Saturday, January 8, 2011

Recruiting Roundup - 25 days til NSD

We're about knee-deep into the home stretch of recruiting season. Things are going to start to happen fast. Before I get to today's post, a quick note regarding yesterday's in terms of player development. One thing CMR and staff can absolutely sell is playing time, which is what most kids want. That's one of the few advantages of being 6-7 I guess, you can easily say that competition is at a premium on your campus. But in order for that to truly stick, the Georgia coaches have to also smooth over any reservations about going to a coach clearly on the hotseat. 

With that said, here we go. For those of you with just enough curiosity, here is a rundown of some guys we're targeting. No real order. I'll single some of them out in subsequent posts.

Isaiah Crowell - our #1 target; the nation's best running back is an absolute playmaker that can take it the distance with any touch; from Carver-Columbus HS where we seem to have smoothed things over recently
Sanford Seay, CMR's latest commit
John Jenkins - arguably just as important as Crowell, Jenkins is the space eater at DT we need and he's ready to play in 2011, guaranteed. Once an Oklahoma State commit out of Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, things have recently opened up.
Jay Rome - Five star TE out of Valdosta has been rumored to be close to committing for a while. Also rumored to be recruiting for CMRs staff pretty heavily. An overall TE talent, can block and stretch the field. Also considering Bama and Tennessee (late comer).
Malcolm Mitchell - Rome's teammate, can play DB or WR, but probably plays on the defensive side of the ball in college. His play at the Under Armour game was impressive, natural athlete. He's another one Bama looks to steal from the state. Committing Jan 20th.
Damian Swann - Scheduled to announce at today's US Army All-American game. Athletic DB that really likes Georgia. Played all over the field in HS, but probably sticks to corner at the next level.
Ray Drew - If Dickson holds for Bama, Drew will be the kid to take some of that sting away with his LOI. Superb pass rusher that is just as amazing off the field as on it. Has kept things pretty close to the vest, official visits to UGA, Auburn and LSU. May get in two more before NSD, Clemson and either Tenn or Florida.
Jeoffrey Pagan - Like Drew and Dickson, another big athlete that can get after the QB. Was once a Florida commit but Georgia got the first visit when things opened back up. Clemson may lead with just about every other school within driving distance to Asheville close behind.
Sanford Seay - Similar to what was reported a couple days ago, Seay officially committed to UGA Thursday with Bobo and Ball at his school. He had plenty of offers, UGA was late to the list but was his biggest and the one he had waited patiently on. 

Quick note on Dickson and Bray - I think they are definitely still in the mix. It's hard to imagine Coach Richt snagging a commitment from the mighty Saban right now, but with recruiting these days there is just no telling. My impression the other night on television is that they both wanted their moment to shine. However, I don't think either is 100% solid. And of course, now rumors are rampant as to the hidden agendas and true meanings.

But in the end, they're just 17 year olds that thousands upon thousands of college football fans are fixated on, for whatever reason. There's 25 days until things can actually be counted on. Decisions until then aren't worth much at all. 

Except maybe some brief elation...and grief.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Today's link is a really good read if you want to have a clearer picture of what this process is like for these kids. It's simply a collection of quotes from kids as they look back on their decision process, lumped together into more general categories. It's by ESPNs Gene Wojciechowski, The Little Blue-Chip Recruiting Handbook.

For Hoop Dawgs, appetizers are over

The plate is clean, time to fill it with something more lasting. Like wins over SEC teams. And what better way to open things up than with a home game against KenYucky? Newly renovated Stegeman sold out! NCAA finally on our side.

I'm heading to Athens today, but without tickets in hand. Have a couple errands to run, family and friends to see. But the plan is to be back home well before tip off. If you're local to the Atlanta area, we're on channel 17 WPCH at 4pm.

Go Dawgs! Beat Crapalari.

My players are pros!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Uga VIII is about to bite Lymphoma in the ass

Robert Baker got off easy with Uga V. Our newly appointed mascot Uga VII has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Stay firm Dawg fans. It's never rained harder. Time to hunker down. And when you bend a knee tonight, send one up for the Seiler family and their Damn Good Dawg!

Sturdivant Staying in Athens

Trinton Sturdivant will return for his senior season, he tells ABHs Marc Weiszer. And it was an expectedly difficult decision for the tackle who has undergone two knee rehabs.
“It was a really, really, very, very tough decision being that my lifelong goal was to play in the NFL,” Sturdivant said. “It’s been tarnished because of the two injuries. I was really thinking about leaving this year because of so many different factors because of the what if.”
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Sturdivant, who was not expected to be an early round draft pick, saw risk in staying or going.
“Both sides are very risky,” Sturdivant said. “If I stay I could get injured and potentially never play NFL ball, but if I left I would have reached my goal hopefully of making it to the NFL. There were some more obstacles this year with the lockout. …I feel like I’ve made a really good decision.”
With Sturdivant still in the fold, we wait to hear from others...officially. 

