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College

    Georgia’s annual G-Day Game took place Saturday in front of a Sanford Stadium crowd of more than 82,000, and the fans likely saw a lot that they liked. The Black team pulled away with a dominant third quarter to earn a 21-12 win. After leading 7-6 at halftime, the Black team used a 14-0 third quarter to take control. Here are the 5 players who stood out in the game as Georgia wraps up its spring practice. Deandre Baker: The senior defensive back got the scoring started with a 32-yard interception return in the first quarter. Baker stepped right in front of Jake Fromm’s pass and cruised into the end zone to get the Black team on the board. UGA concludes spring practice with G-Day game | Photos Justin Fields: The freshman quarterback came alive in the third quarter to lead the Black team to its 14-0 advantage in the quarter. Fields was 9-of-16 for 118 yards in the first half, but he was 5-of-7 for 74 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter. Fields finished 18-of-33 for 207 yards with the touchdown and one interception. Brian Herrien: The junior running back finished with 34 yards on 5 carries, and he had 4 receptions for 44 yards to lead the Red team offense. Richard LeCounte: The sophomore defensive back had an interception and was all over the Red team’s wide receivers the entire game, finishing with 3 tackles. Monty Rice: The sophomore linebacker, who could step in for former standout Roquan Smith at inside linebacker, finished with a game-high 14 tackles and a sack.
  • Elijah Holyfield has officially retired. From boxing, that is. “Oh, no. Heck, no!” Holyfield said Tuesday of a possible return to boxing, which he last did competitively as a middle schooler. “I’ve been out of it too long, and I wouldn’t want to go in there and get hit again. I don’t want to get punched anymore. I get hit enough running.” That would be running with a football. And he’s going to stick with that a bit longer. In fact, Holyfield’s football career is just beginning to take off, in college anyway. At least it looks that way as the Georgia Bulldogs move toward the end of spring practice in Holyfield’s third year. All signs are point to the rising junior from College Park with the famous last name being Georgia’s primary ball carrier when G-Day kicks off this Saturday (4 p.m., ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB). In a position largely defined by the “survival-of-the-fittest” model, Holyfield has both survived and proved the most fit this spring. As the Bulldogs prepare to play before an estimated crowd of 78,000 at Saturday, Holyfield is the odds-0n favorite to play the role of Georgia’s No. 1 tailback. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have moved on, of course, and heir apparent D’Andre Swift is slightly gimpy with a groin injury. But Holyfield might’ve been the man anyway. In fact, that’s exactly what some of his teammates were saying about him on Tuesday. “That’s a man right there,” said defensive end David Marshall, who gets to tackle Holyfield almost every practice. “I love how he practices, I love how he comes hard every play. I’ve never seen him slacking, ever.” Holyfield and fellow junior Brian Herrien have managed to stay healthy while getting the majority of repetitions in Georgia’s considerable running back corps this spring. Ballyhooed freshman signee Zamir “Zeus” White is running drills but has not been cleared for contact while recovering from December knee surgery. Fellow blue-chip recruit James Cook hasn’t arrived yet. Georgia also has a small selection of walk-ons at running back, including sophomores Prather Hudson and Ian Donald-McIntyre. But Holyfield has created the buzz in camp. Not only does he look physically imposing, he has been playing a high level, as well. “He’s a physical, tough guy, one of my favorite competitors out there,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said last week. “He’s got to pass protect better. He’s got to work on it, and that’s been a big emphasis for him. But I’m excited to see where he goes. He’s had some really good, tough runs this spring.” Holyfield’s opportunities to show his stuff have been very limited since he signed with the Bulldogs out of Atlanta’s Woodward Academy. Playing a mop-up role behind Chubb and Michel the last two seasons, he has only 56 career rushing attempts for 322 yards. But he has averaged 5.8 yards on those carries and recorded 2 touchdowns. Both of them were impressive, but especially the 39-yarder early in the fourth quarter against Florida last October. He capped it off with a Superman dive into the end zone. “Breaking that was really a confidence builder for me to know I can play on this level,” Holyfield said. Holyfield, who is listed at 5-foot-11, 217 pounds, is known as a strong, tough runner. But that play and the 90-yard kickoff return against Notre Dame that was nullified by a holding penalty demonstrated that he also has speed and some moves. But Holyfield is exceptionally strong and works hard to be that way. He doesn’t mind telling people that he can hang with Chubb when it comes to pumping iron. “I try to do what he could do,” Holyfield said. “I look at his numbers and try to get to those.” Asked if he matched any, Holyfield said, “Oh, yeah. Ask Chubb” — but he withheld details. Doesn’t matter. Playing running back is all about performing on the field. And while Saturday won’t be a sanctioned college football game, Holyfield’s excited to show Georgia fans what he has to offer in 2018. “I’m looking forward to G-Day and running the ball in front of a lot of people,” Holyfield said. “As I get the ball more I think everybody will see all the things I can do.” At one time, Holyfield was known as that Atlanta running back who looks strikingly similar to his famous father, world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield. But his goal is to be known as an exceptional football player by his own right. And he’s working hard to make it happen. “It’s not really a shadow,” he said of his father’s fame. “If it is, it’s just motivation to get out of it.”
