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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.
  • Tina Langley had a vision when she took over Rice's women's basketball program four years ago. The Owls have been steadily improving every season and now can add an appearance in the AP Top 25 to their achievements. Rice entered The Associated Press women's basketball poll for the first time in school history on Monday. 'I'm so grateful to the student-athletes and coaches that have come here and poured their heart and soul into the program,' said Langley, who spent seven years as an assistant and associate head coach under Brenda Frese at Maryland before coming to Rice. 'Everything that we've accomplished we'll celebrate with them.' The Owls have won 15 straight games and are ranked 25th. Langley planned to briefly discuss being ranked at practice later Monday. 'We'll talk a little about what it means and continue to stay focused on the ultimate goal,' she said. Baylor remained the top team in the country, garnering 26 of the 28 first-place votes from a national media panel. Oregon moved up to second, getting the other two No. 1 ballots. UConn was third, while Louisville slipped to fourth after losing to Miami on Sunday. The Hurricanes made the biggest jump, moving up six spots to 14th. Notre Dame was fifth. Mississippi State, Stanford, Maryland, North Carolina State and Iowa rounded out the top 10. Drake joined the rankings at No. 24, while Rutgers and Michigan State fell out. Here are some other tidbits from the AP Top 25 this week: ROUGH WEEK TO BE RANKED Fourteen of the Top 25 teams lost last week, including seven to unranked schools. That tends to happen a lot in conference play where teams know each other better. ALL ABOUT THE OGWUMIKES Rice is led by Erica Ogwumike, who transferred to the school from Pepperdine with her sister Olivia. Now that Rice is ranked, it means all four Ogwumike sisters have appeared in the Top 25 at some point in their careers. Older sisters Nneka and Chiney starred at Stanford. 'Erica is one of the best players in the country,' Langley said. 'I believe she'll be a professional player if she chooses to be. She's a brilliant young woman with a great future in front of her.' MOVING ON UP One week after getting ranked for the first time in school history, South Dakota climbed up to No. 23. The Coyotes won their lone game, routing Western Illinois 83-61. TOP 25 SHOWDOWNS There are a bunch of big games this week, starting Monday night when Notre Dame visits N.C. State and Oregon plays at No. 12 Oregon State. Later in the week, No. 16 Kentucky plays 13th-ranked South Carolina and No. 17 Arizona State visits Stanford. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 ___ Follow Doug Feinberg at https://twitter.com/DougFeinberg
  • Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts apologized to the team's players and coaching staff at spring training on Monday for any distraction caused by offensive racist emails written by his father. 'The emails that were in there were unacceptable and had no place. My father has no direct role or economic interest in the team. That doesn't represent what this organization is,' Tom Ricketts said after addressing the team. 'I also said: 'Look, I'm sorry for the distraction this may have created the last couple days. We need to focus on baseball. We need to get back to our winning ways. We need to get off to a fast start.' The last thing the organization needs is more off-the-field distractions.'' Joe Ricketts' emails were published by Splinter News and included Islamophobic comments, such as 'Islam is a cult and not a religion.' Other emails discussed conspiracies about former President Barack Obama's birthplace and education. Tom Ricketts said he was surprised by the emails because 'our family was never raised that way. I've never heard my father say anything that was even remotely racist. It just isn't our family values.' Joe Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized. Tom Ricketts said in statement that his father's emails don't reflect the values of the Cubs. 'The fact is he acknowledged that they were inappropriate emails and expressed regret. He apologized. Those aren't the values that my family was raised with,' Tom Ricketts said. 