Georgia keeps Gunner Stockton home, lands elite QB
When Gunner Stockton committed to South Carolina back in August, it was over Georgia. So when the no. 2-ranked quarterback in the country re-opened his recruitment right after Mike Bobo left Columbia to be the offensive coordinator at Auburn, many felt Stockton would follow.
Not so fast.
Kirby Smart and Georgia never stopped recruiting Stockton, and quietly in December, while the four-star was still committed to South Carolina, there was a few strong conversations where Smart, Todd Monken, and the staff in Athens let Stockton know he was still their target in 2022.
That consistency, and maybe more than anything, that familiarity with the coach he would be closest to played a big role in this decision for the star quarterback at Rabun County High.
“I have been to Georgia a lot, I know the people, and I have a great relationship with coach Monken,” said. “He is a really good coach, we have a really good connection and we’ve had some really strong conversations.
“I have gotten to know him well since he got to Georgia, he has a great offensive mind, and he has shown me how I would fit into his offense. He is fun to listen to, he is very creative, and I think it will be a great fit for me working with him.”
Not only has he had many zoom calls with Monken and gotten to know him, but he has tripped to Athens double-digit times, so he knows what it’s like in the Classic City.
“I have been to Georgia around 10 times, so I know the area well. I know people there, and what stands out most to me is everyone is all about Georgia. It is an awesome feeling there; the tailgating is great, the fans love the team, and I love the atmosphere.
“I know players that have played there, I have a former teammate on the team now, and I have been around Athens a lot, and it is just a cool place.”
Once this news gets out into the community around those north Georgia mountains in Tiger, Stockton may be loved even more than he is now. The junior has already thrown for 9,518 yards and 122 touchdowns. He has rushed 3,416 yards and 70 touchdowns.
And now he has committed to Georgia, the school most in his town love.
“Everywhere I go around Rabun County, there are Georgia fans,” said . “Everyone is barking, ‘Go Dawgs’, they love the school and I know I will have great support there. It will be fun playing for a school so many love where I grew up.”
Smart’s persistence paid off in the end. Most thought, even Stockton himself, that once he committed to South Carolina, it was game over. He is not one that seeks attention, he didn’t commit early to think about de-committing later, but things happened in Columbia, there is a new coach in town, and it was not the right fit for Stockton.
Georgia continued to pursue Stockton, while giving him his space, and for the second class in row, the Bulldogs land the top quarterback in their home state.
“I am staying home and I do not have to worry about recruiting anymore," said Stockton. “It meant a lot to me that coach Smart always recruited me, that he always had that door open for me, and he and the whole staff at Georgia showed me I mean something to them. That played a role in my decision.
“It feels great to now know where I am going and I am not looking back. I know I am going to Georgia.”