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UGA QB Jacob Park to Transfer

JPark1ATHENS——- University of Georgia redshirt freshman quarterback Jacob Park has decided to transfer to another institution according to UGA head coach Mark Richt.

“We’ve had conversations during which we discussed all the viewpoints,” said Richt. “In the end, he feels like the opportunity for significant playing time would be better at another school. I can understand his decision, and we’ll support him in finding a good fit at another institution.”

“I want to thank Coach Richt and Georgia for the experience I’ve
had in Athens,” said Park. “I’m grateful for the opportunity but now look
forward to what’s next in my college career.”

A native of Goose Creek, S.C., and graduate of Stratford High School, he worked
mostly with the scout team in 2014 as a true freshman.

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UGA Junior WR Blake Tibbs to Transfer

Tibbs01ATHENS——University of Georgia junior wide receiver Blake Tibbs will
transfer to another institution for his final two years of eligibility
according to an announcement by UGA head coach Mark Richt.

Blake and I have met and he has decided it would be in his best interest to
transfer to another institution, said Richt. I certainly understand and
wish him nothing but the best.

Tibbs has played in 15 games over the past two years and recorded four
receptions for 43 yards.

Seventy-Four UGA Student-Athletes to Graduate Friday

ATHENS, Ga. – Seventy-four University of Georgia student-athletes will receive their undergraduate or graduate degrees Friday at the annual spring commencement exercises. The undergraduate ceremonies will be held in Sanford Stadium beginning at 7 p.m.

Among the 74 UGA student-athlete graduates are 14 members of the football team, nine women’s track and field athletes, eight members of the equestrian team, seven men’s track and field athletes, six volleyball players, four members of the men’s golf team, four members of the gymnastics team, four baseball players, four men’s basketball team members, four members of the men’s tennis team, three women’s swim & and dive athletes, two soccer players, two members of the women’s basketball team, two women’s tennis players, and one softball player.

Baseball: Zachary Freeman, Communication Studies, Lake Park; Taylor Hicks, Sport Management, Statham; Brandon Stephens, Communication Studies, Marietta; Zachary Waters, Agribusiness, Woodstock.

Men’s Basketball: Nemanja Djurisic, International Affairs, Podgorica, Montenegro; Taylor Echols, Ecology, McDonough; Cameron Forte, Sociology, Tempe, Ariz.; Dusan Langura, International Affairs, Romont, Switzerland.

Women’s Basketball: Krista Donald, Sociology, Lake, Miss.; Erika Ford, Human Development & Family Science, Alpharetta.

Equestrian: Kylee Arbuckle, Accounting, Torrance, Calif.; Madison Berger, Animal & Dairy Science, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Caroline Blackshear, Sociology, St. Simons Island; Taylor Leigh Davis, Anthropology, Newborn; Morgan Justiss, Marketing, Alpharetta; Megan Southam, Exercise & Sport Science, Langley, B.C.; Paige Stawicki, Psychology & Biology, Argyle, Texas; Lauren Tieche, Risk Management & Insurance, Ocala, Fla.

Football: Sterling Bailey, History, Gainesville; Faton Bauta, Sport Management, West Palm Beach, Fla; Michael Gilliard, Communication Studies, Valdosta; Jesse Jones, International Affairs, Alto; Jackson Loonam, Management, Lexington, S.C.; Kareem Marshall, Human Development & Family Science, Grover, N.C.; Leonard Pope, Housing, Americus; Lucas Redd, Health and Physical Education, Jefferson; James Rome, History, Valdosta; Garrison Smith, History, Atlanta; Nate Theus, Human Development & Family Science, Jacksonville, Fla.; Xzavier Ward, Communication Studies, Moultrie; Danny Ware, Housing, Rockmart; Justin Wesley, History, Camilla.

Men’s Golf: Arthur DeMoss, Communication Studies, Duluth; Nicholas Reach, MIST, Moscow, Pa.; Josef Straka, Management, Valdosta; Samuel Straka, International Affairs, Valdosta.

