No. 1 OT Elijah Pritchett Closing in on Verbal Commitment

Two visits stand between the nation's top left tackle prospect and his college football pick
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COLUMBUS, Ga. -- There was never a doubt about the Columbus (Ga.) Carver taking on district foe Shaw High School on Thursday night. The Tigers scored on their first three drives of the game and never looked back in a 43-7 rout. 

There is still some doubt, at least from an outside perspective, on where Carver's top college football prospect will play at the next level. 

Elijah Pritchett, who checks in as the No. 1 offensive tackle projection nationally on SI All-American, is less than two weeks away from going public with his pick. The 6'6", 280-pound senior will take two more official visits before selecting between finalists Alabama, Georgia, Florida State and USC on September 28.

"It feels good, finally getting all of this pressure off of my chest," Pritchett told SI All-American. "I have an official visit to Georgia and then I have an unofficial visit, well it's probably going to be an official visit to SC, because the coach left. I'm going to Georgia this weekend and next weekend I'll be at SC." 

The Bulldog angle, beyond representing the home state, has been pitched to Pritchett nearly as long as any program's has. There is still one box left to check for arguably the top uncommitted prospect in the state when it comes to Kirby Smart's program.

"The only thing I haven't seen at Georgia is a game, so I would like to experience what that's like -- in the Dawg Pound," he said. "They're really motivated and show me they really want me." 

Southern Cal may appear as an outlier on Pritchett's list of finalists, but he's already taken in Los Angeles and favors the contrasts compared to the finalists in the local footprint.

"It's just the vibe down there, the whole SC vibe, that's everything," he said. "They have a really good coaching staff, I feel like that's a good fit even though the coach just left. It doesn't affect my decision process."

Clay Helton's dismissal allows for return official visits to campus, so a second trip in a three-month span has been booked for one of two targets USC has in Columbus. The other is already on board in SI99 defensive lineman Mykel Williams, who committed to the Trojans just after taking the June official to L.A., the same weekend Pritchett did. 

Though rivals on Friday nights, with a big showdown between Carver and Williams' Hardaway High Schools set to close the regular season Oct. 28, the two are quite close off the field. 

 "That's my guy," Pritchett said. "Whenever you see me in the city, you're gonna see me and him."  

Williams admits he has a lot to consider with the turnover at USC, as programs like Alabama and Georgia continue to pursue his commitment. Each program had assistant coaches in Columbus for a closer look at the elite duo last week.

Alabama then hosted the coveted offensive tackle for a visit last weekend, for the Crimson Tide's home opener. 

"Those are big guys," Pritchett said. "I feel like it would be good competition there, I could see myself getting better every day. They play hard, they're some dogs, and that's what I like." 

Fellow finalist Florida State also received a summer official visit and Pritchett points to the people when discussing the Seminoles. 

"I think they have the best, as far as players that are motivated in what they want to achieve," he said. "I think all of them are humble and they're real hungry. They know what they want and they're trying to make it happen."

Admitting he's inching closer to a private decision, Pritchett is ready to focus on Carver for the rest of the season in hopes of the program chasing a Georgia state championship.