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Georgia Sports News

    Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet calls for a breakdown of where elite cornerback prospect Lejond Cavazos stands after trips to Ohio State and UGA last week. Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month.  Do you read that starter paragraph each day? Maybe you should. There are little things that are dropped in there from time to time. The catchphrase for Tuesday regarding IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) junior defensive back Lejond Cavazos has his future spot at cornerback. The recruiting world hasn’t caught up to that yet. Lejond Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) The 2020 prospect is rated as a 3-star safety and No. 302 overall by 247Sports. He’s not ranked on the 247Sports composite. That will change. Look for him to eventually rise to a top 5 prospect at cornerback. It will not shock me to see him listed with nation’s top 30 prospects for 2020. At least. Cavazos was good enough to start two games for IMG as a sophomore last season. I saw him work early last fall against Miami Central and made sure to tuck his name away. He also roomed with future 5-star receiver Jermaine Burton (now at Marietta) in the 2020 class, too. Let’s tick off the reasons why he is a rare player: He’s a two-sport athlete and an accomplished hurdler. He’s clocked a 7.93 in the 60-meter hurdles and a 13.80 at 110 meters. Those are special high school times for a prep hurdler, but he’s a football player first. Cavazos wasn’t healthy this year at Nike’s The Opening regional. He still posted a 4.56 laser time in the 40 with a 43-inch vertical and a power ball toss of 37 feet. His hamstring limited him to a 4.39 in the pro agility shuttle. He clocked a verified time of 4.03 seconds in that 5-10-5 at an earlier showing. It meant a Sparq rating of 115.08. That’s in the 99th percentile of all tested athletes. It was good for 46th overall this cycle. It rates as the fifth-best showing beyond the 2019 class. Can he play? The fact he started last year (two games) for IMG Academy and will start this year satisfies that curiosity. When he worked out for Georgia and Ohio State last week, both programs saw him as a cornerback first and a do-it-all defensive back second. Both staffs halted his workout early because they didn’t need to see any more. When the ranking services catch up as they usually do, he can chart as a top 15 overall prospect for 2020. He can contend for the nation’s top cornerback spot in 2020. Kirby Smart worked him out personally. DawgNation was told that Cavazos turned in a sub-4.5 time in the 40 at Ohio State. “Both schools view me as a corner,” Cavazos said. “They both really said they liked my height and my size and my quickness. They both want me to play corner, but they said if that doesn’t work out then I could definitely go to safety easily.” Cavazos would rather play cornerback. He feels that’s his best spot, but will play whatever his squad needs him to do at IMG. Urban Meyer and Smart both stayed close to Cavazos and his family during those visits. Lejond Cavazos on UGA and Ohio State being so close Cavazos has really liked Ohio State and Georgia of late. The Bulldogs turned his head with a visit this winter that was followed up by a G-Day visit. He has said the Bulldogs were in a top-school position.  He went to see Ohio State first last week. It left a distinct impression on him, but then came Georgia. Lejond Cavazos said the back-to-back trips to UGA and Ohio State last week have complicated his decision. (Cavazos Family/courtesy) “It definitely complicated it a lot,” Cavazos said. “Coming off that Ohio State visit, I was like ‘This is the school’ and this and that and then going to Georgia hearing like kind of the same stuff makes it really a hard decision. They are both really good schools so I don’t know what I am going to do now leading up to a commitment. “I thought I was going to commit like in a couple of weeks before I go back to school so it really just made it a lot harder on me.” What happens now? Will he now ride through his junior year and see which school stands out after Sept. 1? That is a key date. Schools can then contact him per NCAA rules. That will reflect where he stands on their boards. He also will watch them closely this fall. “That is probably what I am going to stick back to doing,” he said. What’s the best thing he likes now about Ohio State? Georgia? His answer was basically the same for both. “I would say probably their career plan program they have going on with their players,” Cavazos said. “They set you up to succeed for a life outside of football.” He liked that they didn’t focus on the football. “They both have a good plan as well for their life after football. Those are like the two main things for both schools that I like the most. They have a Plan A which is something else that is outside of football.” He could not discern any clear differences in terms of facilities. “I really like both setups for their facilities,” he said. “I can see myself succeeding at both schools. They are both really nice. They both have what I need.” That’s another brick to the argument the Bulldogs need to complete the west end zone and upgrade their weight room to stand out nationally there. Lejond Cavazos knows that Nolan Smith dude pretty well as teammates at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) It wasn’t specifically stated, but it sounds as if UGA and Ohio State are well out in front. Cavazos only planned to work out for Georgia and Ohio State this summer. “They are both definitely tied right now,” Cavazos said. “Everything that I heard from one school I also heard from the other school. They both said the same things and made the same points.” He plans to check out both schools this fall, and he did not rules out making a commitment. “I will go to each school’s big game this year,” Cavazos said in reference to both Georgia and Ohio State. How did the Georgia visit go for Lejond Cavazos?  Georgia thought very highly of Cavazos both before and after the workout. He left an impression on Smart. “He said I’m what they want,” he said. “Coach Smart told me that I checked off all the boxes.” Lejond Cavazos said he already has a very good relationship with first-year Georgia assistant coach Dan Lanning. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Georgia’s workout focused on speed and running drills. The Buckeyes wanted to see what his backpedal looked like. What was his favorite part of the UGA trip? “Just chilling with the coaches,” he said. “That was with both Coach Smart and Coach [Mel] Tucker. Just that feeling you get when you are around family. It felt like that.” Smart worked him out personally. “He has a great arm,” Cavazos said. It meant a quick hook. “After my second or maybe third one-on-one rep, Coach Smart said he saw what he needed to see and that I should stop,” Cavazos said. He likely had more in the tank. Cavazos is described by those who know him as a competitor. He was always trying to jump the highest on the trampoline or to be the fastest swimmer in the pool growing up. That instinct cannot be instilled. “When he was a kid and his [older] brothers would hit him, he wouldn’t come to complain to us,” C.J. Cavazos, his father, said. “He would hit his brothers back. One of his brothers is now 6 feet tall and 280 pounds and his big brother Josh would come upset to us and tell us, ‘Why does Lejond keep hitting me’ and ‘Can you tell him to quit hitting me’ with that. “I’d tell him, ‘Lejond is the little kid, and you are the big kid, and you are telling me to get him to stop hitting you’ There was something wrong with that picture. … Lejond has always been that kind of stubborn and hard kid. When you are the youngest of six you are either going to be that or get run over.” No matter how well he tests or drills, that attitude will be what separates him from his peers in football. C.J. Cavazos has a high opinion of the Bulldogs. “Georgia is a phenomenal program and has evolved into a national power,” he said. “Georgia’s academics are second to none. Their support system to help their players to graduate is something I like a lot and their fan base is crazy. We love it. Their spring game was just a taste of what it is.” “We want him to go to a program that is a very passionate program like Georgia who cares about their players.” How did the Ohio State visit go for Lejond Cavazos?  The Buckeyes made sure to name drop. “They definitely liked my feet,” Cavazos said. “They were comparing me to a lot of their corners from past years saying I was a lot like so-and-so and they said I could be like this guy and that guy. Ohio State told me about my potential with where I’m already for this age. They brought up where I am right now and then I will have the development of two more seasons of high school. They said that where I am at right now, that I could be really good when I go off to college.” Lejond Cavazos is a starting safety at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) (Key fact: Ohio State has had five defensive backs selected in the first round of the NFL draft over the past three years.) Meyer made an impression when he spoke to Cavazos after a drill. “He stopped me after my 1-on-1s and just told me that I was a freak athlete,” Cavazos said. The IMG junior still wasn’t fully healthy at either workout. But he was still able to clock a 4.4 showing in the 40 in Columbus. “I still have some resistance when I run,” he said. “I can be a lot better.” His favorite part of the Ohio State trip was the feedback he got from the players about what it is like to be part of the  Buckeyes. He said he spent more time with Meyer than Smart. “It wasn’t a lot more,” Cavazos said. “They were pretty much with me the whole time along both visits to each school.” The X-factor in the recruiting of Lejond Cavazos Cavazos will have a tough eventual choice: Buckeyes or Bulldogs. But he seems to be as well-equipped as a prospect can possibly be to sift through a tough decision. That’s because of personal and professional relationships established by his father. C.J. Cavazos can count two NFL head coaches in his inner circle. They help the family determine what is real, what is fake and what is necessary when it comes to the next steps for Lejond. Lejond Cavazos also has great ability in track as a hurdler. