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    Toys R Us has rejected MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian’s $675 million bid for about 30 percent of the remaining U.S. and Canada locations of the business. CNN Money reported that the bid, which was made April 13, was too low, according to sources. >> Read more trending news  Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017 and announced store closings March 15. “If this is true, it is very disappointing,” Larian said of the report. “We feel confident that we submitted a fair valuation of the company’s U.S. assets.” Larian added that he wants to keep working to save the business. Larian’s company, MGA Entertainment, is known for making Bratz dolls and Little Tikes toys.  Related: CEO of MGA Entertainment makes formal offer to buy Toys R Us “The liquidation of Toys R Us is going to have a long-term effect on the toy business. The industry will truly suffer,” the billionaire said in a statement last week announcing the bid. “The prospect of bringing the Toys R Us experience to a new generation, my new grandson's generation, is enough to motivate me to Save Toys R Us.” At the time, Larian said he would use his own money and financing from banks and other investors for the bid. Toys R Us is considering other offers, CNN Money reported. 
  • An audit of Facebook's privacy practices for the Federal Trade Commission found no problems even though the company knew at the time that a data-mining firm improperly obtained private data from millions of users. The audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers is available on the FTC's website, though it is heavily redacted. It covers February 12, 2015 to February 11, 2017. Facebook agreed to outside audits every two years as part of a 2011 settlement with the FTC over its privacy practices. It is not clear from the report, as posted online, whether the company informed PwC of the Cambridge Analytica issue. Representatives for Facebook and PwC did not immediately respond to messages for comment early Friday. The fact that PwC found no issues could raise questions about whether such audits are useful.
  • The major U.S. stock indexes fell in early trading Friday, adding to the market's modest losses a day earlier. Technology stocks accounted for a big slice of the slide. Energy companies also fell along with the price of crude oil. Banks rose as bond yields headed higher. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,687 as of 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 35 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,629. The Nasdaq composite lost 41 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,196. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,570. TECH TUMBLE: Several technology companies were trading lower, extending the sector's losses this week. Apple fell 3.2 percent to $167.33. NOT PLAYING: Mattel slid 6.4 percent to $12.59 after the struggling toy maker replaced its CEO. SURPRISING RESULTS: General Electric climbed 4.4 percent to $14.61 after the conglomerate reported quarterly results that beat Wall Street's expectations. ENERGY: Crude oil prices fell as representatives from OPEC nations and allied oil ministers met in Saudi Arabia to discuss their agreement to maintain cuts to production in a bid to keep prices up. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 65 cents, or 1 percent, to $67.64 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 67 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $73.11 per barrel in London. The decline in oil prices pulled energy sector stocks lower. Range Resources lost 3 percent to $13.82. BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.93 percent from 2.91 percent late Thursday. The rise in bond yields helped push bank shares higher. When bond yields rise, they drive up interest rates on mortgages and other loans, which can translate into bigger profits for banks. KeyCorp added 2.1 percent to $19.96. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.73 yen from 107.41 yen on Thursday. The euro fell to $1.2282 from $1.2337. The pound weakened to $1.4028 from $1.4078 after the Bank of England's governor cast some doubts about the possibility of a rate increase next month. MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX slipped 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent. Asian stock indexes finished lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.9 percent.