Recruiting Roundup - 26 days til NSD

Going to start a fairly frequent feature here as we wind down towards signing day. Before ink hits actual paper and fax machines start whirring, it's important to get things in perspective. So here's my overall perspective on recruiting, in the interest of full disclosure.

Carver-Columbus' Isaiah Crowell
First, you should know I'm not one of those fans that gets too invested in this. I'm not meaning to piss on your parade if you are, but I'm just not that into 17 year old's decisions getting glorified and vilified on television, in print and on message boreds. However, I find the process more than a little compelling and get a charge out of seeing the names hit the screen inside Butts-Mehre. So it may be most fair to say, this part of my blogging is never a labor of love. But it intrigues me just enough.

Second, this being the winter of our most recent discontent, it's important to note that just getting the right signatures is a very small part of the battle. I don't want to get into a talent vs coaching debate right now, but it's safe to say at this point that we have coaches that aren't developing the February signatures into SEC caliber statistics. And that's not to say that they can't or haven't in the past. But 6-7 teams beg a powerful microscope, and player development demands a keen focus in Athens these days.

Davis, touching that rock
From what I read and what I see I think we’re evaluating the right players across the state and the country. We’re competing against the schools that are currently winning at a high level; just take a gander at the number of kids we're courting against Bama. But we just haven’t closed the deal on enough immediate impact guys and we haven’t landed that diamond in the rough like Thomas Davis or Verron Haynes; guys that are so thrilled for that UGA offer that they bleed red and black right through their silver britches.

So a huge question is development. I would rank our best position coaches at this point as Bobo number one and Belin/Grantham number two. It’s hard to be too critical of the other defensive coaches since we only have 13 games to go on the 3-4. But I think that’s enough to say that Lakatos has a ways to go and Garner is almost solely a recruiting guy here lately.

But even those disappointments don’t come close to the mystery of Coach Searels. How in the world did our biggest asset going into the season become our biggest liability? I went to bed every Saturday this fall thanking the good Lord that Aaron Murray wasn’t scheduled for any tests or surgeries the next Monday. Did anyone expect back in August that our 13th hour 2010 signee Kenarious Gates would play such a role this season?

That question in and of itself is reason to at least pay attention to recruiting. You never know who the next player is to fill an emergency hole. And you never know who the next Nick Williams will be either.

- - - - - - - - - - - - 

Be back tomorrow with another Roundup on the 2011 targets. Until then, here's some important links for your Friday lunch:
  • Fletcher Page catches us up on CMR, Garner and Grantham's visit to Connecticut yesterday. John Jenkins is indeed the missing link. ($$)
  • Rusty Mansell also talks up the Jenkins' visit, over a few games of pool.
  • Weiszer brings us up to speed on CMRs latest commitment, Sanford Seay. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

AJ, Houston and Boykin...GONE!

Per Kelin's Twitter.

FWIW...Aaron Murray tweets back, surprised...???

AND...Boykin says wait a minute...

Sweating Through the Opposite Day Presser

Despite my best wishes, Coach Richt did very little to do away with appearances yesterday. And since I tried to get in a late word just before his 2010 craptacular wrap-up presser, I thought I'd also lend a few quick after words

The fact is, we are not even remotely close. We're very, very far away. The point is to be close in August, which in turn can keep us very close in September and through November. I didn't at any point think he'd go and throw a stick of dynamite onto Woodruff Practice Field. That's not his style. I get that. I think we all get that.

One of the few positives I thought was the not so subtle tone being set by AD McGarity with his attendance as well as others. To be clear, this is the type of thing that is usually done in the comfort of CMRs office as a teleconference. The new AD wanted to make his coach sweat a little. Kind of his version of stadium steps for a 6-7 season if you will.

I may get reamed for typing this (and I never thought I would), but perhaps those martinis and red panties back in July were a blessing. Damon would never have stepped out of Richt's shadow. They were comfortable. Casual. I want all of Georgia’s coaches and McGarity to always be on the same page. But I’m ok if things aren’t always peaches and cream. It’s okay with me if Richt sweats a little when he walks through the Butts-Mehre doors.