Gymnastics: Chelsea Davis, Exercise & Sport Science/Psychology, Austin, Texas; Kaylan Earls, Communication Studies, Chicago, Ill.; Demetria Hunte, Psychology, Alpharetta; Sarah Persinger, Consumer Journalism, Mount Holly, N.C.

Soccer: Jillian Maloney, International Affairs/Political Science, Alpharetta; Carli Shultis, Sociology, McDonough.

Softball: Anna Swafford, Psychology, Dallas.

Women’s Swimming & Diving: Olivia Boggs, Accounting, Smyrna; Lauren Harrington, Digital Broadcast/Political Science, Memphis, Tenn.; Laura Ryan, Psychology, Elk River, Minn.

Men’s Tennis: Garrett Brasseaux, Finance & Real Estate, Mandeville, La.; Eric Diaz, Communication Studies, Athens; Nathan Pasha, Communication Studies, Atlanta; Hernus Pieters, Finance/Risk Management & Insurance, Pretoria, South Africa.

Women’s Tennis: Lauren Herring, Psychology & Sociology, Greenville, N.C.; Alina Jerjomina, International Business & Finance, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Men’s Track & Field: Lucas Baker, Marketing/Management, McDonough; Caleb Ebbets, Exercise & Sport Science, Leesburg; Charles Grethen, Finance, Tuntange, Luxembourg; Brendan Hoban, Turfgrass Management, Duluth; Brandon Lord, Applied Biotechnology, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Burke McCarty, Exercise & Sport Science, Dunwoody; Caleb Whitener, Political Science, Dallas.

Women’s Track & Field: Anna Bowles, Psychology, Martinez; Ann Centner, Consumer Foods, Watkinsville; Carly Hamilton, Marketing, Springboro, Ohio; Hilenn James, Housing & Consumer Economics, Trinidad and Tobago; Marrion Kalafut, Exercise & Sport Science, Acworth; Bret McDaniel, Economics, Atlanta; Nkenna Njoku, Human Development, Rex; Sarah Perry, Biology, Lawrenceville; Elizabeth Tepe, Biology, Parker, Co.

Volleyball: Jasmine Eatmon, Human Development & Family Science, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Kaylee Kehoe, Sport Management, Fayetteville; Inutiraha Le’Au, Social Work, Duarte, Calif.; Brittany Northcutt, MS – Sport Management, Greensboro, N.C.; Elena Perri, Grad School, Richland, Mich.; Gabriela Smiley, Biology, Alpharetta.

Bulldogs Conclude Spring Practices

At the close of spring practice, Coach Richt claimed three different linemen are "capable" of being the team's starting center, but none of which were "game-ready."

ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs wrapped up their 2015 spring practice sessions with a two-hour, full-pads workout at Sanford Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Head coach Mark Richt delayed his post-practice media session a few minutes to take full advantage of the day and work extra with a player at a key offensive position that remains uncertain entering the fall.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, but it was really the last time we could get some work with (Brandon) Kublanow,” Richt said. “Starting tomorrow, you can’t really be coaching him. We took a little extra time after practice to help him out and give him something to work on during the offseason.

“We don’t know who the center is going to be,” Richt said. “Kublanow is capable, Isaiah Wynn is capable and Hunter Long is capable right now. Are they game-ready right this second? Probably not. Hunter is probably the most able to handle all the calls and everything going on and snap the ball consistently right this second. But there’s a lot of time between now and then for everybody to get better at the skills that they need to get better at and study the spring cutups and make sure they can make all the right calls and all that kind of stuff. Those guys will work all summer long. They’ll have a lot of 7-on-7 reps with each other. That’s one thing you can perfect in my opinion in an offseason so they should all work to get that done.”

Richt was asked which of the team’s mid-year newcomers made the biggest impact on the spring and he listed several standouts.

“It’s hard to say, but Natrez Patrick looks like he found a home (at inside linebacker),” Richt said. “I think he’s got a good body type and a good disposition to play that middle linebacker position. The young safeties (Johnathan Abram and Jarvis Wilson) have been hot and cold and making some plays. Jackson Harris I think is a guy who has got the skill set to play well and he’s learning pretty quick. He had a real solid spring. (Jonathan) Ledbetter is learning a lot. Chuks (Amaechi) and (Jake) Ganus, those guys are going to help us win, Chuks and Ganus, older guys a junior college in Chuks and Ganus coming from UAB. I think they all got a lot of solid work in.”

