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How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards

How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards

How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards

How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards

Georgia basketball-How Tom Crean put Bulldogs in position to sign Anthony 'Ant Man' Edwards-Georgia Bulldogs

ATLANTA –  Winfred Jordan is a self-professed basketball junkie. When he was an adolescent in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, his uncles would pick him up in his Oakland City neighborhood in southwest Atlanta and take him up to Georgia Tech to watch the state high school playoffs.

Jordan rattles off the names of the great players he saw there.

“There were so many of them,” Jordan said. “Dale Ellis, Jeff Malone, Terry Fair, Donald Hartry, Lamar Heard, Cedric Henderson, Melvin Howard, James Banks. I watched James Banks destroy people all by himself.”

Banks, of course, ended up going to the University of Georgia where he helped lead the Bulldogs on their Final Four run in 1983. Fair, Heard and Hartry also were on that team.

That’s why Jordan, head coach of the Atlanta Xpress AAU team, is taken aback when people react with such surprise that the state’s latest basketball sensation – Anthony “Ant Man” Edwards – is seriously considering signing with the Bulldogs. In fact, Jordan doesn’t discount the notion that Georgia might actually hold a lead in the bid to sign his 6-foot-5 guard, who is considered the No. 1 basketball prospect in America.

Then again, the Bulldogs haven’t signed the No. 1 player in America in a while. OK, maybe never.

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Jordan said with a laugh. “But Georgia has a strong basketball history. People tend to forget about the times they’ve been really, really good. Hugh Durham always recruited great players.”

The world will find out Monday morning if Georgia’s latest head coach has been able penetrate Atlanta’s AAU zone. Tom Crean has been on the job only since March 15, but he and his staff have made up an enormous amount of ground when it comes to the considerable pursuit that has been recruitment of Edwards.

Edwards will announce his decision at a conference news conference scheduled for 9 a.m. at his high school, Holy Spirit Prep of Atlanta. The Bulldogs are one of three finalists. The other two are Kentucky and Florida State.

“If they’re still in it at this point they’ve done a good job,” said Ty Anderson, Edward’s coach at Holy Spirit.

Georgia most definitely is still in it. Edwards himself acknowledged that after scoring 41 points in Holy Spirit’s Region 1-AAA championship game this past Friday night in Duluth.

But Edwards gave no hints as to which way he is leaning, only that he’s “pretty sure” to which school he’s going to choose and he’s eager to get the decision behind him.

“I can’t wait,” Edwards said. “It’s going to take a lot of pressure off me. I won’t have too much to worry about. I can focus just on school. It’s going to be a dream come true.”

Just who is The Ant Man

Everybody who knows anything about basketball can tell you about the Ant Man. That’s the explosive, high-scoring athlete who averages 27 points and 9 rebounds a game and can literally score from anywhere on a basketball court at any moment.

Fewer know about Anthony Edwards, the person behind the cool nickname. That’s actually the way he prefers it. His is a past of great personal tragedy, but also of remarkable personal triumphs.

Edwards was raised by his mother, Yvette Edwards, and grandmother, Shirley Edwards, in the same Oakland City neighborhood that Jordan grew up. The difference is, when Jordan was coming up, Oakland City wasn’t considered one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden areas in all of Atlanta.

“When I grew up over there it wasn’t rough like it is now,” said Jordan, who’s in his 50s. “Years later, after crack came along, it took over those inner-city areas.”

But Edwards’ world came crashing down four years ago. In the same year, both his mother and grandmother died, according to Jordan. He said both women died of cancer.

“They were both very important people in his life,” Jordan said. “They raised him.”

Jordan said Edwards’ father is not involved in his life, so custody was granted to Edwards’ 25-year-old brother, Antoine. It has been between Antoine and Jordan that Edwards has received his care ever since.

“He doesn’t want that stuff talked about,” Jordan said. “He just wants to the focus to be on who is as a person and a basketball player.”

Edwards gets high marks on both of those fronts. He busted out on the basketball scene as a ninth-grader playing AAU basketball for the Atlanta Xpress. At the time he was attending Therell High School in southwest Atlanta. But it wasn’t always clear that basketball was his future.

“People don’t believe me when I tell him but he’s just as a good of a football player as he is a basketball player,” Jordan said. “When I met him in the eighth grade, he played football at the time. But it was ninth or 10th grade he got an injury. He hurt his foot. When he did, I told him he needed to layoff football for a while. I told him he could always go back to football but he wouldn’t be able to with basketball. But once he got go dedicating more time to basketball he just blossomed, more and more and more.”

