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College

    Every Tuesday, we're going to take a deep dive on every Georgia position in the run-up to the 2020 season. Georgia figures to have one of the most talented teams in the country and the Bulldogs have a number of talented players across the board. But there are still some questions that have to be answered if the Bulldogs are to achieve their end goals. This week we take a look at the tight end position. PLUS: Power Five experience For the second straight offseason, Georgia brought in a graduate transfer to bolster the tight end position. But unlike Eli Wolf, who came to Georgia with just nine catches in his time at Tennessee, Tre McKitty comes into the program with significantly more proven production. In the past two seasons, McKitty caught 49 passes for Florida State, while often playing in an offense that no one would describe as great. There are shades of Lawrence Cager in McKitty, in the sense that he's entering a more stable program in coming over from Florida State, which made a head coaching change this offseason. Cager proved to be incredibly valuable to the Georgia offense a season ago, and McKitty has the chance to do so as well. Georgia has major questions at the wide receiver position, and someone like McKitty, who caught 23 passes a season ago, can help up out Georgia's new offense. Related: Georgia football graduate transfer TE Tre McKitty an NFL guy' Minus: Lack of returning production Of the three returning tight ends for Georgia, John Fitzpatrick, Ryland Goede and Brett Seither have combined to catch one pass in their Georgia careers. With Wolf and Charlie Woerner both on NFL rosters, the Bulldogs will be looking for at least one of these three to step-up this coming season. Fitzpatrick is the most experienced of the three, as he'll be a redshirt sophomore this season. Goede and Seither both redshirted in 2019. Fitzpatrick, Goede and Seither do have the advantage of having worked with tight ends coach Todd Hartley before so they do have a leg-up over the two newcomers in the new tight end room. But the trio has yet to prove that they'll be able to replace what either Woerner or Wolf brought to the team. Plus: 5-star addition The aforementioned second newcomer to the Georgia tight ends room is Darnell Washington. The Las Vegas product was one of the biggest recruiting wins for Georgia in the 2020 cycle, as the Bulldogs beat out the likes of Tennessee and Alabama for the 5-star prospect. Washington is the highest-rated prospect in the room and he is also the biggest, as he's listed at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. His massive size could prove to be valuable for Georgia in the redzone, as he more often than not towers over opposing defenders. Related: Darnell Washington explains why Georgia was able to land his 5-star talents If Washington is able to work himself into playing shape and adjust to the physical rigors of college football, he'll have an opportunity to be one of the most productive freshmen from the 2020 signing class, which finished ranked No. 1 in the country. Minus: Uncertainty about usage It seems like every season, one of the more frequently asked questions is why doesn't Georgia target the tight ends more. It began back in the days of Isaac Nauta, who caught 29 passes as a freshman only to see that number drop to nine as a sophomore. But in that sophomore season, Georgia went on to play for the national championship. Last season, Georgia's tight ends combined for 23 receptions. But that was under the direction of James Coley, who is now the tight ends coach at Texas A&M. The Bulldogs brought in Todd Monken to replace Coley, and Monken brings a wealth of experience from the NFL and collegiate levels. In his last season as a play-caller which was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 tight ends OJ Howard and Cameron Brate combined for 64 catches, 854 yards and 11 touchdowns. But as Southern Miss' head coach in 2015, the tight ends combined for just 13 total catches. Like the rest of Georgia's offense, the tight end position will be a mystery until we see it on the field. As of this moment, Georgia is set to do so against Virginia on Sept. 7 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Position Plus/Minus: A detailed look at Georgia football wide receivers in 2020 Position Plus/Minus: A detailed look at Georgia football 2020 running backs Position Plus/Minus: A detailed look at the Georgia football quarterback position in 2020 WATCH: Paul Finebaum one of the biggest Kirby Smart fans in the world' Georgia football podcast: Despite Florida hype, betting site lists UGA as SEC East favorite Georgia football: How is the 2021 in-state recruiting going so far? The 5 most important new SEC coordinators The post Position Plus/Minus: A deep dive into the tight end position for Georgia football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Paul Finebaum's knowledge and perspective on SEC football runs deep, so his thoughts on Georgia football and Kirby Smart should not be taken lightly. Indeed, the ESPN analyst and first man hired by the SEC Network has been covering the league since his days as a Tennessee student working at the Daily Beacon student paper in Knoxville. By 1980, Finebaum was in the heart of SEC country, working as a columnist and reporter at the Birmingham Post-Herald newspaper. 'I am one of the biggest Kirby Smart fans in the world,' Finebaum proclaimed during our recent Ingles On the Beat' interview with him. 