'His statements, both of them, are good, and fair. He acknowledges that those kind of statements cause pain. But I love him. He's my dad. He's a great man. He's done incredible things. He's helped children all over the world through his charities.' Tom Ricketts insisted he can't do anything about the emails now but can use this situation as an opportunity for positive action. The Cubs and the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Tom Ricketts had met with leaders of several Muslim groups in what the team said was a step to take 'genuine, meaningful and visible steps toward combating Islamophobia, bigotry and racism.' 'We'll follow through on all that stuff. The fact is it's just kind of fresh. We want to make sure we do it right. We'll make sure that our actions back up our words,' Tom Ricketts said. Ricketts termed the decision to leak the emails unfortunate. 'I'm not sure what anyone gains from this,' he said. In his annual state-of-the Cubs spring address, Ricketts said shortstop Addison Russell 'did well' when he publicly discussed behavior that prompted a 40-game suspension under baseball's domestic violence policy. Russell missed the final 11 regular-season games plus a wild-card playoff loss to Colorado While Russell generally addressed allegations made by ex-wife Melisa Reidy, he did not detail actions that led to the discipline. 'From the very beginning we reached out to Melisa and tried to think, 'What is the best possible answer for all the individuals involved?'' Ricketts said. 'We're all just hoping this was an experience he'll learn from and never be in the same situation again.' ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Bob Ellis knew what he wanted from his mother-in-law's collection of Lou Gehrig memorabilia both times she asked him to pick something out as a Father's Day gift. It was a hat worn by the New York Yankees slugger and a baseball signed by fellow Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins. 'I could never wear the hat because my head was too big,' the Connecticut resident said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. 'The baseball to me is historic. I know statistically those four batters were four of the top 20 batters in the history of baseball.' The hat and ball are among items Ellis and his wife, Jill, received from Jill's mother, Laurel Steigler, in 1998. The collection, which includes various photographs, letters and signed documents, and baseballs, is now available as part of Heritage Auctions' latest offering. Gehrig batted .340 with 493 home runs and 1,995 RBIs over his 17 years with the New York Yankees, helping the team win six World Series titles. He played in 2,130 consecutive games — a record that stood until Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr. broke it 1995. Gehrig retired in 1939 because amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), later called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year and died in 1941. Steigler originally inherited the items from Lou Gehrig's mother, Christina. Steigler and her husband, George, were longtime friends with Christina Gehrig when she and her husband, Heinrich, lived in the New York suburb of Mamaroneck. Sometime after Heinrich Gehrig died in 1946, Christina went to live with the Steiglers in Milford, Connecticut. Christina Gehrig stayed with them for several years until they helped her get her own place in Milford. When she died in 1954, she left part of the collection of her son's memorabilia in her will to the Steiglers. Bob Ellis married Jill in 1964, and got the ball and hat from his mother-in-law over the years. The rest of the items were kept in a safe in the Steiglers' house. After George Steigler died, Jill encouraged her mother to decide what she ultimately wanted to do with the collection. So, in 1998, Laurel Steigler divided the items between Jill and brother Kenny, who sold what he received in 2001, according to Bob Ellis. The rest remained in Laurel Steigler's safe until she died in 2014, when Ellis said the safe was transferred to his house. The items remained untouched until two years ago. Ellis then came across letters, signed checks, a copy of a 1930 speech, a signed car registration and all the photographs. 'That's when we were like, wow, look at all this stuff that was available that we never paid attention to,' Ellis said. Since his son and daughter weren't interested in the items, Ellis thought about selling the collection. When he attended a meeting of baseball enthusiasts in Derby, Connecticut, called the Silver Sluggers last August, Ellis said group host Rich Marazzi — a rules consultant for major league teams — encouraged him to contact Heritage Auctions. The following month, Ellis and his son, Scott, met with Heritage representatives in New York to determine which items had value. The Gehrig hat was certified by Mears, one of the leading memorabilia authentication companies, and estimated to be worth at least $200,000. 