It was Jordan that initiated what ended up being one of the biggest moves in Edwards’ life. They decided to transfer schools. He ended up at Holy Spirit Prep, a relatively new private Catholic school located in the North Buckhead suburbs of Atlanta.

“I felt like he needed a change,” Jordan said. “I was looking for a better situation for the young man, something that would make him better for the next 20 years of like and prepare him for college. He needed something a little more structured, something that would make him a little more polished as a young man. He needed more diversity in his life and more structure academically. He’s gotten that at Holy Spirit.”

Greg McClaire was the coach at the time. He was succeeded last year by Anderson, a four-year letterman as a basketball player at Georgia Tech and the grandson of coaching legend Lefty Driesell.

“Ant’s an extraordinary human being,” Anderson said. “He’s just a high-character, hard-working, fun-loving kid. Whichever school he says he’s going to on Monday morning, he’s going to be a great ambassador for that basketball program and for that academic institution.”

NBA definitely ‘down the road’

In Anderson, Edwards received a fresh set of eyes. Anderson starred at Oconee County High School at the same time Louis Williams was playing at South Gwinnett High. He said Edwards is the best basketball talent he’s seen.

Anthony Edwards takes off with the ball after a steal from Lance Terry of Heritage, one of the top players in the state. (Bryson Towers/DawgNation)

“I think he’s the best scorer I’ve seen in high school since Louis Williams,” Anderson said. “I played against (Williams) and he was unbelievable. Georgia almost got him, too, but he went straight to the NBA. So, yeah, there are comparisons. But I think it won’t be too long before guys are comparing the next generation to Ant. He’s going to make his own mold.”

Dan McDonald, a longtime recruiting analyst for Rivals who also runs his own basketball camps, probably has seen more of and knows more about Edwards as a basketball player than anybody.

“I’ve been saying since last summer that I think he’s the best player in the country,” McDonald said. “He’s a great athlete, really strong and powerful, and he’s become very skilled. He has NBA level moves already with room still to grow. He’s very unselfish and a great a decision-maker for most part. Along with all that, he’s just a great kid that others gravitate to.”

The NBA could be an option for Edwards as well, but at this point none of his advisers are recommending it. The NBA can be a risky path, especially without the assurance of an extended future.

Edwards is part of the first graduating high school class that would have the option of choosing the NBA’s G-League, which in 2019 will offer “select contracts” for players not yet eligible to enter the NBA draft. It offers the alternative of earning as much as $125,000 to play professional basketball in the U.S. rather than go overseas or choose the “one-and-done” in college.

Edwards told the AJC in January he prefers the college alternative. “You can only struggle for so long,” he said.

Anderson has also seen the lofty projections for Edwards as a pro, but advises him to not be in a hurry.

“There’s a lot of time – maybe 19 months – between now and the 2020 draft,” Anderson said. “There’s plenty of work he needs to do and he knows that. So he’s approaching that with humility and a workman’s mentality, getting in the gym to work on his game. As far as how the NBA fits in, I don’t know. He’s a kid who definitely focuses on the next step, whatever that is. Right now the next step is choosing college. The step after that is winning a state championship, then graduation, then college. The NBA is a little down the road.”

That’s good news for Georgia — and Kentucky and FSU as well — and that’s where Crean represents a change from the previous regime. Former coach Mark Fox often complained about the trend of college basketball powerhouses such as Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina to recruit “one-and-done” players that had no intention of playing beyond a single season before entering the NBA draft.

Crean embraces the concept and says there’s no reason players of that pedigree shouldn’t consider Georgia as an NBA launching pad same as they would Kansas or Kentucky

“You can do everything you can do there here,” Crean said earlier this season. “And look at what this place has to offer? We have everything you could possibly need, plus a great education.”

The next Georgia great

Such an attitude has endeared Crean to Edwards’ camp and, indeed, to many in Atlanta’s tight-knit AAU community. It’s no fluke that two members of Crean’s coaching staff — Amir Abdur-Rahim and Chad Dollar — have deep ties to the AAU scene.

“Crean is amazing to us; he’s going to be the second-best thing to happen there outside of Hugh Durham,” said Jordan, a longtime presence on the Atlanta AAU scene. “He is a true teacher of basketball. He teaches his players the game and he doesn’t have just one philosophy. He’s always doing a lot of individual stuff to help develop his players. That’s important, that’s big. Coach Crean spends a lot of time making players better individually.”