Early enrollee Michael Barnett missed most of the spring due to a shoulder injury.

Georgia conducted its final two spring workouts this week following last Saturday’s G-Day game. In that contest, the Black team, led by the first-team defense, secured a 24-17 victory over the Red team. Tailback A.J. Turman rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Black team offensively, while linebacker Reggie Carter registered a team-best eight tackles.

Georgia will kick off the 2015 season against Louisiana-Monroe in Athens on Sept. 5.

Black Holds Off Red On G-Day, 24-17

ATHENS—In front of a G-Day record crowd, the Black team held off the Red for a 24-17 victory in the annual spring game which was, granted, a glorified scrimmage, but one 46,815 Bulldog fans thoroughly enjoyed on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

“Georgia won today, which is good,” head coach Mark Richt said first when addressing the media following the game. “It’s so hard to try and judge what kind of a day it was when you go Georgia against Georgia while working your first, second, and third units because it’s just a lot of guys getting a lot of reps.”

The Red featured Georgia’s first-team offense, the Black the first-team defense, while the Bulldogs’ top two quarterbacks—sophomore Brice Ramsey and junior Faton Bauta—played for both squads. Quarterbacks Jacob Park and Sam Vaughn appeared solely for the Black.

The game featured a bit of excitement on the third play of the game, when first-string center sophomore Isaiah Wynn snapped the ball over Ramsey’s head back to his own 2-yard line for an 18-yard loss. Wynn, who appears to be the replacement for standout David Andrews, played the rest of the contest without any miscues.

“I just forgot about it, got my mind right, and got the ball down,” Wynn said with a chuckle regarding how he recovered from his bad snap. “I think I played pretty good [after that].”

Beginning in Red territory following a poor punt by Collin Barber, sophomore tailback A.J. Turman carried the ball on the first three plays for the Black. He capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, giving his team an early 7-0 lead. Turman finished with 106 yards on 26 carries, and averaged around 110 rushing yards this spring for the three scrimmages, including today.

“It feels good (how he has performed this spring), but I know I can do better and improve on some things,” Turman said.

Three plays after Turman’s touchdown, the Red answered when Ramsey connected with sophomore Isaiah McKenzie for a 72-yard, game-tying touchdown. McKenzie was hurt on the play, pulling a hamstring, and was still limping after the game; however, by all indications, the injury is nothing serious.

The Black retook the lead on the first play of the second quarter when Bauta avoided a sack and tossed a short pass to sophomore tight end Jordan Davis, who completed a 25-yard scoring play. For the game, Bauta completed 16 of 25 passes for 171 yards, whereas Ramsey was 5 for 9 for 174 yards.

Just before halftime, quarterback Park drove the Black into Red territory before throwing an interception corralled by true freshman Jarvis Wilson. The Red couldn’t take advantage of the turnover, however, as Marshall Morgan missed a 42-yard field goal as the first half ended.

Park finished the contest 10 of 15 passing for 92 yards, and seemingly will be Georgia’s number-three signal caller entering fall camp; however, according to Richt, nothing is for certain when it comes to his trio of quarterbacks.

“It’s still a race,” Richt said regarding the quarterback competition. “I don’t think there’s any question that it will go through the summer and fall before we make that decision on who will start the first ball game [at quarterback].”

Midway through the third quarter, Turman broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run for his second score of the game, giving the Black a 21-7 advantage. Later in the quarter, he did lose a fumble—the second of only two combined turnovers committed by the teams.

“The offensive line has worked hard,” Turman said. “I knew my [second] touchdown was coming. [The line] blocked well and opened up a hole for me.”

Soon after Morgan kicked a 25-yard field goal to pull the Red within 11 points, 21-10, they scored again on a 17-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb. Chubb, who hardly ran the ball in Georgia’s first two scrimmages, carried three times today for 34 yards, including, and surprisingly, two rushes in the final 17 minutes of the game. He also made three receptions. Minus Turman and Chubb, the two teams combined for a lowly minus-39 rushing yards on 23 rushes due in large part to eight combined sacks.

