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College

    The buzz over the last few days was how many offensive linemen could possibly fit into the Class of 2020 for Georgia. The potential additions of Andrew Raym and Sedrick Van Pran have been widely discussed, but not the subtraction of Akinola Ogunbiyi. That is just what appears to have happened here. Ogunibiy, who was at one time committed to Texas A&M prior to his strong interest in Georgia, now appears to be staying in state. My recruiting is 100% over. I will be playing football and attending The Texas A&M University!!! #GIGEM #GIGEMGANG20 pic.twitter.com/SCLBNN2hSo AKI (@AkinolaOgunbiyi) June 23, 2019 He announced his commitment to Texas A&M while his Instagram and Twitter bios both still read he was committed to Georgia. That only took a few minutes before those accounts were updated to reflect that he was now on his way to Texas A&M. The decision was seen as a surprise to several members of the UGA class for 2020, including fellow OL Tate Ratledge. Ogunbiyi had also just recently take another unofficial visit to UGA earlier this month and came away more than pleased and happy to be a Bulldog. Now, he's an Aggie. It just goes to show how back-and-forth these tough decisions are for these young men. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment, but he did retweet congratulations from 5-star Texas A&M commit Demond Demas. Welcome back home bro @AkinolaOgunbiyi and we just going to keep Building https://t.co/AZ7AZUJb67 Hollywood Demas (@DemondDemas1) June 23, 2019 That decision from the nation's No. 11 offensive guard prospect for 2020 now drops the Bulldogs down to 14 commits in their 2020 class. Georgia now has just three OL commitments for the current class with names like Raym and Van Pran definitely still in play. The post BREAKING: 4-star OL Akinola Ogunbiyi flips his commitment to Texas A&M appeared first on DawgNation.
  • You've been given three trips on a time machine to take you back to any three Georgia football games in history. Which ones do you pick, and why? That's the kind of impossible-but-fun question fans come up with in sports bars, and it usually leads to an interesting discussion. A while back, someone posed a similar query to columnist Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, covering college football games in general. Mandel opted for Rutgers vs. Princeton in 1869 (the very first college game), the tie between Notre Dame and Michigan in 1966, and the Auburn-Alabama 'Kick Six' game in 2013. I've always been a sucker for a good time travel film or novel, so I decided to tackle the same exercise in what-if, only I limited it to UGA football games. My first couple of destinations came to me quickly, but settling on a third required thought, discussion, and the setting of some arbitrary criteria. Both my brothers, and my son and daughter, suggested the Georgia-Oklahoma overtime thriller in the Rose Bowl. Yeah, it would be great to be at that big Dawgs win in Pasadena (as my son was). I definitely consider it to be one of UGA's all-time greatest games. Along the same lines, you could make a good case for traveling back to the Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame that gave Georgia the 1980 national championship, or the 10-9 'what time is it in Dallas?' Cotton Bowl upset of Texas, neither of which I got to attend in person. However, I decided I didn't want to use my limited voyages on this hypothetical time machine (hopefully not made out of a hot tub) to watch a game that I'd already seen on TV. Instead, I opted for three-ish (I'll explain) games that weren't televised, and one of which happened before I was born. So, let's fire up the time machine; here are my destinations Georgia-Alabama, Oct. 31, 1942, Grant Field, Atlanta. This was during Georgia's first national championship season, and, while there were other games in 1942 that might have meant more overall (including UGA's victory in its only other Rose Bowl appearance), I have a personal reason for wanting to attend this particular one, which took place back when the Dawgs still played the occasional 'home' game in Atlanta. It also was a great game. Wally Butts' Bulldogs, featuring the one-two punch of that season's Heisman Trophy winner, Frankie Sinkwich, and fellow future College Hall of Famer Charley Trippi, had an 11-game winning streak going, and Bama had won eight in a row entering this matchup. The Crimson Tide led 10-0 with 10 minutes remaining, when Butts told Sinkwich to 'shoot the works' with the passing game. Sinkwich complied, throwing two touchdown passes to George Poschner, and Andy Dudish snagged a fumble in the air and returned it for another score. Georgia won 21-10. Many years later, Butts said that game was the greatest comeback by one of his teams, and his greatest single day in football. However, the main reason I'd like to travel back to see the Alabama game is that my father was on the Georgia sideline. Dad, who shortly would be going into the Army in World War II, had traveled to Atlanta with a friend for the game, but there was just one problem: They didn't have tickets. They hung around outside the stadium, though, and one of the UGA coaches took pity on them and gave them sideline passes. 'We'll call you high school prospects,' he said. So, for one game, at least, my father was a UGA 'recruit'! On to my next destination Georgia-Michigan, Oct. 2, 1965, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor. Two weeks after upsetting national champion Alabama in Athens with the famous flea-flicker play, Vince Dooley's second team was ranked No. 10 as it headed to Ann Arbor to play 7th-ranked Michigan , the defending Big 10 and Rose Bowl champion. The favored Wolverines were much bigger than the Bulldogs, but Georgia held its own in the first half at the Big House, trailing 7-6 at halftime on the strength of two Bobby Etter field goals. It was all Georgia in the second half. A fourth-quarter scoring drive by the Dawgs, keyed by a 23-yard scamper by Preston Ridlehuber (who alternated at quarterback with Kirby Moore), put Georgia up 12-7. Then, QB-turned-All-American-safety Lynn Hughes intercepted a Michigan pass and returned it 38 yards, setting up another Etter field goal, for the final upset score of 15-7. The time the team would be landing at local Ben Epps Field (back when the Dawgs still flew out of Athens) was announced on Athens radio, and, as Dooley later recalled, 'cars were lined up from the city of Athens all the way to the airport. Some fans just parked on the side of the road and walked to the airport.' The crowd of 10,000 fans at the airport chanted and cheered. When they thought the Bulldogs' charter was landing, they started chanting 'Here they come!' and 'Damn