One of the very best in the state of Georgia is ready to reveal his college football plans.
Carlton 'CJ' Madden, a linebacker and tight end out of Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove High School, went public with his pick mid day on Thursday via social media and the video above. He was originally set to make a verbal commitment over the weekend, but pushed the decision up with the pick finalized privately.
"I just feel like I just set myself up for the better position for the next step," Madden told SI All-American of his choice. "What I am looking for in a college is a great relationship with the coaches and a chance to win a national championship.
"I look at the academic programs as well."
Listed at 6'3, 230 pounds, the class of 2022 prospect picked up well over one dozen scholarship offers throughout the recruiting process, but was focused on five programs entering the final phase of the evaluation.
It came down to in-state Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Oregon and Colorado for the projected edge rusher, who can play throughout the second level of the defense.
Madden was committed to Colorado from February to mid-June, just as additional scholarship offers rolled in at a higher clip, including many closer to home in the Southeastern Conference.
In what was a busy summer on the recruiting trail, considering official visits and unofficial visits were allowed for the first time in 15 months due to the pandemic, the senior took advantage and saw Colorado for an official visit, as well as Georgia, Ole Miss, and Tennessee in person.
Madden's trips carried into the 2021 college football season, as he was also on hand for the Georgia vs. Clemson kickoff showdown in Charlotte as well as Ole Miss and Louisville's bout in Atlanta.
Each of the trips helped to shape the commitment.
"It was hectic, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way," he said. "There was a lot of attention being drawn to me.
"I'm blessed to have a day like this, to commit..."
With the decision behind him, admitting it came with clear relief from a process that hit an apex late in the summer, it's back to playing both ways for the Saints in chasing the team goal of a state championship.
Cedar Grove, 1-1 thus far in 2021, hosts Greater Atlanta Christian on Friday night in Madden's first game as a committed recruit.