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Posted: 10:52 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, 2013

Ex-UGA football recruit commits to Auburn 

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Rodney Garner uga
Michael Carvell
Former UGA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner (shown here at the Georgia Dome a couple weeks ago) convinced one of the Bulldogs' top defensive recruits to switch to Auburn

By Michael Carvell

Former UGA commit Dontavius Russell, who committed to Auburn on Friday, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking an official visit with the Bulldogs.

The 4-star defensive tackle from Carrollton High School originally committed to UGA last April but backed off his pledge last month because he “wanted to look around.”

Russell was expected to take official visits to both UGA and Auburn next month before reaching a final decision but tweeted out Friday that he had committed again, this time to Auburn.

“I’ve always wanted to go to a place where I could be happy, and Auburn has always been my favorite school since I was younger” Russell told the AJC. “So I just knew it’s where I wanted to be.”

Family connections factored into the decision: Russell’s uncle, Dennis Wallace, played safety in the late 1980s for Auburn. One of Wallace’s teammates was Rodney Garner, the former UGA recruiting coordinator who is Auburn’s new defensive line coach and in charge of recruiting Russell for the Tigers.

“Dontavius has grown up an Auburn fan his whole life,” Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague said. “His uncle played at Auburn. Him and his parents are big Auburn fans. I think he enjoyed coach Mark Richt when he went over to Georgia last spring break. He felt like that was a good fit for him, and made the commitment to go there. He’s not a wishy-washy kid, and not the type to flip back and forth like that.

“But Coach Garner and Auburn never stopped recruiting him. I think they had the good fortune of getting him on the sidelines for the Auburn-Alabama game. That play at the end of the game changed his perspective a little bit. You know, that got him thinking about how much of an Auburn fan he was.”

Teague said the plan was for Russell to take January recruiting trips to both Auburn and UGA before rendering a final decision. “But I know how Dontavius is. Like many kids, he’s not good at waiting around. And he doesn’t like to tell anybody no. He probably just wanted some resolution.”

When Russell was asked specifically if he was still going to visit UGA after committing to Auburn on late Friday night, he didn’t rule it out. “I’m going to take the visits my parents want me to take.” He declined to elaborate further.

UGA hasn’t given up on Russell since last month’s de-commitment. New Bulldogs defensive line coach Chris Wilson attended Carrollton’s Class AAAA state championship loss to Griffin at the Georgia Dome to observe Russell.

UGA has lost five commitments from its 2014 recruiting class, including running back Stanley Williams (committed to Kentucky), safety Nick Glass (undecided), and wide receivers Demarre Kitt (committed to Clemson) and Krenwick Sanders (Wisconsin). The Bulldogs currently list 16 commits and expect to sign between 20-23. 

Michael Carvell

About Michael Carvell

Michael Carvell covers College Football Recruiting. He started at the AJC in 1997 and has covered several beats, including NBA/Hawks and NASCAR.

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