good team!' It turned out to be a commercial flight, not the Bulldogs' charter, prompting the chant to become 'Wrong damn plane, wrong damn plane!' If, for some reason, the time machine can't land in Ann Arbor, I'd settle for being at Ben Epps Field that night! Meanwhile, on the way back from 1965, I'd try to get the time-traveling pilot to stop off in Jacksonville on Nov 5, 1966, so I could catch the second half of the game between No. 5 Florida and No. 7 Georgia. This was the day that Bill Stanfill, playing despite an injury, sacked that season's Heisman Trophy winner, Gators QB Steve Spurrier, four times, as the Dawgs overcame a 10-3 deficit. Spurrier was harassed all day by Stanfill, George Patton and Dicky Phillips, and wound up throwing three interceptions, including one to my boyhood hero (and customer on my Atlanta Journal paper route) Lynn Hughes, who returned it 50 yards for a TD. Florida made no first downs, and gained only 34 yards after halftime, as the Dawgs outscored the Gators 24-0 in the second half on their way to a 27-10 win. It's the game that gave birth to Spurrier's lifelong hatred of UGA, and I'd like to be there to see that happen. Finally, my official 'third' destination would be Georgia-Yale, Oct. 12, 1929, Sanford Stadium, Athens. This was the day UGA's new stadium was dedicated, and, since the school's founder, Abraham Baldwin, had been a Yalie, Georgia invited its 'mother institution,' which made its first trip South. Yale was a national power in football back then, and it was a gala weekend in Athens, with reporters and dignitaries from all over the country on hand. At least 15 trains delivered 40 cars of folks to Athens for the very big game, which was broadcast nationally on radio by NBC. The UGA band greeted the Yale team by playing the older school's fight song, and the Yale band, marching in a parade through downtown Athens, returned the favor by playing 'Hail to Georgia.' More than 30,000 crammed into the new stadium (they even sold space in the aisles) for the game. Yale hit the field wearing long-sleeved blue wool jerseys on a hot, humid day that even taxed coach Harry Mehre's young Georgia team (which started eight sophomores and wore what was then its home whites). Athens resident Milton Leathers recalls his father, Georgia player 'Red' Leathers, saying he 'lost about 12 pounds' that day. Georgia won, 15-0, with all of the points credited to future College Football Hall of Famer Vernon 'Catfish' Smith a second-quarter touchdown on a blocked punt recovered in the Yale end zone (after which Smith also kicked the PAT); a third-quarter safety on another failed Yale punt; and a touchdown pass caught by Smith in the fourth quarter. However, Leathers quotes his father and other Georgia players as saying that, in reality, Catfish Smith did not score all 15 points. One of Georgia's scores actually was by teammate Bobby Rose, Leathers said. 'As the pile of players stood up, Catfish said, Bobby, give me the ball!' At halftime, they all said, Bobby, tell Coach Mehre those points are yours.' Bobby Rose did not care. And thereby hangs a tale. Or a legend. And it's not nice to mess with legends.' Leathers' memory was that the play in question was the safety, but that occurred after halftime, and UGA football historian Patrick Garbin checked the reports in the next day's Atlanta Constitution and Los Angeles Times, and both reported Yale's Albie Booth ran out of the end zone, rather than being tackled. Smith was credited with the safety for chasing him out. It's more likely the play Leathers' dad was remembering was Georgia's first score, the blocked punt. You can see a pile of players in the end zone on that touchdown in the photo on this page. Still, Leathers said his dad and Catfish were lifelong friends, and no one really minded Smith getting credit for all the points. 'We all need our heroes,' he said. Amen to that. A different kind of trip back in time I reminisce about my love of train dining cars in a column I've written for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can find it here, and it is in the print edition of Sunday's AJC. In addition, some of the stories behind that story can be found at my Quick Cuts blog, where I share memories of The Station, an entertainment complex at a former train station in Athens that included the legendary T.K. Harty's Saloon. Check it out at here. The post Back to the future: UGA football games I wish I'd seen in person appeared first on DawgNation.
  • A mid-June day at the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall home to Georgia's athletic department doesn't look much different than any other office space. Employees are rushing to close the books on the fiscal year which concludes at the month's end, and discussions are ongoing regarding a capital campaign to provide much-needed space for growth. It's only when looking through the windows of the man who leads the organization, athletic director Greg McGarity, one realizes the business at hand is big-time college sports. Yet from McGarity's office, the size and scope of UGA's various programs is unmistakable. There's the mammoth indoor football practice facility which looks more like a space station landed on earth than an athletic building. There's the small patch of grass next to it no bigger than a children's playground, and currently used by kickers during practice that could soon serve as land for a new football facility. To the left of that stands UGA's track and field complex home to both a men's and women's national championship in 2018. In the distance is Stegeman Coliseum and inside it are basketball and gymnastics programs that could be said to be on the road to improvement. All around McGarity things are happening, and there are no shortages of opinions offered to him from fans about what should happen next and how quickly it should occur. McGarity recently spoke to DawgNation about some of those issues. Kirby Smart wants last call for 'Cocktail Party' One in particular is the fate of the annual Georgia-Florida rivalry game, long known (now unofficially) as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and played in Jacksonville, Fla. each year but two since 1933. According to McGarity, the feelings are evenly split as to whether tradition should be preserved or if the series should be moved on campus. 'I think any decision of that nature is going to be 50-50, or 60-40 one way or another,' McGarity said. 'There's been feedback from a lot of people on why the game should move, why the game should stay in JacksonvilleI know [UGA coach Kirby Smart's] been very vocal about the importance in recruiting, and that's certainly an important element of it, but there are a lot of other elements that go into the decision.' Indeed Smart probably complicated the negotiations to keep the game in Jacksonville (the current contract runs through 2021) when he spoke out on the subject during the SEC's spring meetings in Destin, Fla. 