Georgia has, in fact, signed great basketball players before. There’s some debate as to whether Dominique Wilkins was, in fact, the No. 1 player in the class of 1980. James Worthy was also in that class and ended up going to North Carolina. But he was definitely in the top three or four.

But one really doesn’t have to go back that far to find the Bulldogs landing some of the top players in the country. Dennis Felton signed Williams out of South Gwinnett in 2005. The 6-foot-2 guard was ranked the No. 1 player in the state and the No. 7 in the nation by Rivals that year. He ended up going straight to the NBA, where he’s now with the Los Angeles Clippers.

In 2012, Georgia landed the state’s top player again in 6-foot-6 guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Ranked 12th nationally by Rivals, Caldwell-Pope played two seasons with the Bulldogs before becoming a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons. He’s now with the L.A. Lakers.

But it has probably been since Wilkins that the Bulldogs have been in position to land a player Edwards’ ilk. Not only is he considered the No. 1 prospect in the country by 247Sports.com (Rivals ranks him No. 2), but NBAdraft.net projects him as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

Jordan was asked why Edwards would choose an upstart Georgia program under Crean over a tried-and-true, one-and-done factory like Kentucky has been under John Calipari.

“He respects those other universities very much,” Jordan said. “He loves Duke; he loves Kentucky. Kentucky really has him in awe right now. It’s hard to go against Kentucky basketball. But Anthony wants to write his own script, write his own chapter. He wants to write his own book. That’s him.”

McDonald and 247Sports’ Evan Daniels are both predicting Edwards to announce Georgia on Monday. Should he choose the Bulldogs, it will be considered a major upset by the college basketball world.

Jordan’s not so sure that should be the case.

“It’s been 20 years, I guess, and people tend to remember what they saw recently,” Jordan said. “Georgia is known for football, so you talk about basketball and people say, ‘ah, it’s not a basketball school.’ They forget what it used to be.”

If Crean lands Edwards, Georgia could become what it’s never been.