It would have been nice to see more accountability from the guy behind the microphone. Yes, he's changed tweaked the Strength and Conditioning program. But I would fall well short of saying Bobo and Searels were great. And you know what? I doubt they would say they were great either. Our running game was abysmal and despite all the points scored, our offense lacked consistency. That's not great. To be quite honest and fair, that's merely being good...some of the time.

Richt spent years defending his defense at the expense of the offense, now he's flipped his teleprompter over. 

Please. Give. Me. A. Break.

But in the end I think we got what we expected. Little more, nothing less. And as long as the head guy walks into Butts-Mehre this winter wishing he'd worn a little more anti-persiprant...then I guess it'll be as we can get.

The Dawg Blawgs Podcast - State of the Program

Giving bloggers space to type is dangerous enough. Give them a voice and all hell could break loose. But ecdawg (Leather Helmet) was brave enough to try. Click play if you want to hear me try to keep up with him, CCRider (Sports and Grits) and CorbinDawg (The Grit Tree). 

(FYI - there's several seconds of dead air space at the beginning. Just consider it a 4th and inches and GO FOR IT!!)

UPDATE: a commenter mentioned wanting to hear more podcasts on UGA. You can't get much better than the guys at Dawgcast or Kit's DawgGoneBlog. If they're not already in your queue, make it happen.

They said...They're ALL in!!

SportsByBrooks is leading the charge when it comes to Auburn's eligibility questions. And this compilation sums things up nicely as well as brings us up to date.

Again, we all know everyone's playing. It's just going to be a matter of how many mops Jacobs, Slive and Emmert have to use to clean up the confetti.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doing away with Appearances

Coach Richt's press conference is set to begin here shortly. Before he gets his say, I just want to make one point. 

A lot of people are asking what kind of record CMR needs in 2011 to keep his job. Is the SEC East enough? Then further, if he wins a division or a conference title next season then falls back to 8-4 in 2012, what then?

I don't know the answer to that. To be honest, there's not really a fair one anyway. And I certainly don't know what I expect to hear him say this morning that's going to make me feel better about what has happened the last few months years.

But I do know this, no one is on the same page right now. Not the fans, the players, the coaches. I don't think the team as a whole played with much passion at all Friday...or the season as a whole. It appeared to me as if no one wanted to be in Memphis Friday except the fans who traveled there. It appeared to me as if the players and the coaches weren't any more in sync this season as last. 

Talk is cheap. Right now doing away with appearances is at a premium in Athens.

Big Recruiting day to begin Dream...or bring Nightmare (UPDATED)

Tonight the All-American high school players gather on the playing field after a few days of showing off their skills in front of national media. The game airs at 7pm on ESPN. Before, during and after, some players will announce their decisions for their letters of intent a few weeks prior to National Signing Day on February 2nd.

Two players expected to announce are members of the "Dream Team" in the state of Georgia. Xzavier Dickson (OLB, Griffin) and Quan Bray (ATH, LaGrange) will decide whether or not they are Dawgs. With Dickson we're up against Bama and Auburn and with Bray listing Auburn, Georgia, Florida and LSU as his finalists.

Another member of the Dream Team, Damian Swann (CB, Grady) is set to announce Saturday at the US Army All-American Bowl. He's known for about a month where he's going; the other schools are Miami, Bama and USC.

The other Dreamers: Jay Rome could announce he's a Dawg any day now, Malcolm Mitchell plays with Rome in Valdosta, Isaiah Crowell is the nation's best RB prospect and Ray Drew out of Thomasville.

Back to tonight, Bray is a harder read at this point, but I think we're in it for him. If I had to guess though I would say we lose Bray and get Dickson. If we lose both potential commitments, the message boreds will go nuclear.

Xzavier Dickson
Griffin HS
6-4, 248
- likely plays at OLB under Grantham's defense if he decides to come to Athens. Makes plays in the backfield, will provide SEC quarterbacks plenty of headaches. Has improved his run defense as well.

Quan Bray
Troup Co. HS
5-11, 175
- played a lot of RB in high school, but is versatile enough to fill a slot and certainly return kicks. 

- - - - - - - - - - - 

UPDATE: Sounds like Jay Rome may finally make his commitment official tonight as well. He's a definite UGA lean.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wheels on Auburn's bus go round and round, just like everybody else's

I don't know about you, but I'm getting a kick out of all this alleged secrecy with Auburn players' eligibility heading into Monday night's contest against Oregon in the BCS Championship game. on bus...

Does anyone actually think that the dirtiest little village on the plains and the NCAA and the SEC would go to all that trouble the last couple months of the season just to leave sCam et al on the side of the road holding their own bags? Of course not. Everyone's there, everyone's eligible.

