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Breaking Down The Finalists For Top 2022 QB Gunnar Stockton

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Mike Bobo This photo of Mike Bobo is largely just a jumping off point for me to reiterate that black pants are inferior to black jerseys as a UGA uniform item. Carry on.

Rabun County rising junior QB Gunnar Stockton has been a hot recruiting commodity since his freshman season. Now he’s officially narrowed his list of finalists down to the two schools presumed to be the favorites for some time.

Stockton really gained attention during a sophomore season that saw him pass for 3473 yards and 71.3% completion percentage, tossing 43 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions. As if that wasn’t eye-popping enough, he also ran for 1179 yards and 16 touchdowns. At 6’1, 198 pounds, Stockton already looks the part of an SEC tailback who just happens to throw the ball as well as just about any high school quarterback in the country. He still needs to refine his mechanics, but has an impressive arm and nice touch with the ball (especially on the move).

Rabun County has a history of producing future Georgia Bulldogs, including recently graduated tight end Charlie Woerner (Stockton was a sixth grade ball boy for Woerner’s senior team) and incoming freshman receiver Braxton Hicks, a frequent Stockton target in 2019.

But Stockton’s ties to Columbia are just as strong or stronger. He’s worked with new Gamecock offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s father, George Bobo, since he was in junior high. The elder Bobo, a legendary Georgia high school coach, has worked in retirement to mold quite a few successful college quarterbacks, including some of the ones who played for his son in Athens.

Stockton is also coached at Rabun County by Jaybo Shaw, brother of former South Carolina standout Connor Shaw (who’s now an analyst for the Garnet and Black). His dad, Rob, was a standout defensive back at Georgia Southern in the mid-90s and now coaches defense at Rabun County).

Sophomore Ryan Hilinski will return as the Cocks’ starter in 2020, but behind him the bench in Williams-Brice is pretty thin. Freshman Luke Doty was a relatively heralded recruit out of Myrtle Beach but hasn’t played any college football. Junior Jay Urich has seen time in only one game at the QB position in two seasons, instead logging snaps on special teams and at receiver. Graduate transfer Collin Hill came with Bobo front Colorado State and will be long gone before Stockton hits campus. In short, there’s every reason to think that if Stockton wants to start early and play for a coach he’s comfortable with, he’ll end up in Columbia.

But the coaching part of that equation is probably the biggest variable. There’s every reason to believe that a 6-4 season in 2020 (6-5 if the Clemson game happens) would put Will Muschamp, and by extension Mike Bobo, squarely on the hot seat going into 2021. There’s also good reason to believe that if Bobo does well in Columbia and Hilinski continues to develop that our favorite Michael Stipe lookalike will be in line for an ACC/SEC head coaching job in either 2021 or 2022. In short, I give the Gamecocks the edge here, but we’re a long way from the checkered flag dropping.

I think it’s worth noting that rather than play the recruiting game Stockton knows who his finalists are, and isn’t pretending otherwise. I’m all for letting recruits enjoy their recruitment, because they only get to do it once in most cases. But I have to respect a young man who knows what he’s looking for and is honest about it.

It’s not yet clear when Stockton, 247Sports’ top dual threat quarterback for the class of 2022, will announce a decision, but we’ll keep you posted.