  • Credit cards can be great tools to have in your wallet. They allow you to make a purchase now and pay it back later. Unfortunately, they’re also the reason why so many Americans struggle with debt. Credit cards are known to often come with high interest rates. As of March 2018, the average interest rate on a credit card was 16.84%. With rates that high, carrying a balance can get extremely expensive. If you are one of the millions of Americans that’s carry a balance on your credit cards, there are things you can do to reduce how much you’re paying each month. What is a good interest rate on a credit card? Before we dig too far into figuring out how to lower your credit card interest rate, we need to understand what a good interest rate on a credit card would be. Most of you have probably received an offer for a 0% APR card. These cards are great, but can be deceiving. Many times you will receive a low APR for a short introductory period. However, when that runs out, the interest rate jumps — sometimes to well over 20%. So what is a good interest rate on a credit card? The answer to this really depends on your situation. Ideally, the interest rate won’t matter because you’re paying your balance in full each month. But if you do need to carry a balance from one month to the next, know that reward credit cards and cash back cards almost always come with higher interest rates. Ideally, your card will come in below the average. RELATED: What is a ‘good’ credit card? Negotiating a lower interest rate Credit card interest rates are tied to prime rates. That means each time the Federal Reserve shifts rates, your credit card is probably going to be impacted. If the interest rate on your card is higher than you’d like, the best first step you can take is to call the credit card company to see if they’d be willing to work with you to pay down your debt. Credit card issuers understand that as a consumer, you have options. They value your business and most of the time will do just about anything to keep it. But before you sit down to make a phone call, make sure you are prepared. It will help increase the chances the call goes the way you want. Here are a few tips for negotiating a lower interest rate: Do your research before making the call Before you make the call to your credit card issuer, make sure you’re prepared. Know what your current balance is and what APR you’re paying. It’s always better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough. Look into other credit cards that are available. Understanding what else is out there and the rates they charge, will give you added leverage. Finally, check your credit score. A strong credit score is a good indicator that you are more likely to pay back what you owe. This can only help increase the chances of having your interest rate lowered. If your credit score is lower than you’d like, it might be best to spend some time working to improve it. Once it’s at a level you like, then you can make the call. RELATED: How to improve your credit score 100 points in 30 days Start with the oldest card in your wallet Credit card issuers love loyal customers. If you have multiple cards in your wallet, start by calling the card you’ve had the longest. Because the cost to acquire new customers is high, they are going to be more willing to work with someone that has been a customer for a long period of time. Making the call Once you have yourself prepared, it’s time to make the call. If you’re feeling nervous, don’t be. The worst they can  do is say “no.” On the back of each credit card there’s a customer service number. This is the number you’ll want to call. Once you have a representative on the line, let them know you’d like to talk about lowering the interest rate on your credit card. Let the conversation proceed from there. Having done all the research beforehand, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed. But it’s not always going to happen. Don’t give up if you receive a “no.” It’s okay to be persistent, just don’t be pushy. If the representative informs you that they can’t lower your interest rate, find out why. Then ask to speak with a manager. Go through the entire process over again and see if you get the result you want. If you still don’t get approved for a lower rate, all hope shouldn’t be lost. If there was a specific reason why you were denied, work on that to make sure it’s not an issue moving forward. Give your issuer a call back in a few weeks and try again. Apply for a new low interest credit card Lowering the interest rate on your existing credit card is almost always going to be better than moving your balance. Each time you apply for a new card your credit score, will take a small hit. Unfortunately, if money is tight and you need to reduce the amount you’re paying each month, sometimes a balance transfer is the only way to go. There are several low interest credit cards available, but do some research before applying. Pay close attention to any type of balance transfer fee that you might have to pay. Make sure the benefit is going to outweigh the cost. Also, if the card comes with a introductory interest rate, make sure you know what it will be when the introductory period is over. The last thing you want is to end up with an interest rate at the same level or higher. If you end up in an endless cycle of high interest debt, it’s going to be tough to make any progress. RELATED: New Barclays Arrival Premier card: Worth a look if you love to travel Related Articles from clark.com: Job alert: Amazon is hiring and you can work from home Read More New report: This pharmacy's prices are cheaper than Costco Read More Travel alert: Clark Howard warns about American, Delta and United’s cheap fares Read More
  • A major European dairy cooperative says that currency swings caused by Brexit are among the reasons it has to cut costs by over 400 million euros ($495 million) over the next three years. Denmark-based Arla Foods, the maker of Lurpak butter, says 'two unexpected developments' — the pound's drop after Brexit and a shift in commodity prices — are forcing it to act. CEO Peder Tuborgh says the savings program is 'to the benefit of its farmer-owners and further strengthen the company's investment capability.' Tuborgh said savings include changing work routines, trimming bureaucracy and cutting costs. The cooperative is owned by farmers in Denmark, Sweden, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. It employs some 19,000 people.
  • SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential case of data theft. The Atlanta bank said Friday that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investigation is ongoing. Compromised information could include names, addresses, phone numbers and account balances. SunTrust says it will offer identity protection for all consumer clients at no cost on an ongoing basis. The company says it has not yet identified any fraudulent activity related to this incident. It also says that the compromised contact lists did not include social security numbers, account numbers, PIN, User IDs, passwords, or driver's license information.
  • Wells Fargo will pay $1 billion to federal regulators to settle charges tied to its mortgage and auto lending business, the latest chapter in a wide-ranging scandal at the banking giant. However, it appears that none of the $1 billion will go directly to the victims of Wells Fargo's abuses. In a settlement announced Friday, Wells will pay $500 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, its main national bank regulator, as well as a net $500 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The action by the CFPB is notable because it is the first penalty imposed by the bureau under Mick Mulvaney, who President Trump appointed to take over the consumer watchdog agency in late November. The $500 million is also the largest penalty imposed by the CFPB in its history, and matches the largest fine ever handed out by the Comptroller of the Currency. The fine against Wells Fargo had been expected. The company disclosed last week that it was in discussions with federal authorities over a possible settlement related to its mortgage and auto lending businesses, and that the fine could be as much as $1 billion. 'While we have more work to do, these orders affirm that we share the same priorities with our regulators and that we are committed to working with them as we deliver our commitments with focus, accountability, and transparency,' said Wells Fargo Chief Executive Tim Sloan in a statement. The $500 million paid to the Comptroller of the Currency will be paid directly to the U.S. Treasury, according to the order. The $500 million paid to the CFPB will go into the CFPB's civil penalties fund, which is used to help consumers who might have been impacted in other cases. But zero dollars of either penalty is going directly to Wells Fargo's victims, and the bank has already been reimbursing customers in its auto and mortgage businesses for these abuses. Wells Fargo has been refunding auto loan customers since July and been mailing refund checks to impacted mortgage customers since December. While banks have benefited from looser regulations and lower taxes under President Trump, Wells Fargo has been called out specifically by Trump as a bank that needed to be punished for its bad behavior. 'Fines and penalties against Wells Fargo Bank for their bad acts against their customers and others will not be dropped, as has incorrectly been reported, but will be pursued and, if anything, substantially increased. I will cut Regs but make penalties severe when caught cheating!,' Trump wrote on Twitter back in December. The abuses being addressed Friday are not tied directly to Wells Fargo's well-known sales practices scandal, where the bank admitted its employees opened as much as 3.5 million bank and credit card accounts without getting customers' authorization. But they do involve significant parts of the bank's businesses: auto lending and mortgages. Last summer Wells Fargo admitted that hundreds of thousands of its auto loan customers had been sold auto insurance that they did not want or need. In thousands of cases, customers who could not afford the combined auto loan and extra insurance payment fell behind on their payments and had their cars repossessed. In a separate case, Wells Fargo also admitted that thousands of customers had to pay unnecessary fees in order to lock in their interest rates on their home mortgages. Wells Fargo is the nation's largest mortgage lender. Wells Fargo has been under intense scrutiny by federal regulators for several months. The Federal Reserve took a historic action earlier this year by mandating that Wells Fargo could not grow larger than the $1.95 trillion in assets that it currency held and required the bank to replace several directors on its board. The Federal Reserve cited 'widespread abuses' as its reason for taking such an action. ____ Ken Sweet covers banks and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @kensweet.
