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    Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu says he has recovered sufficiently from an ankle injury and is ready to compete for the title at the world figure skating championships. 'I may not be 100 percent recovered but I'm ready for this competition' Hanyu told a news conference Tuesday, on the eve of the championships. 'The goal is always to win and not just beat your opponent but to overcome yourself. I'm looking forward to competing. 'I've been in this position before where I came back from injury before the Olympics and that was valuable experience that will help.' Hanyu arrived in Japan on a flight from Toronto late Monday accompanied by coach Brian Orser. On Tuesday, he practiced for about 30 minutes at the arena in front a large crowd of fans who applauded every jump he made. The 24-year-old missed last year's worlds because of injury. He last won the title at the 2017 world championships in Helsinki. His first win was in 2014 at Saitama Super Arena, the same venue as this year's worlds. After twisting his right ankle in a fall in practice at the Rostelecom Cup on Nov. 17, Hanyu was told he needed three weeks of rest and one month of rehabilitation to recover from a ligament injury sustained in the fall. He claimed his second straight Grand Prix series title of the season despite the injury, but was forced to withdraw from the Grand Prix Final and the Japan nationals in December. Hanyu sustained a similar injury at the 2017 NHK Trophy before making a comeback at last year's Pyeongchang Olympics, where he became the first male figure skater to win consecutive Olympic golds since American Dick Button in 1948 and 1952. Defending champion Nathan Chen practiced at Saitama Super Arena on Monday and said he had fully recovered from a cold. Coming off a long break from the U.S. Nationals in January, when he captured his third straight national title, Chen said his plan is pretty much to stick with that program at the worlds. During the nationals, Chen landed four quad jumps in his free skate routine, one of which was in combination. Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno, the 2018 world championship silver medalist, will also be a medal contender on home ice. Uno heads into the worlds on a high having won the Four Continents last month. In that competition, Uno showed his resolve when he finished fourth in the short program and then won the free skate to claim the overall title. It marked the first time he won a major international competition. Uno also had an impressive 2018, winning Skate Canada, the NHK Trophy and the Japanese nationals. The world championships begin with the women's short program on Wednesday. The men's short program is on Thursday. ____ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Dirk Nowitzki passed Wilt Chamberlain for sixth place on the NBA's career scoring list, but Elfrid Payton had his fifth straight triple-double to help the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Dallas Mavericks 129-125 in overtime Monday night. Payton finished with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Dallas rookie Luka Doncic had a triple-double of his own with 29 points, 13 boards and 10 assists. Julius Randle scored 11 of his 30 points in the final 3:29 of regulation, helping the Pelicans rally to force overtime. Doncic made the second of two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to tie the score at 110, and Randle missed a turnaround at the buzzer. Payton and Frank Jackson each had six points in OT for the Pelicans, who ended a six-game losing streak. Nowitzki moved past Chamberlain (31,419 points) on one of his signature long-range jumpers with 8:35 remaining in the first quarter. The 40-year-old German took a feed from Doncic and backed down Kenrich Williams before turning and launching from the top of the key. Entering the game needing four points to pass Chamberlain, Nowitzki started for the ninth time this season. He made his first two shots to end the suspense with a sellout crowd on its feet. His first basket was a 20-footer off an assist from rookie Jalen Brunson. Nowitzki finished with eight points, giving him 31,424 in his 21 seasons — trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. The two jumpers were a fitting way for Nowitzki to pass Chamberlain, whose listed height of 7-foot-1 is only an inch taller than Nowitzki. But the two reached their point totals with contrasting styles of play. Chamberlain once averaged more than 50 points in a season, dominating inside to such a degree that the NBA widened the paint in an effort to neutralize him. Nowitzki, meanwhile, has made nearly 2,000 3-pointers in his career, establishing the trend of big men with long-range shooting capabilities. He's an 88 percent free throw shooter, 37 points higher than Chamberlain's mark. Also serendipitous was Nowitzki