'It's the finest condition Gehrig cap that's ever come to market,' said Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions. 'The condition on it is just astounding. It pretty much looks exactly like it did when Gehrig wore it in the '30s.' Ellis said the hat is big hit whenever shown at group meetings. 'I offered to let people take a picture with the hat on and that absolutely was a highlight for those people.' he said. 'Most of which were older people and they knew the legacy of Gehrig. A couple people told me that to take that picture to their senior citizen group the next week was the thrill of a lifetime.' The ball signed by the four Hall of Famers was valued by Heritage at $20,000, and the photographs range from $100 to at least $4,000. Ellis said he and his wife plan to give some of the money from the items to their son, daughter and three grandchildren. 'There's no intention for us to go and take crazy trips,' he said. ___ Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP
  • Duke keeps finding its way back to No. 1. The Blue Devils reclaimed the top spot in Monday's AP Top 25, the third time this season they've reached No. 1. Duke earned 58 of 64 first-place votes to climb one spot and replace Tennessee, which had spent four weeks at No. 1 but fell to fifth after Saturday's loss at Kentucky. Duke has now spent nearly half of the season's polls (seven of 16) at No. 1, and hasn't been ranked lower than fourth since the preseason. The Blue Devils (23-2) — who start four talented freshmen in RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones — also haven't lost a game at full strength since falling to Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational championship game. Barrett (22.7 points per game) and Williamson (22.4) are the Atlantic Coast Conference's top two scorers, while Jones is second in the league in assists (5.4) while also being one of the nation's best on-ball defenders. Duke spent two weeks at No. 1 in November after a dazzling performance in a season-opening blowout win against Kentucky. The Blue Devils returned to No. 1 on Christmas Eve and spent four more weeks there, but dropped after an overtime home loss to Syracuse while playing without Reddish (illness) and losing Jones to a first-half shoulder injury. They had to make a wild comeback from 23 down in the final 10 minutes against Louisville last week to get back to No. 1 this time, just in time for their rivalry game against No. 8 North Carolina on Wednesday. THE TOP TIER Gonzaga (25-2) earned the remaining six first-place votes and moved up a spot to No. 2, followed by Virginia and coach John Calipari's Wildcats — who have made a long climb back after falling from No. 2 following the Duke loss to as low as No. 19 in mid-December. Nevada, Michigan, UNC, Houston and Michigan State rounded out the top 10. RISING LSU made the week's biggest jump, climbing six spots to No. 13 after last week's win at Kentucky. The Tigers (21-4) are tied with Tennessee atop the Southeastern Conference standings and have lost once since mid-December. Iowa State also made a significant jump, rising four spots to No. 19 after beating Big 12-leading Kansas State. Twelve teams climbed in the rankings this week, though LSU and Iowa State were the only ones that moved more than a spot or two. SLIDING Kansas State fell five spots to No. 23 for the week's biggest slide. And No. 17 Villanova matched Tennessee's four-spot fall after the reigning national champions lost to St. John's at Madison Square Garden. In all, eight teams fell in Monday's poll. STATUS QUO For the first time this season, no new teams joined the Top 25. And five teams stayed in the same spot from the previous poll. CONFERENCE WATCH The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big Ten took up nearly half the spots in this week's Top 25. The ACC has six ranked teams in Duke, Virginia, UNC, No. 16 Florida State, No. 18 Louisville and No. 20 Virginia Tech. The Big Ten also has six with Michigan, Michigan State, No. 15 Purdue, No. 21 Iowa, No. 22 Wisconsin and No. 24 Maryland. The Big 12 had four ranked teams — led by preseason No. 1 and current No. 12 Kansas — the SEC had three and the Big East had two. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 ___ Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap
  • 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.