“I’m ready for whatever; they tell me to go in, I’ll go in, to come out, I’m coming out,” Chubb said regarding his playing time this spring. “It’s whatever the coaches think. I just love playing football.”

The Black built its lead to a touchdown, 24-17, with less than a minute remaining on a 37-yard field goal by Patrick Beless. With one more shot, the Red moved the ball to near midfield in seven plays behind Bauta before turning it over on downs, clinching the victory for the Black.

Still, the main attraction for the Bulldogs on G-Day, and the player receiving the most attention from the media in the locker room, was one who played on the losing team, and touched the ball just six times. Nevertheless, for superstar Nick Chubb, as he said, he just loves playing football.

“It’s always good to get out there in front of the fans at Sanford Stadium and play with all the boys,” Chubb said.  “It’s always a great experience.

Dogs Prevailing on Defense Heading Into G-Day

Coach Pruitt's defense has seemingly out performed Georgia's new offense this spring. Will it continue to do so this Saturday?

ATHENS—It has been a long time since a Georgia football team was identified more so by its defense, rather than its offense; by my assessment, it’s been nine years, the 2006 season. And, armed with Nick Chubb, four of five starting offensive linemen returning, a group of gifted receivers, and a trio of quarterbacks—each of whom could probably start for a number of FBS teams—it seems the Bulldogs’ long-standing trend of having an offensive identity would continue this season.

However, if spring practice is any indication, Georgia might be back “on the defensive” in 2015.

“It was really kind of a sloppy day for the offense,” head coach Mark Richt said following Thursday’s practice. “We had a lot of penalties, and the defense, I thought, practiced harder today quite frankly.

After 12 spring practices, including two scrimmages, leading into the G-Day Game two days from now, something I’ve personally gathered is Georgia’s defense, overall, has out performed its offense the last three weeks. Again, by my assessment, what Richt described—sloppy offensive play, good defensively—has transpired for at least a couple of other practices this spring before today.

Granted, a “sloppy” offense, which is a different offense than before, coordinated by a new coach, possibly should be what’s expected at this point—still, nearly five months until the Bulldogs open their season against Louisiana-Monroe on September 5th.

How different is Georgia’s new offense coordinated by Brian Schottenheimer—a college assistant for the first time since coaching Southern California’s tight ends 15 years ago in 2000?

“It’s a lot more in depth in terms of what we do, switching up things, spreading around the responsibility of knowing what to do on offense,” tight end Jeb Blazevich said following practice. “[In the previous offense] everything was put on the quarterback and linemen, but now they can share the responsibility—widened the load.”

One of those linemen, sixth-year senior Kolton Houston, mentioned how well the defense under second-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has played, and “they’re really clicking,” plus, adding, “it’s a challenge for us on offense—trying to learn a new playbook.”

Houston indicated although the G-Day rosters had been posted by the end of practice, he had yet to see them. Regardless, he said the two teams—the Red, and the Black—will probably be split up like in previous years: first-team offense, second-team defense on one team, second-team offense, first-team defense the other.

In 2014, Pruitt’s defense forced 29 turnovers and was only the second Georgia defense the last seven seasons to allow the opposition less than five yards per offensive play. More so, last season was vastly improved over the 2013 unit, when the Bulldogs featured arguably their worst defense in the modern era of Georgia football.

And, under Coach Pruitt, one would think, Georgia’s defense should only get better. However, as far as the offense, Richt had little good to say about it on Thursday: “there were too many [offensive] mistakes, too many penalties, too many decisions by the quarterbacks that put the ball in harm’s way.”

What does this—Georgia being more so identified as a defensive team during the spring—mean for the 2015 season? Probably little, if anything—perhaps as much as if the champion of baseball’s exhibition season translated to it being a champion during the regular season. However, it could mean plenty for Saturday’s G-Day—like, I’m currently not sure which team I like to win, but I’ll definitely take whichever squad features the first-team defense.