  • 7 things to know about UGA’s recruiting class When it comes to college football recruiting, Georgia is the best in the nation for 2018. According to 247Sports, the Bulldogs edged Ohio State and Texas at the top of the 2018 football recruiting composite team rankings.   After finishing the early signing period in December with nation’s top-rated class, UGA welcomed three elite defensive prospects to the fold Wednesday to secure the No. 1 spot overall. List of signees | Current players react to recruiting class Biggest signee of the day? Plantation (Fla.) cornerback Tyson Campbell, who chose the Bulldogs over Alabama and Ohio State. Campbell became the seventh 5-star signee in the class, the most ever for UGA. Bradley: Does recruiting matter? Ask Nick Saban how his team beat Georgia Biggest surprise of the day? Maybe a pair of surprises -  AJC Super 11 player Otis Reese flipping from Michigan to UGA and 4-star linebacker prospect Quay Walker flipping from Alabama to Georgia. Actually, Walker did some more flipping Wednesday as witnessed in his signing day ceremony. (See the video). Biggest receiver of the day? 6-foot-4 Texan Tommy Bush. Biggest player of the day? Defensive lineman Jordan Davis, who checks in at 6-foot-6, 335 pounds.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs are the defending SEC Champions entering the 2018 college football season. Georgia will open the season Sept. 1 against Austin Peay, the schools’ first meeting, and also will face Massachusetts on Nov. 17 as part of a football and basketball agreement.  The Bulldogs’ four true road games will be SEC contests at South Carolina, Missouri, LSU and Kentucky. Georgia’s game with South Carolina has returned to its normal Week 2 slot after three years of random spots on the schedule. The Bulldogs’ trip to LSU will be their first since 2008. Georgia’s 2018 football schedule (Home games in BOLD) Sept. 1, vs. Austin Peay Governors Sept. 8, at South Carolina GamecocksSept. 15, vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Sept. 22, at Missouri TigersSept. 29, vs. Tennessee Volunteers Oct. 6, vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Oct. 13, at LSU TigersOct. 20 OFFOct. 27, Florida Gators (at Jacksonville, Fla.)Nov. 3, at Kentucky WildcatsNo. 10, vs. Auburn Tigers Nov. 17, vs. UMass Minutemen Nov. 24, vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Dec. 1, SEC Championship Game (at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta)
  • What was long expected is now official: Jacob Eason, the starting quarterback when this Georgia football season began, is leaving the program. Eason announced the news via his Twitter account on Friday afternoon. “Thank you UGA for an incredible two years. The memories and relationships I have made will truly last a lifetime. I will miss suiting up in red and black, but Athens will always be a place I can call home,” Eason wrote, singing it with his Twitter handle, Skinnyqb. He is expected to transfer to Washington. Eason, from Lake Stevens, Wash., played behind freshman Jake Fromm this season after suffering a knee injury in Georgia’s season opener against Appalachian State. He played in three games and threw for 28 total yards, registering a quarterback rating of 90.7. As a freshman, Eason threw for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, leading the Bulldogs to an 8-5 overall record including a win over TCU in the Liberty Bowl. The news leaves Georgia with two scholarship quarterbacks on campus: Jake Fromm, the SEC Freshman of the Year this season, and Justin Fields, who enrolled last week.
