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UGA PRO DAY: Gurley Supporting His Teammates

ATHENS—This afternoon at the UGA football practice facilities, the Bulldogs held their annual “Pro Day” in front hundreds of media, guests, and NFL scouts. Twenty-nine of the 32 NFL teams were represented by at least one scout.

Seventeen Georgia players participated in the broad and vertical jumps, agility and position drills, performed the bench press, and the 40-yard dash. A handful of former Bulldogs participated as well, notably, linebackers Rennie Curran (2007-2009) and Michael Gilliard (2009-2012), hoping to regain the attention of the pros.

Two players from last season’s squad participated, so to speak, but were injured and here entirely in support, including the most sought-after Bulldog of them all—NFL-Draft-bound Todd Gurley, who is rehabbing his torn ACL.

“I’m keeping [NFL teams] up with my rehab,” Gurley responded when asked about his recent contact with the league. The star tailback mentioned he has been visiting the renowned Dr. James Andrews—the orthopedic surgeon who performed Gurley’s surgery—at the Andrews Institute in Pensacola, Fla. As far as today’s Pro Day, “I’m here in support for my teammates,” he stated.

Receiver Michael Bennett was also present but not participating due to a torn ACL he suffered in the Belk Bowl.

For those performing, they were encouraged, primarily by the new Director of Strength & Conditioning, Mark Hocke, and defensive graduate assistant Kelin Johnson, with shouts of “Seize the moment!” and “Everyday is an interview!” among numerous others.

Safety Corey Moore shined, running the fastest 40-yard dash of everyone (4.53) while having the longest broad jump (10 feet). Center David Andrews had the best bench press (27 reps of 225 pounds), followed closely by nose tackle Mike Thornton with 26 reps. Of the 12 competing in the vertical jump, linebacker and special-teamer Kosta Vavlas clearly had the highest mark by three-and-a-half inches with a jump of 36 inches.

A number of the guests even received some attention at today’s event, like former Georgia coaches Mike Bobo and Will Friend, both coaching now at Colorado State, returning to Athens to observe their former players. Colorado State had its Pro Day on March 10th.

Notwithstanding, the individual drawing the most attention was the standout player who was there simply for support.

“Good thing I’ve got a little film to prove something,” Gurley said of his inability to perform in front of today’s NFL scouts. The projected first or second-round selection has already visited with the Detroit Lions and is planning to meet with the Carolina Panthers this week. The Lions and Panthers pick 23rd and 25th, respectively, in the first round of the NFL Draft.

As far as if Gurley was planning on meeting with any other NFL teams in his immediate future, “I really don’t want to comment,” he said. However, the sense is one of the greatest players to ever don a Bulldog uniform still has a number of stops to make before hearing his name called during the upcoming draft.

3/17 Spring Practice Report: PRUITT HITS GROUND RUNNING (and RAVING)

ATHENS—For the Georgia Bulldogs’ first spring practice of 2015—the first of two without pads and in shorts before full pads this Saturday—all eyes might have been on the three quarterbacks competing for the starting position under center, new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and star tailback Nick Chubb; however, most ears, at least when I was observing practice, were surely tuned into defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. There was really no other alternative.

While working with the secondary, Pruitt repeatedly commanded loudly for the Bulldogs’ defensive backs—all 100 of them, it seemed—to “do it again!” among several other firm orders. The booming directives were somewhat ironic coming from a coach who gives few interviews and has hardly been heard from by a good portion of Georgia fans.

Last season, Pruitt inherited a defensive unit that had been arguably the worst in Georgia history the year before. The pass defense had been especially weak in 2013. In addition, starting from the time Pruitt first set foot in Athens a little over a year ago, the Bulldogs began losing defensive backs at an alarming rate due to various reasons, especially due to transferring out of the program. Still, filled with primarily question marks and hardly any standouts and with Pruitt personally coaching the secondary, Georgia’s pass defense last season yielded a passing efficiency rating of only 105.79, or the second-lowest at the school in eight seasons.

Still, the Georgia secondary certainly has some room for improvement in 2015.

“The big thing is to get to the point where every man plays his job—his responsibility—and plays it well,” said head coach Mark Richt this evening regarding his desire for Pruitt’s defense to improve this upcoming season. “We feel like if everyone understands their role, their job, we have a chance to be pretty good.”

So, what can the Georgia defense improve upon the most in 2015?

“Turnovers,” it was declared without hesitation by cornerback Dominick Sanders, who started all 13 games last season, intercepting three passes as a true freshman. “Turnovers—I feel like we’ll force a lot of them in all the games we play [in 2015].”

Sanders, who routinely answered questions asked by the media with a “yes, sir” or “no, sir,” might be the best of a number of examples of young members of Georgia’s secondary who have excelled in part because of Pruitt’s strict discipline and structure. Many of the other defensive backs should eventually follow suit, and Georgia’s secondary—once considered a weakness not long ago—could be one of the best in the SEC this year.

Finally, as I moved on to watch another unit practice on this inaugural practice of the year, I heard Pruitt’s voice above all others again. This time, he went off—I mean, really exploded—on a second-year cornerback, displaying a “do it or, if you don’t like it, get out” attitude.

While some may find Pruitt’s discipline harsh, it’s a sight, and sound, welcomed by those, even as early as the first spring practice, once accustomed to a disorderly and overmatched Bulldog secondary.

Bulldog Football Has First Practice Of The Spring

Georgia’s football team had its first of 15 spring practice sessions on Tuesday
afternoon under sunny skies and temperatures hovering near 80 degrees.

The Bulldogs will return to the practice fields on Thursday and later host G-Day,
which is their annual spring scrimmage, on April 11 at 2 p.m.

