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College

    Every year the SEC shows once again that one of college football's most important arms races is the ability to acquire quality assistants. The energy and expertise these top lieutenants can provide can be invaluable on the field and in recruiting. With that in mind, here are the most important new faces in the league this year. 1 Todd Monken, Georgia offensive coordinator Monken is at UGA for a simple reason. His predecessor didn't get the job done. The Bulldogs offense was woeful in 2019 in the now-departed James Coley's lone season at the helm. UGA averaged just 30.8 points per game 7.1 points per game fewer than its 2018 average. Coley wasn't the only reason the offense sputtered, but few UGA fans shed tears when he didn't return. Now the pressure will be on Monken to add more punch to the offense a challenge made more difficult by the absence of spring practice due to the coronavirus lockdown. 2 Bo Pelini, LSU defensive coordinator An argument can be made that LSU's most important hire was Scott Linehan as a replacement for passing game coordinator Joe Brady who moved on to the Carolina Panthers during the offseason. Frankly, replacing Brady will be a tall task. It's unlikely LSU's offense comes close to matching the firepower Brady and quarterback Joe Burrow teamed up to provide last season. All the more reason Pelini who returns to his role as LSU defensive coordinator, a job he held from 2005-07 needs to establish a dominant unit. LSU is the reigning national champion, but defense was hardly the reason why. The Tigers were just 29th nationally in yards per play allowed last season. That number needs to improve this year. The good news is Pelini will have cornerback Derek Stingley at his disposal among the nation's best defensive players. 3 Mike Bobo, South Carolina offensive coordinator It was surprising to many that Bobo wanted to be the Gamecocks offensive coordinator after his tenure as Colorado State head coach came to an end. This is partially because some thought he might want to go back to his alma mater, UGA, and partially because some folks assume Bobo's new boss, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is squarely on the hot seat, and therefore could result in a short-tenured employment for Bobo. For what it's worth, UGA coach Kirby Smart has denied discussing a possible role for Bobo on his staff and Bobo has said he's excited about the challenge of rebuilding the Gamecocks offense. If Bobo's previous track record is an indicator, the rest of the SEC could soon be on notice. UGA was first in the SEC with 41.3 points per game in Bobo's last season as Bulldogs offensive coordinator in 2014. South Carolina might not quite match that feat this season, but a more experienced Ryan Hilinski at quarterback and the debut of freshman running back MarShawn Lloyd should enable Bobo to provide a major offensive upgrade. 4 Chad Morris, Auburn offensive coordinator Stop me if you've heard this before, but Auburn fans are curious if head coach Gus Malzahn will finally trust an offensive coordinator enough to delegate some authority. This has been a familiar story for the Tigers. The luxury of trust has been hard to come by for many in the role Morris will occupy under Malzahn. Two previous offensive coordinators left the Tigers for what appeared to be less attractive jobs. Rhett Lashlee became UConn offensive coordinator in 2017, and the freedom to run his own offense was cited as a reason for his departure. When Chip Lindsey left for Kansas (before eventually becoming head coach at Troy), it was widely assumed a tug of war with Malzahn had played into his decision as well. Will Malzahn grant to Morris what he's seemingly denied to others? One of the reasons pointing to yes is that Malzahn and Morris are long-time friends. Another is Morris' previous success as an offensive coordinator. Morris put up big numbers at Clemson prior to becoming SMU and Arkansas head coach, and was paid handsomely for his work. He, along with Malzahn, were the two highest paid offensive coordinators in the country in 2014 with a salary of $1.3 million. Morris will make less than that at Auburn, but will have a chance to prove to be a worthy investment for the Tigers. 5 Kendal Briles and Barry Odom Arkansas offensive and defensive coordinator New Arkansas coach Sam Pittman made quite a splash with his coordinator hires, and at least briefly calmed any concerns that might exist about his lack of experience as a head coach. Briles is a former Broyles Award finalist and Odom in addition to being known for producing stout defenses also provides a dose of SEC head coaching experience to the Razorbacks staff. For all the attention new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has received, and for all the talk about what Mike Leach will do at Mississippi State, the first preseason for Pittman with the Razorbacks should be a warning that it could be Pittman, and not one of the new faces in the Magnolia State, who has the best debut season. The post The 5 most important new SEC coordinators appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The Georgia football leadership group has helped steady the Bulldogs throughout the turbulent 2020 offseason, according to offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer. 'How we meet in our leadership group, it gives us a chance to hear different perspectives,' Salyer said in a recent Zoom video interview distributed to UGA donors. 'It gives us a chance to be raw, because everybody has feelings. Everybody has things they want to get off their chest.' Indeed, it has been a challenging time filled with social concerns emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. The UGA players returned to campus and have been going through eight hours of voluntary workouts per week since June 8. Coach Kirby Smart and his staff won't be allowed to supervise workouts until July 17. They have been permitted eight hours per week of virtual meetings. That communication means more than ever. ESPN analyst and Georgia football legend David Pollack recently noted during an ESPN radio interview that 'it's a different world' for coaches and players. 'The younger generation, they are way more inclined to speak their mind,' Pollack said. 'This is a generation that's media-savvy . social-media savvy as it gets.' That could, in turn, lead to grievances being aired if not managed internally. Pollack points out every program has malcontents, and now there are s ocial media platforms. 