Rivals.com 2018 Recruiter of the Year: Georgia's Dell McGee
Dell McGee was on the other side of recruiting as recently as five years ago. Back in February 2013, McGee was head coach at Carver High School in Columbus (Ga.), where he worked for eight seasons and produced his share of elite talent.
Fast forward to February 2018 and McGee, now an assistant coach at Georgia, is being named the Rivals.com 2018 Recruiter of the Year for his role in the Bulldogs' historical No. 1 recruiting class.
“It was a total staff effort,” McGee said. “It was the entire coaching staff, the people off-the-field, the academic support group and everyone who made this class what it is. We had kids that had offers to go to Ivy League schools and the people in this class are high standard, so we are excited about that. This class is full of great kids, great students and that is what we are most proud of.”
McGee, who won a state title in high school, made the jump to college as an analyst for Auburn, but within a year had moved onto Georgia Southern as running backs coach. He joined Kirby Smart's staff at Georgia as running backs coach following the 2016 season, just a few weeks before the 2017 class would be signed.
The Bulldogs signed the No. 3 class in 2017 and McGee pulled Rivals100 running back D’Andre Swift out of Pennsylvania. Swift will be Georgia’s No. 1 running back heading into the spring after making an impact as a true freshman last fall. McGee wasn’t satisfied with one elite running back in 2018, so he signed two five-stars in Zamir White and James Cook.
McGee doesn’t just recruit running backs. Smart would get him involved with as many prospects as possible just because the way McGee connects with the prospect and how the parents admire and respect him.
Outside of White and Cook, McGee played a key role in helping Georgia land five-stars Justin Fields, Jamaree Salyer and Brenton Cox. The four-stars he helped with were Christopher Smith, Azeez Ojulari and Warren Ericson. You can bet McGee had conversations with more of the prospects that the Bulldogs landed, too.
“Coach McGee is a very genuine and honest recruiter,” said Smith, a four-star cornerback out of Atlanta (Ga.) Hapeville Charter. “From the time I met him he was always very welcoming. He's probably my parents' favorite coach on the whole staff — they love talking to him.
“I'm not surprised at all with the role he’s played in helping Georgia sign the top class in the country. He's always working and on the go. From talking to him I know he has his recruiting plan mapped out years ahead and that helps him be successful too.”
It is hard to truly say Georgia missed on a player it targeted in the 2018 class. Perhaps Rick Sandidge, who signed with South Carolina. But other than that, Georgia went undefeated in the Early Signing Period and National Signing Day.
McGee credits the players.
“This Georgia recruiting class is close," he said. "They developed a bond, they got to know each other and the class closed because of how close these kids had become. They wanted to play with one another and that was a big part of how we closed (Wednesday).”
But someone had to lead those early commitments to Athens before those guys could help the staff land other top recruits.
“McGee has emerged as one of the best recruiters in the Southeast after his experience as a high school coach,” Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell said. “He relates very well to kids, he’s relentless and tireless in his pursuit of prospects, and he knows just what angle needs to be taken for each prospect because he does his homework.
“He’s a genuine person, comes off very well in schools and living rooms, and knows how to sell a great product. The work he did with the 2018 class is beyond impressive in the competitive Southeast.”
Back when he was a high school coach, he went through the recruiting process with many of his student-athletes. He sat in living rooms. He talked to head coaches. He heard from parents and players about what they liked and disliked about how college coaches recruited them. McGee has put all that to use.
“Oh yeah, I definitely go back to when I was there with kids I had that were being recruited,” McGee said. “Being a former high school coach is a huge plus for me. I have taken everything I have heard and everything I have seen into how I recruit kids.
“I first just want to get to know people. I want to know who the kid is, what type of kid he is and know who the champions are in their lives. Everything I saw and heard over the years in high school, I have used it. It was huge for me and it taught me a lot.”
McGee is not one that looks to be in the spotlight or recognized for individual awards. He took this honor in stride.
“It was a great day for Georgia,” McGee said. “The staff put in an insane amount of work, we worked very well together as a group and it was just great to be a part of this.
“Stats are what they are when it comes to rankings and all that, but what we are most happy about is the type of people who are in this class. We have a group of great kids who we are excited about coaching at Georgia.”