'I spent a lot of time watching him at Alabama and seeing him up close. I know what the rap on him is, you guys talk about him every day on shows like this, but I think it's somewhat undeserved, he's come very close. 'He reminds me a little bit of a great golfer who just misses The Masters or the US Open by a putt, and finally, he just knocks that door down.' Finebaum, asked to predict where Smart will be in six years when he is 50 years old, sees the former Bulldogs' player still coaching UGA and with a new national championship trophy in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Smart's fire is what impresses Finebaum most, as he recounted a story from an Alabama spring game following the 2009 season where he was serving as a celebrity coach. 'The team was playing terribly, and he is cursing and swearing I never heard more curse words in my entire life,' Finebaum said. 'If he could get that animated about a spring football game coming off a national championship (season), he's the kind of coach I want running my program.' Further, Finebaum added, Smart gets the types of players he'd want in his program, too. 'I think he is arguably the best recruiter in the country, and I know there are some other people out there, but I would take him in a living room over anyone else in America,' Finebaum said. 'I think that can be backed up by what Georgia has done over the last few years.' No doubt, the Bulldogs recruiting classes have ranked No. 1 (2020), No. 2 (2019) and No. 1(2018) per the 247Sports composite rankings. 'There's just been a little missing piece or two that has bedeviled him,' Finebaum said. 'I spent a lot of time watching the Georgia program over the last 25 or 30 years . don't be overly critical of the guy who just barely misses making the playoffs, or does make the playoffs and loses the national championship. 'This guy is the real deal, and Georgia fans ought to feel incredibly lucky they have him.' Paul Finebaum shares take on Kirby Smart Georgia football preseason stories How Georgia leadership group keeps team on track amid challenging times Georgia football OL Jamaree Salyer weighty issue, eager to compete Richard LeCounte explains UGA has great chance for national title Jamie Newman on the clock, embracing UGA's elite defense The post WATCH: Paul Finebaum one of the biggest Kirby Smart fans in the world' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Herschel Walker reached out to Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday to offer his support after what's being called the city's deadliest weekend of the year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Monday that Governor Brian Kemp will deploy Georgia National Guard troops after an outbreak of violence in Atlanta that left five dead including the shooting of an 8-year-old girl. RELATED: 5 dead, more than 2 dozen injured in Atlanta holiday weekend shootings Walker, a College Football Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner who played at Georgia, asked via his Twitter account, 'What can I do to help be a part of the solution?' Bottoms, who revealed she recently tested positive for COVID-19, held an emotional Sunday press conference, putting the city's civil unrest into perspective. 'We are shooting each other up on our streets in the city,' Bottoms said in the press conference video that Walker re-tweeted. ' You shot and killed a baby. And it wasn't one shooter. There were at least two shooters. An 8-year-old baby.' RELATED: AJC.com provides full transcript from Atlanta mayor 'We are doing each other more harm than any police officer on this force,' Bottoms said. 'We've had over 75 shootings in the city over the past several weeks. 'There's a lot of change that has to happen across this country, and police reform is a big part of it. But we also have to reform our own communities.' Walker's tweet also said, 'I believe in Law & Order and I applaud you Atlanta Mayor @KeishaBottoms.' Kemp indicated his emergency order for up to 1,000 troops was issued on account of the 'lawlessness' that has broken out amid otherwise peaceful protests. 'Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda,' Kemp said, per AJC.com. 'Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,' Kemp said. 'This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.' Walker played at Georgia from 1980-1984 and led the Bulldogs to the 1980 national title with an MVP performance in a 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. WATCH: Herschel Walker says title game performance about more than football' Walker, then only a freshman, overcame a dislocated shoulder in the first quarter to rush for 150 yards in a storied performance. ESPN named Walker the No. 2 college football player of all-time earlier this year, and he was honored as the inaugural winner of the Freshman Legend Award. RELATED: Herschel Walker and Champ Bailey among ESPN 150 I believe in Law & Order and I applaud you Atlanta Mayor @KeishaBottoms what can I do to help be part of the solution? You're our leader in @CityofAtlanta! @FoxNews @Atlanta_Police @FOX5Atlanta @CNN @ajc pic.twitter.com/DNx7KyiiJO Herschel Walker (@HerschelWalker) July 6, 2020 The post Herschel Walker reaches out to be a part of the solution' in Atlanta appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart's quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 1,230 (July 6, 2020) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about why a popular betting site has installed Georgia as the favorite to win the SEC East despite the seemingly endless stream of hype around Florida. Georgia football podcast: Despite Florida hype, betting site lists UGA as SEC East favorite Beginning of the show: Georgia is still the favorite to win the SEC East for a fourth year in a row despite the growing number of analysts and talking heads who've attempted to make a case for Florida according to a popular betting site. I'll discuss more details on that topic on today's show. Five-minute mark: I explain why the Gators could possibly look different than some UGA fans expect when the teams play this October. 