reaching the milestone at home — he is the only NBA player to spend 21 seasons with one team. The club launched a new marketing campaign Monday called 41.21.1, commemorating his uniform number and his tenure with the team. It is anticipated that this will be his final season, though Nowitzki has only said publicly he will decide at the end of the year. TIP-INS Pelicans: Anthony Davis had 20 points in 21 minutes. Jackson scored 19. Mavericks: Tim Hardaway Jr. had 21 points. Salah Mejri scored a season-high nine. ... Doncic has scored 20 or more points in 38 games, second among Mavs rookies to Jay Vincent's 53 in 1981-82. UP NEXT Pelicans: Visit the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. Mavericks: Visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
  • DeMar DeRozan had 26 points and nine rebounds, LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and 13 rebounds and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Golden State Warriors 111-105 on Monday night for their ninth straight win. San Antonio won its 11th straight at home and moved into fifth in the Western Conference at 42-29 following Oklahoma City's loss to Miami. Stephen Curry had 25 points after a slow start and Kevin Durant added 24 for Golden State, which entered the game having won two straight. The Warriors have dropped into a tie with Denver for first place in the West with matching 47-22 records. There were nine ties in the intense matchup between the West's best and the league's hottest team. The Warriors had to rally in the second half after a sluggish start. Curry and Klay Thompson opened the game a combined 0 for 11, but the Warriors' defense allowed them to tie the game at 25 when Curry threw in a 61-footer to close the first quarter. Thompson finished with 14 points. After tailing by 11 in the third quarter, the Warriors' offense awoke to silence the sold-out crowd with a 16-5 run to forge a 75-all tie. The run included a shakedown, step-back 3-pointer by Curry and a pair of quick passes from Curry to Draymond Green to Shaun Livingston for an emphatic dunk. Curry had eight points in the run. DeRozan scored 10 points in the final quarter, including a pair of pull-up jumpers over Thompson, to seal the victory. Rudy Gay added 17 points for San Antonio and Derrick White had 12. TIP-INS Warriors: Andrew Bogut started the game. Bogut spent four seasons with Golden State before rejoining the team March 6 as a free agent. ... The Warriors have won at least 23 road games in six straight seasons. They lost for the fifth time in 24 games away from home. ... Golden State defeated San Antonio by 39 points in their previous meeting, Feb. 6 at Oracle Arena. It was the largest winning margin over the Spurs in franchise history. Spurs: DeRozan has 1,400 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists with the Spurs this season. LeBron James, who accomplished the feat this season, Steve Francis ('05 with Orlando) and Tracy McGrady ('05 with Houston) are the last three players to accomplish that feat in the first year with a new team. ... Aldridge has 18,854 career points, moving past Glen Rice for 69th all-time in league history. Rice had 18,338 career points over 15 seasons beginning in 1989. ... DeRozan is the first Spurs guard to make 300 free throws in a season since Manu Ginobili in 2011. UP NEXT Warriors: At Minnesota on Tuesday night. Spurs: Host Miami on Wednesday night. ___ More AP NBA: www.apnews.com/NBA and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning earned one trophy on Monday night. Starting next month, they'll be one of the favorites in the chase for the Stanley Cup. The Lightning clinched the Presidents' Trophy for the top regular-season mark in the league with a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Lightning, who have 56 wins and 116 points, will try to become the ninth Presidents' Trophy winner to win the Cup. The Presidents' Trophy was first awarded by the NHL in 1985-86. 'Trophies are hard to win, they truly are,' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. 'And when you win one you should be damn proud of it. I know there are a lot of teams that have not won that trophy and I think it's something you should embrace.' Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored his 36th goal of the season and 384th of his career to become the Lightning franchise leader in goals, passing former Tampa Bay captain Vinny Lecavalier. 'I'm very honored and humbled to be a part of history like that,' said Stamkos, who reached the record in 737 games. 'Definitely happy it happened in a win and in a game like that where so many special things that happened.' Victor Hedman scored his 10th goal of the season while Anthony Cirelli and Yanni Gourde added empty-net short-handed goals in the final minute. Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 28 saves for his 36th victory of the season, tied for the league lead. Clayton Keller scored his 14th of the season and Darcy Kuemper stopped 20 shots for Arizona, which remains one point ahead of Minnesota for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 'You're playing a number one and I thought we handled ourselves really well,' Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. 'Guys played hard. They stuck to the system, inch here and there, couple of missed nets here and there and (the Lightning) get one to start the period. You're hoping it was one of those games that's an overtime game. I thought it was.' Keller opened the scoring 5:03 into the game, taking a drop pass from Christian Dvorak for a one-timer past Vasilevskiy. Stamkos tied the score 1:51 later, tipping Ryan McDonagh's shot. Hedman put Tampa Bay in front for good 44 seconds into the third period while Cirelli notched his fifth short-handed goal of the season, tied for the league lead, with a shot from his own end with 44.8 seconds left. Gourde finished it off with 8.6 seconds left. 'It's probably one of the best games we have played in the season so it's kind of sour to walk away with no points to be honest with you,' Arizona captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. 'I can't forget that we're playing against one of the best teams in the league and we matched them really, really good tonight.' NOTES: Lightning D Dan Girardi (lower body) and D Anton Stralman (lower body) each missed their fifth consecutive game. ... Tampa Bay recalled D Cameron Gaunce from Syracuse of the American Hockey League. ... Arizona RW Clayton Keller has four goals in four games against Tampa Bay. ... Vasilevskiy leads the league with 20 victories since Jan. 1, Kuemper is second with 19. ... Gourde became the fifth Lightning player to reach the 20-goal mark this season and has reached it in consecutive seasons. UP NEXT Lightning: At Washington Capitals on Wednesday Coyotes: At Florida Panthers on Thursday ___ More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The Denver Nuggets are headed back to the postseason after a six-year drought. Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 13 rebounds and the Nuggets rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 114-105 on Monday night and clinched their first playoff berth since 2012-13. Will Barton added 20 points for Denver, which has won four straight. The Nuggets (47-22) are tied with Golden State for the best record in the Western Conference. The Nuggets won 46 games last season, but missed the playoffs after losing in overtime to Minnesota on the final day of the regular season. This season their 47th victory proved to be their charm. 'It's a great feeling,' Denver coach Michael Malone said. 'Four years in the making. Two years in a row coming up just shy, one game short. Using that as a motivation for tonight's moment.' Smiles were everywhere in the Nuggets locker room afterward. 'Yesss sir!' Jamal Murray beamed. 'We're just going to take this. We're going to take a moment to realize how far we've come. It's good to look ahead and enjoy the moment at the same time.' Kyrie Irving led the Celtics (43-28) with 30 points. Al Horford finished with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. It was Boston's second loss in seven games. 'You gotta play well for 48 minutes against those guys,' Irving said. 'They've come back from 18 down, 17 down. They keep firing.' The Celtics are fifth in the East, 1½ games behind fourth-place Indiana and 2½ games behind Philadelphia, whom they visit on Wednesday. The game felt like a matchup between two postseason-bound teams. It stayed tight at the start of the second half, with neither team holding more than a two-possession lead in the third quarter. But the Nuggets got some breathing room in the final period and took a 106-94 lead with 3:47 left in the game. Boston scored seven straight to get it within five, but Barton stopped the run with a layup. Following a missed 3-pointer by Horford on the other end, Paul Millsap all but sealed it with a four-point play that made it 112-101 with 31.3 seconds remaining. TIP-INS Nuggets: Jokic recorded his 39th double-double of the season. Celtics: Played without Gordon Hayward (concussion protocol) and Robert Williams (illness). FAST HALF The pace was rapid throughout the first half. The teams combined for 107 points in the opening 24 minutes. Nuggets held the 55-52 halftime lead, with Jokic and Barton scoring 13 points apiece. Irving started the game 1 for 9 from the field, but Horford picked up the scoring load for the Celtics, connecting on 5 of his 9 attempts from the field. THOMAS RETURNS Isaiah Thomas received lots of love from the Celtics during his latest return to the city he said still feels like home despite multiple stops the past two seasons. A video highlighting Thomas' time in Boston was shown during a timeout in the first quarter and ended with an extended standing