  • Georgia junior football player Rashad Roundtree announced he is giving up football due to concussions, which caused him to miss most of this past season. Roundtree, a reserve at safety and inside linebacker, revealed the news in a series of Twitter messages he posted on Wednesday. > Also: Read more about concussions in college athletics, and the steps some schools are taking to minimize concussion-related injuries on myAJC.com “As a result of a number of concussions, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that my journal in the path of football has come to an end,” Roundtree wrote. “As a child, all of my dreams involved playing football and it deeply saddens me that I can’t play anymore. I want to humbly thank everyone that has supported me and who continue to support me. “From little league, to middle school, through high school and now at Georgia my life has always been filled with football. My best memories involve being out on the field with my boys and with my family in the crowd cheering me.” Roundtree did not play this season. He did not practice for the latter part of the season. Head coach Kirby Smart said that Roundtree was dealing with injuries. An AJC Super 11 selection in 2014 out of Lakeside High in Evans, Roundtree played in 24 games as a freshman and sophomore, mostly on special teams. He began as a safety, briefly tried inside linebacker in 2016, the moved back to the secondary. It is unclear whether Roundtree will remain at UGA on scholarship, but that is usually an option in medical cases. Roundtree could take a medical disqualification, allowing the team to keep him on scholarship but not having him count against the team’s NCAA scholarship limit of 85. > Also: Read more about concussions in college athletics, and the steps some schools are taking to minimize concussion-related injuries on myAJC.com
  • Vegas oddsmakers like what they saw from Georgia’s freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. The Bulldogs’ signal caller opens with the best odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy. Fromm finished his first year with 2,615 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. Also among the leading contenders is Fromm teammate D’Andre Swift. The freshman rushed for 618 yards and 3 touchdowns behind senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Fromm was the starter in the Bulldogs’ College Football Playoff Championship loss to Alabama. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield won the 2017 Heisman Trophy. Top 10 (+1) 2018 Heisman favorites • Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia: 10/1• Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State: 14/1• Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 14/1• D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia: 14/1• Bryce Love, RB, Stanford: 15/1• Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan: 16/1• Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn: 20/1• Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona: 20/1• Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama: 22/1• Kelly Bryant, QB, Clemson: 25/1• Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: 50/1
  • Atlanta’s reign as the “Capital of College Football” officially ended Tuesday. In less than four weeks, officials with the Atlanta Football Host Committee will be in Minneapolis, site of Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4, and at a news conference on the day after the game Atlanta will officially go on the clock as the hosts of Super Bowl 53 on Feb. 3, 2019.  Monday’s College Football Playoff Championship game left some issues that will need to be addressed before next year’s Super Bowl arrives here, such as the long delays for fans to enter Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the stadium roof that leaked in at least one spot during pregame rain and a chaotic scene at MARTA’s Five Points stationafter the game.  > Also: More than 1 million Atlanta homes tuned into game Never miss a minute of the Georgia Bulldogs. Subscribe to myAJC
  • Georgia sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason is expected to transfer to Washington as long as he doesn’t have a “last-minute change of heart,” the Seattle Times reported Tuesday morning. Eason, from Lake Stevens, Wash., played behind freshman Jake Fromm for nearly the entire 2017 season after suffering a knee injury in Georgia’s season opener against Appalachian State.  In compliance with NCAA transfer rules, Eason would have to sit out the 2018 season, but would have two seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning in 2019. In 2019, Eason would most likely compete for starting quarterback spot after current quarterback, junior Jake Browning, runs out of eligibility. During the early signing period, Washington signed quarterbacks Jacob Sirmon (No. 30 on 2018 ESPN100) and Colson Yankoff (No. 92 on 2018 ESPN100). Sirmon and Yankoff have both enrolled at Washington and will compete alongside  Jake Haener— who will be a redshirt freshman in 2018— and current freshman Daniel Bridge-Gadd.  Four-star quarterback Dylan Morris out of Graham-Kapowsin High School in Graham, Wash. is also committed to the Huskies’ 2019 recruiting class. The news of Eason’s expected transfer comes less than 24 hours after Georgia lost the College Football Playoff National Championship to Alabama, 26-23. As a freshman, Eason threw for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, leading the Bulldogs to an 8-5 overall record including a win over TCU in the Liberty Bowl. This season, Eason played in three games and threw for 28 total yards, registering a quarterback rating of 90.7.
