ATHENS, Ga. -- Merry Christmas, Bulldogs.
Jim Donnan, Rodney Garner and the rest of Georgia's coaches couldn't ask for a better present than the one they received Wednesday, when Albert Hollis, a consensus All-America running back, committed to the Bulldogs.
Hollis told Donnan he was coming to Georgia before Donnan and Garner caught a plane to visit the player at his Sacramento, Calif., home Wednesday night. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound back was named first-team All-American by USA Today on Tuesday, and is considered one of the top two or three high school backs in the nation this year.
"I felt more comfortable at Georgia with the coaches and everything," said Hollis. "I just felt that I could make a bigger impact at Georgia in my freshman year than at any of the other colleges I was considering."
Commitments are non-binding. Players can sign Feb. 2, national signing day for football players.
Meanwhile, Georgia's top prep quarterback prospect, Dondrial Pinkins from Mitchell-Baker High in Camilla, Ga., has said he will sign with South Carolina. The 6-2, 220-pound Pickins made his decision Tuesday night. South Carolina's top prep running back prospect, Michael Gasparato of Dutch Fork, picked Penn State over Clemson and South Carolina.
Pinkins picked the Gamecocks over Auburn, Georgia Tech and Central Florida. His older brother, Al, who played college basketball at N.C. State, is the state's all-time leading prep passer.
Judging by Hollis' high school numbers, making an impact shouldn't be a problem. In 11 games this year for Christian Brothers School, Hollis carried 230 times for 2,053 yards (an average of 186.6 per game) and 31 touchdowns. In a 61-36 victory over a highly touted school from Nevada, Hollis carried 27 times for 421 yards and six touchdowns -- the shortest of which was a 43-yard run.
Hollis' stock in trade is his speed and explosiveness -- "In the open field, I'm just too dangerous," he said Wednesday.
His coach, Greg Meegan, told USA Today that Hollis "has a tremendous burst off the ball. In the open field, he's pretty much un-catchable."
Perhaps the sweetest aspect of Hollis' recruitment for the Bulldogs is that he initiated the contact with Georgia. Hollis had originally committed to UCLA last May, but wavered on that pledge over the summer. He began to look at other schools, and one of his track coaches suggested he give Georgia a look, considering the Bulldogs' legacy of running backs.
"So I made a phone call one morning, and they said yeah, we'll research you, just send us some film," recalled Hollis. "So I sent them some film and the rest is history."
Hollis, who said he is fully qualified academically, visited Athens for the Kentucky game and eventually whittled his choices down to Georgia and Texas before choosing the Bulldogs. He emphasized Wednesday that his commitment to Georgia is as solid as it gets.
"I didn't fit in at UCLA, and I kind of could tell that it wasn't really the place for me," he said. "Yes, this is an absolute commitment to Georgia."
Hollis is Georgia's second national running back recruit in this class, joining Musa Smith of Pennsylvania, who committed to the Bulldogs in August. Smith, a 6-2, 210-pounder, was named first-team all-Pennsylvania after rushing for 2,041 yards and 32 touchdowns this season for West Perry High School.
Staff reports contributed to this story.
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