  • The nation's six big Wall Street banks posted record, or near record, profits in the first quarter, and they can thank one person in particular: President Donald Trump. While higher interest rates allowed banks to earn more from lending in the first quarter, the main boost to bank came from the billions of dollars they saved in taxes under the tax law Trump signed in December. Combined, the six banks saved at least $3.59 billion last quarter, according to an Associated Press estimate, using the bank's tax rates going back to 2015. Big publicly traded banks — such JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America — typically kick off the earnings season. Their reports for the January-March quarter are giving investors and the public their first glimpse into how the new tax law is impacting Corporate America. Before the change in tax law, the maximum U.S. corporate income tax rate was 35 percent, not including what companies paid in state income taxes. Banks historically paid some of the highest taxes among the major industries, due to their U.S.-centric business models. Before the Trump tax cuts, these banks paid between 28 to 31 percent of their income each year in corporate taxes. The results released over the past week show how sharply those rates have dropped. JPMorgan Chase said it had a first-quarter tax rate of 18.3 percent, Goldman Sachs paid just 17.2 percent in taxes, and the highest-taxed bank of the six majors, Citigroup, had a tax rate of 23.7 percent. This is just one quarter's results, however, and bank executives at the big six firms have estimated that their full-year tax rates will be something closer to 20 percent to 22 percent. In its calculation, the AP used an average of full-year tax rates paid by the banks in 2015 and 2016. Full-year tax rates for 2017 were excluded from the calculation since all the banks, with the exception of Wells Fargo, had to take significant one-time charges late last year to come into compliance with the new tax law. These charges were largely accounting adjustments but caused most of the banks to report a much higher tax rate in 2017 than they would have historically. Including them in the calculations would have distorted the amount of tax savings each bank would have hypothetically had. The AP's calculations are roughly in line with what Wall Street analysts predicted earlier this year. A report by bank industry analyst Mike Mayo of Wells Fargo Securities estimated that that the big U.S. banks combined would save roughly $19 billion in taxes for the full year. 'If there was one significant factor this quarter for the big banks that I follow, it was taxes,' said James Shanahan, an analyst with Edward Jones. Bank executives have said the majority of the savings from the lower tax rates will be returned to shareholders in the form of higher dividends and stock buybacks. Some of the money has gone toward higher wages for employees, and new business investments. JPMorgan Chase announced soon after Trump signed the tax law into effect that it would open branches in Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia, all markets where it currently does not have a branch network. Bank of America also announced a branch expansion this year, fueled partly by the tax cuts. One large financial company that was not included in the AP's estimate was American Express. The credit card giant saw its effective tax rate drop from 33 percent in 2016 to 21.5 percent this past quarter. American Express paid $262 million less in taxes this past quarter than it would have under the old tax rate. American Express also reported near-record profits last quarter.
  • Prosecutors say one person is in custody in an investigation of current and former managers at automaker Porsche, a unit of Volkswagen, over the company's diesel emissions scandal. Prosecutors in Stuttgart declined Friday to identify the person, arrested following raids Wednesday at 10 locations in southern Germany, other than to say it was not an active member of the top management board. The probe is aimed at a Porsche board member, another member of its management and a third person who is no longer employed by Porsche. Prosecutors elsewhere in Germany are investigating alleged wrongdoing at Volkswagen and Audi, another of the German automaker's units, in cases related to the scandal over the manipulation of diesel emissions that broke in 2015.
