Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) 3-star TE Colton Heinrich. He ranks as the nation’s No. 31 TE and the No. 633 overall prospect for 2024 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. The On3 Industry Ranking has him as the No. 36 TE and the No. 691 overall prospect.
Colton Heinrich (Hein-RICH) left UGA on Sunday after his official visit committed to the Georgia Bulldogs. He told Georgia’s Todd Hartley first and his mother shortly after that.
He went public with that commitment on Monday. The remaining balance of his day on Sunday was spent reaching out to the other schools that had been recruiting him heavily.
Heinrich wanted to thank those coaches and let them know about his decision before the rest of the world did. He said he wound up calling about seven or eight schools there.
That’s something we don’t write about every day with a Georgia football commit. It is an early tell of just the kind of young man the ‘Dawgs have recruited here.
He’s “only” rated as the nation’s No. 31 TE and a three-star prospect, but the final contenders for his decision place his worth among college football’s food chain higher than that. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Heinrich had a final round of officials slated to see Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio State.
The decision sounds final. That’s another byproduct of how he was raised. Heinrich, the son of two college athletes, has his Mom to thank for that.
Marilyn Rule Heinrich, a power forward in her day, went on to coach college and high school basketball for 25 years. She started the program at NCAA Division II Nova Southeastern University and was there for 12 years.
His mother was 5 feet, 10 inches during her playing days and put the power in the power forward position.
“He’s got the speed of his Dad,” his mother said. “He’s got the physicality and mentality of me. But he does have the right model of two former college athletes. Then he’s got an older brother who played baseball in the SEC as well at Arkansas for his freshman year. He’s now pitching at Erskine College.”
She’s no longer a coach, but the principles that guided his mother during her time in college athletics shaped her son’s recruiting.
The Heinrichs did their true diligence. They went to see 18 schools in March and April. Those were in 10 different states. They told those programs what they planned to do when they found the right school.
“We told every coach we met in front of this,” his mother said. “Because integrity is so important. You are only as good as your word. When we make the commitment, it is going to be 100 percent committed.”
“We are locked in with Georgia,” she added. “This is it for him. This is home for him.”
Why did he choose Georgia? He did say it was a gut feeling, but it sounded like a series of gut feelings.
“The entire weekend coach [Kirby] Smart and coach [Todd] Hartley really did make me feel like a priority,” Heinrich said. “I was sitting next to Coach Smart at dinner. We were talking during dinner.”
“Right now I don’t think there’s a better place for a tight end to be other than Georgia right now. They know how to use the tight end and they will.”
There was a factoid that Hartley showed during his presentation to Heinrich.
“They have one tight end on the field a hundred percent of the time,” Heinrich said. “They had two tight ends on the field 63 percent of the time.”
Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it.
Colton Heinrich: A Fast-and-Furious round of things to know
Cardinal Gibbons head coach Matt DuBuc broke down Heinrich for DawgNation on Monday.
“The biggest thing that has benefitted him is he’s been very consistent on and off the field for the three years he’s been here,” DuBuc said. “The best assessment is he’s a big stone that is probably over the next two or three years will get chiseled even more and refined and defined. That’s as he goes into his senior year off-season and then playing football in college.”
“He’s everything you want in a player and as a person.”
DawgNation spoke with several key sources on Monday to fill up the knowledge base on all things Heinrich. Want a quick speed read on his background?
Let’s get on with it:
- Heinrich performs at an All-State level for a true “Air Raid” offense. There are not a lot of traditional TE roles in that scheme, but he flashes his versatility nonetheless. “He can do multiple things,” Dubuc said. “He can line up with his hand in the dirt. He can line up as a fullback. He can line up as a slot. He can line up as an outside guy. I think the reason his value is so high is that he can do many things and he’s natural at all of them. To say he’s one thing is not why his recruitment is so strong. It is really because he can do multiple and different things with speed and size and aggression.”
- Want to know how well he’s been coached? For starters, he plays for a state championship program in Florida. He’s also gotten coaching from former NFL head coach Adam Gase. Gase was an offensive coordinator at Denver and Chicago and a head coach for the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets. He was a part-time assistant coach at Cardinal Gibbons last year. He was maybe more of an offensive consultant or analyst at the high school level. “He’s part of the reason why I’m so successful right now,” Heinrich said of Gase and the work he did reaching out to college coaches about him.