While Wednesday is not a practice day for Georgia, 16 former Bulldogs will work out for and meet with NFL scouts and team personnel at the annual Pro-Day at the Butts-Mehre

“This first day was a good day, and one where we got a lot of work
done,” said Georgia head coach Mark Richt. “We absolutely have a long, long way
to go, as expected, but I saw a lot of guys out there who were being coachable
and teachable. You could tell some guys knew the tempo and some of the new ones
looked lost. But our early enrollees will be in a lot better shape in the fall
when their fellow classmates start practice.”

This marked the first practice for eight early enrollees who came to Athens in January.

“I was not even sure of the jersey numbers for the new guys today,” Richt said. “I was more making sure the tempo was up and that people were going in the right direction.
I saw a lot of wide eyes from that crew today.”

In addition to sophomores Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and junior Brendan Douglas in the backfield, the Bulldogs also welcome back senior Keith Marshall and redshirt sophomore A.J. Turman, who are returning from injuries during their careers.

“Marshall is in a situation of no limitations and I think he is getting back in playing
shape,” said Richt about Marshall who finished with 759 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman in 2012. “A.J. has been moving well with no setbacks. We weren’t doing a lot of change of direction today, but he did cut across the
field a couple times and looked good.”

The Bulldogs open their 2015 season against the University of Louisiana at Monroe in Athens on September 15

Former Bulldog Chris Conley Receives Community Spirit Award

conley2ATLANTA – Former University of Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley received the Community Spirit Award presented by Georgia Power, A Southern Company, at the 10th annual Atlanta
Sports Awards at the Fox Theater on Thursday night.

Conley, who is the first collegiate athlete to win the award, was honored alongside Lifetime Achievement winner Tom Glavine. The Community Spirit Award is presented annually to an Atlanta area athlete or coach who is actively involved in the community and
epitomizes the highest standards for leadership, sportsmanship and integrity. Last year’s award recipient was Falcons placekicker Matt Bryant.

“When you hear the name Chris Conley, you not only think of Georgia football, but you think of his off-the-field achievements and his character; that says a lot about the type of young man he is,” said Dan Corso, executive director of the Atlanta Sports Council. “Chris has broken the mold for what a student-athlete should be. Every team and community should be so lucky to have an individual like Chris to represent them.”

Off the field, Conley represented the Southeastern Conference on the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, becoming a trusted adviser of NCAA President Mark Emmert, who has called Conley a “remarkable young man.” He was a leader and voice for the rights of student-athletes, prompting the NCAA to involve student-athletes in the governance structure of the organization.

Conley was also the first student-athlete to successfully petition for his own Kickstarter campaign. He will use the money to fund his second feature film based on a superhero of his own creation. Last summer, Conley’s Star War’s fan-film “Retribution” was a hit
with more than 400,000 views on YouTube.

“Football has been a big part of my life, but there are also other interests and passions I have off the field. I enjoy being around people and sharing experiences with them,” said Conley.
“Being recognized for the contributions made to my community is a huge honor, and I am extremely grateful to be selected as this year’s award recipient.”

When he’s not filmmaking or playing football, Conley volunteers for a variety of causes including “Learn, Play, Excel,” the UGA Athletic Association’s program promoting leadership, anti-bullying, respect for authority and the value of athletics participation with Athens and Atlanta-area elementary schools; Home Runs for Hometown, a softball game for Special Olympians; Samaritan’s Feet, a nonprofit that donates and distributes shoes to those in need; Read Across America, a national initiative that focuses on reading to young students; the Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer Golf Tournament; and Camp Sunshine, a facility for children with cancer.

Conley is no stranger to the awards circuit. Following his senior season at UGA, he was honored with placement on the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team and the SEC Community Service team, and he was named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy and Wooden Citizen Cup. He was also named an NCAA Division I Senior CLASS Award finalist, as well as a member of the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District
Football Team.

Since graduating with a degree in journalism in December, he
is currently training for UGA Pro Day on March 18 following a sensational
performance at the NFL Combine. Conley ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.35) among the receivers in the 2015 draft class and recorded a vertical leap of 45 inches and a broad jump of 11 feet, 7 inches, which are the best marks recorded by a receiver since at least 2006.

The Atlanta Sports Awards, held annually at The Fabulous Fox Theatre, was created in 2006 by the Atlanta Sports Council to galvanize the high school, collegiate and professional sports

Richt Previews Spring Practice

HC_Richt3.52ATHENS, Ga. — With the start of spring football fast approaching, Georgia head coach Mark Richt touched on a number of topics and issues that the team will face as the Bulldogs begin to prepare for the 2015 season.

“We’re looking forward to our spring football and getting ready to start [back up],” Richt said. “It’s a great time of year. There are a lot of new faces and a lot of great opportunities for the guys to compete for starting positions, compete for playing time and compete against each other, offense versus defense and all that good stuff. We’re just finishing up about an eight-week offseason program to get these guys in good position to be in for spring ball both physically and mentally. I’m really pleased with how that went as well.”

Richt touched on the effect that the new strength and conditioning staff has had on the team’s offseason workouts and preparing the squad for spring practice: “As far as results are concerned, I can see our guys’ bodies changing and see they’re muscling up good and getting lean. There’s probably more long-area running incorporated in this offseason program. We had some short-area quickness drills and things of that nature as well as some longer running that we had, but I would say that we’re running probably a little bit more. A lot of the drills that we’re doing are probably a little bit more position specific and I think that’s a little more different too. I like how it’s going.”

One of the biggest topics entering spring practice will be the new look of the offense with the addition of new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and the departure of senior quarterback Hutson Mason.

“We’re trying to give all of those guys a number of reps,” Richt said of the quarterback position. “We’re trying to make it as equal as possible. I’m sure we’ll be rotating who is number one on any given day, as far as who works with that unit. I’m sure every quarterback will get reps with the one’s and the two’s. Obviously we brought in a new quarterbacks coach. I think it’s going to be a lot like it was last year on defense. Everybody had an opportunity to prove what they can do. There were so many guys getting opportunities and competing to get reps with the one unit.”

