Bagley gave his verbal commitment to Furman on Jan. 20, but he reconsidered his decision and switched to Chattanooga earlier this week.
Bagley can now take comfort that the stress of having to make the tough decisions for his future is likely behind him. Now, he can focus on signing with Chattanooga as early as Wednesday and begin preparing for the next level.
Having graduated from Hillgrove in December, Bagley could have the opportunity to work out with the Mocs for spring practice.
“It’s a sigh of relief to get that fridge off your back,” said Bagley, who was third in the county this season with 1,514 yards on 206 carries, with 14 touchdowns. “I’m finally done with all the recruiting and all the stress. I can look forward to the new things that are coming, new teammates, coaches and atmosphere.”
According to 247 Sports, Bagley is the sixth Division I commitment from Hillgrove’s class of 2014, joining linebacker Bradley Chubb (North Carolina State), receiver Emanuel Beal (Marshall), defensive tackle Jaylan Reid (Furman), cornerback LeMarkus Bailey (Mercer) and receiver Omar Black (Coastal Carolina.)
After originally picking Furman, Bagley received a letter from Chattanooga linebackers coach Rusty Wright, wishing him the best.
Bagley said Wright’s gesture of sending that letter made him second-guess his decision to sign with the Paladins.
“They really seemed to care for me (at Chattanooga),” Bagley said, “so I decided to go back and take a second look at them.”
Bagley said Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman visited his home this week, during the aftermath of the winter storm that blanketed the area, and his decision to switch to the Mocs wasn’t a hard one.
“The thing about Chattanooga is that it had a homey feel to it,” Bagley said. “Coaches made me feel a part of the family. There’s something about it that made it feel like home. Having to live (away from home) for the next four or five years, I just felt more comfortable at UTC than I did at Furman.”
In Huesman’s five years at Chattanooga, the Mocs have built a steady pipeline of Cobb County talent, and Bagley is just the latest.
Last fall, Chattanooga had four Cobb natives on its roster, including Bagley’s former Hillgrove teammate, linebacker Nakevion Leslie, a rising sophomore. Former North Cobb receiver Xavier Borishade will also be a sophomore in 2014.
Chattanooga went 8-4 last season, narrowly missing out on an at-large bid into the Football Championship Subdivision tournament. The Mocs are seen as one of the rising powers of the Southern Conference, particularly after the departure of Georgia Southern and Appalachian State for the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Bagley said Chattanooga employs the same spread offense he ran at Hillgrove, adding that he was most comfortable running the ball in space, which allows him to also catch balls in the backfield.
Bagley prefers the different options, as opposed to having to run north-south as the only back in the backfield.
The 5-foot-9, 177-pound running back helped lead Hillgrove to the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals last fall. His most memorable game was the Hawks’ upset of Camden County in the second round, in which he rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
In the second half of Hillgrove’s quarterfinal against North Gwinnett, after quarterback Elijah Ironside suffered a concussion just before halftime, Bagley took the majority of the quarterback snaps out of the wildcat formation. Hillgrove had a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, but the Hawks couldn’t overcome a fierce North Gwinnett rally and fell 35-31.
“We showed what we were made of (this season),” Bagley said. “We lost to North Cobb (in the regular season), and didn’t win region, but the team pulled together and won out. We beat McEachern and we beat Camden, a team we weren’t supposed to beat.”