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Cavazos speaks frequently with Todd Bowles and Anthony Lynn. Bowles is the head coach of the New York Jets. Lynn leads the San Diego Chargers. Bowles speaks very highly of both Mel Tucker at Georgia and Greg Schiano of Ohio State. The son listens to the father here. He also advises recruits in a professional capacity. His father, like his son, is also an engaging communicator. He is honest. His straightforward style was able to recruit his wife, Melba, into naming their son “Lejond.” It took him about nine months of recruiting, but he was finally able to sway here. The full story on that naming right is a topic for another blog, but it shows something about this family. Steering his son through this choice will be something akin to his 779th rodeo. “He doesn’t think I’m listening to him a lot of times but I do,” Lejond Cavazos said. “I just don’t show it enough but what he says really helps me. His two best friends are head coaches in the NFL. They give feedback on what I do and what I have to work on. It really helps me in terms of bettering myself.” Cavazos is a very connected recruit. There are the many relationships he can draw on such as UGA commit Nolan Smith and Burton from their times at IMG Academy. Trey Sanders, another IMG 5-star, told DawgNation wherever he goes he will bring Cavazos along. Tony Brown, the former track and football star, was a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect in 2014. That is another family friend. Taron Vincent, the former 5-star tackle at IMG Academy, is also trying to reel him to Ohio State. His father was also a high school coach at one time at Carter High in Dallas. That’s where he met a young Urban Meyer when he was just a young assistant on the recruiting trail. “My father is a great resource,” Cavazos said. “He’s not going to tell me where to go. He knows that this is my decision and he’s just told me that he knows that both of these schools [Georgia and Ohio State] are very good options.” What will happen when his son tells him he is ready to make a commitment? That’s the only time he will put the proverbial foot down. This is what father says he’d tell his son. “I’d be like, ‘OK, today is Friday. You’re telling me this is what you want to do. You have seven days to sleep on it. If you wake up next Friday in the morning and you come to tell me this is still your school, that’s when you call that school and tell them you’re ready to commit.’ We’re done then. But we’re not going to do anything on a knee-jerk reaction. We’re going to pray about it and sleep on it every day for a week.” When that is vetted, there will be no games. “I will be totally honest with these coaches,” C.J. Cavazos said. “The only way to do this is the right way. Be honest. Not waste their time. Time is money for these coaches. If you waste their time, you waste their money. They have other kids they can go and get.” The Cavazos family will respect the fact these recruiters are professionals. “I’ve told Urban Meyer that when he commits, we are done,” his father said. “I’ve told Lejond this. We are not going anywhere else once he commits. So he’s not ready to do that. I don’t have a timeline. It is not about me or his mom or his family. It is whenever he is ready.” Fast and furious things to keep in mind Check out the official visit recap from Chris Kirschner of SEC Country regarding 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean. Dean told Kirschner that Alabama “did everything it needed to do” on that visit. It sounds as if  the Tide made a favorable impression, but not enough for them to race out to the lead after his first official visit. It was very Smart of the Bulldogs to get Dean on campus for a rigorous workout prior to that Alabama visit. DawgNation readers should be well-informed on the name Bryan Bresee by now . He just picked up a rash of Crystal Ball picks to Ohio State from writers who cover that program over the last month. That’s something to monitor. The nation’s top prospect for 2020 should cut his options down to a smaller group this summer, but I don’t expect him to make a public decision anytime soon. He will be competing at The Opening Finals in Texas later this month. I have gotten a lot of questions of late about the defensive tackle spot for the Bulldogs and where the Bulldogs will go after the decision made Monday by C.J. Clark to stay home and play for North Carolina State. The short answer is that it will lead to a greater emphasis placed on the following names: Travon Walker, Derick “Rambo” Hunter and Quashon Fuller. Fuller told me recently he is still committed to Florida State but that all the schools within his top 5 are “basically neck and neck” at this point. We’ll go into deeper detail with the conversation later on this week. The 6-foot-4, 272-pound strongside defensive end could play all up and down the line at UGA. Georgia continues to make up ground here after two recent back-to-back visits. Here’s another popular question: What’s going on with Tray Scott on the recruiting trail? The most straightforward answer I can give here is what I hear from sources. Scott is a genuine person on the recruiting trail. No sizzle. He will keep it real. It seems like that approach will really work for those who value that style. But he is not slick and will not give off that professional sales approach. It will not work for everyone, but it will matter a great deal to those who value knowing exactly where they stand in a deep-rooted recruiting relationship. Georgia continues to make up ground on another key defensive line target. That prospect is currently committed to another SEC school. We will tackle that one later this week, too. Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap. The post DB Lejond Cavazos has UGA, Ohio State in a dead heat appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - As the only general manager holding three first-round picks in Thursday night's NBA draft, including No. 3 overall, Atlanta's Travis Schlenk has been a popular target for trade talk. Overall, the Hawks have four picks in the top 34. That's more than enough depth to attract interest, but the rebuilding Hawks are even more attractive trade targets because they also have about $20 million in salary cap space. That creates more attractive options for a team needing to unload a contract in a trade. Schlenk says he is answering every call and considering all options - including the possibility of trading up or down from the No. 3 spot. It's an exciting time for Schlenk, who never held such a high draft pick in his previous job as assistant GM with the Golden State Warriors. 'This is the highest pick that I've been a part of,' Schlenk said last week. 'At Golden State, the highest pick we had was six. So it's exciting. Having the four picks, along with the third pick, we get a lot of phone calls, which is exciting as well, and we're going to go through all the options that are presented to us and make the best decision, hopefully.' He says he's comfortable with the idea of opening the 2018-19 season with four rookies. Schlenk is planning the Hawks' future with a new coach. Former Philadelphia assistant Lloyd Pierce was hired on May 11 to replace Mike Budenholzer, now the Bucks coach. Schlenk might use his first pick to select a forward-center to pair with 2017-18 rookie John Collins. Among players who could be available are Duke's Marvin Bagley III , Michigan State's Jaren Jackson and Mo Bamba of Texas. Guards Luka Doncic of Slovenia, Trae Young of Oklahoma and forward Michael Porter of Missouri could be alternatives for Schlenk. Pierce stressed defense in his first news conference in Atlanta. Schlenk said it's important to land players with balanced offensive and defensive skills. 'Obviously when you look at the best teams in the league, the majority of the time they're good defensive teams,' Schlenk said. 'But at the end of the day, if you're not scoring 100 points you're probably not winning, so we're going to look for guys that are two-way players, who can play defensively, but also we've got to be able to score the ball on the other end.' Bagley qualifies as that two-way talent, but he could be drafted at the No. 2 spot by Sacramento. 'I put a lot of work into this and I think I'm the best player in the draft,' Bagley said after his draft workout in Atlanta last week. 