“It’s been a little bit of a melting pot in terms of what we’ve done and what he’s done in the past,” Richt said of the new look offense with Schottenheimer as coordinator. “I’m not going to say it’s 100 percent the same verbiage that we had a year ago, but as far as the things that we’re doing they married up very well.”

With the restructuring of the offensive staff, Richt added, “there’s a little bit of a learning curve for everybody. There are some new things but it’s healthy. I’m enjoying the things that we’ve been doing. Schottenheimer really likes it. We’re just kind of melting everybody’s ideas together and making it make sense for everybody.”

In addition to the aforementioned comments, Richt also spoke on the following topics:

On the Brian McClendon moving to wide receivers coach and the addition of Thomas Brown…

“Brian is an outstanding coach, an outstanding recruiter and an outstanding Bulldog. He’s just a great guy. He’s very capable of coaching running backs and very capable of coaching wide receivers. He was excited about taking the opportunity to make the move and we were very happy about that. Then bringing in Thomas, another great Bulldog and a guy who is a very capable coach and recruiter in his own right, we feel like we’re in really good shape in both areas.”

On bringing Jonas Jennings back to Georgia on staff…

“He’s a guy that has been through all the things that our players have been through and he’s done all of the things that they hope to do. He’s a very good role model for them and he’s a guy that just has a heart for young people. He has a heart for the Bulldog program specifically. We really think he’s going to do a good job helping our guys navigate the life of a college football player at Georgia.”

On preparing the team for the upcoming 2015 season…

“I just think you have to focus on the little things on a daily basis. Just take care of business academically, take care of business in the offseason, take advantage of the meetings you have with your coaches and do more than what is asked of you. There are limitations in terms of how much time you can have with these guys and I think that if you want to be great you have to be willing to put in some extra time. We’ve had a lot of guys that are like that over the years that have had tremendous success at Georgia and down the road, whether it’s pro football or their business life or whatever it may be. I think guys need to put a little bit extra in too.”

On the focus of spring football…

“We will scrimmage. We’ll have three scrimmage opportunities and I don’t know if we’ll tackle to the ground on those other days, maybe a little bit here and there. We think that you can teach blocking and tackling without going to the ground all the time or cutting your teammates below the waist on certain blocks. We want to be wise but we do want to be physical and see who can be physical and who can play the game. That’s why you have those scrimmage opportunities, to make it as close to a game as possible and see how those guys respond to that.”

On what he expects from the true freshmen that were able to contribute in 2014…

“You want to continue to perfect what you do. You want to continue to get better at what you do. You want to continue to get stronger and in better condition. Usually guys will put on some pounds as they go but without losing that speed and agility. There are a lot of really positive qualities that these guys have to be able to contribute as true freshmen and you want them to grow in that way and begin to assume a little bit more leadership. Once you play and prove that you are responsible and talent enough to get a bunch of snaps then it’s time to help the other guys reach that level as well.”

John Theus and Jordan Jenkins also spoke on the upcoming spring practices:

Senior OL John Theus

On the offseason conditioning program…

“It’s been awesome. Everybody does things a little bit differently, but this offseason has definitely been a positive change. Guys really come in ready to work hard every day. We’re doing a lot of new things – no mat drills this year and doing some on the field drills. I feel like we’re in better shape, better conditioning than we’ve been in a long time. We’ve cut down on some body fat and gained some muscle. The winter program has definitely been a help so far, and hopefully it translates to on the field, as well.”

On the changes under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer…

“We’ve been able to get some notes down. But anytime a new coach comes in, things are going to change. Calls are going to change. I’m going to have to learn. Being a senior, learning (plays) is a lot different than as a freshman. I’ll be able to relate it to some of our older stuff. But overall, I’m pretty sure we’re going to run the same concept and keep it as similar as possible so it’s as easy as possible for us to pick up. I think it’s going to be good for us, and the spring will be a good time for us to learn a lot.”

On the quarterback competition…

“Those three guys (Faton Bauta, Jacob Park and Brice Ramsey) have busted their butts, and they’ll compete in the spring just like every other position will. In the spring, Coach Richt is big on nobody has a job. So you have to come in and compete. That’s the way it will be at every position, and obviously the quarterback position will be the same way. We lost a good player in Hudson (Mason), but I feel confident in all three of these guys. They all have things that they’re good at. No matter who comes out of that on top, I think we’re going to be alright.”

On the changes on the offensive side of the ball…

“It’s going to be an adjustment – the coaching styles, not having players, not having the former leaders. Guys are going to have to step up, step into those roles and make plays. All of those things, put them together, and it will make for an interesting spring.”

Senior LB Jordan Jenkins

On sophomore LB Lorenzo Carter…

“Lorenzo Carter is going to be one of the greatest defensive players to come through this university. He’s a young man who is gifted athletically, gifted mentally. He just has all the tools you want in a kid. If he stays focused, commits to the offseason and commits to getting better, the sky is the limit for that guy.”

On the high expectations for the linebacker group…

“It’s definitely really exciting because it just shows that all our hard work as a unit is somewhat paying off. If you see one of us making plays, it’s not just one person. Everybody makes plays in a unit. It’s just because when we go to practice, when we go to our individual periods, we attack it and we just try to be the best that we can.”

On the biggest area of improvement for spring practice…

“As a unit, possibly using our hands better, staying lower and locked out on the bigger tackles that we go against. We’re really working on getting to where setting the edge is muscle memory, nothing we have to think about.”

On his focus going into spring practice…

“Getting better and going 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. My main focus is really getting better and giving my all.”

Thomas Brown Speaks On Returning To Georgia

C_Brown1ATHENS, Ga. — Newly hired University of Georgia running backs coach Thomas Brown said Monday that he hoped to be in a position to return to Georgia should he get the opportunity.