'You are always looking to see what you can do to make your program better,' Smart said. 'Nothing is off the table, but nothing has been decided Yeah, absolutely it costs you a recruiting weekend It certainly helps to have more home games.' Do those remarks mean Smart wants to stop playing in Jacksonville? 'I think so. I think that's pretty much where Kirby stands,' McGarity said. 'He is just a recruiting guru. Anytime something is done to take away from that effort I think he feels like it affects our program, but there's so many other things going in that game, with that weekend, you've got to look at every aspect of it there are a lot of things to consider. But we'll all get together and at the end of the day whatever decision we make, it'll be our decision.' Those discussions about possibly changing the venue for the rivalry will apparently also include the rival. In addition to ongoing discussion with Smart, UGA president Jere Morehead and other UGA staffers, McGarity will also 'huddle with our peers at the University of Florida.' 'I'm sure Georgia and Florida will be on the same page,' McGarity said. 'We usually are on a lot of issues.' What if Florida wished to keep the neutral site arrangement, and UGA decided that was no longer best? 'I don't think that'll happen because we both think alike in this game,' McGarity said. 'But who knows if it's their home game, who knows where they could take it. If it's our home game, I know we'd like it here [in Athens]. There's been some talk of Atlanta, but I'm not sure that has much legs. If you're not going to play it in Jacksonville, then the games need to be on campus.' UGA too cooperative with Auburn? While the status of UGA-Florida is possibly undecided, another yearly rivalry game for the Bulldogs is definitely changing. Auburn sought relief from a schedule that had the Tigers playing on the road against its two biggest rivals UGA and Alabama every other November. The SEC agreed to make the change, and UGA seemingly willingly complied. UGA and Auburn will now play much earlier in the season starting in 2020, and UGA's annual date with Tennessee will be moved to November. UGA's cooperation in the matter drew some criticism partly because the game had a long history of being played near the season's end and partly because UGA is going along with a change to a rivalry it has dominated as of late winning 11 of the last 14 meetings. One of the critics was UGA's legendary former coach and athletic director Vince Dooley. 'It benefits Auburn,' Dooley said when the decision was announced. 'You could imagine some of the Georgia people are not happy with it.' Did UGA gain anything from the switch? 'I think once the schedules are announced a lot of questions will be answered, McGarity said. 'I'll just say be careful what you wish for in some situations because we know what the schedules look like, we've seen it Every future schedule we have is vetted by Kirby and [director of football operations] Josh Lee. They chop it up. If we have problems with that, we get back to the SEC office and are able to give our opinion. So far we have not had any issues in that area. I know there's some concern about tradition But if that game is at a different time for us, and it works and Kirby is comfortable with it, then we're okay with it.' One of the confusing aspects of the switch for some fans is that UGA is swapping Auburn for Tennessee. The Bulldogs currently visit Tennessee in the same years it travels to Auburn and in the same years it travels to its in-state rival, Georgia Tech. This means assuming a larger schedule alteration isn't forthcoming UGA will still play two late November road games every other year, and still not get any consideration for visiting Auburn in consecutive seasons in 2012-13 when the SEC expanded to 14 teams. Smart spoke last spring about his desire to have Auburn 'return the favor we paid to them,' but McGarity says that kind of payback isn't likely. 'There would be three other schools that would say, Well, we need the same thing,'' McGarity said. 'It was part of expansion. It was not easy on a lot of people because a lot of things had to change traditional dates had to change I'm sure if there are schools added in the future there are going to be the same type issues there because it's very difficult to make schedules, and it's very difficult to get 14 schools everything they want, but I'll say this on our priorities, the conference listens to us and we've had a good run there.' UGA taking it slow with alcohol sales Another change being ushered in by the SEC is to the conference's stadium alcohol policy. Sales are now allowed in so-called common areas for the upcoming athletic year, but UGA has decided not to broadly expand its beer and wine offerings after hearing from its fans. 'I'd say it's at least two to one on those that like [UGA's policy] as it is,' McGarity said. 'I do feel like it's very vocal on those that are against it in the general seating areas.' That sentiment seems to be fine by McGarity who says alcohol sales might not generate as much revenue as some think and will further complicate already crowded concession areas inside Sanford Stadium. 'We have challenges in our concessions stands enough,' McGarity said. 'We've gone to our grab-and-go concept. We've done away with things that takes someone to prepare for We know people want to get through the lines in a hurry, but I don't think I'll be able stack up a row of eight-ounce beers [in a grab-and-go concept]. Nobody likes a warm beer.' However, UGA is expanding its offerings for its largest donors. Magill Society members with tickets in the club level who've given at least $100,000 dollars can qualify for a special lounge that includes alcoholic beverages, but offers no view of the game. The high-dollar cutoff for inclusion got some media attention, but McGarity says the perk doesn't mean the program exclusively favors big-money donors over rank-and-file fans. In fact, he says plenty of considerations are being given to all UGA fans in the stadium. 'We need to make sure concessions are functioning at the highest rate possible, and adding as many restrooms as we can, making sure they're clean, and things along those lines,' McGarity said. 