'There's people at every institution, and when I was at the University of Georgia, I can pick our 15 to 20 players who were very unhappy with the situation because they didn't play as much as they wanted to, they didn't think they got a fair shot, and they thought they were mistreated, blah-blah-blah,' Pollack said. 'All those kids now, and all those adults now, are going to have an opportunity to speak out and say they were treated unfairly and they didn't get an opportunity.' Salyer, a junior who appears to be in line for captaincy, indicated UGA's leadership group helps mitigate potential team issues. 'I feel getting in those rooms and having a lot of older guys having a chance to talk and get out their feelings (helps), and then Coach Smart being able to listen to us and understand what we're saying, and sometimes implementing it into his plans that he has for the team,' Salyer said. 'It's coming together and meeting together and having our ideas aligned, that helps us a lot.' Georgia football preseason stories Georgia football OL Jamaree Salyer weighty issue, eager to compete Richard LeCounte explains UGA has great chance for national title Jamie Newman on the clock, embracing UGA's elite defense D.J. Shockley shares take on UGA freshman QB Carson Beck Georgia projections, playmakers at receiver and running back Why Georgia must take advantage of new schedule more than others The post Jamaree Salyer: Georgia football leadership group keeps team ideas aligned' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS There is no question every Georgia football fan, coach, player and everyone else associated with the program is eager for the Bulldogs to begin the season. The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper over 2020 and left everyone yearning for a dose of normal that football season could provide if kicked off on time. The Bulldogs are in the midst of voluntary workouts, with Coach Kirby Smart and his staff able to begin supervising them on July 15. Georgia is scheduled to open the season on Monday, Sept. 7, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta against Virginia. In hindsight, playing the game on Saturday Sept. 5 would be much, much better. For that matter, a home game would have been even more beneficial. That said, it surely seemed like a good idea in January of 2017 for Georgia to open the season on a Monday night against Virginiawith the neutral site game. No one could have known then what we have all been dealing with now, some 2 1/2 years later. The SEC announced in August of 2019 that the Bulldogs game at Alabama would be on Sept. 19 this season. That set up the Bulldogs to play three games in 13 days. And that means Georgia will have two days less time to prepare for that showdown than the Crimson Tide. One could argue it's really three less days, since Georgia has a travel day built in with the game being played in Tuscaloosa. So here's the cautionary tale involving Georgia rival Tennessee opening on a Monday night. Three years ago, the Vols were in the same situation with three games in 13 days to open the season. It was a concern of the Tennessee staff then, and, sure enough, in hindsight there was some second-guessing. The Vols beat Georgia Tech in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 42-41, in double-overtime on that Monday night. But less than two weeks later, Tennessee was back on the road traveling to play Florida for a key SEC matchup. It was a showdown with the Gators just 12 days later that proved to break the back of previous Vols coach Butch Jones. Florida won the game at The Swamp, 26-20, on the last play of regulation. Tennessee's goal-line offensive package faltered, and the defense designed for the final drive of the game had more breakdowns than was typical for a Bob Shoop defense. Could two days more rest or preparation have helped or made a difference at one of those critical junctures? It's also fair to wonder about programs giving up home games moving forward in the near future. The school may lose some surface contract money, but it has become clear there's a value to have money kept in the home community. After all, those student athletes, head coaches and athletic department employees rely on the local hospitals, authorities and businesses. The recent trying times brought about by COVID-19 have magnified the importance of helping to build the home community, and not just taking from it. Georgia football preseason stories Georgia football OL Jamaree Salyer weighty issue, eager to compete Richard LeCounte explains UGA has great chance for national title Jamie Newman on the clock, embracing UGA's elite defense D.J. Shockley shares take on UGA freshman QB Carson Beck Georgia projections, playmakers at receiver and running back Why Georgia must take advantage of new schedule more than others The post Monday night opener could come back to bite Georgia football at Alabama appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia wide receiver George Pickens' introduction to many UGA fans was the viral video of a dazzling catch made in a preseason scrimmage last August, but there's apparently a lot more to Pickens than what can be contained in a YouTube clip. Which is not to say the haul was unremarkable. It was so impressive that it even drew a compliment from notoriously hard-to-please coach Kirby Smart. 'This is a special player and a great catch,' Smart said at the time. 'He's had several one-handed catches in practice. He's a talented player.' It was also the beginning of what turned out to be an eventful freshman season for Pickens one in which he led the team with 727 receiving yards and eight touchdowns and became Sugar Bowl MVP by matching a UGA bowl record with 12 catches in the Bulldogs' win against Baylor. However, not all the attention Pickens received in his first year with the program was positive. He was ejected late in UGA's 52-7 win at Georgia Tech for an altercation with a Yellow Jackets player which resulted in Pickens being forced to sit out the first half of the SEC championship vs. LSU. UGA's key leaders were quick to point out that Pickens had erred in allowing his temper to get the best of him. 'That's a huge learned lesson for him not to do something dumb like that,' UGA linebacker Monty Rice said after the game. 