  • Caster Semenya arrived at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday for a hearing in a landmark case that will challenge science and gender politics. The two-time Olympic 800-meter champion from South Africa didn't take questions as she arrived at the court, but she flashed her fingers in a 'V'' shape and smiled as she entered. The scheduled five-day appeal case is among the longest ever heard by the sports court. CAS secretary-general Mathieu Reeb expressed hope for a decision by the three-judge panel by the end of March. The IAAF has proposed eligibility rules for athletes with hyperandrogenism, a medical condition in which women may have excessive levels of male hormones such as testosterone. Semenya wants to overturn those rules. IAAF president Sebastian Coe was also at the court. 'The core value for the IAAF is the empowerment of girls and women through athletics,' Coe said. 'The regulations that we are introducing are there to protect the sanctity of fair and open competition.' The IAAF wants to require women with naturally elevated testosterone to lower their levels by medication before being allowed to compete in world-class races from 400 meters to one mile. Reeb said the case was 'unusual and unprecedented' and said the decision 'will be important.' Norman Arendse, a lawyer for Semenya, called it 'a highly confidential process.' ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Joe Gibbs closed his eyes during a tribute lap for his late son, while crew members raised a banner to honor the co-founder of Joe Gibbs Racing. J.D. Gibbs had been hand-picked by his father to run the organization, changed tires during the early seasons, had a brief stint as a driver, pushed for a pivotal switch to Toyota and discovered Denny Hamlin. He signed Hamlin to drive the No. 11, his number from his football days, and it is his name above the driver door on Hamlin's car. J.D. Gibbs died last month following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease and Hamlin dedicated this NASCAR season to Gibbs' memory. When Hamlin crossed the finish line Sunday night to win his second Daytona 500 in four years, Joe Gibbs could not hold back what the moment meant to him. A Hall of Fame NFL coach with three Super Bowl victories ranked JGR's third Daytona 500 win as top. 'It's the most emotional and the biggest win I've ever had in my life in anything' Gibbs said. 'J.D. built our race team, was the guy that ran day to day operations for 27 years. He invested his occupational life in our race team. It was the most important night in my occupational life. 'I know J.D. and everybody in my family was emotional.' Hamlin came to Daytona determined to honor his late car owner with a victory. He delivered a storybook tribute. Hamlin led JGR in a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium in overtime and was met in victory lane by the entire Gibbs family, including J.D.'s widow and four sons. 'He meant a lot to me and it's hard for me not getting choked up because I've been choked up about 100 times about it,' Hamlin said. 'Just to have Melissa (Gibbs) and all the kids here, it's just crazy.' Kyle Busch and Erik Jones finished second and third as JGR became the second team in NASCAR history to sweep the Daytona 500 podium. Hendrick Motorsports did it in 1997 with Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven. Busch, now winless in 14 Daytona 500s, was initially openly disappointed in falling short. 'He's got two, I've got none, and that's just the way it goes sometimes,' Busch said. But he reiterated the JGR and Toyota goal of working together to win the race and noted he didn't have much of a shot at beating Hamlin because the field had been decimated by a flurry of late accidents. 'Was trying to make sure one of us gets to victory lane, first and foremost,' Busch said. 'There wasn't enough cars out there running at the end. I don't know how it would have played out.' Hamlin and Busch alternated as the leaders during the handful of late restarts, and the final rush to the checkered flag was a push to hold off Ford driver and reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano. The Ford camp went 1-2-3 in both of Thursday's qualifying races and was favored to win the Daytona 500. Logano, who started his career at JGR, settled for fourth and also took a moment to honor J.D. Gibbs. 'I'm not a Gibbs driver but for what J.D. has done for my career is the reason why I'm sitting here today,' Logano said. 'As bad as I want to win it, it is pretty cool to think that the first race after his passing, to see those guys one, two, three, it just says he's up there watching and maybe gave (those) guys a little extra boost there at the end.' Hamlin last year suffered through his first winless season in the Cup Series and made a crew chief change during the offseason. When he won the 500 in 2016 it was his debut race with crew chief Mike Wheeler, and this victory came in his first race with Chris Gabehart. Hamlin's first Daytona 500 victory was in a photo finish against Martin Truex Jr. and the celebration was a blur. This one, he said, he will enjoy. 'I think I was so dumbfounded about everything that happened the first time with the photo finish and everything,' Hamlin said. 'This one lets me soak it in a little bit more. I'm going to have a terrible hangover tomorrow, but I'm going to enjoy it the rest of my life.' ___ More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Georgia Sports News

  • 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.