'We also want to keep our prices stable. Right now we're at $75 for our premium games and $55 for others, but our season tickets have not increased this year, and hopefully we don't have to increase in the future. That's always probably the most controversial thing you can do is raise ticket prices. But we've not had to do that because we've been very successful fundraising.' New facility on the way? Some of those Magill Society members lucky enough to sip adult beverages inside Sanford Stadium this fall will almost certainly be invited to participate in the funding for the new football facility that some of the Bulldogs' rivals already have. The timeline for construction isn't clear, but McGarity says there's already a lot of energy surrounding the project. 'Even though there's no shovels in the ground there's a tremendous amount of work almost every day on getting everything set the way the football staff would like it,' McGarity said. 'This will have Kirby's fingerprints all over it, but I know he's excited about it. He wants it done tomorrow. There are a lot of dynamics involved, but once it's completed it'll be the best in the country.' However, it isn't certain whether McGarity will be around to oversee its completion. McGarity signed a one-year contract extension in February, and said the decision to forgo a multi-year agreement was his own. 'I think it was something I was very comfortable with,' McGarity said. 'It's the same deal the president has. I've always felt like it should be a year-to-year deal here. Our goal is that we'll sit down and evaluate it maybe in January or February and just see how things are going. But it gives everybody total flexibility instead of signing a long-term deal, and all of a sudden if you decide it's time to move on. It's the best way to handle it.' For what it's worth, Morehead has voiced his support for McGarity remaining as athletic director. 'I'm hoping we won't be looking for a replacement for some period of time in the future,' Morehead said when McGarity's extension was announced. 'That's something we'll take up each and every year.' What's next for UGA? To hear McGarity talk it seems unlikely he'll wait to evaluate himself, or his role as leader of UGA athletics. It appears that introspection is ongoing. 'I [recently] got with [UGA sports information director Claude Felton], and I said, how many times did we finish second or runner-up in the country?' We found out since 2011 we've finished runner-up 16 times,' McGarity said. 'If half of those come true, or a third of them come true, then we'd stack a lot more NCAA championships. You can look at it both ways: It could've been a little bit better, could've been a lot better with a few more national championships, but I would say we did okay. There's tremendous room for growth here.' UGA fans don't need to be reminded of the close calls especially in football. Those near misses live to haunt a fan base starved for the ultimate success. Yet McGarity remains undaunted, and optimistic the best for UGA is yet to come. 'I'm to the point where I want to have 21 sports that are all challenging for national championships,' McGarity said. 'It hasn't happened yet, but there's always a chance that will happen.' To watch the full video interview with McGarity, click the link below. The post Greg McGarity addresses Kirby Smart's feelings about UGA-Florida venue and more appeared first on DawgNation.
  • SEC football legend Tim Tebow loves his Florida Gators, but he has been quick to give Kirby Smart credit for immediate success at Georgia. Tebow, playing for the Syracuse Mets Triple-A baseball club when he's not providing commentary for ESPN, met with media during the weekend series in Gwinnett. Atlanta's 11Alive TV caught up with Tebow in a dugout interview and talked about Georgia football and its fourth-year head coach. RELATED: Tebow predicts Georgia lacks motivation for Texas 'I think they were ahead of schedule and they did some incredible things, and honestly, probably should have won a national championship two years ago,' Tebow said. 'And, really, had such a great chance to close out the SEC Championship Game last year and go to the playoffs. 'So I think this is a big year, I think probably anything less is going to be a little bit disappointing if you're a Georgia fan.' Tebow says this needs to be the year for Georgia football, and that another loss to Alabama could create a mental hurdle. 'It's been a building process for Georgia, (and) if you looked a few years ago, you would say right now would be that time,' Tebow said. 'I think this needs to be Georgia's year, I really do. I think just the way it's gone against Alabama the last couple of years, to not be able to get there again. 'It's not just that it hurts you in that year. It becomes a big brother-little brother type of thing, where you have to eventually be able to get over that hurdle, and get over that hump, and this is kind of that year.' RELATED: Georgia's Kirby Smart not fixated on Alabama Tebow's take has become a popular narrative in the SEC, with league analyst Paul Finebaum leading the charge. Finebaum peppered Smart with questions about the Bulldogs' heartbreaking losses to Alabama 26-20 in overtime in the College Football Playoff Championship Game after the 2017 season, and 35-28 in last season's SEC Championship Game. Georgia led by two touchdowns in both games before the Tide rallied for the wins. 'I'm not going to make it about one team,' Smart stated calmly, but firmly, when Finebaum pressed with the Alabama question in May. 'I think everybody else wants to make it about one team.' Smart knows Georgia can beat Alabama: UGA has led or been tied with the Tide 118 minutes and 54 seconds of 120 minutes and 281 of 290 plays of the past two meetings in the CFP title game and SEC title game. SEC Legend Tim Tebow Tim Tebow: This has to be #UGAs year so they can stop being the little brother to Alabama. pic.twitter.com/XHjh5I2lWP 11Alive Sports (@11AliveSports) June 22, 2019 The post Tim Tebow: Georgia football was ahead of schedule,' but needs to beat Alabama appeared first on DawgNation.
