UGASports - Dawgs vs. Gamecocks for elite 2022 QB Gunner Stockton
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Dawgs vs. Gamecocks for elite 2022 QB Gunner Stockton

The attention as a top recruit got to be too much for Tiger (Ga.) Rabun County quarterback Gunner Stockton to handle. Maybe it was just more than he wanted to handle.

But either way, he has made a big move in his recruitment.

He is only a junior, but schools from all over have been reaching out, asking for zoom calls, wanting him to spend time on the phone with him daily, and it just got to be too much to handle.

He is a very humble 2022 prospect who going to be in the initial Rivals100 that will be released later this year, so before September 1 rolls around when coaches will be allowed to ping his phone without limitations, he is ready to cut his list to two SEC foes that know each other very well and focus on those two moving forward.

Before naming Georgia and South Carolina as his top two, Stockton spent time making calls to numerous schools, like North Carolina and Ohio State among others to let those coaches know of his decision.

Stockton knows he may not be able to step foot on any college campus to get face-to-face time with coaches any time soon, so his early trips to Athens and Columbia paid off.

Each school has made their case and have lead to this battle between Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp.

There are multiple reasons why the in-state school is in this battle.

"The first time I met coach Smart, we hit it off," said Stockton. "It’s easy to talk to him, and I feel his confidence in me. He is intense, and I love that. He told me almost a year ago that it’s only a matter of time until Georgia wins a National Championship and somebody is going to be the quarterback. He then paused and said…..'Why not you?' It’s hard to forget that statement.

"The other thing that I love about Georgia is that they are Georgia. Most everyone I know is crazy about Georgia. Here in Rabun County for the last four years, we all pulled for Charlie Woerner. Charlie took me to a Georgia game when I was in sixth grade, and I know he loves Georgia and had a great experience.

"Coach Monken and I have spent a lot of time on the phone and zooming too. He is extremely knowledgeable, and I’m excited to watch him lead the offense this season. I know he’s a great man. I know he’s competitive. I realize that it’s unfair for me to expect our relationship to be at the same level as some other relationships because we haven’t been able to spend as much time in person one-on-one yet. I can tell that he is a great coach and that I would enjoy playing for him.

"One other reason why Georgia is in my top two is because I dreamed of playing and winning the game in Jacksonville for my late Grandfather. He had a heart attack and died at his tailgate after the Georgia vs. Florida game when I was seven years old."

The Gamecocks are looking to knock Georgia off the top spot in the SEC East and Stockton feels that could happen.

"I believe championships can be won in South Carolina. The facilities are in place, the support is there, and it’s ready to take off. It’s well documented the relationship that I have with the Shaw (Jaybo Shaw is Stockton's head coach) and Bobo family, but when I went to watch South Carolina practice, I found myself watching coach Muschamp more than anybody else. His energy was unreal, and you could see the players respond to him. Then, I met with him in his office and he was extremely easy to talk to. He believes in South Carolina and he wants to bring the fans a championship. I loved everything about who and what he stands for.

"As for Connor, he was my role model from an early age, and he still is. I hope and pray that I grow up to be the husband and father that he is. I watched him play almost every high school and college game. I dreamed of wearing 14 just like him and my dad.

"At the age of six or seven, coach (George) Bobo (Offensive coordinator Mike's father) showed me how to throw a football. He then talked my dad into making me into a QB instead of a LB. Now that I have built a relationship with coach Mike, I see the same qualities in him that I love about his dad. He is a family man that is competitive, loyal, and Christ like. You can’t ask for more than that."

Georgia and South Carolina are getting good news, and in the end, one of these two will finish second, be defeated, and get that call from Stockton with bad news.

He's already made those calls to a few coaches, and being the type person he is, Stockton wants to please all, but he knew he had to make tough decisions and manage his time properly as he moves forward with the recruiting process.

"The hardest part of this process is telling people no," said Stockton. "Calling North Carolina and telling coach Mack Brown and coach Longo, who I love, that I was feeling led in a different direction was extremely tough for me. That was hard. It’s no surprise why they are changing things in Chapel Hill. They made me feel like family, but I never want to lead someone on. Making calls like that were very tough for me.

"The other tough part is just the recruiting process. I would come home every day to my dad handing me a list of schools that asked me to call them back. I realized quickly that you can only build a few meaningful relationships in this process because of time and time alone.

"On top of that, my dream right now is not on winning college games. It’s on winning a region title and a state title with my team at Rabun County High School. I want to focus my total attention on accomplishing this goal with my teammates and coaches."

Those calls were not easy, nobody ever wants to deliver bad news to anyone, but Stockton is likely resting a lot better at night now. He knows he only has to talk to two schools, he can manage that much easier while staying focused on his high school team first.

He is just going where his heart leads him.

"Over the past several months, I have realized that my heart and mind was only focused on two schools. I loved the thought of playing at some schools in the north, or even out west, but with the shutdowns due to coronavirus, I realized that I will never have enough time to visit them and get an at home feeling."

There is no timeline for a commitment. When it happens, it happens for Stockton. He is going to put his high school team first, deal with recruiting second and push forward with a decision coming in due time.

The signal caller from the northeast Georgia mountains could have gone almost anywhere in the country, but he is planing to play in the SEC. He will play for Smart or Muschamp, two coaches that played together between the hedges in the 90's.

Stockton is now focused on two, and he is ready to move forward with his recruitment, but he appreciates every offer, he thanked many coaches that put time in recruiting him, and he created some true memories while getting to this point.

"The recruiting process has been a blessing," said Stockton. "I am humbled and my wildest dreams have come true during this process. I have gotten to meet people like coach Brown and coach Nick Saban. I have had zoom meetings with Coach O (Ed Orgeron, LSU) — now that’s a blessing. I will always remember him asking me when I was coming to eat gumbo.

"My parents are humble people and they expect that from me, so I have tried to be me, which is a humble and thankful person. I am thankful to be in this position, and now at this point in the recruiting process."