Talented freshman visits Athens

A freshman was invited to Athens over the weekend and he took in the scrimmage on Saturday, met with the coaches, and got a feel for Athens. Find out about his visit here.

"I spent time at the scrimmage watching the linebackers and I could see myself doing that at Georgia," said Johnny O'Neal. "I like how Georgia does their practices because there was a lot of hard hitting going on. I like to hit, so I liked it there."

The freshman linebacker saw some differences between a practice at Georgia and what he used to at West Laurens.

"Things were a lot more physical and of course the players were bigger, but the biggest thing was the speed. Everyone is fast; the speed is a lot faster at Georgia than at our practice. The coaches coach faster, the players run faster, and everything just moves faster. I liked it though."

The tempo really stood out to the 2013 linebacker out of Dublin (GA) and he liked the constant contact he saw, but the head coach stood out to him as much as anything.

"I couldn't believe that Coach [Mark] Richt even knew who I was," said the freshman. "He talked with me, he told me he really liked my film, and I was just surprised that he had even seen it. I couldn't believe we were talking and that he is now recruiting me. It was pretty exciting."

Part of that excitement is because Georgia was the school O'Neal followed as a child. He kept up with Georgia, how they were doing, some of their top players, and things like that. He kept that interest for some time and he still likes the Bulldogs, but a couple of new schools have entered his mind as well.

"It was all Georgia a few years ago because that is the only team I used to watch on T.V. and all that when I was growing up. Over that last couple of years, I have started to watch Florida and Georgia Tech too. I like all three of them now. I just like how each one of them plays."

He will show at least one of those coaching staffs over the summer how he plays live too. Many have already seen his film, but he is ready to show Mark Richt what he do in person.

"I know I am going to Georgia's camp now for sure. They invited me on Saturday and I know I am going to their one day camp in June. I may go to some other camps too, but I do not know yet."

He does know about a couple of offers he has though. He has picked up two scholarships already and he still has three plus years to go in high school.

South Carolina was the first to offer and Florida followed shortly thereafter. The 6-foot-2, 230 pound linebacker can't really believe it.

"I did not expect this type of attention and it is still hard for me to believe," he admitted. "I know schools like my size, they like how I play, and I guess they think I am going to be pretty good."

"South Carolina called my coach back in the fall and told him they wanted to offer me a scholarship. My coach told me about it and then I got on the phone with Coach [Jeep] Hunter and he told me about it. I have visited them and I had a good time. It was a quick visit, but it was nice up there."

"Florida offered right after South Carolina and they offered me right after they watched my highlight tape. Their coach called and it was an amazing feeling when I found out about that offer. I just could not believe that one."

Louisville is the latest school to offer O'Neal and they offered him on Friday. He has yet to speak with their coaches, but he will likely do that in the near future.

This is a freshman that does not look or play like one. He is a new name to many, but a name that recruiting fans will hear and read a lot about over the next three years.

As a freshman, O'Neal had 116 tackles and 4 sacks.

Chad Simmons is the Recruiting Manager for the South Region and he can be reached at ChadSimmons@Scout.com.

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