“Once I left this place I wanted to put myself in a position that if the job did become available [then I could be a candidate],” Brown said. “When I left I kind of built my resume and showed what I could do at other places outside of here that I thought would make it easier to get me back [to Georgia].”

Most recently, Brown served as the running backs coach at Wisconsin where he mentored Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon in 2014. Under Brown’s direction, Gordon rushed for an NCAA-leading 2,587 yards and 32 touchdowns. Gordon and sophomore running back Corey Clement combined to rush for 3,536 yards, setting the single-season Football Bowl Subdivision record for rushing yards by teammates.

Brown inherits an already strong backfield at Georgia, including SEC Freshman of the Year Nick Chubb. In 2014, Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning Freshman All-America and All-SEC honors.

“I just tell those guys to ignore the noise,” Brown said of how he advised Gordon to deal with the national attention that he garnered in 2014. “When you’re a great player, people want to get attached to you and write about you and tell you how great you are and what you’re going to become. I just say to focus on the stuff that you can control.”

Before joining the Wisconsin coaching staff, Brown made stops as the running backs coach at Marshall in 2013 and at UT-Chattanooga in 2012 after spending 2011 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Georgia. Brown said that those three stops outside of Athens helped him grow significantly as a coach.

“I learned a bunch from an experience and X’s and O’s standpoint,” said Brown. “I’ve coached in several different offenses under several different guys and there was some difficulty because there was never any familiarity. Every year it was a new offense, new coaching staff and a new group of players that I had to learn to grow and adapt to so that forced me out of my comfort zone. Having those opportunities forced me to grow and mature and helped me to adapt to different situations.”

Brown also spoke on new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer who is entering his first year at Georgia. “He’s unbelievable,” Brown said. “He’s a high energy guy and is incredibly positive. I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to work with and learn from him. He’s definitely open to guys voicing their opinions. He has the direction and leadership and we’re going to follow behind him, but he also has done a good job so far of allowing us to add our two cents in and give our own opinions. I’m looking forward to it.”

A native of Tucker, Ga., Brown starred at Tucker High School before enrolling at Georgia and helping the Bulldogs to the 2005 Southeastern Conference championship. He finished his career as the fifth-leading rusher in Georgia history with 2,646 career yards and led the Bulldogs in rushing in 2004 and 2005. For his career, Brown averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored 25 touchdowns. He was elected by his teammates as the permanent offensive team captain in 2007

Brown earned his bachelor’s degree in speech communications from UGA. He and his wife, Jessica, have two children, Orlando and Tyson.

Bryan McClendon moves to WR coach; Thomas Brown returns to UGA as RB coach

C_McClendon3.5ATHENS—— University of Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon will move to coach wide receivers, the position he played, according to an announcement Monday by UGA head coach Mark Richt. Richt also announced former UGA running back Thomas Brown, who coached Heisman Trophy runnerup Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin this past season, has been named the new running backs coach.

Richt also said McClendon would assume the role of passing game
coordinator. Brown and McClendon were teammates on the 2005 Georgia SEC championship team.

“These moves with two former Georgia teammates will add a great
dimension to our offensive coaching staff,” said Richt. “It brings back a great Bulldog running back in Thomas who has NFL playing experience and has had success as a college coach at multiple schools. He also inherits a position that has been built to an elite level by Bryan. And it gives Bryan the opportunity to return to coaching the position he played and the one where he cut his teeth serving as a graduate assistant under wide receiver
coach John Eason here at UGA. It also provides him with a new experience as passing game coordinator. ”

At Wisconsin in 2014, Gordon posted the second-best season ever by a running back with 2,587 rushing yards and 32 total touchdowns. He and sophomore Corey Clement combined to run for 3,536 yards to break the single-season Football Bowl Subdivision record for rushing yards by teammates that had been set the year before by Gordon and James White (3,053 yards).

The Badgers posted the two most prolific rushing performances in
the country in 2014 with a school-record 644 rushing yards vs. Bowling Green and 581 vs. Nebraska, and their average of 6.91 yards per rushing attempt ranks as the fourth-best mark in FBS history.

Prior to joining the Wisconsin staff, Brown served as the running backs coach at Marshall in 2013 and at UT Chattanooga in 2012. He spent the 2011 season as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at UGA.

At Marshall, he helped direct Conference USA¹s second-ranked
rushing offense which averaged 205.9 rushing yards per game (ranked 24th nationally). The Herd won the C-USA East Division title with a 7-1 record and defeated Maryland, 31-20, in the Military Bowl. Brown guided RB Essray Taliaferro to a 1,000-yard season that saw him average 5.2 yards per carry and score 10 touchdowns while amassing 1,140 rushing yards. Marshall was one of just seven FBS teams to boast three running backs that rushed for at least 500 yards in 2013 — along with Wisconsin — and was the lone program outside the Power Five conferences to accomplish the feat.

A native of Tucker, Ga., Brown starred at Tucker High School
before enrolling at Georgia and helping the Bulldogs to the 2005
Southeastern Conference championship. He finished his career as the fifth-leading rushing in Georgia history with 2,646 career yards and led the Bulldogs in rushing in 2005 and 2005. For his career, Brown averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored 25 touchdowns. He was elected by his teammates as the permanent offensive team captain in 2007.

He was selected in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the
Atlanta Falcons and spent the 2009 season with the Cleveland Browns before retiring to pursue coaching opportunities.

Brown earned his bachelor¹s degree in speech communications from UGA. He and his wife, Jessica, have two children, Orlando and Tyson.