'I mean that in the most humble way possible, not to be cocky.' Phoenix is projected to select Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the top pick. Jackson is an accomplished shot blocker with less polish on the offensive end. He is regarded by many to have the potential shooting skills to develop into a well-rounded NBA big man. With point guard Dennis Schroder's future in Atlanta uncertain, the Hawks can look for talent at any position. Their wealth of picks could make it easier to take a chance on Doncic, who has the skills to play multiple positions even though his ability to create space in the NBA has been questioned by some critics. 'I've maintained all along, and I honestly believe this, we're going to take the best player,' Schlenk said. 'We're in a situation where we're looking to add the most talent we can, and we're going to get a good player at the third pick.' The No. 3 spot is the Hawks' highest since 2007, when they selected Al Horford at No. 3. Atlanta also has the No. 19 and No. 30 picks in the first round and No. 34 early in the second round. Those selections give Schlenk a wealth of options, including a deal for a higher pick next year. Schlenk said he has considered if the possibility to 'trade back to collect more assets would be advantageous.' ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • 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 cast of DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss UGA coach Kirby Smart’s quest to keep the Bulldogs on top of the SEC. On episode No. 724 (June 19, 2018) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about why some fans are getting restless about Georgia recruiting. Georgia football podcast: Some fans getting restless about UGA recruiting Beginning of the show: Georgia saw a couple recruiting targets make commitments to other schools Monday leaving some UGA fans wondering how the Bulldogs’ current recruiting momentum stacks up to some of its rivals. UGA fans have also recently had a strong reaction to some comments from 5-star wide receiver — and UGA commit — Jadon Haselwood. I’ll address those subjects on today’s show. 11-minute mark: DawgNation’s Chip Towers shares a compelling reason why UGA’s schedule might be tougher than some experts think. I’ll talk about Chip’s reasoning and how UGA should respond. 15-minute mark: DawgNation’s recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… 4-star defensive tackle CJ Clark’s NC Sate commitment 4-star defensive end Justin Eboigbe’s Alabama commitment Reaction to 4-star offensive tackle Xavier Truss’ UGA commitment An evaluation of UGA’s 2019 quarterback commit, John Rhym Plumlee Thoughts on 5-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood’s candid comments An assessment of 5-star linebacker Nakobe Dean’s recruitment after his Alabama official visit And an update on UGA’s quarterback recruiting efforts 40-minute mark: I take a look at what ESPN ranked as the top concerns for the SEC teams in its preseason top 25. 45-minute mark: I discuss the latest Dawg Day Q&A. End of show: I update the Gator Hater Countdown. For the Monday (June 18) show, click here. For the video version of the Tuesday show, click here. For older episodes of DawgNation Daily, click here. The post Georgia football podcast: Some fans getting restless about UGA recruiting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Braves continue to dominate the National League All-Star voting. The leading vote-getter among NL outfielders is now Nick Markakis. The Braves outfielder has 1,173,653 votes and surpassed the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (1,002,696) in the latest voting update released by Major League Baseball on Monday. Markakis was third among outfielders in the initial release of balloting results. The 34-year old has never made the All-Star team in is 13-year career. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman continues to be the overall top vote-getter and the leader among first basemen with 1,433,140 votes. Teammate second baseman Ozzie Albies continues to lead all second basemen with 915,736 votes. Freeman holds a substantial lead among first baseman. He leads the Cubs Anthony Rizzo (566,382). Albies leads the Cubs’ Javier Báez (767,417) and the Reds’ Scooter Gennett (743,979). The Giants’ Brandon Crawford (1,120,031) is the leader at shortstop ahead of second-place Dansby Swanson (568,400) of the Braves. The Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (1,124,563) is the leader at third base and the Giants’ Buster Posey (686,253) is the leader at catcher. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp (925,697) is third among NL outfielders. Several other Braves are among the leaders. Kurt Suzuki is third among catchers with 557,692 votes. Johan Camargo is third among third basemen with 395,389 votes. Among outfielders, Ronald Acuna is fifth with 617,151 votes and Ender Inciarte is sixth with 528,943 votes. All-Star voting ends July 5 for the game to be played July 17 in Washington. A third voting update will come June 25.  
  • Welcome to a feature on DawgNation where our writers answer (or try to answer) the best questions submitted by Georgia fans. If you’d like to submit a question, please email us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. Or you can tweet us here or here. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday. Previous QODs can be found on our question of the day archives page . What is draft projection for Yante? Sure did hate seeing him leave.  Thank you, John Vaughn, Newnan The fact that your question was submitted using only his first name speaks volumes about how Yante Maten is thought of within the Dawg Nation. He achieved one-name status at UGA, like Herschel or Dominique. It was well-earned as Maten was named 2018 SEC Player of the Year, joining Dominique Wilkins (1981) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2013) as the third Georgia player to earn the honor. He left the Bulldogs as Georgia’s first three-time All-SEC honoree in more than 25 years and just the sixth in program history. So he did some incredible work at UGA, and it was recognized locally and regionally. Nationally, however, Maten is not as well known. Nonetheless, he certainly has generated a lot of interest from the NBA. That’s not to say he is in line to become a lottery pick come Thursday at the Barclays Center in New York; he definitely won’t be in that group. But there has, and continues to be, considerable intrigue surrounding Georgia’s star power forward. 'I love Atlanta. I went to the University of Georgia. So…this is my backyard.' – @UGABasketball's @YoungMoney__11 pic.twitter.com/GWVxeZ0V5B — Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 8, 2018 To answer your question, I reached out to Austin Walton, Maten’s Atlanta-based sports agent. Walton told me that Maten has been invited to work out for 14 NBA teams. Among them, he worked out for the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Lakers last week. Maten also worked out for 21 teams at his pro day. And that’s on top of his appearance at the NBA combine and at the all the teams that saw him at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. In summary, every NBA team has gotten a good long look at Maten. “He’s had a lot of exposure,” Walton said. “We had to turn down some things just because we haven’t had enough time. He was seen by every team at least three times and 14 of them much more than that. High exposure, for sure.” And apparently they like what they’re seeing. Maten certainly did his part. Maten led all prospects at the combine with 18 reps of 185 pounds in the bench press. He also had the No. 2 time among big men in the three-quarter sprint and finished in the top 3 in shuttle and lane agility drills. Meanwhile, he measured at 6-foot-8½ and 246 pounds with a 7-1 wingspan and only 8 percent body fat. “He tested well,” Walton said. “He showed them he’s agile enough to play with guards and forwards and strong enough and long enough to play some 4 and maybe small-ball 5. His numbers bear that out. He’s one of the most polished offensive players in the draft. The biggest thing is he can bring that type of effort defensively.” Looking at the many mock drafts that are out there, most are projecting Maten as a second-round selection. Walton guesses his client might go “40 to 60.” “There’s probably some possibility he goes undrafted,” Walton said. “But he’ll sign an NBA contract no matter what, whether he’s drafted or not.” Maten, who hails from Pontiac, Mich., finished his career ranked all over the Georgia record book: No. 2 in points (1,886), No. 4 in rebounds (889), No. 3 in blocks (198), No. 4 in free throws made (518), No. 4 in free throws attempted (686), No. 5 in field goals attempted (1345), No. 6 in field goals made (655), No. 13 in free throw percentage (.755) and No. 15 in field goal percentage (.483). If he is drafted, Maten will become only the fourth Georgia player since 2011 to do so. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie were each second-round picks in 2011 and Caldwell-Pope was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 draft, by the Detroit Pistons. KCP, now with the Lakers, is the only Bulldog currently playing in the NBA. Which is not to say there’s not a lot of Bulldogs playing pro ball. Leslie is playing in Paris, J.J. Frazier played in France and Italy last season, Charles Mann is balling in Luxembourg, Gerald Robinson is in Monaco and Thompkins just won the European championship with Real Madrid in Spain. But most folks are betting that Maten will be able to make a living in the NBA, and maybe for a while. “He’s a very skilled offensive player, one of the most polished post scorers, or mid-post scorers, out there,” Walton said. “His size isn’t traditional, but the way the NBA is going where you’re playing a little bit of position-less basketball, he has a 7-1 wingspan and is strong enough to play inside and shoots the ball well from anywhere on the floor. A lot of teams like him.” Worth tuning into the draft, for sure. Thanks for the query, John. Be sure to send another one our way soon. Have a question for DawgNation reporters Chip Towers and Jeff Sentell? Email us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. The post What are the NBA draft projections for Georgia’s Yante Maten? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Knowshon Moreno. That’s the name that pops in my mind when I contemplate this new NCAA redshirt rule. I was offline and otherwise occupied last week when news initially broke that the NCAA had passed the rule. Since then, I’ve had a chance to read up on it and learn a little more. Essentially, it gives freshmen four games to play without losing the option of redshirting and thus still having another four years of eligibility for competition. What are my thoughts on it? Mainly, wow. I’m not at all surprised the NCAA adopted this rule or the one regarding transfers. The movement to provide student-athletes with more freedoms and liberties in general has intensified considerably in recent years and has been a long time in coming, frankly. But the extent to which coaches can utilize this new redshirt rule to the team’s advantage — to effectively try out first-year players, or deploy them at opportune times — surprised me. Of course, the question I’ve heard more than any other since the new rule was adopted is what kind of effect will this have at Georgia? Where it could be particularly useful for the Bulldogs is getting an early look at some of these elite signees at positions where there otherwise doesn’t appear much room for impact. And that’s where it takes me back to Moreno’s freshman year. Moreno was famously — or infamously, I should say — redshirted his freshman year at Georgia, even though it eventually became clear he was at least as good and probably better than most of the running backs that were being utilized that season. Making it worse was, after Moreno proved himself to be one of the most special talents in the country in  his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons with the Bulldogs, he decided to turn pro. That was quite understandable and justifiable considering he was the first running back taken and 12th pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Again, the spirit of this rule is not for the coaches to be able to test out the young talent that they have, necessarily. But this new legislation provides them with more flexibility to insert a player in a game later in the season. That would have been useful for Moreno, who initially was slow in mastering Georgia’s offense in preseason camp and was buried behind three very good tailbacks at the time: Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware. That explains why there was no mention of Moreno in the “Fall Outlook” portion of Georgia’s 2006 Media Guide. Under the running backs section, it said the position “figures to be a strength for the Bulldogs” and mentioned that the top-3 rushers from the previous year returned in Brown, Ware and Lumpkin, respectively. There was a mention of a junior walk-on named Jason Johnson and fullbacks Brannan Southerland and Des Williams in the preview, but none of Moreno. It’s also important to recall that while Moreno was a big-deal recruit from New Jersey, he wasn’t as big of a deal as a lot of the backs we’ve seen the Bulldogs ink lately. He was ranked the nation’s No. 10 back by Rivals (73rd player overall) and No. 9 by Scout. Georgia’s Zamir White is the consensus No. 1 back in the 2018 class and James Cook is considered the No 3 “all-purpose back” in America and No. 41 overall by 247Sports. So it wasn’t until the Bulldogs got well into the season that they realized what they had in Moreno. In preseason camp, he was taking reps behind the three guys ahead of him. It was actually in scout-team work against the No. 1 defense that Moreno began to distinguish himself. It’s in that role where we got the first reports of Moreno hurdling a defender. That’s something we wouldn’t witness in a game until two years later. And there was a perfect opportunity to execute a make-good of sorts on Moreno. Brown, who ended up being the starter on the 2006 team, suffered an ACL injury against Vanderbilt in the seventh game of the season.Georgia still had Lumpkin and Ware to turn to at that point. But imagine if the Bulldogs would’ve unleashed Moreno at that point. As it was, they lost that game and close games to No. 8 Florida (21-14) and Kentucky (24-20) in subsequent weeks. We know now that there’s no doubt Moreno could’ve made a difference. Coach Mark Richt still refers to not playing Moreno that season as one of the greatest regrets of his career. In Richt’s defense, he didn’t want to give away a whole year of eligibility on Moreno to play what at the outset would’ve looked like a backup role. Had this new rule been in place, that wouldn’t have been a concern. Richt could’ve deployed Moreno for as many as four games. If he wasn’t making an impact, he could’ve sent him to the sidelines. We know now that wouldn’t have happened. Now, coaches have strategies they can employ when it comes to utilizing freshmen. They can plan to give them extensive work against non-FBS opponents, such as Georgia has in Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State in two of the season’s first three weeks. Or, if there are late developing players or depth issues that materialize as the result of injuries or other attrition late in the year, there will be no reason for hesitancy in turning loose one of the Bulldogs’ previously non-utilized players. It opens new possibilities when it comes to roster management. It’s like having a practice squad from which to execute a call-up whenever the need arises. Only, in Georgia’s case, there’s a good chance there’s a blue-chip prospect waiting in the wings. The flip side of that, for coaches and teams at least, is a player can more readily transfer to another program if he doesn’t like the way he has been utilized. And schools can no longer restrict a player’s options in that regard. That’s certainly a fair exchange, I’d say. If that designation happens to be a major rival that competes in the same division of the same conference, so be it. I understand coaches’ concerns that rampant transferring at the first sign of adversity or discontent could turn college football into the wild, wild west every offseason. But it has been that way in basketball for a while and the system hasn’t collapsed. No, the redshirt rule in particular seems like a win-win on both the side of the student-athlete and of the institution. It hasn’t been often that we’ve been able to say that about any new NCAA legislation. Georgia had 16 true freshmen take the field last season, but only one who could’ve benefited from this rule. William Poole, a defensive back, played sparingly in the Bulldogs’ first three games of the year, then not again until the Kentucky game in Week 13. Georgia also played him against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, but probably wouldn’t have had a full year of eligibility been the cost. As it was, the Bulldogs had already burned it. That’s the difference now. At four games coaches will have to decide whether it’s worthwhile to keep utilizing a player. Conversely, there’s nothing holding back Georgia or any team from giving a freshman a look. Meanwhile, you have to wonder if there might be a Moreno or somebody like him at another position on Georgia’s roster this season. This almost always is the case. The post Imagine if redshirt rule had been in place for Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno in 2006 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 cast of DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss UGA coach Kirby Smart’s quest to keep the Bulldogs on top of the SEC. On episode No. 723 (June 18, 2018) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about UGA’s two commitments from the weekend. Georgia football podcast: Bigger is apparently better for Kirby Smart’s UGA Beginning of the show: Georgia added two new members to its 2019 class over the weekend with quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and 4-star offensive lineman Xavier Truss — who is listed at 6 feet, seven inches and 350 lbs. I’ll talk on today’s show about why Truss’ UGA pledge is seemingly another example of Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s commitment to extra-large offensive linemen. 10-minute mark: Replacing departed linebackers is a major concern for UGA according to a recent ESPN article. I’ll share audio of how former Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith feels about the candidates to step into his position. 