  • Georgia and Alabama meet in the College Football Playoff Championship game at 8 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The No. 3-seeded Bulldogs (13-1) earned a spot in the game by defeating Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. The Crimson Tide (12-1) won the Sugar Bowl over Clemson to reach the title game. --- 8:18 p.m.: A crowd of 75,000-plus is expected for the game, and the stadium appeared packed at kickoff. 7:52 p.m.: Twenty-five minutes before kickoff, which is scheduled for 8:17 p.m., there are still some empty seats in Mercedes-Benz Stadium as fans are in long lines outside at security checkpoints. 6:48 p.m.: The problematic roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is leaking in at least one spot. “It’s dripping,” Mercedes-Benz Stadium general manager Scott Jenkins confirmed. A slight stream of rain water is falling on the field near the 25-yard line. It is on the end of the field with “Georgia”  emblazoned across the end zone. This is at least the third event at which the roof is known to have leaked. Two Georgia players and a UGA official were seen checking out the leak on the field. Georgia punter Cameron Nizialek looked up at the roof, apparently examining the source of the water. Asked last week if he was concerned about potential roof leaks in the event of rain, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said: “We have been told the roof is in great shape, and we’re not worried one bit about that.” The roof of the new $1.5 billion-plus stadium is supposed to be retractable, but it has been open for only two events -- one Falcons game and one Atlanta United match -- because of problems with it. 6:38 p.m.: Tonight’s game matches the Nos. 3 (Georgia) and 4 (Alabama) seeds in the College Football Playoff. That means this will be the fourth consecutive season – all four seasons of the CFP – that the No. 1 seed will not be the national champion.  The lower seed in the championship game has won it each of the past three years: No. 4 Ohio State in 2013, No. 2 Alabama in 2015 and No. 2 Clemson last year. 5:52 p.m.: With President Donald Trump planning to attend the game, U.S. Secret Service agents are manning security checkpoints as fans and media members enter the stadium. See story here. 5:40 p.m.: The officiating crew for tonight’s game is from the Big Ten. Dan Capron is the referee. 5 p.m.: The stadium gates have opened. 4:47 p.m.: Both teams will have honorary captains tonight from their most recent national-championship teams.  Herschel Walker, who was a freshman on Georgia’s national-title team in the 1980 season, will be the Bulldogs’ honorary captain. Alabama’s honorary captain will be O.J. Howard, who was the offensive MVP of the national-championship game two seasons ago. 4:25 p.m.:  Don’t miss Steve Hummer’s story on Devon Gales. Hummer writes: “Across the wide spectrum of those who call themselves Bulldogs fans at the approach of Monday night’s national championship game against Alabama, none come from a place as extraordinary as Gales. “Two-plus years ago – Sept. 26, 2015 to be exact – while blocking on a kickoff return, Gales collided with Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior from equally small Southern University came to rest near the Georgia sideline, unable to move from the shoulders down. His back was broken and his legs paralyzed. “The bonds that formed between Gales, his family and the Bulldogs from that awful moment onward have never been stronger than now at this high point in Georgia football history.” See full story here. 4:05 p.m.:   Based on ticket resales through mid-afternoon today, demand for seats at tonight’s game is up 118 percent compared to last year’s national title game between Alabama and Clemson in Tampa, according to secondary ticket marketplace StubHub.  Through mid-afternoon, StubHub said the average price paid for resale tickets to tonight’s game on its site had been $2,303. The latest get-in price – the lowest available ticket price at mid-afternoon – was $1,469 for an upper-level corner seat on StubHub. The most expensive single seat that has been purchased on StubHub was a lower-level club seat in Aisle 110 for $12,000, according to the company. A suite sold for $94,000. And dating back to when tickets for the game first went on the secondary market -- well before the Georgia-Alabama matchup was set -- the least expensive ticket sold on StubHub was $750 for an upper-level sideline seat. As of mid-afternoon, there were 1,300 tickets available on StubHub. Almost all tickets to the game are digital. 4:01 p.m.: Click here for some pregame observations from DawgNation’s Seth Emerson. 3:50 p.m.: For years, Atlanta sports and tourism boosters have made a strong case for the city as the “Capital of College Football,” citing the passionate fans who live here, the major corporate sponsors based here, the star players recruited from here and the big games played here.   But despite all of that, college football’s national championship has never been decided in Atlanta – an omission that will be corrected tonight.  “The first time to have the national championship game of this sport played in Atlanta – it seems kind of crazy to even say that,” Michael Kelly, the College Football Playoff’s chief operating officer, said on one of his many trips here to prepare for the game. See full story here. 3:36 p.m.: Secondary ticket marketplace TickPick provided updated data on resale tickets for the game on its site.  Through this morning,  the average purchase price on the TickPick site had been $2,374, reflecting a 20-percent drop over the weekend. The get-in-price – the price for the cheapest available ticket, in the upper-level end-zone seats – was $1,607 as of this morning, TickPick said. 3:30 p.m.: The Atlanta Football Host Committee encourages fans to enter the stadium through Gates 2, 3 or 4. Stadium gates will open at 5 p.m.