  • There could be some 'family feuds' at some future SEC football games for the Georgia Bulldogs. At least two current UGA players, including quarterback Jake Fromm, have brothers that play at rival SEC schools. Another is Cade Mays, the rising sophomore who is battling to be the No. 1 right guard for the Bulldogs. His younger brother, 4-star offensive lineman Cooper Mays, committed to Tennessee this weekend. There's a family connection there, as the father of the two brothers, Kevin Mays, earned All-SEC honors at offensive line while playing at Tennessee during the 1994 season. Also, the Mays family still resides in Knoxville, Tenn., the campus location of the Volunteers. If you remember, Cade was a 5-star recruit who was once committed to Tennessee, but backed off that pledge shortly before the Volunteers fired Butch Jones eventually ending up at Georgia. Cade stands 6-foot-6, 318 pounds, while his younger brother is listed at 6-2.5 and 275 pounds. Cooper reported a Georgia offer, but it's not clear how both parties truly felt about each other. 'I was told they (college scouts) loved how (Cooper) played from coaches all over America,' Cooper's high school coach, Steve Matthews, told the Knoxville News. 'But they asked, How big is he going to get?' '(Tennessee) coach (Jeremy) Pruitt told me to my face over a year ago, I don't care how big he is. He is the type of player we want at Tennessee. He's a high priority for us.'' With regards to Fromm, he has twin younger brothers: One of them, Dylan Fromm, also plays quarterback and signed with Mercer University, while Tyler Fromm signed with Auburn over Florida as a 3-star tight end. He did not report an offer from UGA. Tyler, who is listed at 6-5, 225 pounds and stands much taller than his brothers, told the Montgomery Advertiser that Jake was proud of his Auburn decision: 'He wants me to go somewhere where I will play and make an impact.' Jake will get the sibling showdown this season when Georgia plays Auburn, while Cade will have to wait another year since his brother still has to complete his senior year of high school. There's another UGA standout who will be playing with or against his brother in the SEC. Azeez Ojulari is a rising sophomore outside linebacker with enormous potential for the Bulldogs. His younger brother is BJ Ojulari, who is a 4-star defensive end out of Marietta (Ga.) High School. The younger Ojulari is considering UGA, along with Alabama, Auburn, Florida and LSU, among others. The post Jake Fromm, Cade Mays to play against brothers in SEC showdowns appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Sometimes, 'it takes what it takes,' and that was the motto stamped on the gray shirts of the Georgia players after a recent leadership trip to the Gulf of Mexico. The players posted photos on the Instagram and Snapchat accounts earlier this month of jet ski adventures near Pensacola Beach along with packed car rides. It Takes What it Takes. Trevor Moawad (@TrevorMoawad) June 15, 2019 Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart an advocate of keeping the main thing the main thing, and pressure being a privilege revealed last monththere were plans to enhance Georgia's team leadership training. 'We'll take our leadership guys off location this summer and spend time together,' Smart said at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., 'and try to do some things different to change it up.' It was clear in the pictures and videos that quarterback Jake Fromm and tailback D'Andre Swift, two of the higher-profile skill position players, were growing closer to one another. Smart said at the start of spring drills he felt good about the team's leadership, but it has been tested during the offseason. Most recently, junior receiver Jeremiah 'J.J.' Holloman was dismissed from the team after an alleged assault that occurred after the 2018 G-Day Game but was only recently reported and disclosed. RELATED: Georgia football title hopes take hit, but Bulldogs have talent to rebound Details from a police report indicate it's very unlikely Georgia coach Kirby Smart and his staff had any prior knowledge of the alleged incident. Already, the Georgia football team has been addressed on the issue, and the leadership council activity and awareness has spiked, according to a UGA team source. Now, more than ever, the Bulldogs' players have tightened their circle with the support of the Georgia football coaches and staff. Smart said it's important to change things up to keep leadership fresh with ideas, but the Bulldogs have some methods that have proven effective over the years. 'I think when you look at the total picture, we're trying to find something different to do as a staff with this group, and how can we make this group different,' Smart said. 'We don't want to get bored with monotony but we also think some of the things we are doing works, and we want to stick with those things and that goes for us as coaches.' Renowned 'brain trainer' Trevor Moawad was on the leadership trip with the Georgia players, shown in the team's beach photo below. The Moawad Consulting Group works with 'elite talents in sports, business, military, and life to maximize their potential. Moawad's techniques have been well documented, with Sports Illustrated college writer Andy Staples taking a deeper dive into the former Alabama, Georgia and Florida State employee. Smart is hoping a Georgia leadership group will benefit once again. 'How we'll play and how this team will perform together is going to be decided this summer,' Smart said. 'Ultimately it's going to boil down to what they choose to do this summer, and how they choose to take on leadership roles.' The post LOOK: Georgia football leadership team traveled to Florida, meets with renowned brain trainer' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • For powerhouse programs like Alabama and Clemson the last couple of seasons, freshman wide receivers have played significant roles for their teams. Calvin Ridley finished with 1,045 yards and 7 touchdowns as he helped lead Alabama to a national title in 2015. Just last year, Clemson freshman Justyn Ross took a blow torch to the Alabama and Notre Dame secondaries, as he finished the two College Football Playoff games with a combined 14 catches for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns. For the first time under Kirby Smart, Georgia has incoming wide receivers whose recruiting rankings matchup with that of Ridley and Ross. Ridley was a 5-star prospect, while Ross was a top-50 overall prospect. And in 2019, Georgia has not just one but two freshman wide receivers who fit that mold. When Smart spoke about incoming freshmen receivers George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock this spring, you could tell he was excited about what they could bring to the Georgia football program. Smart doesn't often hype-up or praise his own players, but during spring practice, he lamented not having them, along with fellow freshman Makiya Tongue and graduate transfer, Lawrence Cager. 'You wish they were here now, but the way college football works with guys getting here in early June, they'll have two months of really good work to build up,' Smart said. 