Bulldogs Log Final Practice Before G-Day Game

4.9Practice01ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia football team continued spring practice on Thursday with a two-hour session on the Woodruff Practice Fields.

The Bulldogs logged their final practice before Saturday’s G-Day Game in shoulder pads and shorts, again fighting through temperatures reaching into the 80s.

“It was really kind of a sloppy day for the offense,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We had a lot of penalties and the defense, I thought, practiced harder today quite frankly. When the offense did it right, it was beautiful, but there were too many mistakes, too many penalties, too many decisions by the quarterbacks that put the ball in harm’s way. But I’ll say this, the last two Thursdays have been like that too and they came around on Saturday in the scrimmage and did a pretty good job. Hopefully, they’ll do that again.”

The G-Day Game is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. at Sanford Stadium. There is no cost for admission, but fans are encouraged to bring canned goods for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. Donations will be accepted at Gates 2, 4, 6 and 9.

The G-Day Game will air on SEC Network + with Dave Neal (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (color analyst) and Maria Taylor (sideline). The game also will be broadcast on the Georgia Radio Network and by Scott Howard (play-by-play), Eric Zeier (color analyst) and Chuck Dowdle (sideline).

The Bulldogs will have two more practices after the G-Day Game, scheduled for next Tuesday and Thursday.

Georgia will kick off the 2015 season against Louisiana-Monroe in Athens on Sept. 5.

Old Dogs and New Dogs, and That’s About All, Compete For D-Line Jobs

Consisting of the young or old, it's crowded along Georgia's defensive line entering the 2015 season.

ATHENS—While observing eight Bulldog defensive linemen go through tackling-dummy drills on Tuesday afternoon, a few things are rather apparent: for one, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker can be quite challenging, once hollering at a large lineman to hit the bag harder, adding “I bet you would if I put a piece of [food on the bag]!” Nevertheless, there’s more so an intriguing mix of players evident heading into the 2015 campaign, most of which are essentially newcomers, or well-seasoned seniors, and very little in between.

Currently on the Georgia roster, there are four senior defensive linemen: Sterling Bailey, Chris Mayes, Josh Dawson, and James DeLoach—all except DeLoach having started at least five games for their careers. There are four newcomers: redshirt freshman Kenyon Brown, who was moved from outside linebacker, true freshmen and early enrollees Jonathan Ledbetter and injured Michael Barnett, and Joseph Ledbetter, Jonathan’s older brother who was moved from tight end after transferring from Pfeiffer University (Misenheimer, N.C.), where he played basketball for two years.

Considering there are four others listed as defensive tackles or ends due on campus for fall camp, including much-heralded Trenton Thompson and Chauncey Rivers—both of whom were considered by Rivals among the top-10 overall prospects in the state—there are eight newcomers along the Bulldogs’ defensive line.

Finally, there’s redshirt sophomore John Atkins, who totaled nine tackles in 10 games last season—the only defensive lineman out of 13 this season who is not either a senior or a newcomer to the program.

“Everyone’s on the same playing field, and it’s all about making plays, whether it’s a freshman or senior,” Dawson said concerning the dynamic between the new and experienced linemen. “It doesn’t matter who is on the field.”

Bailey added, “I don’t see any difference [whether a new or experienced lineman sees significant playing time]. If you can play football, you can play football.”

Dawson has appeared in more games at Georgia (38) than any of his fellow linemen, including four starts at defensive tackle a year ago. It appears he is currently battling Bailey, however, for the starting defensive end spot vacated by the departed Ray Drew. Playing in 29 career games, Bailey has started the most amongst the group (nine career starts), including once last season at defensive tackle.

“Both those guys are going to play,” head coach Mark Richt said regarding the competition between Dawson and Bailey for the starting defensive end position. “Somebody’s going to start, [but the other is] going to get reps.”

Besides two defensive ends, or what could be considered an end and a defensive tackle, Georgia also employed a nose tackle last season for a three-man front. However, the Bulldogs often started a third outside linebacker or fifth defensive back in 2014, resulting in three starting linemen for five games, just two starters for the other eight contests. More of the same unusual defensive alignment is expected this season.

