the Top 25 of the top recruits in the state.
With that said, Smart and his staff have been pretty successful when it comes to keeping the in-state talent between the hedges. That was something that Mark Richt struggled with at times while recruiting for the Bulldogs, so it’s something that’s undoubtedly important for Smart to rectify.
And so far, so good.
Three of the top-five in-state recruits — five-star safety Richard LeCounte II, four-star quarterback Jake Fromm and four-star defensive end Robert Beal — are Bulldogs, and nine of the top 25 have verbally agreed to play for Georgia as well. Grant, who’s ranked as the No. 14 outside linebacker in the 2017 class as well as the No. 202 overall player in America (according to the industry generated 247Sports Composite) — is considered to be the No. 23 overall player from the state of Georgia.
In all, of UGA’s 16 current commitments, 12 are from the Peach State — yet another good sign for Smart.
In-state importance aside, Grant’s commitment was big for UGA because of who he committed to the Bulldogs over. Nick Saban and Alabama were hot on Georgia’s trail for the four-star linebacker, and he also chose the Bulldogs over Jimbo Fisher (one of the nation’s best recruiters) and Florida State.
Grant, who’s 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, committed to UGA on his senior night.
“It feels great to be committed to Georgia,” he told Dawgs247. “I have been waiting for this. I postponed it last month, I just felt like senior night would be the right time.
“Georgia is where I felt the most comfortable at. I have a shot at starting and getting a great education at Georgia while having fun around coaches and players I feel at home around.”
Size and length are the first two things that come to mind for Grant as an outside linebacker. He’s long at 6-foot-5, but he also has a big frame that will likely allow him to pack on some more muscle mass — something that is much needed in order to truly excel as a linebacker in the SEC.
Athleticism is the big thing to note for Grant. Even at his size, he’s simply just an all-around football player. Keep in mind, he’s ranked as one of the best outside linebackers in the nation, but he has played middle linebacker, running back and even wide receiver for his school. Athleticism is vital on the edges of an SEC defense, and Grant has it in bunches.
Grant does have the typical skill-set coaches look for from linebackers as well. Though he’s tall, he has good bend in his legs and can play with leverage. He’ll need to work on staying low and exploding through the gap or wash — rather than chopping his feet and waiting for the run to come to him — but on the outside that will be less of a problem.
His long arms will help him get off blocks and create turmoil in a quarterback’s passing lanes. And speaking of, if UGA can instill a few technical pass-rush moves in him, his speed and athleticism could naturally take over and he could become a great pass rusher for Georgia. If he bulks up enough, he could probably even play defensive end.
The raw talent and ability is there for Grant, and his potential as an edge defender is extremely high.