But in case you're hanging on the edge of your seat, Pennington has the latest:
“After Auburn’s football team an official party arrived at the Phoenix Skyharbor Airport on Monday, Tiger coach Gene Chizik said everybody made the trip.  Asked if that meant everyone was eligible, he repeated everybody made the trip.

I asked athletic director Jay Jacobs if a player had to be eligible to be on the trip.  He said a player could not get on the bus (from Auburn to Atlanta) unless he was eligible.

Add it up and it certainly appears that no players of significance will be academically ineligible when Auburn plays Oregon in the BCS Championship Game.”
I'm not denying the legitimacy of the original report at SportsbyBrooks. But if Fairley, Newton or Terrell Zachary don't play Monday night I'll be the first to write a check toward next season's campaign.

All Dawg, or All Slive

First this...I'm actively rooting for Arkansas tonight. More on that in a sec.

But that begs the question...why would I root for any team in the SEC other than my own? I ask that because I see this issue come up a lot during bowl season on the Twitter and message boards. I didn't root for the FU fight'n gators in the recent MNC games, didn't root for LSU...or Bama last year. I've never cheered for South Cracky in any of their numerous bowls throughout the history of the game....(Ahem!)

It evidently says so
on his birth certificate
I guess I can surmise a situation where I would be compelled to root for a geographical rival, if it somehow helped my Dawgs in the fangled BCS rankings. However, I would only do so with my internal Mute button on and would never, EVER admit to it.

I just don't feel the pride in a conference that would require me to root for the 11 other members. Others do. They feel like any SEC win is a feather in their own cap. They get into this conference bowl championship crap when really, the Big Ten (or whatever) does a fine job screwing up on their own without anyone else's help.

So why? Why would I want to pull for Tennessee to beat the Tarheels? I hate that song. And does it help me if Auburn wins Monday? Does it help our coaches in recruiting? Does it help educators across America in the fight against illiteracy?

The answer's no. But yes...I'm making an exception tonight with Petrino's Piggies. An Arkansas win celebrates so many things: even more #NCAAfail, yet another #Buckeyefail and more reason the divorce between BMFP (h/t Heath) and the Atlanta Falcons was one of the ugliest, yet most satisfying in all of sports.

HogPigSouie! (or whatever...)

and Go Falcons!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday's Meatloaf - the other side of the leaf

I've been tossing this leaf around ever since I found myself walking away from Folsom Field back in October. I've never considered myself a Disney Dawg, but I admit to being pretty Goofy at times. However, I do consider myself a Mark Richt homer. I genuinely love the guy. He's stayed 45 minutes late at picture sessions just to make sure that he got a picture in with my daughter...yeh, she's that beautiful.

Not enough Sugar...
Coach Richt is a nice guy that knows what it takes to finish first, but right now can't seem to find the starting blocks. And while you won't find me pandering for his pink slip to be written, you will see less indulgence in his media quips. I've never been in the arena, but now have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get your head lopped off by a black knight there.

If the state's former rock star is Rachel, I'm Ross. And we're officially on a break. Clinging to his every word and buying into his talk has recently only produced misery in his company. If the closing credits on this era roll a year from now and we officially part ways, I'll only wish him the very best. Truly.

And if we are eventually reconciled and bathe ourselves in red and black confetti...the coffee's on me.

Today's Ingredients
  • We're Not That Far Away, probably the most fair and honest assessment of things, over at DawgSports by Anthony Pace. He's right...And with the way this conference is, it only takes one year to go from "not that far away" to "Damn, that's a long way off".
  • Staff tweaks on the horizon, maybe as soon as today. Now that Coach T is officially the S&C head guiy, I expect to hear Verron Haynes and Thomas Brown moving towards Butts-Mehre. The coaching staff...well, that should be even more interesting.
  • This is as important a year as ever for recruiting. Weiszer wonders if it could have gotten in the way of bowl preparation?
  • Over at the Grit TreeLugnut Dawg sees us past the point of no return.
  • the Senator finds McGarity looking back and Coach Richt looking ahead.
  • Murray Poole measures the last few seasons...down the number line.
  • While we wait to see which players are officially leaving, Nick Williams discusses his decision.
  • Ben Fratlock evaluates the Liberty Bowl, and has a prognosis for next season.
  • Hamp is looking at a new hobby to take the pain away of following his Dawgs. Me...I'm going to drink more beer. Come join me at
  • Kris Durham has started the next chapter in his life, training for an NFL gig. We wish him well.
  • It can be filed under Much Ado About Nothing, but Ealey discovered post game why they are black knights.
  • Back to recruiting, DawgPost's Chad Simmons has some Under Armour updates, with a big one on Isaiah Crowell. ($$)
  • A huge start ended up being just enough to carry the Lady Dawgs over South Carolina in their SEC opener.
  • Meineke Car Care officials are wondering what they did to upset all the Clempson fans.
  • Mike Haywood sees Mike Price and raises him a domestic violence charge.
  • MusChomp named some old and new faces to his growing staff. And buffets in Gayturdsville just went premium. Will Weis' ego fit in the swamp?
  • Maryland officially doesn't want to buckle any swashes. Instead they name Edsall head coach.
  • Festivus Bowl Mania update has Michael just ahead of Exile, who is just ahead of Ally, Bryan and Smitty. Darren the Intern (who picked the exact opposite of me) is much...much closer to the top than I am. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
I'm sincere when I say that I hope to reconcile with our coach one day. But it's clear to not happen soon. If he signs everyone we're hoping he does on February 2nd, I'll be there to congratulate him. But he's signed top classes before. Like I said yesterday, those kids need to develop into football players who leave everything on the well as fine young men.