10-minute mark: DawgNation analyst and former UGA All-American Jon Stinchcomb joins the show. Some of the topics covered include The outlook for new UGA quarterback Jamie Newman Thoughts on the Bulldogs running backs Jon shares his biggest concern for UGA And we discuss UGA's profile as a team led by a dominant defense 25-minute mark: I discuss the odds for other SEC teams to win their division including Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. NOTE: Today's episode of DawgNation Daily was prerecorded last week. Typically each show is recorded the day it is posted. DawgNation Daily will return to its normal format Tuesday. DawgNation Daily Episode 1230: Despite Florida hype, betting site lists UGA as SEC East favorite The post Georgia football podcast: Despite Florida hype, betting site lists UGA as SEC East favorite appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry takes a quick look at how the Bulldogs are recruiting the talent in the state of Georgia during the 2021 cycle. There were a couple of in-state recruiting items to track relevant to the Georgia football program over the holiday weekend. The first of those came from 5-star OT Amarius Mims. Mims had previously hinted at an October commitment date on his birthday. The 6-foot-7 OT from Bleckley County (Cochran, Ga.) moved that up considerably. His new Aug. 15 commitment date now means he will make his decision without having the chance to take any further unofficial or official visits. i will be committing AUG. 15th!!! MARK YOUR CALENDARS I S (@amarius_mims) July 5, 2020 Georgia 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff even retweeted the news from his good friends. When those two visited Georgia together years ago, Mims said that Kirby Smart even told them that Mims would be blocking for Vandagriff one day. Dawg fans, we need this guy https://t.co/rW0DqR9vSi brock (@BrockVandagriff) July 5, 2020 Mims ranks as the nation's No. 2 OT and the No. 6 overall prospect for the 2021 class on the 247Sports Composite ratings. Smael Mondon Jr, the 5-star LB from Paulding County in Northwest Georgia, provided the other recruiting development of note over the weekend. He had also previously teased a June commitment date, but wasn't able to come to a final public decision during that time. But he did release a top 5 over the weekend. @PBJCreatives pic.twitter.com/jVjOlr0TkD Smael Mondon Jr (@SmaelJr) July 5, 2020 Mondon is rated as the nation's No. 2 OLB for this cycle, but he would be an ILB if he chose to sign with the home-state Bulldogs. The speedy 5-star is rated as the nation's No. 26 overall prospect for the 2021 cycle. The news from those two elite 5-star prospects from the state of Georgia provides a good opportunity to check in on how the Bulldogs are recruiting the state's top-rated talent in 2021. The 2021 cycle was always set up to be a great year for in-state talent for UGA. The global pandemic and the lack of recruiting visits this year for the 2021 class lends to the thinking the Bulldogs will rely heavily on this year's Peach State talent this cycle. Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it. Georgia football: Checking the 2021 Peach State talent crop Let's first take a look at the in-state vs. out-of-state recruiting trends for Smart and Georgia over his first five recruiting cycles: 2020 (Nation's No. 1 class): Out-of-state prospects: 17, Georgia prospects: 8 2019 (Nation's No. 2 class): Out-of-state prospects: 16, Georgia prospects: 8 2018 (Nation's No. 1 class):Georgia prospects: 15, Out-of-state prospects: 11 2017 (Nation's No. 3 class):Georgia prospects: 17, Out-of-state prospects 9 2016 (Nation's No. 6 class): Georgia prospects: 16, Out-of-state prospects 5 UGA currently has nine commitments for the 2021 class. At this time, the Bulldogs are reversing the trend from the previous two cycles in which they benefitted from the national exposure and increased program profile garnered from the Rose Bowl win and that national championship appearance in 2018. 2021 (Currently thenation's No. 20 class): Georgia prospects: 7, Out-of-state prospects 2 Those figures there could certainly sport an asterisk, too. RB commit Lovasea' Carroll is actually from the state of Georgia. He grew up in Warrenton just outside of Augusta, but now plays for national boarding school power IMG Academy in Florida. He's classified as an out-of-state recruit by the national recruiting services for ranking and sorting purposes, but could easily be seen as another example of the Bulldogs benefitting from the home state recruiting edge in 2021. How are the Bulldogs doing so far recruiting the top talent in the state for 2021? Let's take a quick lap around the status of where the state's top 15 prospects are trending so far. Georgia's top 10 prospects for 2021 (according to the 247Sports Composite rankings) 1. 5-star OT Amarius Mims/Bleckley County/Cochran, Ga. (undecided) Ranks: Nation's No. 2 OT/No. 6 overall The Mims Intel: The 6-foot-7.5, 315-pound Mims is expected to choose from a top group which includes the likes of Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. He's been quoted by several outlets of having a top tier of Alabama and Georgia. It is expected to come down to Alabama and Georgia in the end. 2. 