'He's a vital part of the team, a vital part of the offense You see how productive he is. He can help us a lot. He's just got to be smarter.' The video from Pickens' fight became just as viral as his miraculous catch had been. And it became easy for some to define him in simplistic terms on the basis of these images as a player that was frequently noticed, but not always for the right reasons. Yet those who know Pickens better say there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. Former UGA wide receiver Sean Bailey is one of those people, and Bailey probably has as much insight into what it feels like to be Pickens as anyone could. Pickens was an elite recruit the No. 4 wide receiver in the country and the 24th rated prospect for the 2019 class. Bailey was an elite recruit too rated fifth as a receiver and 47th overall in 2003. Bailey shared his opinion on Pickens last week on DawgNation Daily and those thoughts extend beyond what can be conveyed in a video. 'Probably the biggest thing that stands out to me about him is that he truly loves football,' Bailey said. 'He loves to compete.' Bailey explained he saw that aspect of Pickens' demeanor while attending UGA practices. 'I've had the pleasure to watch several practices,' Bailey said. 'There are a lot of elite guys that are able to turn it on and turn it off, but when you have a guy that has it turned on all the time like George does at practice He's aggressive even when he's not getting the ball.' Pickens has credited his work on the practice field for why he enjoyed success during his freshman season, and has said being challenged by Smart and former UGA quarterback Jake Fromm during those practices was crucial in his development. '[Fromm] pushed me every day. Coach Smart pushed me every day to be the player I am today,' Pickens said after the Sugar Bowl. However, Bailey says Pickens was doing plenty of pushing of his own. 'He was extremely vocal. And this is as a freshman,' Bailey said. 'He's in it. He's competing every down, and not just in the pass game, but in the run game too when his job is to block and be aggressive. 'He's going 100 miles per hour, and you don't see this a lot at this position a prima donna' position. You've got a lot of athletes that like to catch balls and like to score touchdowns, but they don't want to get their hands dirty. George will go get his hands dirty in a heartbeat. He gets excited. He's thrilled to do it. Bailey is speaking of the way some wide receivers get bad reputations as players who seek glory and attention at the expense of being team-oriented. Bailey says Pickens isn't one of those guys. Pickens would probably agree. The mentality that he plays the game with is one that seems to value the physical aspects of football more than the typical receiver would. Pickens' first season at UGA while imperfect stands as validation of that point of view. 'It was a great season to me,' Pickens said. ' You win some. You lose some, but I feel like every day, every practice, every walkthrough we just fought. I like winning that way instead of winning the easy way. I like fighting for the win.' It's possible to like fighting too much, and perhaps at times last season Pickens did. However, more often than not, Pickens' fighting spirit will probably serve him well. And it could lead him and the Bulldogs to even more success in 2020. The post Former UGA star explains why George Pickens isn't a prima donna' WR appeared first on DawgNation.
  • One of the hallmarks of Georgia under coach Kirby Smart has been a big, physical offensive line. Despite the offseason departure of offensive line coach Sam Pittman who became head coach at Arkansas and the loss of three starters to the NFL draft, expectations remain high that the Bulldogs can field a formidable unit once again. However, that will require some newcomers to the program or possibly some players who've been waiting in the wings in reserve roles to get quickly acclimated to the challenge of facing SEC defensive lines as they prepare to fill the shoes of former tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, both of whom were first-round picks in April, as well as former guard Solomon Kindley, who was a fourth-round pick. Former Bulldogs offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb, who was an All-American tackle in 2002, believes a successful transition is possible. 'There's such good options there,' Stinchcomb recently said on DawgNation Daily. 'Across the SEC, and really around the country, they would be chomping at the bit to have the level of talent Georgia has despite the uncertainty of losing three starters to the NFL draft. 'Georgia's got a bevy of players in that room that are highly capable and I think are just waiting for the opportunity to prove the merit that their names brought once they signed a letter of intent to come to the University of Georgia.' One of the easiest names to fill in as a new starter is probably rising junior Jamaree Salyer. a former five-star signee from the 2018 class. Salyer's reputation has been growing since being called upon to start at right tackle in the Bulldogs' Sugar Bowl win vs. Baylor. 'Jamaree really solidified himself in showing that he's going to be more than capable of being a starter and holding his own,' Stinchcomb said. 'That's no longer in question. Now you're talking about how good he can be.' Salyer's Sugar Bowl performance is even more impressive given the change that was happening around him at the time. In addition to players leaving for the NFL, new offensive line coach Matt Luke was also stepping in for the first time in place of Pittman. Yet the Bulldogs' offensive line still got the job done. 'Those guys stepped up to the challenge,' Luke told DawgNation after the Sugar Bowl. 'We had three normal starters out and those guys went wire to wire and played every snap. I'm really proud of those guys for stepping up.' Now Salyer could be ready to take an even bigger step this season. He's spent much of the offseason showcasing a newly slimmed-down frame, and the efforts that have led to that body transformation have some saying he could be ready to emerge as a leader and a possible starter at left tackle, arguably the offensive line's most important position. 'He's going to be a great player,' Thomas who was also a high school teammate of Salyer's at Pace Academy told DawgNation in March. 