The post How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • ATHENS – Their average age is 40. Most of them played college football at places like Arkansas Tech and Texas Southern. Three of them didn’t play college ball at all. They are the 10 full-time coaches who will be assisting Georgia head coach Kirby Smart for what’s expected to be a championship run in the 2019 football season. It’s an interesting mix of youth and experience and it features a surprising lack of actual on-field, Division I playing experience. The makeup of the Bulldogs’ staff came more into focus after roles and salaries were revealed last Friday in response to open records requests from media outlets. Smart has yet to offer comment or answer questions about his new staff. Here’s some factoids to consider as we take a closer look at the group: Not that it matters, but two of Georgia’s three coordinators did not play college football themselves. Neither offensive coordinator James Coley nor co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann played ball beyond high school. Recently hired tight ends coach Todd Hartley also didn’t play college football. He was a student assistant coach while attending UGA as an undergrad. Only running backs coach Dell McGee played major college ball. He was a wide receiver and defensive back at Auburn from 1992-95 and played briefly in the NFL. New defensive backs coach Charlton Warren played as a defensive back at the Air Force Academy. The rest of the staff were small-college football players. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning played linebacker at tiny William Jewell College, an NAIA program at the time. Heralded offensive line coach – and newly-appointed associate head coach — Sam Pittman also played NAIA ball. He was an All-American lineman at Pittsburg State in Kansas. Special teams coordinator Scott Fountain played at Samford, receivers coach Cortez Hankton played at Texas Southern and defensive line coach Tray Scott played at Arkansas Tech Georgia’s staff also is not extremely deep on experience. Pittman, 57, and Fountain, 52, have been around the longest. They’ve logged 32 and 31 years, respectively, in the college game. Many people don’t realize that Pittman was once a head coach. He spent two seasons as head coach at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, three overall. Today he is considered one of the most successful recruiters of offensive linemen in the country. When broken down into experience as actual on-field, college assistant coaches, the average length of service for members of Smart’s staff is a relatively low 11.5 years. The 28-year-old Schumann has the least, entering his fourth year as inside linebackers coach for the Bulldogs. He was a volunteer analyst as an undergraduate student at Alabama, then a graduate assistant and, finally, a director of player development and personnel for two years before following Smart to UGA. Hartley (7), Hankton (7), Lanning (6), McGee (6) and Scott (6) all have less than eight years experience as well. Most of Georgia’s coaches spent a good bit of time coaching high school ball before moving into the college ranks. Fountain and McGee were high school head coaches before breaking into college as analysts. Pittman was also a high school head coach. Coley and Lanning each were high school assistant coaches before getting their breaks as analysts, or quality control specialists. Smart lost a combined 56 years of college and pro coaching experience off his staff when coordinators Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker left to accept new jobs after last season. Tucker became head coach at Colorado while Chaney accepted a $650,000-a-year raise to make a lateral move to Tennessee. That resulted in Smart paying $375,000-a-year less for his assistant coaches. Chaney’s addition along with the hiring of Derrick Ansley as defensive coordinator and Tee Martin as wide receivers coach and some other staff moves mean that Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is now paying his staff $800,000 more than Georgia is ($6.045 million). That’s primarily due to coordinator pay. Chaney ($1.6 million), Ansley ($1 million) and Chris Rumph ($805,000) all have multiyear contracts and make $3.4 million annually between them. Georgia’s three coordinators are due $2.25 million in the next year. It’s not yet known if they signed multiyear deals, but three-year deals are standard operating procedure in the business. What’s it all mean? Not much at the moment. Smart’s doing just fine, thank you very much. He is a combined 10-3 against Georgia’s four primary conference rivals of Auburn (3-1), Florida (2-1), South Carolina (3-0) and Tennesssee (2-1). He is, of course, 0-2 vs. Alabama. The post Georgia Bulldogs’ 2019 football staff is short on experience, long on potential appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings at least four days a week. The play sheet today calls for a look at two very big recruiting “fishing holes” for 2020.  The big picture for Georgia football recruiting on DawgNation now looks like the United States. Specific stories may point to this 5-star or that hot prospect, but sometimes the zoom button does the reporter tribe no favors. Can the Bulldogs sign the No. 1 class in 2020? The 2,680-mile wide view says yes. That is the approximate width of America from tight end to tackle. Alaska and Hawaii are still split out wide. That big picture means the Bulldogs now recruit off a national footprint. Kirby Smart and his staff have now signed the No. 1 player out of 10 different states. The Bulldogs will always be knocking at the door on signing the nation’s top class with Smart. He is simply just that effective leading the recruiting in Athens. With respect to the 2020 class, the chances there will sink or swim based off how the Bulldogs do around two specific pinpoints on that map. Let’s aspire to be true sons of the south and call them fishing holes. There are already two clear “fishing holes” that will largely determine whether this class can finish No. 1 overall. This Google Maps screenshot shows off a pretty good visual of what the DC “DMC” fishing hole looks like for UGA this cycle. (Google Maps) Oddly, the first one is 590 approximate miles away from Sanford Stadium. That pinpoint would be St. John’s College High School in the Washington, D.C. area. This blue-chip recruiting perimeter will extend just 30 miles north to Damascus High School in Maryland and then another 42 miles east to Baltimore. The circuit completes with a 33-mile trip back south near the nation’s capital at DeMatha Catholic. DeMatha is only about eight miles east of St. John’s