Editor's note: During the countdown to national signing day on Feb. 1, DawgNation will talk with a former Georgia football player each day about his memories of the recruiting process.
Today's former Bulldog is Nick Jones, an All-SEC center and team captain in 2006 who spent parts of two seasons on NFL rosters before embarking on a career in coaching.
Jones recently accepted his first assistant coaching job instructing tight ends and tackles at Coastal Carolina after spending the 2010 and 2011 seasons as a graduate assistant at his alma mater.
Here are the highlights from DawgNation beat writer David Ching's conversation with Jones:
DC: What was the recruiting process like for you?
NJ: Being a recruit for me, coming from a small town like Bowdon, Ga., it was an eye-opening experience. It was something I hadn't really experienced before and something that was never experienced in my hometown. Well, it had been, but it wasn't like every year we had a Division I-A, big-time recruit come out of there. I was one of the few coming out of that high school and I considered it an honor. At the time I didn't really see it as a big deal, but looking back I consider it a blessing that I got the opportunity from Bowdon to go through this process. It was something that kind of happened and happened quick when Georgia was on me. I had interest from other schools, but when Georgia came knocking, Coach [Rodney] Garner was recruiting me and he recruited my mom. Really he got me, but the most important thing was he got my mom. She was sold on him and he did a good job with her and that, coupled with going to Athens and experiencing that for the first time and meeting Coach [Mark] Richt, it was a slam-dunk deal. It ain't hard to get impressed when you go to Athens. It sells itself. But to have those people that kind of get you before you even get there -- and then when you get there, it's kind of a done deal.
DC: So when did you get your first scholarship offer and who was it from?
NJ: Actually the first offer I got was from Maryland. They actually came in during my junior year and they showed a lot of interest in me and were the first ones to offer. I remember the day, I was actually walking the hallway and one of my assistant coaches said, "Hey, man, I just got off the phone with Maryland and they want to talk to you. They said they want to talk about offering you a scholarship." They were the first and then I think Kentucky might have come in then and some smaller schools like East Carolina, UAB, Georgia Southern, schools like that were coming in.
DC: When it came down to seriously considering where you were going to go, how many schools were you considering and what was it that made Georgia your pick?
NJ: I'll tell you like this, I had narrowed it down to Georgia, Auburn and Clemson, kind of in that order, when it was all said and done. Actually Auburn was closer geographically to where I lived, but I just felt like I had a better relationship with the guys from the University of Georgia. I felt like they wanted me more. I had that feeling when I went there, I had that feeling of belonging. When I went to Georgia, I felt like I found a home away from home. Talking to Coach Richt, talking to Coach G, I felt like I was talking to one of my extended family members. At the end of the day, it started with Coach Garner, but it ended up being with Coach Richt and Coach [Neil] Callaway and the whole staff. He started it, and once I got to meet Coach Richt, it was almost like a slam dunk. I didn't really know him like that until I was getting recruited. I was raised by a single mom, so we didn't really follow football like that. I played it, but it wasn't like we were die-hard Georgia fans or any other school.
DC: Have you got a good story of your experiences from being recruited?