Since James Cook (Miami/Central), the nation’s No. 3 running back per the 247Sports Composite, de-committed from Florida State on July 4, Georgia has been the team with momentum in his recruitment. His mother, Varondria Burnett, joined vsporto’s SEC Recruiting Buzz to give her thoughts on her son’s recruitment.
Burnett, who has one son in the NFL (Dalvin Cook) and another returning as the leading scorer for the Ole Miss basketball team (Deandre Burnett), is not shy about her feelings of the Bulldogs.
“I love Georgia,” Burnett said. “I do love Georgia, but we are looking at all the schools the same because right now we are trying to do what is in the best interest of him. But being at Georgia, you feel like it’s home. I love the academic part of it, which is important for James.”
“I know he is going to work hard and excel on the field. I just want him to get the best education possible and I want him to get the best he can out of it. Georgia is like home – I know that is what they are supposed to do. But I know. This is not my first rodeo and I know what it feels like to be treated like they really want your child.”
According to Burnett, the direction of the Georgia program on and off the field has her and her son excited.
“The academic part – I love it,” Burnett said. “I love what they have going on with the program academic wise. I love where the program is going on the field as well. Of course, I follow them, what they are doing this year and next year, what they are trying to do. I am definitely loving it. We both are.”
Back in April, Cook visited Georgia while still being committed to Florida State. Upon his return, Burnett realized her son had legitimate interest in the Bulldogs.
“When he came home, and he was still committed to Florida State, James never took a picture of another uniform on,” Burnett said. “I saw it on Twitter, then he comes home and he is just so excited and talking about it.
— J.COOK (@thegreat__4) April 8, 2017
“So for me, I had to see what he was so excited about. That is why I was so eager to go up there. And I can see. We are very family-oriented, and when you go up there, you feel that family presence, how close they are. I think that is what he was feeling when he went up there.”
James Coley is the Bulldogs’ area recruiter for Cook and a familiar face to the family. Dell McGee is also involved and would be the position coach for Cook if he ends up at Georgia.
“I knew Coley from the process with Dalvin, when he was at the University of Miami,” Burnett said. “Coley is down to Earth, very funny like I said, I am familiar with him. Coach McGee is one of those types of coaches who you can tell he wants your child. He makes an effort to text, he makes an effort to stay in contact whenever it is allowed. So we are in constant contact and I love communication.
“I love to feel like you really want my child. When you are communicating with me, I feel like you want my child to really be there. If he decides to go to the University of Georgia, I am so eager to see him coached by a great person. Not just on the field, but off the field. I am eager to see Coach McGee bring out what I know James has. James is very restricted sometimes, he does not like to talk. That is just how he is. Dalvin was like that as well – he came out of his shell and has blossomed into an awesome guy.
I am looking forward to if that is where he decides to go, Coach McGee putting him under his wing and making him become the man that I know James is capable of, off the field.”
Earlier this month, Cook admitted to 247Sports recruiting analyst Luke Stampini that Georgia held the lead in his recruitment. Burnett was not surprised by those comments.
“Was not surprised at all,” Burnett said. “Georgia, from day one, has been there. Staying in contact with both of us. Constantly trying to make sure that everything is okay. Just being concerned about any little thing. When they recruit you, they recruit the family. They want to make sure the family is okay. We are very family-oriented.”
Originally, the plan was for Cook to visit Georgia on Saturday.
“It did not make sense for him to just come up,” Burnett said. “We wanted him to experience a big game day. So we had a conversation and decided to just go up there together for the Mississippi State game.”
The plan is for Cook to take all five official visits.
“Of course, the top three will be Georgia, Louisville, and Florida State – those will be the three I know he is going to visit. The other two will probably be a toss up between USC, LSU, and Auburn.”
At this time, Burnett reiterated, Georgia remains at the top of the list.
“Georgia, like I said, they are the leader at this time – definitely,” Burnett said.
Georgia has a commitment from the nation’s No. 1 running back Zamir White (Laurinburg, N.C./Scotland). The pitch of Cook being paired up with White, like Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall and Nick Chubb/Sony Michel were in recent years, has been effective with Burnett.
“I like it,” Burnett said. “We are just going to come in and I am not worried about that – he is going to go in and work his butt off and prove he belongs there. Him and Zamir. I like Zamir. I love Zamir. I have watched his highlights. I think that’s awesome. I think what Georgia is doing in the recruiting process this year, and in the previous year and in the year coming up. I think it has been awesome and I love where the program is going.”
Listen to the full interview above, which includes Barnett discussing when she thinks James might make a commitment, how difficult it was for James to de-commit from Florida State, other programs in the mix, and more. Stay up to date on SEC recruiting by listening to episodes of the SEC Recruiting Buzz here. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, and on google play here.
***Make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep up with the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2017 season — take five seconds to Sign up for our FREE Bulldogs newsletter now!***