'He has kept his head up and continued to fight. He's going to be the anchor along that offensive line.' If Salyer earns the nod at left tackle, that leaves a crucial position battle at right tackle between guys who've been in the program and a couple of hyped recent arrivals. Xavier Truss was a four-star prospect from the 2019 class and the former No. 1 player in the state of Rhode Island. He appeared in three games for the Bulldogs a year ago, and is thought to be solidly in the mix to possibly replace Wilson on the right side this year. A similar statement could be made for Warren McClendon another four-star 2019 signee who played in four games for UGA last season. Owen Condon who has appeared in four games over his two years at UGA could join the fight as well as two elite 2020 signees, Broderick Jones and Tate Ratledge. Stinchcomb thinks the guys who've gained some experience in the program could have the early advantage over the incoming freshmen. 'I think [experience] makes a considerable difference because they've seen the power and speed of some of these elite outside linebackers and defensive ends in the SEC mainly because they've practiced against them on a week in and week out basis,' Stinchcomb said. 'For some of these guys, just last season, but for some of the others that's two years of facing that level of competition.' Stinchcomb says he'd favor Truss slightly in the competition for now. However, Jones because he was a five-star signee will almost certainly be the subject of much curiosity among UGA fans once practice begins. 'Having seen Broderick's film coming out of high school, he's big. He's athletic. He moves really well,' Stinchcomb said. 'I can see why he was as highly-regarded as he is. But you have to lean on the fact that these aren't scrubs we are talking about Truss, Condon, McClendon. They came in highly-touted in their own regard. 'He's not walking into an empty space. There's not this gaping void where there's no talent in-house. 'I think if I were to make a projection, it's one of your veterans that gets the starting nod. But you could see Broderick Jones get reps throughout the season in a rotational basis probably at the beginning of the season, and then who knows what happens by the end of the year. I think he's a special talent, but I think there's a lot of talent in that room.' No matter who ultimately wins the competition at right tackle, Stinchcomb believes UGA will be in good hands. 'It's not going to be a position of weakness,' Stinchcomb said. 'It's not like you're going to have to hide the right tackle spot.' Stinchcomb's assessment, if it turns out to be true, would be good news for UGA. The Bulldogs almost certainly feel confident in the offensive line's two returning starters center Trey Hill and right guard Ben Cleveland. If Thomas and Wilson can be replaced with quality starters at the tackle spots, the offensive line should once again be one of UGA's strengths. The post Former All-American expects UGA offensive line to remain a strength despite departures appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Tralee Hale never knew she had quite this many Dawgs in her corner. Until now. Her introduction to the Georgia fan base was quick and memorable during the last recruiting cycle. Hale, a flight attendant, is the mother of 5-star cornerback prospect Kelee Ringo. She kept visiting Athens from Arizona with her son all last year. Ringo was rated as the nation's No. 1 cornerback prospect for the 2020 cycle. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed more than 205 pounds. There was a 'Junior Day' visit. Then for G-Day. Then for the annual Georgia scavenger hunt recruit weekend in May. Those were just the trips that popped up over social media. He also had an official visit in early January. The Bulldogs were battling Texas and Oregon primarily for his commitment and eventual signature on a letter-of-intent. Ringo had sprinter's speed in the 100 meters. He was capable of clocking 10.40 seconds and below in the 100. But his mother also kept showing up on his viral recruiting visits. There was that timeless photo when she draped the pet python of a Georgia staffer around her neck. Her son, the chiseled and hyper-athletic 5-star would have nothing to do with that serpent. That photo opp with Georgia staffer Bryan Gantt's pet 'Sunshine' eventually led to the creation of a new NCAA rule for recruits. Of all things. Her son did eventually sign with Georgia . He committed to the Bulldogs back in January on a live announcement from the All-American Bowl out in Texas. Hale was planning to move to Georgia to be closer to her son and follow his career from not just the same time zone, but the same state as well. Life, as we all know, sometimes can bust up even the best-laid plans. Hale was diagnosed in June with an aggressive form of breast cancer. When she learned that, she went through the expected range of emotions. She eventually was faced with the reality that she was going to need some help. A lot of help. It necessitated that a GoFundme page was set up to help her raise the funds necessary to pay for those treatments and also deal with the loss of income necessary while she was set to go through all the chemotherapy. Her situation is described on that page. 'In June of this year, Tralee Hale was diagnosed with Triple Negative Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer. This is an aggressive form of cancer, and fewer treatment options are available. Tralee is being treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America here in Arizona where she will undergo 16 rounds of chemotherapy. Before this diagnosis, Tralee has been on leave from her job as a flight attendant for American Airlines due to a work-related injury. She has had one surgery to correct a knee issue and multiple others for her knee and back are required. Shortly before this diagnosis, Tralee sent her son, Kelee, off to live his dream playing football for the Georgia Bulldogs. She has always been his biggest cheerleader but now she needs our help! Please consider donating to help Tralee with her loss of income and additional expenses not covered by insurance.' Kimberly Cochran, her cousin, set up the page and organized the online effort. As of late Thursday evening, she had 490 donations to help her in that fight. While an original goal of $25,000 was quickly established, it became clear that the support was going to provide more help in her fight than she ever imagined. Those 490 pledges have been good for a total of $26,015 so far. The quick math on that is an average of $53 per pledge. Hale was so moved that she took to her Twitter account to try to begin to share her gratitude. 'I wanted to come on and say thank you,' Hale says in the embedded video below. 