McClendon lettered as a wide receiver at Georgia in 2002-03-04-05. He played on two SEC championship teams (2002, 05). As a senior he caught 35 passes including six for touchdowns. He caught the game-winning TD pass in the closing minutes against Georgia Tech and then blocked a punt in the SEC championship game which led to the Bulldogs third TD of the game. He was part of a senior class that won 44 games‹the most by any class in Georgia history. Following the 2005 season, he signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears.

He served as a graduate assistant coach with the Bulldogs in
2007-08 and joined the full time coaching staff in 2009 as running backs coach. He has coached a number of elite running backs during his tenure at UGA including Isaiah Crowell, Todd Gurley, and Keith Marshall as well as current backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

He is married to the former Amber Arnold of Atlanta. They have
two children, Bryan and Brooke.

Richt Discusses Bulldogs’ 2015 Signing Class

HC_Richt3.5ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Georgia’s 2015 signing day class. He offered the following comments:

Opening Statement

“Thank you all for being here. I appreciate it so much. It’s an exciting day without question. Always is. We’re really thankful for a lot of things today, first and foremost for the student athletes that have decided to come to Georgia. I’m about to introduce a few here in a moment, but I do want to make a few thank you’s across the board. First of all I want to thank all of our field coaches and their wives and their families for the sacrifices that they make to get this thing done. The amount of travel time, hours on the phone, film watching, and all of those other things that, apart from coaching football, are such a big deal in recruiting take a lot of time. So I just want to thank our coaches and their wives and their families. Then there is the recruiting staff. Obviously I would like to thank them and all of the student hosts and student helpers. We’ve got our academic staff that has come and helped us. We’ve had professors come and helps us. Our custodial staff has come at all hours to make our facility look beautiful. Our equipment people, strength and conditioning, sports medicine, Greg McGarity, our athletic director, has come and spent time with recruits. President Morehead has come and helped us as well. The entire athletic association staff, even the travel coordinators and pilots—there’s just so many people that get involved. And last but not least our current student athletes. They spend a lot of time hosting these young men on their trips, and I just want to thank everybody for that.”

Introduction of Early Enrollees…

“It’s an exciting time right now for me to introduce these gentlemen. What I would like to do is when I introduce the first three, if you guys would stand up as I call your name, and the first three get on this side of me and the other four will get on this side of me, and maybe we’ll get some beautiful pictures of these guys. I’d like to introduce our mid‑year enrollees. We’ll go in alphabetical order, and I’d like to start out by introducing to you Johnathan Abram from East Marion High School in Mississippi, coached by Kevin Jackson; Chuks Amaechi, linebacker from Arizona, coached by Tom Minick; Michael Barnett from Dorchester, South Carolina, Woodland High School, coached by Mathis Burnett. Jake Ganus is kind of a special situation from UAB, which we know UAB quit playing football, so we lucked out and got him. Jackson Harris from Columbia, Tennessee, Columbia Central High School, coached by Howard Stone; Natrez Patrick, Atlanta, Georgia, Mays High School, coached by Cory Jarvis; Jarvis Wilson, Tupelo, Mississippi, Tupelo High School, coached by Trent Hammond. Let’s get a nice picture with all these guys. They’re visited by a lot of family here, too. I know that Natrez’s mom is here, Jarvis’s mom Camilia, dad is Otis, brother John is here; Jonathan Abrams’ mother Alexandria and stepfather Marvin are here, as well, so welcome everybody. It’s good to see y’all.”

Introduction of Signees…

“Got my notes here. What I’d like to do is just call out these names and we’ll go from there. Pat Allen, Franklin High School in Maryland, coached by Anthony Burgos; Deandre Baker, Miami, Florida, Miami Northwestern, coached by Eddie Brown; Juwuan Briscoe, defensive back, from Maryland, Thomas Stone at 716, coached by Paul Freele; Michael Chigbu from New Orleans, Holy Cross High School, coached by Eric Robredo; Kirby Choates, East Point Georgia Tri‑Cities High School, coached by James Banks; Tae Crowder, running back, Hamilton, Georgia, Harris County High School, coached by Dwight Jones; Sage Hardin from Atlanta, Marist High School, coached by Alan Chadwick.  Daquan Hawkins, D‑tackle, Atlanta, Georgia, Westlake High School, coached by Brian Love; Sam Madden from New Jersey, Barnegat High School, coached by Rob Davis; Gary McCrae from Cuthbert, Randolph Clay High School, coached by Daniel McFather; Rico McGraw, DB, Nashville Tennessee, the Ensworth School, Ricky Bowers, head coach; Chauncey Rivers, defensive end, Stone Mountain, Georgia, Stevenson High School, head coach Ron Gartrell.  Rashad Roundtree, Lakeside High School, Steve Hibbits, head coach; Devondre “Scooter” Seymour, North Gwinnett High School and Hines Mississippi Junior College, coached by Gene McMurphy; Jason Stanley, wide receiver, Fairburn High School, Creekside, coached by Olden Downs; Juwan Taylor, Hallandale Beach, Florida, Hallandale High School, Damian Jones, head coach; Trent Thompson, Westover High School in Georgia, in Albany, Georgia, Octavia Jones, head coach; D’Andre Walker, Fairburn, Georgia, Langston Hughes High School coached by Willie Cannon; Justin Young, Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia, coached by Mickey Connor; and Shaquery Wilson, Coral Gables High School and coached by Roger Pollard.  To this point, this is our class, our signees from today, and our mid‑year enrollees.”

Closing Remarks of the Opening Statement…

“We are absolutely thrilled about these young men and can’t wait to see them do their thing. Some of them are already here doing their thing a little bit, and when this is over, you will have an opportunity to talk to our mid‑year players and ask them anything you want. With that I thought I would open it up to any questions that you might have and we’ll go on.”