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff/Prince Avenue Christian/Bogart, Ga. (committed to Georgia) Ranks: Nation's No. 2 QB/No. 13 overall The BVG Intel : Vandagriff wascommitted to Oklahoma prior to his junior season, but wanted to play in the SEC and do it much closer to his family's roots in Alabama and Georgia. He committed to the Bulldogs in January and has been an anchor recruit since . The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder fared very well at the Elite 11 national quarterback competition last week. He'll only add to the riches of talent on the QB depth chart in Athens as an early enrollee in January of 2021. 3. 5-star LB Smael Mondon Jr./Paulding County High School/Dallas, Ga. (undecided) Ranks: Nation's No. 2 OLB/No. 26 overall The smile for Smael Intel: Mondon's top 5 is listed above. He's rated as an OLB recruit by the composite, but he will likely play ILB on Saturdays in the SEC. The Intel here suggests that his decision will come down to Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee. The feeling here is that the Volunteers might not be as big of a player as other outlets are making them out to be. 4. 4-star LB Barrett Carter/North Gwinnett/Suwanee, Ga. (committed to Clemson) Ranks: Nation's No. 4 OLB/No. 45 overall The Carter Intel: Carter was a definite need for the Bulldogs in the 2021 cycle as the program did not sign a single ILB prospect in its top-ranked 2021 class. But he favored both the Auburn and Clemson Tigers over the chance to play for UGA. He's committed to Clemson and the de-commits and flips from that program are quite rare. Georgia has since prioritized other targets like Mondon and a trio of other out-of-state prospects in this class. 5. 4-star OL Terrence Ferguson/Peach County/Fort Valley, Ga. (undecided) Ranks: Nation's No. 2 OG/No. 47 overall The Ferguson Intel : Ferguson is another in a long list of All-Americans in the state this cycle. He's a name that Georgia fans on the DawgNationmessage boardcertainly hope might be among one of the next to commit to the program. His last two visits before the pandemic were to Alabama and Georgia in January. He actually took two trips to check out UGA and meet with new line coach Matt Luke in January. 6. 4-star OL Micah Morris/Camden County/Kingsland, Ga. (committed to UGA) Ranks: Nation's No. 9 OT/No. 57 overall The Morris Intel : Morriscommitted to Georgia shortly after the pandemic hit America . He had hoped totake his visits but saw no need to string things out. Morris told DawgNation after his commitment that he had been a silent commitment to UGA for the majority of his junior season. He managed a 4.85 grade-point average this spring and has a bench press that is now wellnorth of 430 pounds. 7. 4-star WR Deion Colzie/Athens Academy/Athens, Ga. (undecided) Ranks: Nation's No. 9 WR/No. 66 overall TheColzie Intel : Colzie committed to Notre Dame in October of his juniorseason, but de-committed in mid-March under the premise he made a hasty decision. Colzie wanted to see more schools and fully research his options. The irony there is telling. He hasn't had the chance to do so as of yet. Notre Dame remains a major factor, but the Bulldogs have almost all of the 247Sports 'Crystal Ball' predictions for a future commit. The opinion here is thatdoesn't seem likely to happen in the near future. Georgiasigned five receivers with its 2020 class and appears to be prioritizing speed demon receiversfirst and foremost rather than anall-around All-American WR type like the 6-foot-4 Colzie. 8. 4-star ATH David Daniel/Woodstock High School/Woodstock, Ga. (committed to UGA) Ranks: Nation's No.4 ATH/No. 74 overall The Dope Intel on Daniel : Daniel committed to Georgia early in hisjunior year and has not looked back. He's the longest-tenured commitment in the class and the future hard-hitting safety has performed well so far in the role of a class leaderbehind the scenes. He recently committed to play in the UnderArmor All-American Game next January in Orlando. Former Georgia DB Glenn Ford has compared him to a formerAlabama great who is now in the NFLwith the JacksonvilleJaguars. 9. 4-star CB Jordan Hancock/North Gwinnett/Suwanee, Ga. (committed to Clemson) Ranks: Nation's No. 6 CB/No. 76 overall The Intel on Hancock : Hancock was neverprioritized by the Bulldogs in this class. He's a verystrong prospect that did get an offer, but his interestquickly centered on both Clemson and Ohio State. There is some chatter that the Buckeyes will still have a shot here once things open up. If thathappens, it would be rare. 5-star DE (and major Georgia target) Korey Foreman was a very rare de-commit from the Tigers over the last few cycles. 10. 4-star CB Nyland Green/Newton/Covington, Ga. (undecided) Ranks: Nation's No. 8 CB/No. 88 overall The Intel on Green : Hecertainly fits the profile of an ideal Georgia CB target due to his size and length and physical ability. Green has hinted on his social media account that he might beprogressing toward a decision. Georgia has always been right in the thick of things here with this decision. It seemed like he was trending toward Alabama for a time and now Auburn and Clemson loom as major contenders for his eventual decision. Green hasn't named any leaders recently and if he did it would not likely be the Bulldogs here. That's the top 10. The Bulldogs are also doing well within the top 20 in the state of Georgia. It is another strong year in the state as the state's No. 20 prospect for 2021 will rate him as the nation's No. 213 overall recruit. 