'I have been brought to tears these last two days over the amount of support and messages and encouragement that I have been receiving. I am so thankful and blessed to be a part of the UGA family and a part of DawgNation.' 'I'm so thankful for everyone showing their love and support. We have a fight in front of us but I am definitely going to get through it with your help. Thank you and I look forward to seeing ya'll between the hedges.' Thank you for ALL the love and support! I feel so blessed to be a part of Dawg Nation and the UGA family! GoDawgs! pic.twitter.com/EJfvvUdTwr Tralee Hale (@HaleTralee) July 3, 2020 How Team Tralee has helped out in a big way Hale and her funding drive known as 'Team Tralee' quickly picked up $16,000 toward that original $25,000 in less than a day. When it started to get tweeted around on social media and on a few sites which cover the Bulldogs, the cause really started to gain some real momentum. Take a look at how that support quickly came to be: 8:15 AM on June 30: $1,300 approximately. The page was established early on June 30. 12:00 PM on June 30: $6,800 in less than five hours 2:45 PM on June 30:The total here is now $10,200. That's $9,000 in pledges in less than seven hours from early on June 30. 10:20 update on June 30:That total now rests at $17,595. 9:35 AM on July 1:Support for 'Team Tralee' reaches $19,480. The fund-raising effort is approximately 30 hours old. 4:30 PM on July 1:The tally moves to $21,895 with 441 donors. Thepledge goal now shows an increase to $40,000. As it started to really pick up steam, Ringo even shared a word of appreciation on his Twitter account. I really appreciate the love and prayers for my mom, She's a fighter. Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) June 30, 2020 Hale replied to a tweet from Radi Nabulsi of UGAsports.com. The Rivals UGA site was one of many UGA online properties and message boards to post the news of her fight and that GoFundme.com page to help out. Thank you so very much for posting and for your support! I'm going to beat this! Next.. All I want is to get there and watch football with y'all!! GoDawgs! Tralee Hale (@HaleTralee) June 30, 2020 It wasn't just those who are charged with covering the Georgia football team, but a grassroots effort of the rank-and-file members of the Georgia fan base. Thank you soooooooo very much! I'm so blessed to be a part of the Dawg Family! I'm soooo thankful for all of the encouragement and support! Your thoughts and prayers mean so much! I will beat this! Tralee Hale (@HaleTralee) July 1, 2020 Calling all Dawgs! Let's show @KeleeRingo and his family what Dawgnation is capable of. Please share this and contribute if at all possible! #GODAWGS Join TEAM TRALEE in her fight against cancer! https://t.co/AMrixJaZ6V Jamey Goodman (@JameyGoodman) June 30, 2020 While quickly scanning through the donor lists and the comments, there's an overwhelming number of pledges from Georgia fans or those simply stating that DawgNation and the UGA fanbase has her back. 'I am soooooo very thankful to have so much support from UGA fans,' she told DawgNation on Wednesday. The special bond she has with her son is clear in Ringo's tweet from back on Mother's Day. Happy Mother's day to my best friend @HaleTralee pic.twitter.com/ZyeHOjDMwX Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) May 10, 2020 It doesn't matter which colors one might rep. The movement taking place here is an awesome gesture of humanity. Especially during times where a lot of families are going through their own hardships of some sort. Those donations have already led to an upgrade in her initial hopes for her patient care. 'I quite literally need to thank them for coming together for me because I am going to be able to be seen by the Cancer Treatment Centers of American because of their support,' Hale said. To support 'Team Tralee' in her fight, please visit her Gofundme page. The post Tralee Hale: The mother of freshman CB Kelee Ringo finds out she's not alone in her cancer fight appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart's quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 1,229 (July 2, 2020) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about what ESPN's Rece Davis said about his optimism that college football will be played this fall. Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality provides some much-needed optimism about upcoming season Beginning of the show: Questions persist about what college football will look like this fall including whether or not the games will take place as the country contends with the coronavirus. There's been no shortage of dire projections from many national media members in recent days in the wake of some positive tests that have emerged from teams participating in voluntary workouts. With all that in mind, I'll share a message on today's show from ESPN's Rece Davis in which Davis shares optimism about the upcoming season. Five-minute mark: I discuss five-star quarterback and Georgia commit Brock Vandagriff's performance at the Elite 11 camp. 10-minute mark: I discuss an ESPN writer's take that Florida is UGA's most important game for the upcoming season. 15-minute mark: CBS Sports' Barrett Sallee joins the show. Some of the topics covered include The comparison between UGA and Florida in the race to win the SEC East The Bulldogs' potential quarterback competition between Jamie Newman and JT Daniels The outlook for Alabama And thoughts on how the coronavirus could impact the upcoming season 30-minute mark: I take a look at other SEC headlines including the commonly misunderstood story of Mississippi State cancelling its alumni tailgate. 35-minute mark: I discuss some UGA recruiting storylines including four-star linebacker Dallas Turner's decision to choose the Crimson Tide over the Bulldogs and a message from five-star linebacker Smael Mondon teasing a possible announcement coming soon. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. DawgNation Daily Episode 1229: ESPN personality provides some much-needed optimism about upcoming season The post Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality provides some much-need optimism about upcoming season appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Tony Grimes, the 5-star Virginia CB, chose North Carolina earlier this week. Elite pass rusher Dallas Turner opted to roll with the Tide the very next day. It proved to be a swift one-two punch of 'what just happened here' with Georgia recruiting. If we're being honest, the Georgia football program hasn't seen many single days like that under Kirby Smart. But back-to-back days where the 'Power G' logo was the hat on the table which didn't get picked up was especially telling. The COVID-19 health scare which halted all on and off-campus recruiting played a factor in why those All-American recruits did not choose Georgia, but also in the timing of those announcements. They saw no need to wait and the chance to take a validation visit or two were not going to take place until at least September 1, if not later than that. We discussed those matters on this week's 'Before the Hedges' but also brought up three reasons why Georgia's recruiting has also been aided by that shutdown, too. It is not like Georgia is the only school that hasn't been able to build the necessary momentum in the pandemic for a few elite targets on the recruiting trail. There has been a lot of 'if only we could get that guy on campus' taking place with a record number of commitments to NCAA Division I schools through the end of June during the coronavirus health scare. Auburn, Penn State and South Carolina were saying the same things about Georgia offensive line verbal pledge Dylan Fairchild That is just the most recent example present with the last commitment who chose Georgia. Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it. Before the Hedges on DawgNation: This week's teaser trailer The focus of the open to this week's weekly show was to highlight three ways in which the shutdown also aided the Bulldogs on the recruiting trail for the 2021 and 2022 classes. Among the examples discussed: 5-star OT Amarius Mims was set to take a least a few unofficial or official visits to power programs like LSU and Oklahoma this spring. He's also been able to get back to Tuscaloosa. That program still looms large for the Bulldogs to have to overcome with his eventual decision. Mims remains uncommitted. 5-star ILB Smael Mondon Jr. had hoped to take a spring unofficial visit to Oklahoma this spring, too. Not to mention there was the plan to see major contenders like Auburn and Tennessee this spring, too. It seems like DawgNation is already doing a lot of nail-chewing in regard to Mondon and his eventual decision as it is. Mondon has yet to make his public decision. The Bulldogs weren't able to make the necessary gains with those repeated interactions with Grimes and Turner, but the same can also be said for other rival schools in the chase for Mims and Mondon, too. Georgia has seen five of its nine commitments make that move to commit to the G during the pandemic. We can point to feedback that at least four of them decided they didn't need to wait any longer to see if there were any other schools out there that impressed them as much as the chance to play for the Bulldogs. 4-star Philadelphia OLB Elijah Jeudy was one of those commitments who was hoping to be able to take one more trip to check out Texas A&M before deciding but ultimately decided there was no need to wait with the restoration of visits nowhere in sight. In-state RB native Lovasea' Carroll even shared on Twitter than he was thinking long and hard about a flip to the Gators and the chance to a faster path to major SEC carries, but ultimately decided that three to four years at Georgia would serve his career better in the long run. It was beneficial to consider that he had to weight that decision out from his home and not from the football building and locker room while on a visit to the University of Florida. The terrific recruiting that Georgia has been able to do during the pandemic with a rich crop of 2022 prospects in the state of Georgia. We also introduced a pair of new names to the weekly 'Top Targets' lineup for the 2021 class. That feature also included a brand new prospect in the No. 1 slot. Check out the latest episode of 'Before the Hedges' embedded below. It airs live at 6 p.m. each Wednesday on the DawgNation Facebook and YouTube channels , respectively. SENTELL'S INTEL (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) CJ Washington: The electric 2022 LB prospect drops UGA into his top 3 Elite pass rush target Dallas Turner has made his college decision Where does Georgia turn now at CB after Tony Grimes in the 2021 recruiting class? Class of 2022 ATH Malaki Starks could be a future class anchor at UGA 6-foot-7 sophomore OT Payton Kirkland shares why UGA is his dream school Andrew Thomas says to expect a lot of pancakes from Jamaree Salyer in 2020 Xavier Worthy: Can the speed demon WR be the next link in the California-UGA pipeline? Checking in on the four biggest Georgia football recruiting storylines at this time Why Malcolm 'The Jet' Johnson Jr. and his 10.38 speed is giving UGA a good look Georgia RB commit Lovasea' Carroll shuts down all talk of a Florida flip 5-star ATH James Williams changes things up a bit with his new top 2 HEDGES: Who's the best QB on the board in the class of 2022? MJ Morris: New Georgia coordinator Todd Monken has made him a priority WATCH: Georgia commit Chaz Chambliss shows he has a bright future at OLB The post HEDGES: 3 ways the lack of campus visits have also helped Georgia football recruiting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry takes a look at the recent top 3 dropped by Cedartown Class of 2022 linebacker prospect CJ Washington. CJ Washington has logged many a workout with Georgia all-time great RB Nick Chubb. When he does, there's not a lot of time spent shifting the plates around and back and forth. He's a rising high school junior at Cedartown High School. That's where Chubb starred and where Washington racked up 18 sacks last year as a sophomore. When you watch him work, there's no question he has a level of athleticism and physicality that will stand out on any field. Does anyone need to hear any more about what type of college football player he could out turn out to be? The 4-star ATH is likely seen as a linebacker on Saturdays. Washington played tailback and defensive end and linebacker and looked like a walking muscle on a hoverboard in whatever role he was excelling at on the field. Washington released his top schools on Wednesday night. It was something akin to what Chubb might have done. In a time where everyone fancies it appropriate to release top 8s and top 10s when they are less than six months away from signing day, he went about his process a different way. The 6-foot-2, 223-pound junior released a top 3. It