ovation from fans and players and coaches from both teams. Denver coach Michael Malone previously informed Thomas he was being dropped from the rotation in preparation for the playoffs. But he inserted the 5-foot-9 guard into the game with 2:42 left in the first quarter. Thomas started slowly missing two shots, stepping out bounds and fouling Daniel Theis on his way in for a dunk. He started the second quarter and played a total of seven minutes for the game, finishing with no points and two assists. A two-time All-Star in Boston, Thomas was blindsided by the trade that sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the deal that brought Kyrie Irving to the Celtics in the summer of 2017. He was dealt to the Lakers at the trade deadline that next season, before landing in Denver this past summer. He says the hip injury that slowed him during his final season in Boston is healed and that whatever happens he is going into free agency this summer with open eyes. That includes being open to a possible return to Boston. 'You never know what could happen,' Thomas said. 'My options are always open no matter what it is. If I end up back here at some point. That would make the story that much better.' UP NEXT Nuggets: At Washington on Thursday. Celtics: Visit Philadelphia on Wednesday. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks became the NBA's sixth-leading scorer Monday night with another of his signature long-range jumpers. Nowitzki took Luka Doncic's handoff and backed down New Orleans' Kenrich Williams before hitting a turnaround from the top of the free-throw circle with 8:35 left in the first quarter. The basket brought Nowitzki to 31,420 points in his career, one more than Wilt Chamberlain. The 40-year-old German trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. James passed Jordan for fourth place on March 6. Coming into the game, Nowitzki needed just four points to pass Chamberlain, and he started for just the ninth time this season. His first basket was a 20-footer off an assist from rookie Jalen Brunson. While Nowitzki stands only an inch shorter than Chamberlain's listed height of 7-foot-1, the two reached their point totals with contrasting styles of play. Chamberlain once averaged more than 50 points in a season, dominating inside to such a degree that the NBA widened the paint in an effort to neutralize him. Nowitzki, meanwhile, has made nearly 2,000 3-pointers in his career, establishing the trend of big men with long-range shooting capabilities. He's an 88-percent free-throw shooter, 37 points higher than Chamberlain's mark. 'One of his real legacies is gonna be how he helped this game evolve to what it is today,' Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. 'In the '90s and early 2000s, there was a real crisis. Scoring was down. The way Dirk approached the game helped ... nudge the game along and open up space. Eventually the value of the 3-point shot to open up space became a reality. And so today, you don't hear anybody talking about how there's not enough scoring or the game's not exciting.' Nowitzki is 872 points behind Jordan but may retire at the end of the season, though he has said he will decide on his future when the season is over. He is the only player in NBA history to play 21 seasons with one team. Nowitzki missed the first 26 games of the season recovering from left ankle surgery and has been reduced to a role player for much of the year, but he has started the past four games and nine out of the last 12 for the Mavs. His season high entering Monday was 15 points. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart has emphasized several times in several ways that championship football requires all units working together. Indeed, much of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive scheming is predicated on Smart and his staff analyzing strengths and weaknesses and game arriving at core alignments and plays. The sooner Georgia knows itself, the better, and that makes the Bulldogs’ 15 spring practice dates pivotal. Here’s a way-too-early positional group ranking, an order that could be affected by an updated injury report or the emergence of a newcomer. 1. Offensive line The lock: Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, Outland Trophy candidate. The question: Sophomore Cade Mays, where does he fit in? 2. Defensive backs The lock: Senior safety J.R. Reed, team leader of defense. The question: Sophomore Tyson Campbell, will skills match elite speed and ideal length? 3. Specialists The lock: Senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. The question: Can Georgia adequately replace Mecole Hardman? 3. Quarterbacks The lock: Junior Jake Fromm, third-year starter, offense on his shoulders. The question: How much of the offense can freshman Dwan Mathis pick up? 4. Linebackers The lock: None. The question: Can senior Tae Crowder become the playmaker Georgia lacked last year? 5. Running backs The lock: Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, Hesiman Trophy candidate The question (s): Will production match 5-star ratings of James Cook and Zamir White in 2019? 