SUMMERVILLE — He could have made recruiting trips to the glamour spots of college football, including Los Angeles, Miami, South Bend and Ann Arbor. And, the press conference to announce his college decision could have rivaled a rock star revealing his tour dates.
But A.J. Green had Georgia on his mind — and in his heart.
Green, Summerville's All-American wide receiver, short-circuited the recruiting process just as it was getting started early in his junior season. He attended the Georgia-Tennessee game on Oct. 7, 2006, and even though the Bulldogs lost, coach Mark Richt was able to smile later that night. He received a commitment from Green, one of the top juniors in the country.
Today, Green makes it official when he signs a national letter of intent to play for the Bulldogs. A press conference will be held at 9 a.m. at Summerville High School, but Green's scholarship, signed and sealed, will be faxed to the Georgia football office an hour earlier, and Green will be delivered. Coach Richt and his staff don't want to risk anything going wrong.
They don't need to worry.
"I don't like all that attention," said the 6-4 Green, who says he now weighs 196 pounds. "That's why I did it early. I just wanted to get it over with to focus on the team and school work. In my mind, there was no doubt where I was going to go. I'm going to be a big-time player if I continue to work hard. No doubt ever came in my mind that I was not going to play, that I was not going to be a big-time receiver if I worked hard."
Teenagers sometimes change their minds as often as they change their clothes. But Green made his decision 487 days ago and never wavered. He could have gone on recruiting trips all over the country and been treated like royalty. A trip to Athens, Ga., was his only official visit. He did join teammate and South Carolina commit Reid McCollum for a trip to Columbia in November for the Carolina-Clemson game.
"A lot of schools wanted me to visit," Green said, "like just about every Division I school. But my commitment to Georgia was very strong. I didn't want any rumors going around."
Green opted not to see the country. Instead, he focused on getting to know Richt, who will help Green in the next step of his career. Green says he and Richt have visited at least 30 times.
"He's very down to earth," Green said of Richt. "He just doesn't talk about football. He talks about life after football. That's important to me."
Green is one of the jewels of Georgia's 24-man recruiting class, which is ranked No. 4 in the country by Rivals and No. 3 by Scout. Green is believed to be the only player from South Carolina to be a four-time Associated Press all-state selection, and he was a two-time All-American. He finished with 5,363 career receiving yards, which is second on the all-time national list.
"We have a real strong class coming in, a lot of big-time players, a lot of big-time athletes, so we should be good this year," Green said. "If I keeping working hard, get big, faster and stuff like that, I should play."