Tarpon Springs' DeBell picks Da Bulldogs

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Sat. July 17, 2010 | John C. Cotey | Email

Tarpon Springs' Zach DeBell wasn't planning on committing this weeekend during a weekend visit for Dawg Night.

But there was something about Athens. Something about the coaching staff. Something about the players.

"It just hit me,'' DeBell said.

So Friday night, he decided there was something about being a Georgia Bulldog he couldn't resist, bringing his whirlwind recruiting process to a close by committing right there on the spot.

"It was just the whole moment,'' DeBell said. "I wasn't planning on committing before I went up there, but it was great. It's a great town, Coach (Mark) Richt is a great guy, the coaches are excellent. It's close enough for my folks to come see me play, but far enough away for me to have my own life.''

DeBell was told before committing there was just one spot left for his position (Georgia has 15 commitments already; three are from offensive linemen). While he had other stops planned, he decided "my opportunity at Georgia was closing...I've got to take this now.''

A 6-foot-7, 265-pound left tackle, DeBell only had three offers coming into the spring (his first came in the fall, from Minnesota). But he excelled at camps, traveled the Southeast with his father visiting schools during spring break, and performed well enough in the spring that his count reached 25 offers, the last of which came from Florida.

The Gators called and made the offer to Tarpon Springs coach Atif Austin on Thursday, who then left a message for DeBell to call him. But the Sponger senior was having so much fun in Athens, he said, he didn't call back until the next day after he had committed to Georgia. "I'm honored, but I'm not going back on my word,'' DeBell said.

The Bulldogs offered DeBell a few weeks after he visited with coaches on his spring break, and were immediately on DeBell's shortlist.

Saturday, he spent the day celebrating at the beach and with a nighttime swimming trip with friends.

"I'm relieved,'' DeBell said. "It's a big weight off my shoulders.'' 

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