6. Receivers/tight ends The lock: Junior receiver J.J. Holloman is the go-to target. The question: Can graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf fill the void left by Isaac Nauta? 7. Defensive linemen The lock: None. The question: Will sophomore Jordan Davis become an SEC dominator? More Georgia football spring 2019 Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post Georgia football: Way-too-early team spring position group rankings appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Devon Gales, the former Southern University football player who was paralyzed in a 2015 game against UGA, is returning to football. Gales has been hired as an assistant football coach at Jefferson High School, per accessWDUN.com’s Bo Wilson. The new job will be around 20 miles away from UGA. Former UGA recruiting coordinator Bob Pittard is a social studies teacher at the high school. Per the website, the hiring of Gales was the idea of Jefferson superintendent Dr. John Jackson. It was after Gales shared his story with the Jefferson senior class. “It was brought to our attention upon meeting this wonderful family that Devon missed the game and practices and being part of a football team in the game he still loved so much,” Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart told the website. “Dr. John Jackson had the idea of getting him involved in our program in some way and how our young men would benefit from his living example, character, strength in facing adversity and perseverance.” UGA donors and fans raised funds to build a handicapped-accessible house in Jefferson for Gales and his family. The post Devon Gales makes his return to football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • This is the Ichiro effect. Richard Snitzer had never been to Japan. What finally drove the Japanese-American to travel here from his home in Hayward, California, was Ichiro Suzuki; not family ties, not pure wanderlust, but a chance to see a player he called 'simply the best.' And get this. He's not even a Mariners fan, which he's advertised by wearing his A's jersey around the Tokyo Dome. He'll be there Wednesday when Major League Baseball opens the 2019 season with Seattle facing Oakland to start a two-game series. The 45-year-old Ichiro is expected to play in both. What happens next? Ichiro isn't saying. One thing is sure. It will be great theater. 'I'll have my phone ready to go, and I'll shoot and stand up and applaud when he bats,' Snitzer said. 'I just hope he doesn't get the winning hit against the A's. If he hits a home run that doesn't affect the game, I'll be thrilled.' A's pitcher Liam Hendriks probably spoke for both teams. 'We're just happy to be along for the ride,' he said. 'I can't wait for the opening series when they announce Ichiro and hear that crowd.' Chances are, most baseball fans in other places will be asleep when A's right-hander Mike Fiers throws the first pitch of the year — around 5:30 a.m. EDT. That's OK, there will be plenty of time for everyone to catch up before the other 28 teams open on March 28 at Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium and points in-between. Plenty to see, too, in a season that will stretch to end of October — Bryce Harper now batting in Philly, the Boston Red Sox trying to repeat as World Series champions and more talk about changing how the game is played. In the meantime, Ichiro slipped into Tokyo's Haneda airport on Friday under the cover of a gray and black cap pulled way down. He's been highly visible since then; at a rare news conference, showing off in practice with trick catches in right field, and signing autographs to fans lining the foul lines before exhibition games against the Tokyo Giants. Almost the only shirts for sale in the Tokyo Dome are Ichiro models. And they're not cheap: between $35-45 for a T-shirt, $62 for a sweat shirt, and a baseball with No. 51 goes for $30. 'Yes, we are selling well because Ichiro is a man of effort,' said Yu Takamiya, a vendor answering questions through his translator app. Ichiro told reporters on Saturday that — based on spring training — he's lucky to be here. He hit .080 in Arizona, and he hasn't played a regular-season game in a year. He was 0 for 6 in two exhibition games against the Tokyo Giants. They don't count officially. But if they did, he's hitting .065. 'This is a great gift for me,' he said a day after arriving. 'I will treasure every moment here on the field. One week after this event, I will be reflecting back on these days.' A's manager Bob Melvin knows Ichiro well from managing the Mariners 15 years ago. 'There are certain guys that create that kind of buzz,' Melvin said. 