15-minute mark: DawgNation’s Chip Towers joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… Chip’s thoughts on the new-look UGA linebacking corp Depth issues for the UGA secondary An early look at why UGA might have some extra motivation vs. Georgia Tech Fan expectations for the upcoming season And reaction to new NCAA rules governing redshirts and transfers 30-minute mark: I take a look at some other SEC headlines including some apparent criticism from former LSU coach Les Miles regarding current Tigers coach Ed Orgeron, some well wishes to new LSU quarterback Joe Burrow from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, a comment from an NFL wide receiver that new Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley probably won’t like, and another suggested SEC schedule change. 35-minute mark: I unveil the latest Dawg Day Q&A. End of show: I update the Gator Hater Countdown. For the Friday (June 15) show, click here. For the video version of the Monday show, click here. For older episodes of DawgNation Daily, click here. The post Georgia football podcast: Bigger is apparently better for Kirby Smart’s UGA appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least four days a week. Arik Gilbert, a potential cornerstone target for the Bulldogs in the 2020 class, is the featured subject for today. He has clear 5-star potential at tight end.  Arik Gilbert has the size and athleticism to do just about anything he wants on Saturdays. Given his immense size and stature, there will always be the notion to stick him on the defensive line or on the edge to see all the possible Nkemdiche-like things he could do. But that is not what the 6-foot-6, 248-pound junior wants to do. It now also seems like that side of the ball is no longer where his highest ceiling might be at. Gilbert continues to flash the big plays on tape that show he is a go-to athlete in the passing game nobody will have an answer for. Arik Gilbert ranks as the nation’s No. 1 ATH prospect for 2020 for 247Sports. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) He took over the Corky Kell 7-on-7 event on Friday at Roswell Park. His Marietta High squad saw the wheels of its passing game fall off prior to the end of pool play. Ramel Keyton, the 4-star Tennessee WR pledge, could not continue. Jermaine Burton, the head-turning future 5-star, also overworked his quad and watched the tournament in a pair of stylish red flip-flops. It didn’t matter. Gilbert was on duty on a day when his guys wore facial expressions that looked as if they were mimicking a slab of bacon on a skillet. In that offense, the 6-foot-6 rising junior will be a go-to target and a No. 1 receiver whenever 4-star QB Harrison Bailey calls his number. “Arik is a monster,” Bailey said. “That is all that needs to be said. His ability to run past defenders and high point the ball is going to make him great in college.” But Gilbert flashed a warrior’s mentality at the event. That’s something that can’t be found on a highlight reel or a prospect ranking. “I’m so tired I can’t even think right now,” Gilbert said early on in the championship game against North Gwinnett. He said that, but then made a play that had two game officials shaking their heads exactly three plays later. That was shortly before he caught a game-extending touchdown in triple coverage which set up the two-point conversion which he also caught to force overtime. Harrison Bailey to Arik Gilbert into triple coverage and Marietta is back within 2! pic.twitter.com/fXbduqNmJQ — Craig Sager II (@CraigSagerJr) June 15, 2018 Down 2 elite WRs. Down 8. @HBailey_05 finds @arik_gilbert for his umpteenth TD of Corky Kell 7v7. Double or triple coverage? Not at 77 inches plus his reach. Gilbert then caught a fade for the conversion to force OT. @MHS_FBRecruits took the overall title. pic.twitter.com/zxq5TxQR3R — Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) June 16, 2018 Marietta would win the Corky Kell 7-on-7 title. Bailey estimated Gilbert might have caught at least 15 touchdowns along the 11 hours of play. “He probably ran about 800 miles today,” Bailey said. “All of them were either as fast as he could at that moment or he gave it his very best to work to get past fresher guys to get open and then to go get the ball.” Gilbert, as noted in that picture above, wore a pair of UGA gloves at the event. They served him well. Why did he make that wardrobe decision? “I just had a good feeling about wearing the Georgia gloves today,” Gilbert said. “I liked the grip on them, too.” Is it more than just gloves with Arik Gilbert and UGA?  In case you missed it, the Bulldogs picked up a pair of 2019 commits over the weekend. Mississippi QB John Rhys Plumlee committed to UGA on Friday night . That’s at least one of the necessary QB signees the program needs to add a much-needed scholarship arm to that specific depth chart. Arik Gilbert continues to bring up the fact that UGA was his first offer and that the program does make him a priority for its 2020 class. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Sam Pittman also got one of his guys in Rhode Island 4-star OT Xavier Truss. Truss, the nation’s No. 15 tackle for 2019 on the 247Sports composite, committed to UGA over the weekend . The 6-foot-7.5, 350-pound senior rates as the top player in Rhode Island this fall. He’s the first of at least two tackles the Bulldogs need to add for 2019. Those two additions to the board pushed UGA past South Carolina to fifth overall on the 247Sports team composite standings for 2019. Gilbert would have to be seen as a potential cornerstone recruit for 2020. He just has that much ability and potential grafted onto that big 6-foot-6 frame. He currently ranks as the nation’s No. 11 overall prospect for 2020 for 247Sports. “I’m probably a tight end,” Gilbert said. “That’s because I feel the most comfortable there and I like scoring.” Simply put, he’s a 5-star recruit that is just waiting on that designation to arrive. “I was trying to go get it,” Gilbert said of that catch in triple coverage. “Just was trying to give all I had for a ball that could have been our last play. I saw it in the air. Had to go get it.” His thoughts on Georgia remain constant. This sounds like a process that doesn’t need a lot of evolution and maturity when it comes to the Bulldogs. His feelings sound the same as they did in previous interviews. My feeling is that he’s reached a point where he is very comfortable with the program. Arik Gilbert sketched out a potential timeline that would involve a spring trim to his top schools and a decision sometime prior to his senior year in 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) “It is a good school, ” Gilbert said. “I really like it. That was my first offer and I know I always say that. But I was really impressed by how they saw me first and felt strongly enough about me to offer first and all that.” The Bulldogs continue to work him hard. “The relationship has gotten a lot stronger,” Gilbert said. “I have a really good relationship with those coaches. I know all of them really well.” He said that the relationships he has with the coaches on that staff would be the biggest thing he likes about the Bulldogs. Gilbert does plan to enroll early. The expected timeline is for him to cut down his options to a few core schools next spring and then make his decision sometime prior to the 2019 season. He was clearly exhausted after the event on Friday, but he said Clemson, Penn State, Southern California and Tennessee were the other schools on his mind at this time. “That’s all I can think of right now,” he said. A few more quick-hitters for the day North Carolina DT target C.J. Clark will release his college decision at 2 PM today through Twitter. Georgia, North Carolina and North Carolina State are his top choices. There has been a lot of buzz and indecision regarding this one across various published reports. I simply don’t see 4-star junior QB Harrison Bailey strongly considering Georgia going forward. Bailey told me on Friday that the Bulldogs aren’t really recruiting him at this time. That’s a clear sign that he will wind up elsewhere as Bailey hopes to make his college commitment sometime during his junior year if the Devils are having a strong season. He said that the Bulldogs have been telling him that they were going to wait on securing their 2019 commitments under center before working on their top 2020 targets. He’s a special talent. Especially with the way he thinks back in the pocket. He’s really sharp between the ears and has very good field awareness to go along with the arm. Marietta coach Richard Morgan called Bailey “the best quarterback in America” after Marietta won the Corky Kell 7-on-7 on Friday. I wouldn’t expect to see Harrison Bailey strongly consider UGA going forward in the class of 2020. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Georgia has not prioritized Bailey and he’s been impressed with several recent visits of late. He told me that he really enjoyed recent visits to Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State. The way he broke it down, he made it seem like that trip to Ann Arbor was one of the best college visits he has taken so far up to this point. Bailey is very good. He was able to move the Marietta offense down the field at will and also while taking deep shots, too. At the end of the day, he had guys who had never played receiver before snatching big passes, including the game-winning touchdown. Great quarterbacks are able to do that even while down three of their best receivers. Bailey does plan to narrow his choice down soon. But he will do so privately. “I am going to keep it private to myself,” he said. “Just because I feel it is attention getting to release something on Twitter. I am going to take a couple more visits and then I will see from there where I am going to go to school.” He plans on making his choice at some time during his junior year. “If we are winning and we are rolling, that’s when I plan on making it. But if we are struggling, then I will focus more this fall on my team and our season and not my college decision.” North Gwinnett cornerback Quinton Newsome continues to keep UGA among his top options. He still feels that there is a good fit there. He got the chance to camp at UGA recently for the 7-on-7 event. That’s why no alarms should go off just yet when he starts naming his official visits. Newsome told me that he plans to start off with visits to Alabama and Auburn and he’s not currently considering the Bulldogs for one of those just yet. He currently rates as a 3-star recruit and as the nation’s No. 49 safety on the 247Sports composite rating. Newsome’s teammate has also made some news on Monday. North Gwinnett cornerback Warren Burrell has eliminated several schools from consideration. That will include Georgia. Chad Simmons of Rivals.com has the full breakdown of his reasoning behind that move and the schools in the mix going forward.   Someone will get a very good cornerback out of the state of Georgia here. The 3-star ranks as the nation’s No. 43 cornerback for 2019 on the composite. What he lacks in size and body mass, he more than compensates for it with his technique and tenacity. Burrell can play the game at any level. The highest level. Yet I realize that a lot of evaluations get caught up in his 6-foot- frame and 175 pounds. He told me that the Bulldogs were basically just recruiting him hard enough to keep the seat warm. “I just didn’t get a lot of communication with those coaches as much as I did with the others,” Burrell said. “Of course, I did hear from them but [those] four schools clearly showed me that they want me in their program.” Makiya Tongue official visit recap Louisiana product Makiya Tongue visited UGA over the weekend on an official. The 4-star prospect rates as the nation’s No. 16 ATH on the 247Sports composite rankings for 2019. The University Lab (Baton Rouge, La.) senior hopes to be a receiver on Saturday, but there is some indecision about whether or not he is a safety. Tongue had zero indecision about whether or not he enjoyed that trip to UGA over the weekend. It was the sort of visit that sparked at least a couple of 247Sports “Crystal Ball” predictions to UGA after the trip. Louisiana sports writer Jerit Roser caught up with Tongue at the Pylon 7-on-7 Nationals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday for a trip recap. What are the big takeaways from that conversation? He loved the visit and really connected with the coaching staff. “They really understand the players,” he said. Athens remains undefeated as a college town on a visit weekend He was impressed with the overall program and the winning tradition at UGA Georgia likes him as a receiver. Cortez Hankton, the first-year receivers coach for the Bulldogs, also recruits Louisiana. Hankton, a New Orleans native, should do well in that state going forward. #UHigh star Makiya Tongue ( @makiyatongue) visited #UGA before heading to this weekend’s tournament. Loves the Bulldogs’ program, coaches, facilities & offense. Looking to trim his Top 10 down further after a couple more visits. #Bama #Clemson #AU #Texas #Utah #HailState #UF pic.twitter.com/Wozvq9ZJhn — Jerit Roser (@JeritRoser) June 17, 2018 Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap. The post Nation’s No. 1 ATH Arik Gilbert continues to appreciate UGA as his first offer appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Who says there’s an offseason for UGA football? The season opener is 75 days away, but there was a buzz on social media last week about the back of the new scoreboard at Sanford Stadium.  That’s right, the back of the scoreboard.  Checked out the new scoreboard today! What do you think? pic.twitter.com/GL4uKj4UQJ — Abby Jessen (@abbyjessen) June 14, 2018 The updated design received mixed reviews from fans on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/pkHBqRbyuQ — Kerbzzz (@KerbieThebaud) June 14, 2018 Sanford’s new scoreboard looks like DeKalb County Jail to me— Groovy B. (@_SpaceshipCoupe) June 14, 2018 Wow I love the new scoreboard at Sanford Stadium pic.twitter.com/rFW9DIj6DS — Michael (@AcunaDingers) June 15, 2018 there better be some fireworks that pop out of it bc this scoreboard is blander than wheat toast https://t.co/9BCiZnPK0g — The Black Sheep UGA (@blacksheep_uga) June 14, 2018 The rear of Sanford Stadium’s scoreboard:— Brandon Sudge (@brandonsudge) June 15, 2018 This article was written by Tess DeMeyer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Georgia Sports News

  • Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet calls for a breakdown of where elite cornerback prospect Lejond Cavazos stands after trips to Ohio State and UGA last week. Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month.  Do you read that starter paragraph each day? Maybe you should. There are little things that are dropped in there from time to time. The catchphrase for Tuesday regarding IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) junior defensive back Lejond Cavazos has his future spot at cornerback. The recruiting world hasn’t caught up to that yet. Lejond Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) The 2020 prospect is rated as a 3-star safety and No. 302 overall by 247Sports. He’s not ranked on the 247Sports composite. That will change. Look for him to eventually rise to a top 5 prospect at cornerback. It will not shock me to see him listed with nation’s top 30 prospects for 2020. At least. Cavazos was good enough to start two games for IMG as a sophomore last season. I saw him work early last fall against Miami Central and made sure to tuck his name away. He also roomed with future 5-star receiver Jermaine Burton (now at Marietta) in the 2020 class, too. Let’s tick off the reasons why he is a rare player: He’s a two-sport athlete and an accomplished hurdler. He’s clocked a 7.93 in the 60-meter hurdles and a 13.80 at 110 meters. Those are special high school times for a prep hurdler, but he’s a football player first. Cavazos wasn’t healthy this year at Nike’s The Opening regional. He still posted a 4.56 laser time in the 40 with a 43-inch vertical and a power ball toss of 37 feet. His hamstring limited him to a 4.39 in the pro agility shuttle. He clocked a verified time of 4.03 seconds in that 5-10-5 at an earlier showing. It meant a Sparq rating of 115.08. That’s in the 99th percentile of all tested athletes. It was good for 46th overall this cycle. It rates as the fifth-best showing beyond the 2019 class. Can he play? The fact he started last year (two games) for IMG Academy and will start this year satisfies that curiosity. When he worked out for Georgia and Ohio State last week, both programs saw him as a cornerback first and a do-it-all defensive back second. Both staffs halted his workout early because they didn’t need to see any more. When the ranking services catch up as they usually do, he can chart as a top 15 overall prospect for 2020. He can contend for the nation’s top cornerback spot in 2020. Kirby Smart worked him out personally. DawgNation was told that Cavazos turned in a sub-4.5 time in the 40 at Ohio State. “Both schools view me as a corner,” Cavazos said. “They both really said they liked my height and my size and my quickness. They both want me to play corner, but they said if that doesn’t work out then I could definitely go to safety easily.” Cavazos would rather play cornerback. He feels that’s his best spot, but will play whatever his squad needs him to do at IMG. Urban Meyer and Smart both stayed close to Cavazos and his family during those visits. Lejond Cavazos on UGA and Ohio State being so close Cavazos has really liked Ohio State and Georgia of late. The Bulldogs turned his head with a visit this winter that was followed up by a G-Day visit. He has said the Bulldogs were in a top-school position.  He went to see Ohio State first last week. It left a distinct impression on him, but then came Georgia. Lejond Cavazos said the back-to-back trips to UGA and Ohio State last week have complicated his decision. (Cavazos Family/courtesy) “It definitely complicated it a lot,” Cavazos said. “Coming off that Ohio State visit, I was like ‘This is the school’ and this and that and then going to Georgia hearing like kind of the same stuff makes it really a hard decision. They are both really good schools so I don’t know what I am going to do now leading up to a commitment. “I thought I was going to commit like in a couple of weeks before I go back to school so it really just made it a lot harder on me.” What happens now? Will he now ride through his junior year and see which school stands out after Sept. 1? That is a key date. Schools can then contact him per NCAA rules. That will reflect where he stands on their boards. He also will watch them closely this fall. “That is probably what I am going to stick back to doing,” he said. What’s the best thing he likes now about Ohio State? Georgia? His answer was basically the same for both. “I would say probably their career plan program they have going on with their players,” Cavazos said. “They set you up to succeed for a life outside of football.” He liked that they didn’t focus on the football. “They both have a good plan as well for their life after football. Those are like the two main things for both schools that I like the most. They have a Plan A which is something else that is outside of football.” He could not discern any clear differences in terms of facilities. “I really like both setups for their facilities,” he said. “I can see myself succeeding at both schools. They are both really nice. They both have what I need.” That’s another brick to the argument the Bulldogs need to complete the west end zone and upgrade their weight room to stand out nationally there. Lejond Cavazos knows that Nolan Smith dude pretty well as teammates at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) It wasn’t specifically stated, but it sounds as if UGA and Ohio State are well out in front. Cavazos only planned to work out for Georgia and Ohio State this summer. “They are both definitely tied right now,” Cavazos said. “Everything that I heard from one school I also heard from the other school. They both said the same things and made the same points.” He plans to check out both schools this fall, and he did not rules out making a commitment. “I will go to each school’s big game this year,” Cavazos said in reference to both Georgia and Ohio State. How did the Georgia visit go for Lejond Cavazos?  