'So whether or not they'll be able to contribute this year, I don't know that we know that.' But Georgia now needs its freshman wide receivers to contribute in a meaningful way this season following the dismissal of wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman. He was expected to be the team's No. 1 receiver this season after a promising 2018. With Holloman no longer on the team, Georgia will turn to the likes of Tyler Simmons, Demetris Robertson and a host of others to fill the void. Related: Georgia title hopes take hit with WR dismissal, transfers must prove on target And you can very much include Pickens and Blaylock in that discussion. Pickens is a 5-star prospect from Alabama powerhouse Hoover High School in Hoover, Ala. The long-time Auburn commit flipped to Georgia on National Signing Day. From a recruiting ranking standpoint, he's the most talented player Georgia has landed in a decade, as the last time the Bulldogs signed a 5-star wide receiver was back in 2009 (Mecole Hardman and Terry Godwin were both listed as athletes by recruiting services). Blaylock just narrowly missed that same 5-star status, but he was still rated as a top-40 overall player in the 2019 recruiting rankings. He is the second-highest rated receiver Georgia has signed in the past decade, behind only Pickens. Blaylock did just about everything for his Marietta, Ga. based Walton High School last season, as he racked up 18 receiving and rushing touchdowns. Blaylock committed to Georgia in July of 2017 and never once wavered from his pledge. Pickens is a bigger-bodied wide receiver, so the 6-foot-3 pass catcher might be better suited to fill Holloman's outside role right away. He isn't exactly a burner, but Pickens has no problem getting open and making huge plays in the vertical passing game. As a high school senior, he finished with 69 catches for 1,368 yards and 16 touchdowns. 'We know George is going to fit what we did,' Smart said.'He really was intrigued by the fact that we had the guys come out early, and he knew that he fit in our style system. And we think he's a talented player that we're looking forward to working with.' Blaylock isn't as big as Pickens, but he's a dynamic athlete at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. Blaylock played all over the field in high school taking snaps at wide receiver, running back and even some quarterback. Smart has already mentioned the possibility of Blaylock being a factor in the return game, despite him not arriving on campus until May. Some might think that Blaylock's smaller stature might keep him in the slot position early on. But Smart rebuffed the idea that Blaylock will be limited as a freshman. 'We think Dom can play all three spots, slot and both outside,' Smart said. 'He's very bright and intelligent. He picks up things well. We think he's going to help in the return game, too. But it's not like we're sitting there going, He's a slot receiver.' We think he can play all of them.' When speaking at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas back in January, Blaylock hoped that he could come in and earn a starting spot right away. Given Georgia's current wide receiver situation, it might need him to follow through on that statement right away. Under Smart, Georgia hasn't frequently targeted freshmen in the passing game. The only freshman to ever catch more than 20 passes in a season under Smart entering his fourth season as Georgia's head coach was tight end Isaac Nauta back in 2016 when he caught 29. Only one freshman wide receiver has caught more than 10 passes while playing for Smart and that was Riley Ridley with 12 back in 2016. That number will have to be much higher for Pickens and Blaylock if Georgia is going to achieve its goal of winning a national championship this season. The numbers are a little better when you look at how offensive coordinator James Coley used freshman wide receivers in his three seasons as Miami's offensive coordinator from 2013-15. Stacy Coley finished with 33 catches for 591 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2013, while Braxton Berrios finished with 21 catches for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2014. Expectations were already high for Pickens and Blaylock this season, based on largely on their potential. The hope by many was that they'd maybe contribute in a small way before blossoming late in the season like Ross did for Clemson in 2018. But now with Holloman out of the picture, Georgia might need one of Pickens or Blaylock to put up a season closer to Ridley's freshman campaign, where it was obvious early on he was going to be a major problem for opposing secondaries. Related: Georgia QB legend Eric Zeier explains confidence in pass game, receiving corps In the movie Friday Night Lights, the talented running back Boobie Miles says, 'Hype is something that is not real. I'm all real.' In 2019, Pickens and Blaylockmust now be more than just hype machines. With Holloman no longer Georgia's No. 1 target, Jake Fromm is going to need Pickens and Blaylock to be real receiving options as freshmen. Fortunately for Georgia, Pickens and Blaylock have the pedigree and talent to put up meaningful numbers as freshmen. More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Georgia football great Terrence Edwards, college football world reacts to dismissal of Georgia receiver JJ Holloman Louisiana speedster Corey Wren has made his college decision With Marcus Rosemy commitment, Georgia football continues to win in and against Florida Georgia football podcast: It's been a perfect offseason for Gator haters' Georgia football podcast: The surprising comparison between Jake Fromm and Tua Tagovailoa Closer look: Georgia football players photo gallery from Camp Sunshine Why Georgia football's 2019 schedule could give it an advantage over Clemson come College Football Playoff Camp Sunshine: Smart place for young cancer patients to find hope and happiness The post Already high expectations rise for freshmen George Pickens, Dominick Blaylock following Jeremiah Holloman dismissal appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Eric Zeier has proven throughout his quarterback and broadcasting careers he knows how to pick out receivers, and he liked what he saw from the Georgia corps this spring. The Bulldogs' grew thinner at receiver on Friday when coach Kirby Smart announced the dismissal of leading returning receiver junior Jeremiah 'J.J.' Holloman. RELATED: Georgia title hopes take hit, transfers must prove on target But Zeier, speaking exclusively with DawgNation earlier this week, made it clear he felt there was more promise at the position than most realize. 'We have tremendous talent on the outside with our receivers, and I think you will see guys emerge,' said Zeier, who held 67 UGA passing marks and 18 SEC records at the conclusion of his college career in 1994 and now provides color analysis for the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network. 'There are threats like Demetris Robertson who had a very solid spring campaign, and I think we've got guys out of the backfield that can catch the ball,' he said. 