Richt stressed, “We’re going to roll people [along the defensive line], and they’re going to get snaps.” However, as little as six defensive linemen are anticipated to be “rolled,” or rotated this season—or, the same number which appeared in at least 10 games a year ago—and certainly no more than eight. Therefore, fewer than half of the 13 defensive linemen expected to report in August could see significantly playing time in the fall.

Who will be left out of the rotation? With unpredictable, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt calling the shots, it could be anyone’s guess.

“That’s the one thing, there’s never a spot locked down in this defense,” Dawson said. “Coach Pruitt and all the defensive coaches, they coach on competitive nature, and if you’re not being competitor out there everyday [in practice], someone can take your job.”

Someone—that is, whether it’s a senior, a newcomer, or Atkins, and evidently that’s all—will take your job. And, along Georgia’s defensive line in 2015, there are very limited spots for the taking.

Who’s the (Next) Boss?

ATHENS—Entering spring practice, it was likely the biggest question mark for the Georgia Bulldogs besides who was going to start at quarterback: who is going to be the starter snapping the ball to the unknown starting signal caller?

With the departure of standout center David Andrews, nicknamed “Boss,” there is a void to fill along Georgia’s offensive line, which returns the other four starters, and emerging are three prime candidates: a senior with some experience at the position, a junior who started at guard last season, and a sophomore who actually has never played center before.

Each of the three candidates has been getting reps with the first-team unit through 10 spring practices, including two scrimmages. Regardless, unlike the quarterback position, where who will start still seems somewhat up in the air, it is rather clear who is currently the top candidate as the Bulldogs’ starting center.

“You gotta ask Coach Richt that,” Hunter Long answered, smiling when asked if, like the quarterbacks, the centers were rotating from the first through the third-unit offenses with each practice. “But, we’re basically all competing together.”

Long, a fifth-year senior who has appeared in games dating back to the 2011 season, has played in 14 career contests as a reserve, including last season when he came off the bench against Florida for an injured Andrews. Heading into winter workouts, Long seemed the logical choice to be the team’s starting center under the direction of newly-hired offensive line coach Rob Sale.

Sale, who started at both offensive guard and center for LSU during the early 2000s, asked junior Brandon Kublanow in the spring to also give center a shot. Kublanow started all 13 of Georgia’s games a year ago at left guard and likely will remain at the position in 2015, while appearing to be a distant third at the center spot.

“[Coach] Sale is more of technical guy than Coach Friend,” said Kublanow, when asked to compare the Bulldogs’ new offensive line coach to the one from before—Will Friend, who left for Colorado State. “They’re both great coaches.”

Last week, although Sale indicated the competition for the top spot was “close between the three,” the coach only spoke of one individual when asked if he had a better feel for what Georgia “had” at the position.

“He did a good job in the [first] scrimmage,” said Sale regarding sophomore Isaiah Wynn, who currently appears to be the top dog at Georgia’s center position. “He kept moving forward; you want to constantly see him get better from the week before, and he did that.”

Wynn played admirably in a reserve role primarily at guard in 11 games last season, including one start as an extra tight end when Georgia lined up in a jumbo set for their first offensive play against Tennessee. He has never played center—that is, until now.

“I knew it would be a lot of responsibility,” said Wynn regarding the extra obligations the center position carries compared to the guards and tackles. “[I would hear] it from Boss (Andrews); he would always tell me that eventually I probably would be moved to center. It’s a lot of work.”

Wynn added the biggest difference between playing center compared to the other offensive line positions is having the responsibility of communicating more to teammates. He says the best advice Andrews gave him regarding preparing to be a center is “stay in the film room.”

Wynn worked with the first-unit offense at center for both of Georgia’s spring scrimmages, and seems likely to do the same for this Saturday’s G-Day Game. Nevertheless, Sale stressed his philosophy for not only spring practice, but fall camp as well, is “all jobs are open.” Therefore, although Wynn seems to be the lead candidate to take over for Andrews in 2015, it appears who will become the Bulldogs’ next “Boss” is far from a certainty.