- Heinrich said it was close, but Georgia had the lead going into his officials. When Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley offered up the shot at a May official, they jumped at it back in March. His mother even added that Georgia was the first scheduled official visit for a reason.
- Look for him to wear No. 82 at Georgia. That’s a nod to all-time NFL great Jason Witten. Witten, a likely NFL Hall of Famer when he’s eligible in 2026, inspired that choice. Heinrich referred to him as “Mr. Witten” in his DawgNation interview.
- Heinrich is at a private school (Cardinal Gibbons) in Fort Lauderdale. He will not be able to graduate early. It will be early June of 2024 before he can join the Bulldogs.
- There is no doubting his ability to be a physical perimeter blocker. He grew up with a large frame and was always over the weight limit in rec league ball. His size meant he was always playing center or on the O-line growing up. He was about 12 or 13 years old when he finally got to play tight end.
- Looking at his tape, it is clear Heinrich is solid to very good in all the areas he needs to be to play at Georgia. The key aspect is there’s a lot of growth and potential there. He’s far from a finished product.
- DuBuc used this phrasing to describe Heinrich as a blocker: “Confident. Nasty. He likes to block. That’s different in the era of 7-on-7. He’s physical. He’s like a boulder. Those guys you hit, it is like hitting a wall. If the guy is undersized, he can move his feet and get into them. If his guy is big, he squares them up and goes through them.”
- Why did Georgia want him? “One of the things that coach [Todd] Hartley was saying was that I’m able to be a threat in the passing game but also be a tough blocker in the run game and punish them and just show them how tough I am,” Heinrich said. “My resilience and my willingness to block is big with him.”
- Heinrich’s outlook on his evolution in the game matters here: “It taught me the basic footwork and the basic fundamentals of blocking from such a young age. It helped me grow. I really do believe if I wasn’t an offensive lineman when I was younger I wouldn’t be as good of a blocker as I am today.”
- He started playing football when he was five years old. His goal and his dreams were always to score touchdowns. That led him to play tight end.
- He carries a 4.4 grade-point average in AP and honors classes. He aims to be an engineering major during his time at UGA. Heinrich likes to challenge himself.
- His mother has always preached to him that the best players on the team have to be the hardest workers. He embraces that.
- His parents met while Marilyn was playing basketball at Florida Atlantic University. His Dad started off playing football at Western Carolina. He played tight end and transferred to FAU after two years. Then he took an interest in basketball while she was playing and coaching. He then became a college basketball coach in his own right. He was even a long-time assistant on his wife’s staff.
- There’s a “Love and Basketball” movie here in its own right. They met on a court in college. They played one another. Jeff Heinrich lost the game but came away with the love of his life. “We made a fantastic team,” Marilyn Rule-Heinrich said.
- Colton was in the gym with his mother from the time he was seven days old. He’d watch and take part while she ran camps. He went on to absorb her basketball knowledge.
- As a true coach’s kid, he handles the ball well. He rebounds and plays tight D. Those are the little things. He knows if he does those little things, he’ll get some playing time for a coach that wants to win.
- His mother’s thoughts about UGA are intriguing given she led a college program herself for 12 years at the NCAA Division II level. “The first thing you have got to look at it is from the top on down in terms of leadership. I think Coach [Kirby] Smart is genuine. He is family-oriented. He knows when to get on kids and put an arm around them and pat them on the back. He can treat them genuinely as young men. They care about the overall person and not just the player. Those were the things I was looking for as well as a place that has the academics and the degree that he will get. Which will mean something for him down the road. There was literally not a thing to think of to say ‘Well what about this?’ because Georgia was it. Georgia was all of it.”
- Heinrich has accepted an invitation to play in the Army All-American Bowl. That’s the new version of the game out in Frisco, Texas. That will be held on December 16, 2023.
- He’s been a strong cog for two state basketball championship teams. He was one of the best players on the floor at all times and took so many charges. That was right after a long football season. “He’s just a great athlete,” DuBuc said.