Georgia thought very highly of Cavazos both before and after the workout. He left an impression on Smart. “He said I’m what they want,” he said. “Coach Smart told me that I checked off all the boxes.” Lejond Cavazos said he already has a very good relationship with first-year Georgia assistant coach Dan Lanning. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Georgia’s workout focused on speed and running drills. The Buckeyes wanted to see what his backpedal looked like. What was his favorite part of the UGA trip? “Just chilling with the coaches,” he said. “That was with both Coach Smart and Coach [Mel] Tucker. Just that feeling you get when you are around family. It felt like that.” Smart worked him out personally. “He has a great arm,” Cavazos said. It meant a quick hook. “After my second or maybe third one-on-one rep, Coach Smart said he saw what he needed to see and that I should stop,” Cavazos said. He likely had more in the tank. Cavazos is described by those who know him as a competitor. He was always trying to jump the highest on the trampoline or to be the fastest swimmer in the pool growing up. That instinct cannot be instilled. “When he was a kid and his [older] brothers would hit him, he wouldn’t come to complain to us,” C.J. Cavazos, his father, said. “He would hit his brothers back. One of his brothers is now 6 feet tall and 280 pounds and his big brother Josh would come upset to us and tell us, ‘Why does Lejond keep hitting me’ and ‘Can you tell him to quit hitting me’ with that. “I’d tell him, ‘Lejond is the little kid, and you are the big kid, and you are telling me to get him to stop hitting you’ There was something wrong with that picture. … Lejond has always been that kind of stubborn and hard kid. When you are the youngest of six you are either going to be that or get run over.” No matter how well he tests or drills, that attitude will be what separates him from his peers in football. C.J. Cavazos has a high opinion of the Bulldogs. “Georgia is a phenomenal program and has evolved into a national power,” he said. “Georgia’s academics are second to none. Their support system to help their players to graduate is something I like a lot and their fan base is crazy. We love it. Their spring game was just a taste of what it is.” “We want him to go to a program that is a very passionate program like Georgia who cares about their players.” How did the Ohio State visit go for Lejond Cavazos?  The Buckeyes made sure to name drop. “They definitely liked my feet,” Cavazos said. “They were comparing me to a lot of their corners from past years saying I was a lot like so-and-so and they said I could be like this guy and that guy. Ohio State told me about my potential with where I’m already for this age. They brought up where I am right now and then I will have the development of two more seasons of high school. They said that where I am at right now, that I could be really good when I go off to college.” Lejond Cavazos is a starting safety at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) (Key fact: Ohio State has had five defensive backs selected in the first round of the NFL draft over the past three years.) Meyer made an impression when he spoke to Cavazos after a drill. “He stopped me after my 1-on-1s and just told me that I was a freak athlete,” Cavazos said. The IMG junior still wasn’t fully healthy at either workout. But he was still able to clock a 4.4 showing in the 40 in Columbus. “I still have some resistance when I run,” he said. “I can be a lot better.” His favorite part of the Ohio State trip was the feedback he got from the players about what it is like to be part of the  Buckeyes. He said he spent more time with Meyer than Smart. “It wasn’t a lot more,” Cavazos said. “They were pretty much with me the whole time along both visits to each school.” The X-factor in the recruiting of Lejond Cavazos Cavazos will have a tough eventual choice: Buckeyes or Bulldogs. But he seems to be as well-equipped as a prospect can possibly be to sift through a tough decision. That’s because of personal and professional relationships established by his father. C.J. Cavazos can count two NFL head coaches in his inner circle. They help the family determine what is real, what is fake and what is necessary when it comes to the next steps for Lejond. Lejond Cavazos also has great ability in track as a hurdler. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Cavazos speaks frequently with Todd Bowles and Anthony Lynn. Bowles is the head coach of the New York Jets. Lynn leads the San Diego Chargers. Bowles speaks very highly of both Mel Tucker at Georgia and Greg Schiano of Ohio State. The son listens to the father here. He also advises recruits in a professional capacity. His father, like his son, is also an engaging communicator. He is honest. His straightforward style was able to recruit his wife, Melba, into naming their son “Lejond.” It took him about nine months of recruiting, but he was finally able to sway here. The full story on that naming right is a topic for another blog, but it shows something about this family. Steering his son through this choice will be something akin to his 779th rodeo. “He doesn’t think I’m listening to him a lot of times but I do,” Lejond Cavazos said. “I just don’t show it enough but what he says really helps me. His two best friends are head coaches in the NFL. They give feedback on what I do and what I have to work on. It really helps me in terms of bettering myself.” Cavazos is a very connected recruit. There are the many relationships he can draw on such as UGA commit Nolan Smith and Burton from their times at IMG Academy. Trey Sanders, another IMG 5-star, told DawgNation wherever he goes he will bring Cavazos along. Tony Brown, the former track and football star, was a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect in 2014. That is another family friend. Taron Vincent, the former 5-star tackle at IMG Academy, is also trying to reel him to Ohio State. His father was also a high school coach at one time at Carter High in Dallas. That’s where he met a young Urban Meyer when he was just a young assistant on the recruiting trail. “My father is a great resource,” Cavazos said. “He’s not going to tell me where to go. He knows that this is my decision and he’s just told me that he knows that both of these schools [Georgia and Ohio State] are very good options.” What will happen when his son tells him he is ready to make a commitment? That’s the only time he will put the proverbial foot down. This is what father says he’d tell his son. “I’d be like, ‘OK, today is Friday. You’re telling me this is what you want to do. You have seven days to sleep on it. If you wake up next Friday in the morning and you come to tell me this is still your school, that’s when you call that school and tell them you’re ready to commit.’ We’re done then. But we’re not going to do anything on a knee-jerk reaction. We’re going to pray about it and sleep on it every day for a week.” When that is vetted, there will be no games. “I will be totally honest with these coaches,” C.J. Cavazos said. “The only way to do this is the right way. Be honest. Not waste their time. Time is money for these coaches. If you waste their time, you waste their money. They have other kids they can go and get.” The Cavazos family will respect the fact these recruiters are professionals. “I’ve told Urban Meyer that when he commits, we are done,” his father said. “I’ve told Lejond this. We are not going anywhere else once he commits. So he’s not ready to do that. I don’t have a timeline. It is not about me or his mom or his family. It is whenever he is ready.” Fast and furious things to keep in mind Check out the official visit recap from Chris Kirschner of SEC Country regarding 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean. Dean told Kirschner that Alabama “did everything it needed to do” on that visit. It sounds as if  the Tide made a favorable impression, but not enough for them to race out to the lead after his first official visit. It was very Smart of the Bulldogs to get Dean on campus for a rigorous workout prior to that Alabama visit. DawgNation readers should be well-informed on the name Bryan Bresee by now . He just picked up a rash of Crystal Ball picks to Ohio State from writers who cover that program over the