Blake BaumgartnerESPN Staff Writer2 Minute Read
Four-star safety Jaylen Heyward, the No. 71 overall recruit in the 2024 ESPN 300 rankings, decommitted from the Georgia Bulldogs on Tuesday.
Heyward, who attends Rockledge (Florida) High School, is rated as the second-best safety in the 2024 cycle by ESPN.
“I felt like it was the best option for me right now,” Heyward told ESPN.
Georgia’s class is No. 1 in ESPN’s rankings, and the Bulldogs’ 18 ESPN 300 prospects lead the country.
Then ranked No. 40 overall by ESPN, Heyward had committed to Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs on Jan. 13, less than a week after the program won its second straight College Football Playoff title with a 65-7 victory over TCU.
Heyward on Wednesday said Georgia’s recent legal issues, which began with the deadly traffic accident on Jan. 15 that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy, had nothing to do with his decision to decommit.
At least 11 Bulldogs players have been charged with moving violations since then.
“I just didn’t really get to enjoy my recruitment process since I was committed,” Heyward said.
He said he’s looking at UCF, Miami, USC, Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Florida A&M. He took official visits to both Central Florida and Miami in June.
Heyward said “the relationship between me and the coaches and the culture” are things he’s now prioritizing with this second chance.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Heyward recorded 44 tackles with eight passes defended, three forced fumbles and two interceptions for Rockledge in 2022. In a two-year stretch, he has 72 tackles, broken up 24 passes, intercepted three passes (returned two for touchdowns) and has surrendered just one touchdown in 25 games.