'You'll see it with D'Andre Swift, Brian Herrien and a host of tight ends that can hurt defenses and create mismatch problems.' The biggest advantage for the pass game and receivers, Zeier pointed out, is what's expected to be a dominant run game. The Bulldogs led he SEC in rushing in 2018, and they return six offensive linemen with starting experience. WATCH: Kirby Smart shares plans for D'Andre Swift usage at tailback 'I do think we'll create situation after situation where defenses are forced to get extra guys in the box to defend the run,' Zeier said. 'That will force man coverage and man-to-man situations.' As important as experience is, Zeier is optimistic about the young talent coming in, freshmen George Pickens, Makiya Tongue and Dominick Blaylock. 'We have some freshmen coming in that can absolutely play the game,' Zeier said. 'You never know for sure until you are between the white lines, but you look at where things are now. 'As you come up, there are so many 7-on-7 camps, and the level of sophistication at the high school level has changed dramatically,' he said, 'so they are ready to go sooner when they get on campus, and they will be ready to gel.' RELATED: Kirby Smart reveals position he's not comfortable' with entering offseason The post Georgia QB legend Eric Zeier explains confidence in pass game, receiving corps appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football's national title hopes took a hit on Friday with the dismissal of the team's leading returning receiver, Jeremiah 'J.J.' Holloman. UGA football coach Kirby Smart issued a statement on Friday announcing the news that Holloman, a talented 6-foot-2 receiver from Covington, was no longer part of what was already a thinned-out corps. RELATED: Jeremiah 'J.J.' Holloman dismissed from UGA team The Bulldogs top five pass-catchers from a season ago are now gone, with juniors Riley Ridley (44 catches, 570 yards, 9 TDs) and Mecole Hardman (34 catches, 532 yards, 7 TDs) on to the NFL with departed senior WR Terry Godwin (22 catches, 373 yards, 3 TDs). Junior receivers Junior tight end Isaac Nauta (30 catches, 430 yards, 3 TDs) also elected to declare himself eligible for the NFL draft. That leaves senior Tyler Simmons, who had 9 catches for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns last season, as the top returning wide receiver. Smart acknowledged last month at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., that Georgia was 'missing pieces' at receiver as well as on the defensive line. Things, however, are probably not as dire as they appear on paper. On target The addition of Miami Hurricanes graduate transfer Lawrence Cager, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder on NFL radar, figures to be bigger than most realize. Cager, who started 12 of 13 games for Miami last season, led the Hurricanes with a 17.8 yards-per-catch average and 6 TDs en route to 21 receptions for 374 yards. Cager is two years removed from suffering a torn ACL during a summer workout, an injury he told DawgNation took him two seasons to recover from, fully. RELATED: Fascinating story of Lawrence Cager's journey to UGA The addition of Cal transfer Demetris Robertson last year should also provide a boost. Robertson was less than a year removed from the season-ending injury he suffered at Cal his sophomore season of 2017 when he reported to UGA last summer. The lack of a spring football session and healthy offseason of conditioning prevented Robertson from making the impact many expected last season. RELATED: High expectations await Demetris Robertson The former 5-star prospect from Savannah Christian failed to catch a pass last season, his impact limited to four carries for 109 yards and a TD 72 of those yards coming on one play in the season-opening win over FCS Austin Peay. Smart made it clear Robertson made great strides this spring, though an illness led to him missing the G-Day Game. Simmons, too, will be healthier than a season ago when he suited up for most of the games wearing a shoulder brace that limited his range of motion and likely, the number of targets he received. Redshirt sophomore Matt Landers has yet to catch a pass in a game, but the 6-5, 200-pounder flashed enough this spring that Smart called on him to step up as a playmaker. Landers' inconsistency was a problem throughout spring drills he dropped two passes in the G-Day Game but his upside is such that Fromm will likely spend much of the remaining summer spiraling passes in his direction. Finally, more added experience comes in the form of transfer Eli Wolf, a former Tennessee captain. Wolf, a 6-4, 236, is in the mold of Isaac Nauta, and while he led the Vols with five catches for 63 yards and a TD in their 2018 Orange-and-White Game, it's too early to say he'll compliment senior Charlie Woerner in the double tight end set to the degree Nauta did. Offensive twist New offensive coordinator James Coley modified the Georgia pass game this spring, conveniently enough, to include more passes to the backs. RELATED: James Coley puts his spin on Georgia offense Tailback D'Andre Swift has proven himself a weapon catching the ball out of the backfield the past two seasons. Swift had 32 catches for 297 yards last season, and it's reasonable to expect as many more more catches from the 2019 Heisman Trophy candidate this season. Indeed, senior tailback Brian Herrien and sophomore James Cook have also proven effective receivers out of the backfield, and it wouldn't be a stretch to consider Coley lining up backs in the slot to create match-up problems this season. Smart indicated this spring that in the closed scrimmages, some of the most explosive and effective plays were passes to the running backs. Third-year quarterback Jake Fromm said as much. 'It's a part of who we are offensively, to have those running backs get those catches in the game out of the backfield is huge,' Fromm said. 'We think that's a matchup that goes in our favor. The more they catch out of the backfield, the better for our offense.' Swift confirmed '(Coley) is getting us as running backs involved more in the pass game,' Swift said. 'A lot of exotic stuff on offense that the world will have to look out for this season form the Georgia Bulldogs.' New faces Georgia signed an impressive trio of freshman receivers in the 2019 class, and the head coach has already indicated he'll incorporate them. Freshman Dominick Blaylock has already been tagged as a potential punt returner by the head coach, and his receiving skills are such that he's expected to compete immediately for a spot in the rotation. Freshman George Pickens, who looked taller than the 6-3 he's listed at on the roster, is another potential impact player. While Smart insists his receivers block adequately, Pickens ability to stretch the field should provide him the benefit of long looks in fall drills. Mikiya Tongue, son of NFL veteran Reggie Tongue, arrives with a unique football I.Q. and idea of what it will take to get on the football field. In summation, there remain plenty of 'what-ifs' and unprovens when evaluating the Georgia football team on paper. Smart has conceded as much. 