11. 4-star CB Nathaniel Wiggins/Westlake/Atlanta, Ga. (Undecided) 12. 4-star OL Dylan Fairchild/West Forsyth/Cumming, Ga. (Committed to UGA) 13. 4-star DT Jonathan Jefferson/Douglas Co./Douglasville, Ga. (Committed to UGA) 14. 4-star RB Cody Brown/Parkview/Lilburn, Ga. (Committed to Tennessee) 15. 4-star WR Dacari Collins/Westlake/Atlanta, Ga. (Committed to Clemson) 16. 4-star WR Jaquez Smith/Westlake/Atlanta, Ga. (Undecided) 17. 4-star TE Cane Berrong/Hart County/Hartwell, Ga. (Committed to Notre Dame) 18. 4-star DE Zavier Carter/Hapeville Charter/Atlanta, Ga. (Committed to LSU 19. 4-star WR Daejon Reynolds/Grayson/Loganville, Ga. (Committed to Florida) 20. 4-star QB Carlos Del Rio/Grayson/Loganville, Ga. (Committed to Florida) SENTELL'S INTEL (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) Tralee Hale: The mother of freshman CB Kelee Ringo finds she is not alone in her cancer fight HEDGES: 3 ways the lack of campus recruiting visits have also helped UGA CJ Washington: The electric 2022 LB prospect drops UGA into his top 3 Elite pass rush target Dallas Turner has made his college decision Where does Georgia turn now at CB after Tony Grimes in the 2021 recruiting class? Class of 2022 ATH Malaki Starks could be a future class anchor at UGA 6-foot-7 sophomore OT Payton Kirkland shares why UGA is his dream school Andrew Thomas says to expect a lot of pancakes from Jamaree Salyer in 2020 Xavier Worthy: Can the speed demon WR be the next link in the California-UGA pipeline? Checking in on the four biggest Georgia football recruiting storylines at this time Why Malcolm 'The Jet' Johnson Jr. and his 10.38 speed is giving UGA a good look Georgia RB commit Lovasea' Carroll shuts down all talk of a Florida flip 5-star ATH James Williams changes things up a bit with his new top 2 HEDGES: Who's the best QB on the board in the class of 2022? MJ Morris: New Georgia coordinator Todd Monken has made him a priority WATCH: Georgia commit Chaz Chambliss shows he has a bright future at OLB The post Georgia football: How is the 2021 in-state recruiting going so far? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football is focused on the 2020 season, but beyond that, the Bulldogs will be putting plenty more players in the NFL via the 2021 draft. Much of the offseason talk has been about graduate transfer quarterback Jamie Newman, who has been projected as a first-round pick. RELATED: How Georgia leadership group keeps team on track But Senior Bowl executive director and former NFL scout Jim Nagy says Georgia has another NFL prospect in the form of Tre' McKitty, a graduate transfer tight end from Florida State. 'Former Florida State TE Tre' McKitty caught 49 balls the past two years but he was still underused based off his talent, Nagy penned in a Tweet. 'He's an NFL guy.' Georgia is hoping McKitty is an immediate contributor with departed senior tight ends Charlie Woerner and Eli Wolf headed for NFL training camps. UGA signed highly-rated high school product Darnell Washington, but it can take freshmen time to learn a new offense. Particularly when there were no spring drills and the incoming freshman have not been able to work on football plays under the coaches' supervision. Redshirt sophomore John FitzPatrick is the leading returning pas catcher at the tight end position. He had just one catch last season that went for 22 yards against Murray State. RELATED: 3 things on Jamie Newman, while he's an impact player The 6-foot-5, 245-pound McKitty, a 3-star signees for the Seminoles out of the IMG Academy, was also offered a scholarship by Georgia coming out of high school. McKitty caught 23 passes for 241 yards last season. The season before, as s sophomore, McKitty had 26 catches for 256 yards. Former UGA coach Mark Richt, who offered McKitty a scholarship at Miami, told DawgNation how impressed he is with the new Bulldogs' transfer tight end. 'When we recruited McKitty at Miami, we thought he was a great player,' Richt said. 'He's very agile . has got good ball skills, and he's probably a better receiver than a blocker. 'But he's a willing blocker, and he's definitely a guy who can play.' Former Florida State defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, who saw McKitty each day in practice, the past two seasons, also spoke well of McKitty. 'Tre' is the modern day tight end,' Barnett saod. 'The modern day tight end is a guy that is not necessarily a great run blocker he's a position blocker but he can run, and he can really catch.' Georgia players are in the midst of voluntary workouts, which consist of no more than eight hours per week of supervised non-football training. Kirby Smart and the UGA staff won't be allowed to oversee training until July 15. The Senior Bowl could play host to as many Georgia Bulldogs as it has had in quite some time with senior safety Richard LeCounte, senior middle linebacker Monty Rice, fifth-year senior Ben Cleveland and cornerback DJ Daniel all on the all-star game's radar. QB Jamie Newman isn't the only grad transfer the @seniorbowl expects to have a big impact on @GeorgiaFootball offense. Former Florida State TE Tr McKitty caught 49 balls past two years but he was still underused based off his talent. He's an NFL guy. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/YTPNRzobZG Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) July 3, 2020 Georgia football preseason stories Georgia football OL Jamaree Salyer weighty issue, eager to compete Richard LeCounte explains UGA has great chance for national title Jamie Newman on the clock, embracing UGA's elite defense D.J. Shockley shares take on UGA freshman QB Carson Beck Georgia projections, playmakers at receiver and running back Why Georgia must take advantage of new schedule more than others The post Georgia football graduate transfer TE Tre McKitty an NFL guy' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Every year the SEC shows once again that one of college football's most important arms races is the ability to acquire quality assistants. The energy and expertise these top lieutenants can provide can be invaluable on the field and in recruiting. With that in mind, here are the most important new faces in the league this year. 1 Todd Monken, Georgia offensive coordinator Monken is at UGA for a simple reason. His predecessor didn't get the job done. The Bulldogs offense was woeful in 2019 in the now-departed James Coley's lone season at the helm. UGA averaged just 30.8 points per game 7.1 points per game fewer than its 2018 average. Coley wasn't the only reason the offense sputtered, but few UGA fans shed tears when he didn't return. Now the pressure will be on Monken to add more punch to the offense a challenge made more difficult by the absence of spring practice due to the coronavirus lockdown. 2 Bo Pelini, LSU defensive coordinator An argument can be made that LSU's most important hire was Scott Linehan as a replacement for passing game coordinator Joe Brady who moved on to the Carolina Panthers during the offseason. Frankly, replacing Brady will be a tall task. It's unlikely LSU's offense comes close to matching the firepower Brady and quarterback Joe Burrow teamed up to provide last season. All the more reason Pelini who returns to his role as LSU defensive coordinator, a job he held from 2005-07 needs to establish a dominant unit. LSU is the reigning national champion, but defense was hardly the reason why. The Tigers were just 29th nationally in yards per play allowed last season. That number needs to improve this year. The good news is Pelini will have cornerback Derek Stingley at his disposal among the nation's best defensive players. 3 Mike Bobo, South Carolina offensive coordinator It was surprising to many that Bobo wanted to be the Gamecocks offensive coordinator after his tenure as Colorado State head coach came to an end. This is partially because some thought he might want to go back to his alma mater, UGA, and partially because some folks assume Bobo's new boss, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is squarely on the hot seat, and therefore could result in a short-tenured employment for Bobo. For what it's worth, UGA coach Kirby Smart has denied discussing a possible role for Bobo on his staff and Bobo has said he's excited about the challenge of rebuilding the Gamecocks offense. If Bobo's previous track record is an indicator, the rest of the SEC could soon be on notice. UGA was first in the SEC with 41.3 points per game in Bobo's last season as Bulldogs offensive coordinator in 2014. South Carolina might not quite match that feat this season, but a more experienced Ryan Hilinski at quarterback and the debut of freshman running back MarShawn Lloyd should enable Bobo to provide a major offensive upgrade. 4 Chad Morris, Auburn offensive coordinator Stop me if you've heard this before, but Auburn fans are curious if head coach Gus Malzahn will finally trust an offensive coordinator enough to delegate some authority. This has been a familiar story for the Tigers. The luxury of trust has been hard to come by for many in the role Morris will occupy under Malzahn. Two previous offensive coordinators left the Tigers for what appeared to be less attractive jobs. Rhett Lashlee became UConn offensive coordinator in 2017, and the freedom to run his own offense was cited as a reason for his departure. When Chip Lindsey left for Kansas (before eventually becoming head coach at Troy), it was widely assumed a tug of war with Malzahn had played into his decision as well. Will Malzahn grant to Morris what he's seemingly denied to others? One of the reasons pointing to yes is that Malzahn and Morris are long-time friends. Another is Morris' previous success as an offensive coordinator. Morris put up big numbers at Clemson prior to becoming SMU and Arkansas head coach, and was paid handsomely for his work. He, along with Malzahn, were the two highest paid offensive coordinators in the country in 2014 with a salary of $1.3 million. Morris will make less than that at Auburn, but will have a chance to prove to be a worthy investment for the Tigers. 5 Kendal Briles and Barry Odom Arkansas offensive and defensive coordinator New Arkansas coach Sam Pittman made quite a splash with his coordinator hires, and at least briefly calmed any concerns that might exist about his lack of experience as a head coach. Briles is a former Broyles Award finalist and Odom in addition to being known for producing stout defenses also provides a dose of SEC head coaching experience to the Razorbacks staff. For all the attention new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has received, and for all the talk about what Mike Leach will do at Mississippi State, the first preseason for Pittman with the Razorbacks should be a warning that it could be Pittman, and not one of the new faces in the Magnolia State, who has the best debut season. The post The 5 most important new SEC coordinators appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The Georgia football leadership group has helped steady the Bulldogs throughout the turbulent 2020 offseason, according to offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer. 