And pardon me if I don't get all loopy again on the broken record being played about changing things up...and not wanting to go through this again...and the coaches are working harder...and the players are buying in. Yes, hope all that is going on. But the last two winters have only brought discontent. Show me in the Dome against Boise State. All these college football fans that have been clamoring over Chris Peterson...prove to me that they were wrong. Cuz right now I'm not sure.

Changing coaches is not something I take lightly. I've seen Ray Goff, Glen Mason, Jim Donnan and Mark Richt hired in my Dawglife. Two were guaranteed mistakes, one of which we ended up avoiding altogether. The one sure thing I've learned as a fan from those experiences, is that it never exactly goes as expected.

People who tout that we're not that far away are right, we aren't. But there's also the annoying fact that we didn't get any closer this season. We're back at the drawing board in January, eager to get excited about something in early February...then again in April...only to watch our hearts break in the Fall.

So who knows what a year may bring. Perhaps a season of vast improvements, maybe a nosetackle as big as a mid-size sedan. Conceivably we'll see a head coach with a hunger that eats right through his players.

And will all be enough to turn this leaf back over again. The difference this off season for me is, I'm not goofily holding my breath.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Talent-rich, Attitude-poor

Two quick and obvious facts: The more talented team lost in Memphis. The team that wanted it more won.

In the argument of Liberty Bowl Dawg effort, count me on the side of our new AD. However, I'll put it in plainer words: our effort and attitude sucks. To borrow from Durham Bulls manager Joe Riggins, how'd we ever win 6? Because from what I saw Friday, I have a hard time believing we wanted it more than those six teams we somehow beat. We likely did so because we were simply more capable, deeper.

Given a month to start the process of righting a listless ship, Coach Mark Richt has evidently decided it either isn't needed or he can wait until spring practice starts. He set the tone for the whole game when he settled for a field goal from the 2 yard line. It's a freaking bowl game and we had just driven the entire length of the field and he somehow, inexplicably decides we're not man enough to get the last two yards. If he leaves Blair Walsh on the sideline, the worst case scenario is UCF is backed up at their own goalline. But...our players understand that we're in this to win it. Nothing is going to be handed to them. They're going to have to earn every damn yard.

But no, this bowl team closely resembled the same one that played this season...with little urgency...and waiting for something to happen. Memphis wasn't a business trip for Georgia. It was a leisurely and casual stroll down Beale Street towards our next loss.

So what's changed for me? Somehow both a lot, and very little. I stand by my off season to do list. I just no longer have faith that Coach Richt can be the one to institute the change we need so soon. I want him to be the one, but I can't keep waiting for it to happen. Can the talent we have mask the problems within? Can a new S & C program instill the need to win in the players that the coaching staff has not been able to do?

Can Aaron Murray grab the reins in the off season with a firm enough grip so as to not make the 2011 season another dance toward ineptitude? One thing's for sure, our QB has the fire in his belly and this will be his third off season in the program. Can his moxy become contagious? 2011 could technically be his final season in Athens. We need to get as much out of him as we can in case he becomes Knowshon 2.0.

And while it's way too early to speculate on Murray's 2012 status with the team, it's past due to consider Coach Mark Richt's future. I don't want to put a specific number on wins CMR needs in 2011 to retain his job. But McGarity doesn't strike me as someone who's interested in seeing crapfests in lesser bowls. 

That cute Ford commercial where Richt talks about his phone being in sync with his's time for him to be in sync with his players. It's quite noble to mold good men, but unless he starts also molding them into good football players he won't be around much longer to continue doing the former. 

It starts with attitude...and can breed wins from there.