'A lot of that identify, I won't even know until fall camp, because you have grad transfers and everybody coming together,' Smart said. 'I'm going to find out every day more and more about this new team.' Friday's news wasn't good, but Smart and his football team have a summer session ahead to learn more about themselves, and their ability to overcome adversity and provide an adequate 'next man up.' The post Georgia title hopes take hit with WR dismissal, transfers must prove on target appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Corey Wren said earlier this week his college choice was down to Arizona State, Georgia and Houston. He just needed a few more days to share his final choice with the world. When the 3-star ATH from John Curtis High School in Louisiana did so on Friday evening, he let everyone on Twitter know he was going to be a Bulldog. Why did he choose Georgia? 'Iron sharpens iron,' Wren said earlier this week. 'I have them in my top 3 because I know I'll be competing against some of the best in college football. Future NFL players. I wanna learn from that.' This is the rare commitment story where the national rankings from a well-respected service are probably not the ultimate gauge about what Wren can be on Saturdays here. It is not his 3-star rating. Nor is it his slot as the nation's No. 35 ATH and No. 515 overall prospect (per the 247Sports Composite rating) that matters the most here. 10.41 seconds matters more. That's the key number which defines Wren here. That was his best time in the 100 meters this spring. The 5-foot-9.5, 176-pound rising senior isn't the biggest prospect. That's why his final ranking will not climb to the rare air of 5-star territory. There are very few high school track stars and even fewer football players who have that type of speed.Wren posted the fastest 100 meters (10.41) and also the fastest 60 meters (6.83) in Louisiana this season. Georgia needed a speedster (see Mecole Hardman Jr.) in this class.Wren will certainly fill that lane. Hardman did not even post track times this low while he was coming up in high school. His father, Clarence, told DawgNation earlier this week the Bulldogs had a great shot to land this commitment.Receivers coach Cortez Hankton was a big reason why. 'Coach Hankton doesn't mind coaching,' he shared with DawgNation. 'With Corey, a lot of schools like Ohio State wanted him to play WR but didn't seem to realize he comes from a run-heavy offense and he would need to be coached a bit and Hankton is up for that challenge as well.' Clarence Wren made sure to emphasize the terms 'coached' and 'coaching along that statement. 'I think Georgia is a great fit for my son,' Clarence Wren stated. His son wound up coming to that same conclusion in picking Georgia. RELATED: Get to know Corey Wren and his 'CoSavage' alter ego on and off the field What Corey Wren can do on a football field Speed. Pure unadulterated speed. Wren will bring that to the Georgia offense. He told DawgNation that he was timed at 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a Mississippi State camp last summer. He only had a handful of races for the track team this spring before a hamstring injury shut him down. That's where that 10.41 official time in the 100 meters came from. He plays in an old school 'Veer' offense for one of the most storied programs in Louisiana high school football history. That's a program which does not throw the ball more than 10-12 times per game. It means that Wren touches the ball a lot of swing passes, quick screens, flares and on jet sweeps from the receiver position. He also will carry the ball between the tackles as a run threat. Wren had 82 carries for 886 yards (10.6 yards per attempt) and 10 touchdowns for a 13-0 state title team in 2018. He broke loose for a 94-yard romp on one of those carries. He also displayed what speed can do in his sophomore year with 269 yards on 13.5 yards per touch with another five scores on the ground. Georgia receivers coach Cortez Hankton saw all that on his film. When he shared what he thought about all of that with Wren, the second-year receivers coach scored points with Wren for his honesty. That's when he started telling Wren what he needed to hear. That's what Clarence Wren picked up on. 'One thing Coach Hankton said was he didn't sugarcoat anything,' Wren said. 'He told me straight up about my film. He said my film shows that I can run, but he said I want you to come here and play receiver for me. You're not showing me really any catching' and he told it to me straight like that.' Hankton said the one thing he can't teach him to run the way Wren can. 'But he said what he can teach me is going to be route running and consistent catching,' Wren said. 'I really applaud that of him. He doesn't sugarcoat it with me. I really don't like it when people tell me I can come here or come to a school and star right away. To be the face of the program. I just don't feed into all of that. I want somebody to tell me I'm going to have to come in and work for something with a full head of steam.' What Corey Wren means for the 2020 Georgia class Wren is known for his speed. But he wants to be more than that. 'I don't just want to put myself in the category as a speed receiver,' Wren said this week. 'I want to be that speed receiver but I also want to be able to high point a ball and run through tackles. Because I don't ever want to limit myself into a category as a player or anything.' The decision now gives the Bulldogs 15 public commitments for the 2020 class. Georgia is not expected to sign a full class this cycle and it means the remaining eight-to-nine scholarship slots will be at a premium. Wren is now the only pledge with a 3-star rating in the class for Georgia at this time. Texas kicker Jared Zirkel, who chose UGA earlier this month, is also rated as a 2-star prospect. The rest of the class is made up of 4 and 5-star prospects at this time. Wren is without a doubt the fastest commitment in the Georgia class at this time. Georgia now has three wide receivers committed for this class. It was expected to complete the number of scholarship slots at the position that the Bulldogs were looking for in 2020. Georgia now has to fill other key areas with positions groups like the defensive backs, defensive line, offensive line, running back and tight end expected to see at least two names go up on the board at each of those respective positions. The post BREAKING: Louisiana speedster Corey Wren has made his college decision appeared first on DawgNation.