Calvary's Merklinger picks up UGA offer: What's next for the 4-star quarterback prospect?
Calvary Day's Jake Merklinger is one of the most coveted quarterback recruits in the country with offers from a plethora of Power Five programs.
But the junior's home state school had not joined the recruiting fray -- until Monday night, when Bulldog offensive coordinator Todd Monken made the call, and the offer to the 4-star prospect who is rated No. 5 in the country by On3.com.
"Coach Monken called and offered, and that was really cool," said Merklinger, who was recently named the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year by the Savannah Quarterback Club. "It was pretty sweet getting the offer from your home state school that's won the last two national championships. It's special because my mom graduated from there. But any offer I get to play college football is awesome. It's a blessing to be in this position."
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Merklinger had another stellar season behind center as a junior for the Cavaliers as he threw for 1,987 yards with 32 touchdowns and just two interceptions and ran for 283 yards and four more scores to earn Region 3-3A Player of the Year honors as he was an All-Greater Savannah first-team pick.
He picked up his first offer in the summer between his freshman and sophomore years when Michigan State extended an offer. He has actually lost count as to how many offers he currently has.
"I think it's 28 or 29, I'm not exactly sure," he said with a laugh. Those offers include Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Florida and North Carolina.
Merklinger said he is super excited to take a trip to check things out in Athens, but he hasn't nailed down a date yet. The 6-3, 195-pounder is also a standout on the Calvary basketball team and said he is headed to Chapel Hill on March 4 to see North Carolina host Duke on the hardcourt (he also has an offer from Duke). Then he has trips this spring at Tennessee and Michigan State. He was constantly on the road checking out games in the Southeast on Saturdays last Fall.
"I don't have specific dates set for those schools or for Georgia, but I would like to make my decision before the school year is out," Merklinger said.
He said he was waiting on an offer from UGA, and is glad to have received it.
"The coaches at Georgia are genuine, down-to-earth people," Merklinger said. "And the championships they've won are definitely appealing as a player. Coach Monken is a great coordinator -- he's been successful for a reason."
Merklinger wants to make his decision early because recruiting can be a bit crazy for a 4-star prospect.
"It's getting kind of nuts," Merklinger said. "I'm getting 10-20 schools texting me or calling every day. I'm blessed to be getting this attention, but it is a lot."
Merklinger has a star-studded group of receivers coming back next year -- including 4-star tight end Michael Smith, who announced his commitment to South Carolina last month. Rising junior receiver Doopah Coleman has offers including Florida State and Arkansas, and Thomas Blackshear, a rising junior who recently transferred in from Benedictine, has offers including Boston College, Minnesota and Vanderbilt.
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Calvary coach Mark Stroud is known for his steady hand guiding his players through the recruiting process, and he said he is proud of how Merklinger is handling the spotlight.
"That's quite a big offer from UGA -- the two-time national champions," Stroud said. "That program is as hot as fireworks and Jake earned that offer. He's improved every year, and proven himself -- and I think he's going to get better and better. He has all the physical skills, he's a tremendous competitor and leader -- he's got all the intangibles the best programs are looking for.
"He just needs to figure out the school where he wants to be at. A lot of it is based on the relationships you develop with the coaches, but with coaches getting fired and hired every year and the transfer portal the way it is now -- the whole landscape can change in an instant. So it's a tough decision for a high school player to make, but I think Jake will make a good choice."
Dennis Knight covers sports for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Dknight@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Calvary QB Jake Merklinger weighs options after getting UGA offer