On whether this has been one of the crazier signing periods he’s ever experienced…

“It’s been interesting, and it’s not over yet. There’s still things swirling around out there still. Yeah, I think there’s been a lot of emotion in this one, and it’s a large class, too. The more people you sign in the class, the more ‑‑ at times the more drama you have. But the one thing I do want to say about our mid‑year enrollees, these guys had a plan. You just can’t all of a sudden snap your fingers and say I’m going to graduate early. First of all, you’ve got to be smart, you’ve got to be organized, you’ve got to have support from your family and your high school. People have to ‑‑ these guys tend to be a little ‑‑ maybe just a little bit more ready for college because they did the things that they had to do to get here in this time frame, and just really proud of all of them and proud of the families that helped them do it because it is not just something you can all of a sudden decide in August, hey, I want to be a mid‑year enrollee. You’ve got to do the work on the front end and plan, and really proud of these guy.”

On whether or not the coaching staff focused on recruiting players for the secondary…

“Well, there’s no doubt we feel like we needed to bolster what’s going on in that defensive backfield, and we believe we did that. A lot of talented guys, a lot of guys that are going to compete well, but it’s a situation I think where they saw opportunity, and we’ll probably ‑‑ the goal is to be able to do some things defensively that ‑‑ play a little more man coverage and challenge people a little bit more, and I think we’ve got a great bunch of guys to do that.”

On whether losing coaches in the offseason affected recruiting…

“Well, I think when you lose coaches, it does ‑‑ you lose relationships. You lose time spent. So I think that certainly came into play. But bringing Coach Schottenheimer in here, Brian Schottenheimer, our new offensive coordinator, and Rob Sale, I think those guys did an excellent job of coming in and getting to know everybody and rallying along with the rest of the coaches.”

On recruits who de-commit and then recommit…

“Well, those things happen for different reasons. I think Pat’s situation was more of a coaching change issue. Shaquery’s was probably a little bit different in that regard. You never know why a guy turns around and changes his mind back. But we were happy to welcome them back. I’m sure they’ll ‑‑ well, I know they’re very happy that they did.”

On whether or not they adhered to Shaquery Wilson’s demands to play receiver…

“No, no, that was a good question because I think a lot of people were going to think that. He said, coach, I’ll do whatever you want me to do. He just wanted to be at Georgia, and he’s put as an athlete for that reason.”

On whether or not there will be any more additions made later in the day…

“There’s a possibility. There’s a possibility. I really don’t know for sure. We just have to kind of wait and see. But there are still some possibilities out there.”

On how coaches stay patient through the decision process…

“I don’t know if I’m patient or any coaching staff is patient. I mean, you don’t have a lot of control. I guess you don’t have a choice. You don’t have any other choice but to be patient. I guess we are patient because we don’t have any control. But I can’t say that there’s not a lot of emotion that goes in it from us, too, because like I mentioned to start out, there’s a lot of time invested, a lot of travel, a lot of time away from home, a lot of phone calls, a lot of ‑‑ just the building of relationships over time. You get to know people and really ‑‑ you like them a lot and you want them to be a part of your program, and you can see where things would work out for them at your University. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t, but I don’t think anybody goes through recruiting season without having that excitement of getting the ones that you want to get, a high percentage of those, but then there’s always some tough things, too.”

On whether signing players early can put them at a disadvantage for de-commitments…

I think nowadays in recruiting, the minute somebody commits somewhere is about when recruiting starts. You know, a lot of times you’re thinking, well, once you’ve got a commitment, you’ve got it. But I think ‑‑ I don’t think anybody in the country thinks just because a guy says he’s coming doesn’t mean you still ‑‑ you can’t just stop calling and stop recruiting and stop taking care of business. You need to escalate that.”

On his feelings towards potentially having an early signing period…

“I don’t know about the early signing date. You know, it’ll be interesting to see if it happens, and if it does what kind of effect it’ll be. Will it calm things down or will it be two days like this? You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen in that regard. But it’ll be interesting to see.”

On adding a player like Trent Thompson

“Yeah, Trent is a big, massive man who has got great agility. If you meet him, he’s just the nicest guy you ever want to meet, but when he’s playing ball, he gets after it. He’s just got tremendous quickness for a big man, changes direction, plays very hard, and I think probably the reason why he got rated as high as he did is when you start taking these guys and bringing them to all‑star games or combines or whatever and you start letting them compete with some of the best, the word I got from some of those kids in those situations were like, the guy just was very difficult to handle by anybody. He’s a fun kid to be around. He really is.”

On this year’s defensive line class…

“Well, you definitely want to ‑‑ you’ve got to have the beef up front, both sides of the ball. You’ve got to have guys that can command double teams. You’ve got to have guys that can hopefully put pressure on a quarterback without having to bring blitzes and things of that nature, guys that can be stout in their run gap responsibilities and not get pushed around. It’s truly important to have the big men up front. I think we did a good job there.”

On what he expects of the team’s depth

“We don’t think in terms of depth with guys, we think in terms of guys that hopefully will play and become starters, compete to start.  I guess a starter is part of your depth as far as your depth chart, but we want these guys to compete.”

On getting Devondre Seymour into the program…

“Yeah, Devondre Seymour, it says 6’6”, 310, I’m not sure if it’s 310, it might be bigger than that.  We call him “Scooter”. But very talented guy, and a guy that if I’m not mistaken will be coming in with three years to play three, and that’ll be great for us.  You know, it’s been a little while, waiting for him to get in position to come back on campus, or to come to campus, but we’re very happy that he decided to stick with Georgia and is taking care of his.”

On Pat Allen and Sam Madden…

“Pat was one of the guys that committed early and changed his mind and then recommitted. And then big Sam Madden coming in, really liked what we saw with him on film, and after meeting him really enjoyed him and his father on that trip and had a lot of faith that we were going to have a pretty darned good ball player. He’s a massive guy, too. I mean, he probably was in the 345 to ‑‑ well, he probably showed up 345, probably left about 355 after all the food he ate on the trip. But we did get some big, solid men. Sage Hardin, very ‑‑ he’s tall, long, tough, athletic, smart kid.  He’s going to really help us, as well.”