'How we meet in our leadership group, it gives us a chance to hear different perspectives,' Salyer said in a recent Zoom video interview distributed to UGA donors. 'It gives us a chance to be raw, because everybody has feelings. Everybody has things they want to get off their chest.' Indeed, it has been a challenging time filled with social concerns emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. The UGA players returned to campus and have been going through eight hours of voluntary workouts per week since June 8. Coach Kirby Smart and his staff won't be allowed to supervise workouts until July 17. They have been permitted eight hours per week of virtual meetings. That communication means more than ever. ESPN analyst and Georgia football legend David Pollack recently noted during an ESPN radio interview that 'it's a different world' for coaches and players. 'The younger generation, they are way more inclined to speak their mind,' Pollack said. 'This is a generation that's media-savvy . social-media savvy as it gets.' That could, in turn, lead to grievances being aired if not managed internally. Pollack points out every program has malcontents, and now there are s ocial media platforms. 'There's people at every institution, and when I was at the University of Georgia, I can pick our 15 to 20 players who were very unhappy with the situation because they didn't play as much as they wanted to, they didn't think they got a fair shot, and they thought they were mistreated, blah-blah-blah,' Pollack said. 'All those kids now, and all those adults now, are going to have an opportunity to speak out and say they were treated unfairly and they didn't get an opportunity.' Salyer, a junior who appears to be in line for captaincy, indicated UGA's leadership group helps mitigate potential team issues. 'I feel getting in those rooms and having a lot of older guys having a chance to talk and get out their feelings (helps), and then Coach Smart being able to listen to us and understand what we're saying, and sometimes implementing it into his plans that he has for the team,' Salyer said. 'It's coming together and meeting together and having our ideas aligned, that helps us a lot.' Georgia football preseason stories Georgia football OL Jamaree Salyer weighty issue, eager to compete Richard LeCounte explains UGA has great chance for national title Jamie Newman on the clock, embracing UGA's elite defense D.J. Shockley shares take on UGA freshman QB Carson Beck Georgia projections, playmakers at receiver and running back Why Georgia must take advantage of new schedule more than others The post Jamaree Salyer: Georgia football leadership group keeps team ideas aligned' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS There is no question every Georgia football fan, coach, player and everyone else associated with the program is eager for the Bulldogs to begin the season. The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper over 2020 and left everyone yearning for a dose of normal that football season could provide if kicked off on time. The Bulldogs are in the midst of voluntary workouts, with Coach Kirby Smart and his staff able to begin supervising them on July 15. Georgia is scheduled to open the season on Monday, Sept. 7, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta against Virginia. In hindsight, playing the game on Saturday Sept. 5 would be much, much better. For that matter, a home game would have been even more beneficial. That said, it surely seemed like a good idea in January of 2017 for Georgia to open the season on a Monday night against Virginiawith the neutral site game. No one could have known then what we have all been dealing with now, some 2 1/2 years later. The SEC announced in August of 2019 that the Bulldogs game at Alabama would be on Sept. 19 this season. That set up the Bulldogs to play three games in 13 days. And that means Georgia will have two days less time to prepare for that showdown than the Crimson Tide. One could argue it's really three less days, since Georgia has a travel day built in with the game being played in Tuscaloosa. So here's the cautionary tale involving Georgia rival Tennessee opening on a Monday night. Three years ago, the Vols were in the same situation with three games in 13 days to open the season. It was a concern of the Tennessee staff then, and, sure enough, in hindsight there was some second-guessing. The Vols beat Georgia Tech in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 42-41, in double-overtime on that Monday night. But less than two weeks later, Tennessee was back on the road traveling to play Florida for a key SEC matchup. It was a showdown with the Gators just 12 days later that proved to break the back of previous Vols coach Butch Jones. Florida won the game at The Swamp, 26-20, on the last play of regulation. Tennessee's goal-line offensive package faltered, and the defense designed for the final drive of the game had more breakdowns than was typical for a Bob Shoop defense. Could two days more rest or preparation have helped or made a difference at one of those critical junctures? It's also fair to wonder about programs giving up home games moving forward in the near future. The school may lose some surface contract money, but it has become clear there's a value to have money kept in the home community. After all, those student athletes, head coaches and