'He's used to it, but it's going to be a long few days for him. Once he gets on the field, that's when you just do your thing and insulate.' Melvin recalled Ichiro's relentless training. It hasn't changed. Ichiro was alone running across the outfield in several practices in Tokyo. 'As far as playing and preparing, there was nobody better,' Melvin said. A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty, making his first visit to Japan, called Ichiro 'a master.' 'He still in control of his destiny here,' Piscotty said. 'He's pretty special and it's an honor to be on the field with him. Obviously you look around, and you see how important baseball is in Japan, and Ichiro's a part of that.' Other key parts of the upcoming season: ROSTER RESHUFFLING Bryce Harper was the biggest name to change places since last season, leaving the Nationals and signing a record $330 million, 13-year contract with Philadelphia. The Phillies were especially busy, adding J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson. Also on the move were Manny Machado (Padres), Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals), Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz (Mets), Nelson Cruz (Twins), Patrick Corbin (Nationals) and Josh Donaldson (Braves). But another slow market for many free agents meant All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel didn't have jobs on the brink of a new season. HIYA, SKIP! New Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo quickly showed he's all for trying new strategy — he played a four-man outfield defense against Harper in spring training. There are six new skippers in the majors this year: Montoyo, David Bell (Reds), Rocco Baldelli (Twins), Chris Woodward (Rangers) and Brandon Hyde (Orioles) are doing this for the first time in the bigs, Brad Ausmus (Angels) has experience. NEW RULES Despite a lot of discussion, nothing major for this season. No prohibition on shifts, no pitch clocks, and no requirement for pitchers to face at least three batters until next year. No robot umpires for now. One change could affect pennant races this summer — no trades after July 31, so no more deals in late August for an extra player in the postseason. REPEAT AFTER ME It's been quite a while since a team won back-to-back crowns — the Yankees were the last to do it, taking their third straight title in 2000. Now, AL MVP Mookie Betts and the Red Sox will try to stop baseball's longest gap without a repeat champion. Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, will try to avoid becoming the first team to lose three straight World Series since star pitcher Christy Mathewson, famed manager John McGraw and the New York Giants fell in 1911-13. OPENING NEXT After the Mariners and A's leave Japan, they'll return to the United States to finish out spring training games. Then everyone is in action for regular season play on March 28. Among the matchups: Red Sox at Seattle, Baltimore at Yankee Stadium and Arizona at Dodger Stadium. Also, the Cubs will play at Texas — this will be the Rangers' last season at the park they opened in 1994 before moving into a nearby new home next year. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Georgia Sports News

  • Devon Gales, the former Southern University football player who was paralyzed in a 2015 game against UGA, is returning to football. Gales has been hired as an assistant football coach at Jefferson High School, per accessWDUN.com’s Bo Wilson. The new job will be around 20 miles away from UGA. Former UGA recruiting coordinator Bob Pittard is a social studies teacher at the high school. Per the website, the hiring of Gales was the idea of Jefferson superintendent Dr. John Jackson. It was after Gales shared his story with the Jefferson senior class. “It was brought to our attention upon meeting this wonderful family that Devon missed the game and practices and being part of a football team in the game he still loved so much,” Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart told the website. “Dr. John Jackson had the idea of getting him involved in our program in some way and how our young men would benefit from his living example, character, strength in facing adversity and perseverance.” UGA donors and fans raised funds to build a handicapped-accessible house in Jefferson for Gales and his family. The post Devon Gales makes his return to football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart has emphasized several times in several ways that championship football requires all units working together. Indeed, much of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive scheming is predicated on Smart and his staff analyzing strengths and weaknesses and game arriving at core alignments and plays. The sooner Georgia knows itself, the better, and that makes the Bulldogs’ 15 spring practice dates pivotal. Here’s a way-too-early positional group ranking, an order that could be affected by an updated injury report or the emergence of a newcomer. 