Hartwell (Ga.) is home to one of the nation’s top linebackers in hard-hitting Hart County star Jae Thaxton.
Ranked the No. 10 inside linebacker by Rivals.com, Thaxton (6-2, 220, 4.7) has already drawn offers from Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Miami, Auburn, LSU and Clemson. It appears he’ll have his pick of the litter on signing day, but he’s not rushing into the process of narrowing the list.
“I’m not really ready to say there’s a top two or three or anything like that right now,” he said. “I’m trying to keep an open mind to everyone because all of those are great offers, and I’ve only seen a couple of the schools. I’ve been to UGA and Florida State, and I know they’re both really nice, but I need to see some of the others, too. I don’t want to miss out on anything.”
The Bulldogs and Seminoles do have the advantages. Thaxton cited Georgia’s proximity to his parents as a big plus. He also likes the relationship he’s formed with linebackers coach Brian VanGorder. Florida State has been a program he’s followed growing up, and the Seminoles were his lone camp appearance this summer. He said FSU linebackers coach Kevin Steele has also impressed him during the recruiting process.
He said Miami and Notre Dame are looking like probable destinations for official visits.
Asked what some of the other keys will be in his decision, Thaxton said: “I’m looking for a winning program with a shot at winning a championship. I’m also looking for a school where I can get a real good education. But the main thing will be how I fit in and whether I can contribute. I’ll be watching some of these teams during the season and checking out their depth charts, all that kind of stuff.”
Thaxton is coming off monster seasons as a sophomore and junior. He’s recorded 352 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and three interceptions the last two years.
He’s also on track to be a full-qualifier, having scored an 880 on the SAT and maintaining a GPA close to 3.0.