College High. The region is commonly known as the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) area. There are at least five players in that radius the Bulldogs would love to sign for 2020. How the Bulldogs recruit that area amid challenges from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State and now Maryland will be watched closely. The “DMV” fishing hole  Bryan Bresee -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting” width=”640″ height=”615″ /> 5-star strong-side DE Bryan Bresee was in Athens over the weekend. (Bryan Bresee/Instagram) Who has their reels up there for Georgia: Offensive coordinator James Coley, receivers coach Cortez Hankton, running backs coach Dell McGee, Outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning, defensive line coach Tray Scott and head coach Kirby Smart. Trophy pulls from the “DMV” 5-star SDE Bryan Bresee/Damascus HS/Damascus, Md: The 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior ranks as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. He was in Athens this weekend with the family in tow. It was no less than his fourth unofficial to UGA in the last 14 months. Bresee sat next to Kirby Smart at Stegman Coliseum for the LSU game and might just have heard his name being chanted by the crowd. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 2 )   5-star OLB Mekhail Sherman/St. Johns College HS/Washington, D.C: The nation’s No. 2 OLB is in the process of bouncing back from a season-ending knee injury in 2018. Looking good. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder can play inside or outside (See Rian Davis, Quay Walker) but flashed a serious 4.52 time in the laser at the Nike Opening finals out in Texas last summer. He was also very pleased to see the official promotion of Dan Lanning to defensive coordinator. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 13 )   5-star WR Rakim Jarrett/St. Johns College/Washington, D.C: St. John’s also had an Alabama  How did St. Johns ever lose a game, right? The 6-foot, 182-pound blur was in Athens last weekend on an official. The Bulldogs didn’t make his original top 6, but they are in it now. UGA was a little late to offer the nation’s No. 3 WR and that’s a good reason why. The interest is there now for the nation’s No. 3 WR prospect. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 21 )   5-star RB MarShawn Lloyd: Lloyd is as serious of a contender at this time to join the 2020 class as anyone in the “DMV” fishing hole. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound will flash to a lot of former great UGA backs with his game. How does a one-part Sony, one-part Chubb, one-part Knowshon, one-part Verron Haynes and one-part MarShawn sound? The nation’s No. 4 RB has already visited Athens once this year. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 25 )   4-star DE Demon Clowney:  The nation’s No. 5 weak-side DE resides in Baltimore. Clowney, a cousin to NFL All-Pro Jadeveon Clowney , is a big Lanning fan. UGA was his first offer back in February of 2018 and it was his pinned tweet for a significant amount of time. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has made at least two trips back to Athens since then. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 78 ) Will the blue-chips be biting?: If the program puts up a 0-for-5 in the DMV, then that means it will have to go down the board scrambling for alternate targets. It is not out of bounds to think that the Bulldogs can pull at least two of these targets out of the region, though. Another obstacle is the Bulldogs have yet to sign a player out of this region during Smart’s time as head coach. The other big “fishing hole” on Georgia’s mind is a lot closer down the road. The Cobb County fishing hole  Myles Murphy -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football” width=”640″ height=”427″ /> 5-star weak-side DE Myles Murphy has remarkable speed and athleticism. He can play out on the edge in space. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Gwinnett County hasn’t been good to the Bulldogs the last few years. Cobb County is more of a success story. Georgia has signed elite targets like Dominick Blaylock, Justin Fields, Ryland Goede, Azeez Ojulari, Tyler Simmons and Julian Rochester from this region, among others. This pinpoint on the map will cover 345 square miles, but the radar here pings around the 18.5-mile circuit from Marietta High School to Hillgrove High School to McEachern High School and back to Marietta. Cobb County has five players rated among the nation’s top 100 recruits for the 2020 class. The Bulldogs can sign a pair of 5-star prospects from this pocket of the Peach State. These two elite athletes could also go down as the two of the three highest-rated signees in the 2020 class at that. Who is doing the fishing there for Georgia: Tight ends coach Todd Hartley, running backs coach Dell McGee, defensive coordinator and OLBs coach Dan Lanning, defensive line coach Tray Scott and head coach Kirby Smart. The big fish in Cobb County Arik Gilbert -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting” width=”400″ height=”267″ /> Arik Gilbert rates as the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite scale. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Arik Gilbert/Marietta High/Marietta, Ga: DawgNation profiled Gilbert late last week . The nearly 6-foot-6, 250-pounder wants to be a tight end or a hybrid at the next level in the Travis Kelce mold. He has agility, acceleration, catch radius and length for days. That’s why he rates as the nation’s No. 1 ATH for 2020. He visited Alabama over the weekend and was back for another unofficial at UGA today. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 9 )   B.J. Ojulari/Marietta High/Marietta, Ga.:  He’s started both ways for the Blue Devils for the balance of his high school career at offensive tackle and defensive end. His future is on defense flying in off the edge. His older brother, Azeez, is already at UGA. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior plans to make his decision sometime in May. Look for him to play ball in the Southeast. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 84 )   Myles Murphy/Hillgrove High/Powder Springs, Ga.: Murphy will check off every box of what an elite national recruit should look like in high school. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has exceptional agility and footwork. There’s another national prospect with a UGA offer with the same name in North Carolina, but very few prospects like Myles Murphy come along every 10 years. That’s why Dabo Swinney has his fishing pole mounted near Hillgrove High, too. (Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 14)   COMMIT: Jamil Burroughs/McEachern High/Powder Springs, Ga.: The nation’s No. 4 DT is already in the boat. So to speak. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound prospect is one of three current commitments in the class of 2020. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 62 ) Will the blue-chips be biting: Burroughs is in the boat and should be seen as a very invested recruit in the program. Clemson looms large for both Gilbert and Myles. The chances with Ojulari might very well spike with how well the Bulldogs are recruiting at that position. He’s a terrific player and one of the most impressive in this class but not even Brandon Adams can foresee the Bulldogs ending up with Clowney, Murphy, Ojulari and Sherman at OLB going on the wall for the 2020 class. Gilbert and Murphy are two players in the state this year that the Bulldogs cannot let leave the state and still hope to finish with the nation’s top class. It would bring up too many empty net stories with the likes of Andrew Booth, Derrick Brown, Jadon Haselwood, Aubrey Solomon and Trevor Lawrence from back in the day.   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 UGA recruiting: Which two points on the map lead to the nation’s No. 1 class for 2020? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia Athletic Association board members will be briefed on the progress of efforts to add a new football-dedicated building to the Butts-Mehre Athletic Complex when it holds its annual winter meeting on Wednesday. In a conference call with members of the board’s facilities and development committee Monday morning, Athletic Director Greg McGarity confirmed that a status report will be provided on the latest multi-million dollar project to come on line since Kirby Smart became the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2016. McGarity said Georgia is in the process of selecting engineers and architects for the project, which is expected to be erect a building in the space between the Spec Town Track & Field grandstands and the Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. As DawgNation reported six months ago, such a facility is expected to carry a price tag of more than $50 million. Fundraising efforts are already underway. Since Smart’s arrival on campus in January of 2016, Georgia has built and dedicated a $30 million indoor practice facility and $65 million locker room and recruiting area underneath the West grandstand at Sanford Stadium. Since the fall of 2015, members of Georgia’s relatively new Magill Society have pledged donations totaling nearly $100 million to cover the cost of those projects. Board members will also be briefed on an upcoming project to improve the lighting at Sanford Stadium, McGarity said. The majority of the focus on facilities updates on Wednesday will be on construction of a new grandstand for the Henry Feild Stadium courts at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, McGarity said. Cost for that project is now expected to exceed $8 million. The board will also be briefed on plans to erect a new six-court indoor tennis facility for the complex. “That will be the only action item on Wednesday,” McGarity said. To date, none of the monies raised from the Magill Society have gone toward tennis. That is the sport Magill oversaw for decades before his death in 2014 at the age of 93. Board members will also be briefed on an ongoing $3.1 million equestrian project that will include a 7,000-square foot clubhouse at the team’s facility in Bishop. The post Expansion of Georgia Bulldogs’ football complex to be discussed at UGA athletics board meeting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — As many as three outgoing Georgia football players have been projected as first-round NFL Draft picks by different analysts at different times. But there’s always one Bulldog on the first-round list — Deandre Baker. That didn’t change on Monday when the Georgia Thorpe Award winner surfaced as the No. 20 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Mel Kiper’s latest first-round mock draft on the ESPN Insider pay site. RELATED: Georgia opens with 10 on NFL Draft boards Kiper has Baker as his second-highest rated cornerback in the draft behind LSU’s Greedy Williams, who he forecasts will go to Denver at No. 10. Earlier this month, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter opened eyes when he projected both Baker and tailback Elijah Holyfield to be selected in the first round. Reuter, in a Feb. 5 three-round NFL mock draft, had four Bulldogs listed: Deandre Baker, No. 24 overall, Oakland Elijah Holyfield, No. 30 overall, Green Bay Riley Ridley, No. 35 overall, Oakland Isaac Nauta, No. 62 overall, New Orleans Ridley was at one point projected as high as the first round — at No. 32 — by NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah. WATCH: Riley Ridley coached up by NFL legends Jeremiah and fellow NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein recently penned an article on which one player each team should keep an eye on. The Baltimore Ravens were advised to keep an eye on speedy Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman, as “the buzz is starting to build in personnel circles.” The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, should watch for Ridley, according to the story: “The Niners need another big target at wide receiver with size and toughness for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Ridley’s college production was just OK, but there were plenty of mouths to feed in the Georgia offense. Ridley might be a fit for San Francisco as a Day 2 option, provided he shows ball-tracking ability and some route acumen in Indianapolis.” Projections from one analyst to another vary, as they each do their own evaluations and rely on different NFL sources. Kiper, for example, doesn’t have Holyfield, Ridley or Nauta ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions in the upcoming draft. It’s all talk for now, and NFL Draft projections are sure to get a thorough shaking up after the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The combine testing runs from March 1-4. Georgia will have eight players at the combine, seven taking part in on-field testing. Outside linebacker D’Andre Walker had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 16 in Birmingham, Ala., and is rehabilitating. Walker hopes to be healthy enough to take part in the Bulldogs Pro Day for NFL scouts on March 20.     The post Georgia football favorites Elijah Holyfield, Mecole Hardman generating NFL Draft buzz appeared first on DawgNation.