Georgia Gains Pledge From Hurdle Specialist Bryce McCray

Richmond George Ranch's Bryce McCray has decided next fall he's headed to Athens, Georgia.

The No. 1 300 meter hurdler in the Class of 2021, the No. 2 athlete at 400mH and the No. 16 prospect in MileSplit's ranking of the top 50 recruits in his graduating year announced his verbal commitment to the University of Georgia on Monday via Twitter.

"Throughout this recruiting process, a lot of schools said the same thing, that they provide a perfect balance of academic success and athletic success," McCray told MileSplit. "I felt like nobody really embodied that like Georgia. Also, I liked how the head coach and assistant coach (recruited me) ... because they showed me a lot of love and it meant a lot to me."

McCray will be a much-needed addition to the men's Bulldog roster. Despite an abbreviated high school season in 2020, in August he ran a US No. 2 400mH time of 52.36 at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Satellite Beach, Florida.

While Georgia is a program filled with multi- and field event athletes, McCray will join a program as one of just two male long hurdlers. This didn't scare McCray away, though.

Instead, he said, it made him feel more embedded in the foundation of the team.

"They're kind of under the stereotype that they're a jumps and throws school," he said. "I wanted to be a part of the sprints dynasty that they're building up now. I know it's going to be special in years to come, so I wanted to be part of that and be one of the pioneers on the team."

In 2018, the Georgia men won the school's first outdoor national track and field team championship. In 2019, the Bulldogs followed up with a fourth-place finish, while the 2020 season was canceled. 

* McCray in the 400mH at the 2020 AAU Junior Olympic Games

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While at Georgia, McCray will work with Coach Althea Thomas, who's seen a lot of success coaching the women sprints and hurdles. Through the recruiting process, McCray said, he and Thomas have established a comfortability that reminds him of the relationship he has with his high school coaches.

"I think I have a really good relationship with her, we talk a lot." he said. "I feel like I can talk to her about anything...She sees me fitting into the program as a 400-meter hurdler that can win nationals because their goals are always setting up for national championships, since they're always in the hunt."

Before verbally committing, McCray was also considering Cal-Berkley, LSU, Michigan, TCU and Washington.

The senior said that even without the razzle dazzle of official visits, he still enjoyed himself and was able to truly experience what everyday life on campus would be like. 

Georgia was one of the first unofficial visits the hurdler took, and it left an undeniable impression.

View: The Top 50 Recruits In The Class of 2021

"I don't know how else to describe it, it just felt right," he explained. "After I came back from Michigan, I talked to my dad about my thoughts and I thought about where my number one school was ... I basically ran down all the schools I was interested in and why Georgia was number one. He agreed with me and that was that."

McCray's father, Danny, is very familiar with the inner workings of collegiate track and field. He's an NCAA Champion and six-time All-American for Texas A&M, as well as a 2000 Olympian.

Throughout this decision, McCray never felt pressured to follow in his dad's footsteps.

"He would give me advice, but he would never tell me where to go because he wanted me to come up with that decision by myself," McCray said. "He felt like this is a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision and it was up to me."

* McCray in the 110mH at the 2019 AAU Junior Olympic Games

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However, the advice he did receive was strategic.

The Olympian father told his son to see where his top institutions were ranked, how they stack up in his major, and research if the coaches have improved the marks of their athletes over the past five years.

"It got a little stressful, I can't lie," the younger McCray said. "I actually didn't expect for it to be stressful, I thought it all would be fun and games. I think the hardest part was evaluating each school and seeing the smallest differences because everyone was going to have the nice facilities and gear."

When all the information pointed to Georgia, the gut feeling he had on his unofficial was validated.

Now weeks away from National Signing Day on Nov. 11, McCray is relieved that the hardest parts of this process are behind him. All that's left for him to do, is to sign on the dotted line.