athletic department employees rely on the local hospitals, authorities and businesses. The recent trying times brought about by COVID-19 have magnified the importance of helping to build the home community, and not just taking from it. Georgia football preseason stories Georgia football OL Jamaree Salyer weighty issue, eager to compete Richard LeCounte explains UGA has great chance for national title Jamie Newman on the clock, embracing UGA's elite defense D.J. Shockley shares take on UGA freshman QB Carson Beck Georgia projections, playmakers at receiver and running back Why Georgia must take advantage of new schedule more than others The post Monday night opener could come back to bite Georgia football at Alabama appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia wide receiver George Pickens' introduction to many UGA fans was the viral video of a dazzling catch made in a preseason scrimmage last August, but there's apparently a lot more to Pickens than what can be contained in a YouTube clip. Which is not to say the haul was unremarkable. It was so impressive that it even drew a compliment from notoriously hard-to-please coach Kirby Smart. 'This is a special player and a great catch,' Smart said at the time. 'He's had several one-handed catches in practice. He's a talented player.' It was also the beginning of what turned out to be an eventful freshman season for Pickens one in which he led the team with 727 receiving yards and eight touchdowns and became Sugar Bowl MVP by matching a UGA bowl record with 12 catches in the Bulldogs' win against Baylor. However, not all the attention Pickens received in his first year with the program was positive. He was ejected late in UGA's 52-7 win at Georgia Tech for an altercation with a Yellow Jackets player which resulted in Pickens being forced to sit out the first half of the SEC championship vs. LSU. UGA's key leaders were quick to point out that Pickens had erred in allowing his temper to get the best of him. 'That's a huge learned lesson for him not to do something dumb like that,' UGA linebacker Monty Rice said after the game. 'He's a vital part of the team, a vital part of the offense You see how productive he is. He can help us a lot. He's just got to be smarter.' The video from Pickens' fight became just as viral as his miraculous catch had been. And it became easy for some to define him in simplistic terms on the basis of these images as a player that was frequently noticed, but not always for the right reasons. Yet those who know Pickens better say there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. Former UGA wide receiver Sean Bailey is one of those people, and Bailey probably has as much insight into what it feels like to be Pickens as anyone could. Pickens was an elite recruit the No. 4 wide receiver in the country and the 24th rated prospect for the 2019 class. Bailey was an elite recruit too rated fifth as a receiver and 47th overall in 2003. Bailey shared his opinion on Pickens last week on DawgNation Daily and those thoughts extend beyond what can be conveyed in a video. 'Probably the biggest thing that stands out to me about him is that he truly loves football,' Bailey said. 'He loves to compete.' Bailey explained he saw that aspect of Pickens' demeanor while attending UGA practices. 'I've had the pleasure to watch several practices,' Bailey said. 'There are a lot of elite guys that are able to turn it on and turn it off, but when you have a guy that has it turned on all the time like George does at practice He's aggressive even when he's not getting the ball.' Pickens has credited his work on the practice field for why he enjoyed success during his freshman season, and has said being challenged by Smart and former UGA quarterback Jake Fromm during those practices was crucial in his development. '[Fromm] pushed me every day. Coach Smart pushed me every day to be the player I am today,' Pickens said after the Sugar Bowl. However, Bailey says Pickens was doing plenty of pushing of his own. 'He was extremely vocal. And this is as a freshman,' Bailey said. 'He's in it. He's competing every down, and not just in the pass game, but in the run game too when his job is to block and be aggressive. 'He's going 100 miles per hour, and you don't see this a lot at this position a prima donna' position. You've got a lot of athletes that like to catch balls and like to score touchdowns, but they don't want to get their hands dirty. George will go get his hands dirty in a heartbeat. He gets excited. He's thrilled to do it. Bailey is speaking of the way some wide receivers get bad reputations as players who seek glory and attention at the expense of being team-oriented. Bailey says Pickens isn't one of those guys. Pickens would probably agree. The mentality that he plays the game with is one that seems to value the physical aspects of football more than the typical receiver would. Pickens' first season at UGA while imperfect stands as validation of that point of view. 'It was a great season to me,' Pickens said. ' You win some. You lose some, but I feel like every day, every practice, every walkthrough we just fought. I like winning that way instead of winning the easy way. I like fighting for the win.' It's possible to like fighting too much, and perhaps at times last season Pickens did. However, more often than not, Pickens' fighting spirit will probably serve him well. And it could lead him and the Bulldogs to even more success in 2020. The post Former UGA star explains why George Pickens isn't a prima donna' WR appeared first on DawgNation.