On Daquan Hawkins and Kirby Choates…

“Guys that have been on the radar for a while. You know, Daquan, really when you look at him, he’s as good looking as any of them, you know, a guy that in the very beginning we’re thinking maybe this guy can play offense. There’s no doubt he could play offense. But then the more time you spend watching him do his thing, you could see that he’s going to be a tremendous defensive lineman for us. But he was a guy that both sides of the ball liked. He was on the board the whole time through, and in the end it worked out at defensive line because that’s where his heart is and where we think he’ll give us the best impact. And then Kirby, very ‑‑ he’s a tough, athletic kid, a guy that loves Georgia, within loving Georgia a long time, and when the opportunity came to get him, he accepted that offer, and we’re glad that he did.”

On whether Tae Crawford is just a back…

“Well, he does have the ability to do a little bit of what Quayvon Hicks is doing as far as an H‑back type guy, even possibly tight end type guy, enough of a body to do that. But he’s a pretty good runner in his own right. He is a very physical guy, big tackle breaker, guy that we think could hold up well in our league, got a great stiff arm, just down after down after down, just stiffing guys into the ground and running them over. Very impressed with him.”

On balancing relationships in the recruiting process…

“Well, you’ve just got to keep recruiting I think is the best answer to that. You’ve just got to keep recruiting, you’ve got to keep evaluating, and gosh, I can’t tell you how many times we got guys late and they did great. Kenarious Gates I think was at least a three‑year starter for us if not a four‑year starter. Timmy Jennings I think we offered the night before. Timmy was the last guy brought in the class and he was the first guy drafted that year, and he’s been an all‑pro corner. You just keep recruiting.”

On whether or not wide receiver is a flaw in this year’s recruiting class…

“Well, I would just say that the day is not over and we’ll see what the next few hours bring. You just don’t know and I don’t know for sure what it’s going to bring. Maybe you can ask me that tomorrow.”

On how Brian Schottenheimer has adjusted in the early weeks…

“Well, Brian has got a ‑‑ I think he’s a very good communicator, and I think that he’s got a spirit for young people, and I think they see that in him, and I think they can hear it in his voice, and I think he’s going to end up being a really outstanding recruiter.”

On early-enrollees and whether it’s becoming a trend…

“I think more and more young men are wanting to be mid‑year guys. I think a lot of them realize it’s a little bit harder than you think. It’s not a slam dunk, like I said before. And even if you’re way out in front of it, it’s not always going to happen. But again, it’s a great tribute to these guys and what they did to get themselves in position to do that, and their families, there’s no doubt about it. And there are some schools that just don’t allow it. Some guys want to do it, and some schools, some school systems don’t even allow them to do that.”


On how many UAB players Georgia looked at when the Blazers’ program was dismantled…

“We took a good look at the film, but Jake stood out. He’s a guy that we thought could come in and help us. Obviously Jake doesn’t have a lot of eligibility left, but he’s got a lot of maturity about him, and we really believe he’s going to come in and give us some good pop.”


On whether or not the full cost of attendance issue came up…

“We didn’t get into it much at all because it’s so hard to define at this point. I’m sure next year’s class it’ll be a big deal.”


On how big a deal he thinks the cost of attendance will be in future years…

“Oh, I think it’s going to be a big deal. Again, it’s not defined yet, so until it’s defined we won’t know how big of a deal it’s going to be.”


On the difference between today’s recruiting and recruiting in the past…

“I think just how fast information travels. I think, again, the attention and the hype that the recruiting gets tends to be a big deal. I don’t know, just I guess information and how fast it travels obviously is a big part of it, how you communicate with young men has changed. We’re not supposed to text, but you can DM them, direct message them on Twitter, and there is a difference between texting and direct messaging because the young man has to accept you, like if it’s your phone you could text a guy on his phone all day long but if he doesn’t want to communicate with you on Twitter, he doesn’t have to. So there is a little bit of difference there.”


On whether recruiting through social media is good or bad…

“I don’t know. I think in some ways it’s good. I think it’s hard for anybody to do things that a kid won’t report as far as, hey, I’m here doing this, I’m here doing that, and then so ‑‑ I think it might have cleaned some things up, but it also maybe complicates things a little bit, too.”


On additions to the support staff…

“Well, the support staff, some of the additions is just to bless these young men and help them take care of business on a day‑to‑day basis. Some of it is just positions that we’ve had in the past that we’ve just amped up a little bit. That’s really all there is to it.”


On part of the class being from out of state…

Well, we just want the best players. If we go out of state we’re looking for some special people. But we’re still probably 60 to ‑‑ we’re normally around two thirds Georgia. That’s about where we’re at this time around.


On Madden and whether or not there was a lifeline with his family to Georgia…

No, I can’t even remember exactly how we got on him. But we got a hint that he was available and ready to make some visits, and we also knew that we were in need, so that’s how we got hooked up.


On if it will be easier to recruit running backs once Chubb nears the end of his Georgia career…

“I don’t know. You know, when Chubb and Sony came in, Keith Marshall and Gurley were about at that age range, so maybe we can nail it down.”

Rob Sale named offensive line coach at UGA

ATHENS———McNeese State University co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Rob Sale has been named offensive line coach at the University of Georgia according to an announcement Saturday by UGA head coach Mark Richt.

We’re excited about the addition of Rob as our new
offensive line coach and look forward to the contributions he¹ll make to our program, said Richt. I firmly believe he’s going to be the perfect fit for Georgia.