1. Offensive line The lock: Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, Outland Trophy candidate. The question: Sophomore Cade Mays, where does he fit in? 2. Defensive backs The lock: Senior safety J.R. Reed, team leader of defense. The question: Sophomore Tyson Campbell, will skills match elite speed and ideal length? 3. Specialists The lock: Senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. The question: Can Georgia adequately replace Mecole Hardman? 3. Quarterbacks The lock: Junior Jake Fromm, third-year starter, offense on his shoulders. The question: How much of the offense can freshman Dwan Mathis pick up? 4. Linebackers The lock: None. The question: Can senior Tae Crowder become the playmaker Georgia lacked last year? 5. Running backs The lock: Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, Hesiman Trophy candidate The question (s): Will production match 5-star ratings of James Cook and Zamir White in 2019? 6. Receivers/tight ends The lock: Junior receiver J.J. Holloman is the go-to target. The question: Can graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf fill the void left by Isaac Nauta? 7. Defensive linemen The lock: None. The question: Will sophomore Jordan Davis become an SEC dominator? More Georgia football spring 2019 Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post Georgia football: Way-too-early team spring position group rankings appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Best I can tell, it has been my task to cover college football spring practices for about 26 of the 31 years that encompass my sportswriting career. There were a few years that I wasn’t covering college football. There were a few more that I bounced around and saw a little bit of a lot of different teams. Most of time, though, I’ve been charged with covering all of Georgia’s spring practices. There have been times those practice sessions have been pretty interesting, some times that they’ve been incredibly dull and all over the place between. I’m anticipating the Bulldogs’ spring practice this year to be fairly intriguing. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the main one is the influx of new players. Early enrollment was a fairly new concept in the 1990s and still a bit of a rarity then. Quarterback Eric Zeier was one of the first high-profile recruits to do it and it served him very well that first year. Zeier served notice at the 1991 G-Day Game that he was going to be a factor that season, and boy was he ever. Since then, early enrollment has become a regular part of the recruiting process. Nowadays, everybody everywhere has at least a hand full of signees that come in early and get embedded with their respective teams since the first week of January. But it remains somewhat rare to see as many new players come in early — 14 — as Georgia has this year. Fourteen is a lot. The most ever for the Bulldogs. They had 13 in that 2013 class that included 30 total signees (and experienced some of the worst attrition ever for Georgia football). It’s not the most in college football. Alabama had 16 enroll early out of its 23-man recruiting class this year. But 14 is a bunch of new Bulldogs, no matter how one slices it up. That in and of itself cranks up the competition factor. Georgia has several areas in which it’d love to get some impact from from some of these early arrivals. Quarterback, linebacker and defensive back immediately spring to mind. I’d say receiver, too. But, oddly enough, the Bulldogs weren’t able to bring in any of their wideout signees early Dominick Blaylock happens to attend a school in Walton High that doesn’t allow it. Georgia has experienced the same thing with players it has signed out of Pace Academy, including Jamaree Salyer, Andrew Thomas and Trey Blount. But that’s where spring ball has changed a good bit over the years. It’s much more competitive over the course of 15 practices than it used to be. Those sessions can go a long way to determining who is going to be starter in the fall. Not always, but often. The ideal situation is getting as many positions locked down and decided in the spring, so those guys can work together as a unit as much as possible on a volunteer basis over the summer. That way they hit the ground running in preseason practice. No doubt you’ve read numerous accounts of what various people believe the be the most pressing priorities of the spring for the Bulldogs. As for me, the order of importance goes this way: Determine a receiver rotation; Identify a backup quarterback; Establish a starting center; Settle on a right cornerback; Figure out who else will help on defense. Going with the receivers first is an easy call for me. It has been well-documented that the Bulldogs lost 106 catches and 20 touchdowns from last year’s wideouts, the majority of those being compiled by