UGA football's G-Day a hit with recruits despite dead period, limited crowds and pandemic

Jeremy Johnson
Athens Banner-Herald
Fellow 2024 recruits Hevin Shuler-Brown and Waltclaire Flynn Jr. pose together following the G-Day game on Saturday.

In the world of college football, UGA football's G-Day spring game offered recruiting efforts a chance to find a way.

Despite limited tickets, the long dead period which disabled contact between college coaches and recruits in person and put a halt to on-campus visits and the COVID-19 pandemic, UGA recruits found a way to take a peek at what a football Saturday is like in Athens as fans in the crowd.

Local future Bulldogs Malaki Starks and Logan Johnson both made the short drive from neighboring counties to watch future teammates close out spring practice as the Red Team bested the Black Team 28-23.

More:UGA football fans get first look at five-star QB Brock Vandagriff during G-Day game

Jalon Walker, a four-star linebacker commit in the class of 2022, made the three and a half hour trip to Athens from Salisbury, North Carolina, he said on Twitter. 

Bear Alexander, a defensive tackle commit from Texas, also made the trip according to his Twitter account.

The Bulldogs’ first commit in the class of 2023, Pearce Spurlin, endured a six-hour car ride from Santa Rosa, Florida. Spurlin has been to previous G-Day games, but said he felt necessary to make the trip this year. 

“I have been going to G-Day since I was a little kid, but I felt it was necessary to go because it is going to be my future home,” Spurlin said. “I have just always loved going and I love it even more knowing I’m going to be playing in the G-Day game soon.”

More:What UGA football must do to land the top recruiting class in 2022

Saturday only confirmed what his childhood feelings were about Athens.

“Crowd or not I love Athens,” Spurlin said. “I get the chills every time I’m there and it feels like it’s in the only place on earth. I could not be more excited to be going there in a year and a half.”

Spurlin has been a UGA football fan for a long time. He has acted as a recruiter for the class of 2023 already and hopes to continue to do so when he takes visits to Athens this summer.

“I feel like I have asserted the role as the recruiter for UGA and the 2023 class,” Spurlin said. “There weren’t many kids my age there. Over the summer I’m really excited to get to visit UGA with other kids in my class.”

For rising high school sophomores Hevin Brown-Shuler and Waltclaire Flynn Jr., the trip brought a lot of firsts.

Brown-Shuler and Flynn both attended Saturday’s G-Day game and took in very similar experiences. Brown-Shuler, a defensive tackle from Pace Academy in Atlanta, had been to Athens but had never been to a game in Sanford Stadium.

“I really enjoyed the experience out here, I can tell this is a great community,” Brown-Shuler said. “I like the vibe out here. I love the feel, I love the stadium and I love the atmosphere… It (Sanford Stadium) looks better than it does on TV.”

Flynn has been interested in the Bulldogs since he and his family moved from Kentucky and he attended a Kirby Smart camp when he was in the sixth grade. Flynn does not yet have an offer from the Bulldogs.

Flynn, a starting center for 7A state champions Grayson, enjoyed the home feeling he got on Saturday.

Fans approached both Flynn and Brown-Shuler for photos and conversations, despite both players being three years away from college.

“I love the fans, I had some people coming up to me shaking my hand and taking pictures with me and I love it,” Flynn said.

Brown-Shuler was also similarly impacted by the fanbase.

“I’m only in the ninth grade and its surreal because people just look at me and they’re like ‘he’s a football player, let’s go ahead and get on him,” Brown-Shuler said. “I love it out here.”