Sale joined the McNeese staff in February, 2012, as offensive line
coach and was promoted to co-offensive coordinator in the summer of 2014.  Prior to serving on the McNeese staff, he held positions as strength and conditioning assistant coach and offensive analyst from 2007 to 2011 at the University of
Alabama. While at Alabama, the Crimson Tide won two national
titles in 2009 and 2011.

He had launched his coaching career in 2006 as the offensive line coach at Catholic High of Pointe Coupee in New Roads, La.
Sale is a native of Monroe, La., played high school football at Neville High School and college football at LSU where he was a three year starter in the offensive line.

This is a great opportunity and I’m ready to hit the road
recruiting this week, said Sale. Top priority will be to see as many
recruits as possible and help finish up this 2015 class. At the same time I’m also looking forward to meeting and getting to know our current players. It’s an exciting time to be joining a program with such a great history and tradition.

In 2014, the McNeese offense averaged 32.4 points per game,
396.5 total yards per game, 221.9 yards per game rushing and 174.6 yards per game passing.

Sale constructed an offensive line in 2013 into one of the best in
the league despite having two players switch from the defensive side. Three of the five starting linemen earned All-Southland
Conference honors – Arinze Agada (1st team), Quentin Marsh and Nick Gorman (honorable mention). Agada was named the SLC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year, earned SLC All-Academic honors, was named a FCS ADA Academic All-Star, earned first team
All-Louisiana honors, and was named to four postseason All-America teams (Associated Press, Sports Network, College Sports Madness, Beyond Sports Network).

As a player at LSU, he played in 35 games with 25 starts,
including all 13 games in his senior year of 2002 at right offensive guard. As a junior he saw starting action at both center and guard when the Tigers won the SEC title and he played left guard as a sophomore, starting the final five regular season games as well as the Peach Bowl. In high school he was an all-state selection as both a junior and a senior at Neville. Sale earned
his degree from LSU in 2003.

He and his wife Amanda have two sons, Tripp and Briggs.

Georgia Led SEC In Scoring And Turnover Margin In 2014

91 Dawson3.111ATHENS——Georgia’s record-setting offense in 2014 led the Southeastern Conference in scoring while the defense posted the league’s best turnover margin as the Bulldogs finished with a 10-3 mark.

In Mark Richt’s 14th season at the helm, Georgia tallied 537 points and averaged 41.3 points a game, both school records, while the defense finished the year with a +16 turnover margin. Currently, Georgia ranks eighth nationally in scoring offense and fourth in turnover margin. The +16 turnover margin was the fourth best in school history and best since 1982 (+22). Incidentally in 2013, Georgia’s turnover margin was minus seven. The 2014 Bulldogs improved five spots to No. 5 in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 20.7 points a game.

This marks the 10th time that Georgia led the SEC in scoring offense and first since 2002. Before the 2014 season, the last time Georgia led the SEC in turnover margin was 1989. Also in 2014, Georgia led the SEC in rushing offense at 257.8 yards a game, tallying a school record 3,352 yards on the ground. It was the ninth time the Bulldogs have accomplished that feat and first since 1992. Georgia started the same offensive line in all 13 games this season, the first time that had been done since 2000.

Junior placekicker Marshall Morgan led the SEC in scoring with 115 points while freshman running back Nick Chubb finished as the SEC leader in scoring touchdowns with 16. Morgan is the 11th Bulldog to claim an SEC scoring title and first since placekicker Brandon Coutu in 2005. Chubb narrowly missed the SEC rushing title. He finished second with 1,547 yards, trailing only Auburn senior Cameron Artis-Payne who wound up with 1,608 yards. Chubb finished the season with eight straight games of more more than 100 yards rushing including two over 200 yards. Also of note, Georgia senior Damian Swann led the SEC with four forced fumbles.

Individually, Georgia set numerous season and career records in 2014 that are listed below:

*Average Gain Per Rush (Season): Todd Gurley, 7.41

*Average Gain Per Rush (Season/Min. 200 rushes): Nick Chubb, 7.06

*Average Gain Per Rush (Career): Todd Gurley, 6.44

*Best Completion Percentage (Season): Hutson Mason, 67.87

*Best Completion Percentage (Career/Min. 400 attempts): Hutson Mason, 64.98

*Most PATs Attempted/Made (Season): Marshall Morgan, 67 of 68

*Consecutive Field Goals Made (Career): Marshall Morgan, 20 {SEC Record}

*Most Punt Return Touchdowns (Season): Isaiah McKenzie, 2 (tied record)

*Most Kicks Blocked (Game): Ray Drew, 2 vs. Ga. Tech {a FG and PAT} (tied record)

*Most Return TDs (Season): Isaiah McKenzie, 3 (tied record)

Also, the school record-setting performances from the 2014 season included the following:

*Most Rushing Yards in a Bowl Game: Nick Chubb, 266 yards versus Louisville (SEC record)

*Longest Rush in a Bowl Game: Nick Chubb, 82 yards versus Louisville

*Average Gain Per Rush in a Bowl Game (Min. 30 atts.): Nick Chubb, 8.1 vs. Louisville

*Most Interceptions in a Bowl Game: Dominick Sanders, 2 versus Louisville (tied record)

*Most All-Purpose Yards: Todd Gurley, 293 yards versus Clemson

*Longest Kickoff Return TD: Todd Gurley, 100 yards versus Clemson (tied NCAA/SEC record)

*Most Punt Returns: Reggie Davis, 7 versus Clemson (tied record)

*Returned a Punt and a Kickoff for a TD: Isaiah McKenzie versus Kentucky

*Longest Fumble Return for a TD: Damian Swann, 99 yards versus Ga. Tech

The team records set in 2014 that also led the SEC are listed below:

*Most Points Scored: 537

*Highest Average Points Per Game: 41.3

*Most Yards Rushing: 3,352

*Average Yards Rushing Per Play: 6.04

*Best Completion Percentage: 67.39

*Most PATs Attempted/Made: 67 of 68