last month. That’s something to monitor. The nation’s top prospect for 2020 should cut his options down to a smaller group this summer, but I don’t expect him to make a public decision anytime soon. He will be competing at The Opening Finals in Texas later this month. I have gotten a lot of questions of late about the defensive tackle spot for the Bulldogs and where the Bulldogs will go after the decision made Monday by C.J. Clark to stay home and play for North Carolina State. The short answer is that it will lead to a greater emphasis placed on the following names: Travon Walker, Derick “Rambo” Hunter and Quashon Fuller. Fuller told me recently he is still committed to Florida State but that all the schools within his top 5 are “basically neck and neck” at this point. We’ll go into deeper detail with the conversation later on this week. The 6-foot-4, 272-pound strongside defensive end could play all up and down the line at UGA. Georgia continues to make up ground here after two recent back-to-back visits. Here’s another popular question: What’s going on with Tray Scott on the recruiting trail? The most straightforward answer I can give here is what I hear from sources. Scott is a genuine person on the recruiting trail. No sizzle. He will keep it real. It seems like that approach will really work for those who value that style. But he is not slick and will not give off that professional sales approach. It will not work for everyone, but it will matter a great deal to those who value knowing exactly where they stand in a deep-rooted recruiting relationship. Georgia continues to make up ground on another key defensive line target. That prospect is currently committed to another SEC school. We will tackle that one later this week, too. Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap. The post DB Lejond Cavazos has UGA, Ohio State in a dead heat appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - As the only general manager holding three first-round picks in Thursday night's NBA draft, including No. 3 overall, Atlanta's Travis Schlenk has been a popular target for trade talk. Overall, the Hawks have four picks in the top 34. That's more than enough depth to attract interest, but the rebuilding Hawks are even more attractive trade targets because they also have about $20 million in salary cap space. That creates more attractive options for a team needing to unload a contract in a trade. Schlenk says he is answering every call and considering all options - including the possibility of trading up or down from the No. 3 spot. It's an exciting time for Schlenk, who never held such a high draft pick in his previous job as assistant GM with the Golden State Warriors. 'This is the highest pick that I've been a part of,' Schlenk said last week. 'At Golden State, the highest pick we had was six. So it's exciting. Having the four picks, along with the third pick, we get a lot of phone calls, which is exciting as well, and we're going to go through all the options that are presented to us and make the best decision, hopefully.' He says he's comfortable with the idea of opening the 2018-19 season with four rookies. Schlenk is planning the Hawks' future with a new coach. Former Philadelphia assistant Lloyd Pierce was hired on May 11 to replace Mike Budenholzer, now the Bucks coach. Schlenk might use his first pick to select a forward-center to pair with 2017-18 rookie John Collins. Among players who could be available are Duke's Marvin Bagley III , Michigan State's Jaren Jackson and Mo Bamba of Texas. Guards Luka Doncic of Slovenia, Trae Young of Oklahoma and forward Michael Porter of Missouri could be alternatives for Schlenk. Pierce stressed defense in his first news conference in Atlanta. Schlenk said it's important to land players with balanced offensive and defensive skills. 'Obviously when you look at the best teams in the league, the majority of the time they're good defensive teams,' Schlenk said. 'But at the end of the day, if you're not scoring 100 points you're probably not winning, so we're going to look for guys that are two-way players, who can play defensively, but also we've got to be able to score the ball on the other end.' Bagley qualifies as that two-way talent, but he could be drafted at the No. 2 spot by Sacramento. 'I put a lot of work into this and I think I'm the best player in the draft,' Bagley said after his draft workout in Atlanta last week. 'I mean that in the most humble way possible, not to be cocky.' Phoenix is projected to select Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the top pick. Jackson is an accomplished shot blocker with less polish on the offensive end. He is regarded by many to have the potential shooting skills to develop into a well-rounded NBA big man. With point guard Dennis Schroder's future in Atlanta uncertain, the Hawks can look for talent at any position. Their wealth of picks could make it easier to take a chance on Doncic, who has the skills to play multiple positions even though his ability to create space in the NBA has been questioned by some critics. 'I've maintained all along, and I honestly believe this, we're going to take the best player,' Schlenk said. 'We're in a situation where we're looking to add the most talent we can, and we're going to get a good player at the third pick.' The No. 3 spot is the Hawks' highest since 2007, when they selected Al Horford at No. 3. Atlanta also has the No. 19 and No. 30 picks in the first round and No. 34 early in the second round. Those selections give Schlenk a wealth of options, including a deal for a higher pick next year. Schlenk said he has considered if the possibility to 'trade back to collect more assets would be advantageous.' ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • 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 cast of DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss UGA coach Kirby Smart’s quest to keep the Bulldogs on top of the SEC. On episode No. 724 (June 19, 2018) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about why some fans are getting restless about Georgia recruiting. Georgia football podcast: Some fans getting restless about UGA recruiting Beginning of the show: Georgia saw a couple recruiting targets make commitments to other schools Monday leaving some UGA fans wondering how the Bulldogs’ current recruiting momentum stacks up to some of its rivals. UGA fans have also recently had a strong reaction to some comments from 5-star wide receiver — and UGA commit — Jadon Haselwood. I’ll address those subjects on today’s show. 11-minute mark: DawgNation’s Chip Towers shares a compelling reason why UGA’s schedule might be tougher than some experts think. I’ll talk about Chip’s reasoning and how UGA should respond. 15-minute mark: DawgNation’s recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… 4-star defensive tackle CJ Clark’s NC Sate commitment 4-star defensive end Justin Eboigbe’s Alabama commitment Reaction to 4-star offensive tackle Xavier Truss’ UGA commitment An evaluation of UGA’s 2019 quarterback commit, John Rhym Plumlee Thoughts on 5-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood’s candid comments An assessment of 5-star linebacker Nakobe Dean’s recruitment after his Alabama official visit And an update on UGA’s quarterback recruiting efforts 40-minute mark: I take a look at what ESPN ranked as the top concerns for the SEC teams in its preseason top 25. 45-minute mark: I discuss the latest Dawg Day Q&A. End of show: I update the Gator Hater Countdown. For the Monday (June 18) show, click here. For the video version of the Tuesday show, click here. For older episodes of DawgNation Daily, click here. The post Georgia football podcast: Some fans getting restless about UGA recruiting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Braves continue to dominate the National League All-Star voting. The leading vote-getter among NL outfielders is now Nick Markakis. The Braves outfielder has 1,173,653 votes and surpassed the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (1,002,696) in the latest voting update released by Major League Baseball on Monday. Markakis was third among outfielders in the initial release of balloting results. The 34-year old has never made the All-Star team in is 13-year career. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman continues to be the overall top vote-getter and the leader among first basemen with 1,433,140 votes. Teammate second baseman Ozzie Albies continues to lead all second basemen with 915,736 votes. Freeman holds a substantial lead among first baseman. He leads the Cubs Anthony Rizzo (566,382). Albies leads the Cubs’ Javier Báez (767,417) and the Reds’ Scooter Gennett (743,979). The Giants’ Brandon Crawford (1,120,031) is the leader at shortstop ahead of second-place Dansby Swanson (568,400) of the Braves. The Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (1,124,563) is the leader at third base and the Giants’ Buster Posey (686,253) is the leader at catcher. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp (925,697) is third among NL outfielders. Several other Braves are among the leaders. Kurt Suzuki is third among catchers with 557,692 votes. Johan Camargo is third among third basemen with 395,389 votes. Among outfielders, Ronald Acuna is fifth with 617,151 votes and Ender Inciarte is sixth with 528,943 votes. All-Star voting ends July 5 for the game to be played July 17 in Washington. A third voting update will come June 25.