juniors Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman. But that number actually goes up by 35 catches and 3 touchdowns when tight end Isaac Nauta and running back Elijah Holyfield are included. So the emphasis on throwing and catching the ball in spring practice is going to be heavy. It’s usually that way anyway this time of year, because it is rare for teams to pound on each other a lot this far away from the actual season. That said, Georgia will need to mindful of Jake Fromm’s arm health and be careful not to overthrow him. To that end, the Bulldogs would like to come out with a good idea who is going to be Fromm’s primary backup. I wrote extensively on Sunday about redshirt sophomore Stetson Bennett coming back via junior college and giving Georgia an immediate competent presence with regard to already knowing the offensive system. But freshman Dwan Mathis remains an intriguing figure, and one can he sure that the Bulldogs will work hard and fast to determine exactly what they have in this 6-foot-6 athlete who has run a 10.8 100 meters. Trey Hill leads the way to succeed Lamont Gaillard at center, but that’s not a given. As always, Sam Pittman probably suffer brain cramps from exploring all possibilities for determining the combination that results in the best five across the board. The competition to succeed Deandre Baker at right cornerback certainly will be intriguing. But starting with elevating Tyson Campbell there as Georgia did in the bowl game is the first in what are all positive alternatives at all the secondary positions. If early enrollees such as JUCO transfer D.J. Daniel or Tyrique Stevenson end up winning out, all the better. Same with outside linebackers. The recruiting at this position has been other-worldly. Between the 5-stars that are coming back and the ones coming in, something is going to have Conversely, that’s why I don’t list inside linebackers here. Certainly the Bulldogs want higher-level play than it got from the returnees last season. But I believe all the existing alternatives to be better than adequate and not necessarily paramount to Georgia’s cause.  And as exciting a prospect as is Nakobe Dean, ranked the No. 1 inside linebacker in America, I always think back to Roquan Smith’s struggles as a true freshman and how it was late in his sophomore season before he emerged as the star he actually was. Same on the D-line, same on the O-line, same in the offensive backfield, same on special teams. The rest of it is very much organic. That is, it’ll come together naturally through the teaching of concepts and fundamentals. The Bulldogs seek competition and improvement, but they’ll be able to go to war with they’ve got. What you’re NOT going to see is running back D’Andre Swift get much in the way of contact. I highly doubt you’ll see Zamir White get any at all. White, the heralded 2018 signee known as Zeus, is less than seven months removed from a second knee surgery that came eight months after the first. The Bulldogs will be very interested in seeing what the former No. 1 back in America can do, but that can wait until late summer, when he will have had a year to rehab and recover. Maybe the most important factor will be the Bulldogs getting used to some new voices and concepts from the coaching staff. For the first time since Kirby Smart has been head coach, somebody other than Jim Chaney or Mel Tucker will be putting together the practice script for the offense and defense, respectively. That said, I suspect it won’t change significantly from what Georgia has been doing the last four years. That’s why James Coley, Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann were appointed coordinators. They’re going to give Smart what he wants, which is more of the same. But it’s that — the newness factor — that’s going to make this spring so fun and interesting. And then, of course, they’ll tear up all the depth charts and start from scratch in August. The post Newness factor is what makes Kirby Smart’s 4th spring practice his most interesting at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Atlanta Braves right-hander Julio Teheran is set to make his sixth straight start on opening day. The Braves said Monday that Teheran will face the Phillies on March 28 in Philadelphia. Teheran's run ties Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (1957-62) for the longest in Braves' franchise history during the modern era. Teheran is 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA on opening day. Earlier this spring, it had been thought Mike Foltynewicz might start on opening day for the Braves. But he's likely to be out until at least mid-April with a sore right elbow. New Phillies slugger Bryce Harper is expected to make his debut in the opener. He's had a lot of career success against Teheran, going 18 for 40 (.450) with eight homers and 19 RBIs. Teheran went 9-9 last season with a 3.94 ERA in 31 starts.