was: Georgia LSU Tennessee Simple. Direct. Impressive. That's basically Washington in a nutshell. He's the type of player where hyperbole is not necessary, but his first Dawgnation profile story did bring to mind the name Nolan Smith and a reference to Fred G. Sanford. it's coming fosho @Mansell247 @ChadSimmons_ @247Sports pic.twitter.com/tOUzpnbXxh Cedric Washington (@cedric_washing4) July 1, 2020 The scouting report on CJ Washington Washington bench presses 340 pounds, will do some rep maxes with 295 for power cleans, and is already squatting 515-plus pounds. His power clean max is at 330 pounds. ( NEWS FLASH: This was where a high school sophomore was about three or four months ago in the weight room) When recruiting analysts size him up, it is a fitting comparison to liken him to former No. 1 overall recruit Nolan Smith. He's got that kind of explosion coming off the edge. He currently rates as the nation's No. 9 ATH and No. 88 overall prospect for the 2022 cycle for his standalone 247Sport rating. TBT Tuesday (Rockmart v Cedartown) 4 '22 Cedartown DE CJ Washington @cedric_washing4 pic.twitter.com/fO7kbcZCrW NwGa Football (@NwGaFootball) December 10, 2019 When he competed at the Georgia Elite Classic last December at McEachern High School, he was one of the truly great players in the sophomore game. He racked up the hurries, tackles and tackles for losses. Consider a sampling of the following quotes from his head coach at that game. Chris Hirschfield is the offensive coordinator at Walton High in Marietta. Hirschfield has experienced the great fortune and career timing to coach a pair of NFL players in Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Matthews in his lottery winner of a career so far. He also coached Georgia sophomore WR Dominick Blaylock at Walton, too. He's also been on the staff for teams that also lined up a few more high-level ACC and SEC players, too. Washington played at H-Back, defensive end and outside linebacker for the winning team in that showcase. 'When we had him out wide at d-end, we stood him up and put him an extra yard out wide basically as an outside backer,' Hirschfield said. 'Basically nobody could block him coming off a speed rush.' His roster didn't have any H-Back or fullback types on the other side of the ball. 'He obviously fit the part there, too,' he said. 'We taught him four plays literally. Power. Counter. Literally four or five plays in practice. I've never seen anybody collision and hit the way that kid does. His explosiveness might be the best I have ever seen.' 'Absolutely explosive. Full speed and does not shy away from contact and he's so powerful. He doesn't just hit. He drives people backward.' They gave him maybe four or five reps in practice at those positions. Those reps had to come after the defensive period.Washington had it from that point on. Hirschfield even handed him the ball a few times in the game, too. 'He's special,' he said. 'I didn't even teach him the name of all the plays I would just tell him Right Strong' or Left Strong' as far as his alignment and I gave him three words. Counter. Down call which is our power. He'd kick out the play-side defensive end. Or Insert. He then knew to insert there and get that middle backer. He was really really good at it.' That was his part-time job. His main duty was flying off the edge. 'He couldn't be blocked,' Hirschfield said. 'He's special. Absolutely special.' That goes for on and off the field. 'Great kid, too,' he said. 'I talked to him outside of practice and the game. Polite. Spoke to him at the bowling alley event. Extremely humble. Very well-spoken young man. Very gracious. Just a very very nice kid.' Check out a few clips of Cedartown sophomore OLB CJ Washington in action tonight at the @GAEliteClassic at McEachern. @cedric_washing4 played on both sides of the ball in a night fit for a Gore-Tex photo shoot. pic.twitter.com/HXtNKu1l0i Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) December 23, 2019 Matthews was a receiver. So was Blaylock. Johnson was one of the best running backs in college football at Auburn back in 2017. 'Those were all offensive playmakers and we are talking about a defensive playmaker here,' Hirschfield said. 'But he's just so versatile. So much athleticism. He's got wide shoulders. His frame. He's long. He is going to carry weight and he has no fat on him.' 'He's definitely going to be a defensive player in college.' Washington showed physicality as an H-Back at that event. It was enough to convince Hirschfield that he could be an inside linebacker in college, too. 'The way he closes space down as a blocker I see that and think about a middle linebacker and filling a gap so quickly the other way around,' he said. 'I do think he can be that type of impact player there, too.' Washington could be pretty impressive at either LB spot at that next level. Especially as an ILB in a 3-4 front. 'Where ever you want to play me,' he said last September. 'I'll get it done.' CJ Washington on the potential fit at Georgia Washington was able to visit Georgia earlier this year. Dell McGee has been his primary recruiter up to this point. He had some unique feedback on the trip and shared that with DawgNation earlier this year. 'They were telling me how they look at me as not even a one-spot player,' he said. 'They see me playing all around for them.' 'They see I can do middle, outside linebacker and possibly play running back. They were also talking about the school and once they got into the school stuff I really started listening.' 'The way they were describing it is everyone learns differently. Basically. They were telling us that all players learn differently. Once you get there and open up to Georgia, you go to the academic counselors and you tell them how you learn things and study. Then they help identify the way you learn and show you the way you learn and the best way they are going to be able to help you from an academic support standpoint.' He did say that Georgia felt like home, but I get the sense he'd like to check out what those other great programs have to offer as well. That will have to take place when college visits open back up. He still has time to wait that out as a member of the class of 2022. LSU and Tennessee were both recent offers. Georgia and Tennessee have been hitting him up and recruiting him consistently during the pandemic shutdown of all on-campus visits. It will be interesting to see where this recruitment goes. There are elements to his game that will also bring to mind former LSU great and current NFL vet Kwon Alexander, too. Especially for a pair of eyes who have now seen both players up close in high school. Thankful to receive an offer from LSU TIGERS!! @CoachOsborneLSU @Mansell247 @ChadSimmons_ @LSUfootball @Coach_EdOrgeron #GoTigers pic.twitter.com/BSnzlOtuDr Cedric Washington (@cedric_washing4) June 10, 2020 Washington has all the potential in the world to be one of the special players in the nation for the 2022 class. While he doesn't have elite size or length for an OLB, his athleticism, explosion and strength will stand out as uncommon among his peers. Those traits are nice, but his mindset and work ethic are what will really set him apart. He has a mentality to just put his head down and go to work. There's not a sense of entitlement to his personality and approach to being a great football player in every facet of his game. 