- Todd Hartley was again exceptional at his job here. This testimonial from Heinrich says it all: “I truly believe (what he likes best about Georgia) it is coach Hartley. I want to say he’s the best tight ends coach in the game right now. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s an amazing guy. An amazing coach. I know he will push me to reach my full potential. No matter what.”
- If that wasn’t enough, consider his mother’s opinion here on Hartley. When she learned her son made that commitment, she went over to give him a big hug. She let him know she was so happy he will be a part of Colton’s life for the next four years. “I truly believe he will adopt Colton as one of his own kids and treat him that way,” she said. “Give him the tough love when he needs it but also take care of him. I just really think he is a super human being. Great character. Family life. Family matters to him. He’s everything you would want. I feel comfortable leaving my son in his hands which is everything you want. Which says a lot.”
- There’s a play Heinrich made last year where he ran into a defender on a goal-line route and knocked that DB back like 10 yards on the way to catching a touchdown. He had 36 catches for 464 yards and three TDs as a junior. That was while playing off the ball about 40 percent of the time.
- He put up those numbers on an offense where seven or eight guys had at least 25 catches in 2022. He’ll be at outside receiver, slot receiver, tight end and play H-back this fall.
Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with key 2024 prospects like Daniel Calhoun, Dwight Phillips Jr., Dylan Raiola and Sacovie White.
The UGA recipe: Patience. Perseverance. Hard work
DuBuc is a three-time state championship coach. He runs a true “Air Raid” offense.
He played his college ball for Skip Dykes at Texas Tech. Ironically, he was on the field two times when the Red Raiders faced UGA in his playing days.
“That’s a historical venue in God’s country when it comes to football,” he said. “There’s nothing not to like about what the Georgia Bulldogs have to offer and I think Colton saw that.”
He said the reputation of the Georgia football program is pretty tough to beat right now.
“How are you going to beat Georgia with some other places?” he said. “When it comes to the facilities, NIL, academics and those things? Then just the overall success of the program now and also forever. It is a good place to live. That’s a tough out.”
“Then you go there and you’ve Kirby Smart. One of the best coaches in the country. They’ve got everything going for them. They know exactly what buttons to push and they push them well.”
DuBuc remembers when he first saw Heinrich in the eighth grade.
“He was falling all over the field,” DuBuc said. “Slipping and sliding. I looked at him and kind of thought ‘Oh boy’ and he kind of grew into this man.”
Fast forward to today. Heinrich, 17, is committed to the two-time defending national champions. Those were the humble beginnings.
“It has been a total dream come true,” his mother said. “Honestly, he had two offers at the end of his sophomore year in the summer. It was just patience and perseverance to keep working hard was a big thing. We had to keep telling him and recognizing that hard work will pay off.”
Georgia didn’t even offer Heinrich until January 28 of this year.
“Don’t worry about what you can’t focus on,” his mother said. “Focus on what you can control. Don’t worry about the stars. Don’t worry about rankings. Don’t worry about what anybody else does. Don’t let anyone else give you your own sense of self-worth. That has to come from within and it does. It pays off.”
Heinrich wakes up every morning. He drives himself to school. He’ll wake up early two or three days a week to work out extra with a speed trainer to build up his speed. He does that all on his own.
“Just an all-around great player, a great guy, a great teammate and he should be a team captain for us,” DuBuc said. “I’m glad this is over with. Now he can focus on his senior season and be with us every day in the weight room this summer and get even better and go to whatever 7-on-7 we go to. We didn’t have him for a lot of them because he was on the road every week previously.”
There was a moment over the weekend when he “just knew” he had to be a ‘Dawg. It did involve his mother during their final send-off meeting with Smart.
“We were wrapping up the conversation a little bit and I look over at my Mom and she’s just grinning from ear to ear,” Colton Heinrich said. “That then and there was it. I already knew I was thinking about doing it and that just set everything in place. Knowing that she loved it and she was happy with Georgia and with me here.”
Looking back on it, he said he regrets not telling Smart he was a ‘Dawg right then and there.
(check on the recent reads on DawgNation.com)