'God first, school after and then family,' he told DawgNation last year. 'The reason I said school right after God is that I know I am blessed with this talent. But without my grades what am I? I'm just thankful for this life I have.' Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. SENTELL'S INTEL (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) Elite pass rush target Dallas Turner has made his college decision Where does Georgia turn now at CB after Tony Grimes in the 2021 recruiting class? Class of 2022 ATH Malaki Starks could be a future class anchor at UGA 6-foot-7 sophomore OT Payton Kirkland shares why UGA is his dream school Andrew Thomas says to expect a lot of pancakes from Jamaree Salyer in 2020 Xavier Worthy: Can the speed demon WR be the next link in the California-UGA pipeline? Checking in on the four biggest Georgia football recruiting storylines at this time Why Malcolm 'The Jet' Johnson Jr. and his 10.38 speed is giving UGA a good look Georgia RB commit Lovasea' Carroll shuts down all talk of a Florida flip 5-star ATH James Williams changes things up a bit with his new top 2 HEDGES: Who's the best QB on the board in the class of 2022? MJ Morris: New Georgia coordinator Todd Monken has made him a priority WATCH: Georgia commit Chaz Chambliss shows he has a bright future at OLB The post CJ Washington: Electric 2022 LB prospect places Georgia in his top 3 appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Matt Luke is more than a replacement for Sam Pittman at Georgia, as Kirby Smart likely picked up on quickly. Smart has respected Luke from the onset, able to look him in the eye as an equal as they were both former SEC players who went on to earn business degrees and coach at their alma maters. Luke and Smart lettered at their respective schools from 1995-1998, and they were actually on the same field together. RELATED: Matt Luke brings high energy to shuffled Georgia O-Line In 1995, Ole Miss beat Georgia 18-10 in Oxford, and again in 1996 in Athens, 31-27. Georgia got payback in 1997 and 1998, winning in Oxford (21-14 in 1997) and again in (Athens 24-17). More recently at a UGA baseball game last spring, Smart and Luke were spotted spending time together. No doubt, they've built a friendship and level of trust that will ease the transition to new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. There aren't any signs Smart and Monken wouldn't or don't get along. After all, Smart hand-picked Monken for the job. RELATED: A closer look at new Georgia OC Todd Monken But it's no secret defensive-minded coaches like Smart don't always mix well with so-called offensive gurus like Monken, or for that matter, the departed Jim Chaney. Luke provides the perfect buffer in his role as associate head coach in addition to his offensive line coaching duties. Smart may not feel as inclined to make as many trips down the hallway to the offensive meeting room this season as he did with first-year coordinator James Coley last year. Luke's experience as a head coach provides him with an understanding of knowing what Smart wants and needs as a head coach. Luke was the head coach at Ole Miss for three seasons before being fired on Dec. 1 in the wake of a 4-8 record and 15-21 mark over the past three campaigns. Less than 48 hours after Sam Pittman was announced as Arkansas' new head coach on Dec. 8, Smart worked through agent Jimmy Sexton to hire Luke. Neal McCready, publisher for RebelGrove.com, the Ole Miss Rivals website, said UGA is getting a coach that fits well on Smart's staff. 'At the end of the day Matt Luke is a blue-collar, former walk-on offensive lineman who played for Tommy Tuberville and David Cutcliffe in an offense built around Deuce McAllister and Joe Gunn,' McCready said. 'Even when he had Eli Manning, Cutcliffe was about establish the run. (Luke) is blue-collar coach who is going to try to out-work everyone.' That was quickly apparent at the Sugar Bowl, where Luke's enthusiasm was on display from the jump, as he hurried around and pumped up the Bulldogs as they prepped for a record-setting Baylor pass rush. Georgia, notably, was without three starting offensive linemen with Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson electing to skip the bowl game, and Ben Cleveland academically ineligible per a 247Sports report. The Bulldogs held the Baylor defense in check, though two sacks were given up by since-departed offensive lineman Cade Mays, who was attempting to play left tackle. McCready says Luke's Ole Miss offensive line exhibited great continuity when he was serving as a position coach under Cutcliffe (from 2002-05 at Ole Miss, 2006-07 at Tennessee, 2008-11 at Duke), and then back at Ole Miss under Hugh Freeze (2012-16). 'He was always able to develop very cohesive units,' McCready said. 'The guys who played for Matt love him, trust him, believe in him, and think he's fair and genuine. 'He's exactly who he comes off to be. A salt of the earth guy in that field, he's a rarity.' If @CoachMattLuke is the next oline coach at @GeorgiaFootball they will be in good hands. He recruited me when he was at duke and was my favorite coach that I got to spend time with. Really pushing for this one! David Andrews (@dandrews61) December 10, 2019 DawgNation Matt Luke stories 5 questions about Matt Luke with Ole Miss beat writer How Georgia O-Line prospects feel about Matt Luke Why Matt Luke must make good impression on recruiting trail What Georgia is getting in new O-Line hire Matt Luke The post Why Georgia associate head coach Matt Luke a rarity,' per Ole Miss insider appeared first on DawgNation.