  • Congratulations! You’ve struggled for months or maybe years, but you finally did it. You paid your credit card balance down to zero. Maybe you used a credit card with a great balance transfer offer like a 0% intro APR to get the job done. Perhaps you picked up a side hustle to bring in extra money so you could aggressively attack your debt. Or maybe you did it with a simple old-school strategy: Budgeting on a cash-only basis with the envelope system. RELATED: Budgeting with cash: How to make the envelope method work in 2018 Whatever the scenario and however you made it work, you’re now credit card-debt free — provided you don’t have any other cards to attack. So, what now? 4 steps to take after you pay off your credit card debt If you’ve struggled long and hard to pay off debt, you probably already have a concept in your head about what your life and your relationship with credit will look like going forward. But is it backed up by the realities of the credit industry? Here’s what you need to know… 1. Don’t cut your card up This advice might fly in the face of everything you’ve heard and everything you believe to be true. But here’s a reality check: Cutting up a card poses a double threat to your credit. The first thing you need to know is that the amount of your debt versus the amount of available credit you have accounts for 30% of your credit score. So if you cut your card up, it will eventually go dormant in your credit mix. After a period of time, the credit card company will see you’re not using their card and they’ll shut the line down — which reduces your amount of available credit and harms your score. Second, if you’ve had the card for a long time, you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot by cutting it up because you’ll lower the length of your credit history. That accounts for 15% of your score. 2. Use your card twice a year — and pay it off promptly Instead of cutting your card up, you should aim to use it twice a year (every six months) for a small purchase. Maybe you go to the corner store and buy a pack of gum, or maybe you go to the drive-through and get a hamburger. Whatever you buy, the key is this — you want to turn right around and pay the card off immediately in full. That shows you’re managing your credit responsibly and having no trouble paying on time as agreed. And that’s what accounts for the lion’s share of your credit score — a whopping 35%. 3. Bank your monthly payments You’ve struggled all this time to pay more than the minimum on your card and not charge up additional balances. Don’t stop the momentum now! Now that you’re used to directing what could likely be a couple hundred bucks or more toward your monthly credit card payment, keep making those payments. Only now, make them to yourself instead of the credit card man. You might consider stashing your cash in a high-yield online checking account. 4. Check your credit score OK, so maybe this step is not so surprising. You’ve worked hard to pay off your credit card debt and you want to see some tangible evidence of your success. You can always get a free non-FICO credit score from CreditKarma and CreditSesame. A lot of credit card lenders also provide your real FICO score for free either on your monthly statement in the mail or when you log into your account online. Just give it a couple of months after you pay off your credit card before you check; your credit score won’t immediately go up. It takes some time. Once that happens, go ahead and gloat — you’ve earned it! RELATED: Why your credit score may have seen a 30-point boost on April 16 Related Articles from clark.com: Job alert: Amazon is hiring and you can work from home Read More New report: This pharmacy's prices are cheaper than Costco Read More Travel alert: Clark Howard warns about American, Delta and United’s cheap fares Read More

Local News

  • A firm from China says it will set up shop in Walton County, creating dozens of new payroll positions in a multi-million dollar investment. From the office of Ga Governor Nathan Deal...  Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Top Polymer Enterprise, a Chinese manufacturer of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), will create 70 jobs and invest $15 million in a facility in Social Circle. New jobs will include positions in manufacturing and production.   “Georgia’s manufacturing sector continues to drive statewide investment by attracting industry leaders from around the world,” said Deal. “As the No. 1 state for business, Georgia has the highly skilled workforce, logistics infrastructure and low cost of doing business necessary to provide a strong foundation for Top Polymer’s continued growth. These resources will strengthen the company’s competitive edge in the global market as Top Polymer expands both in the U.S. and abroad. We look forward to this partnership with Top Polymer as the company invests in Social Circle and creates employment opportunities for our citizens.”   The manufacturing plant in Walton County will be Top Polymer’s first facility in the U.S. The first phase of the facility will be approximately 60,000 square feet with three compounding lines.   “This is an exceptional time for Top Polymer Enterprise and we are extremely excited to be part of the Social Circle community,” said Marcus Tsong, president of Top Polymer Holding Company. “We see our Social Circle facility as being the first key step to becoming an internationally recognized manufacturer and supplier of premier TPE system.”   Top Polymer exports to more than 30 countries and regions. The company currently has two production bases in China, located in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province and Liyang City, Jiangsu Province.   Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Project Manager Nikki Yu represented the Global Commerce Division in partnership with GDEcD Director of China Initiatives Stella Xu, GDEcD Managing Director of Chinese Investment John Ling, Georgia Power, the Georgia Department of Labor and the Development Authority of Walton County.    “Walton County and the City of Social Circle are excited to welcome Top Polymer to our community and we are looking forward to a strong partnership with them,” said Shane Short, executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County. “This partnership could not happen without the great support from the team at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.”   “We are excited that Top Polymer chose Georgia for its first U.S. facility,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “This announcement is a testament to our partnership approach to economic development, and I want to congratulate everyone involved.”   About Top Polymer Top Polymer Enterprise Limited (Top Polymer Enterprise) is dedicated to developing and manufacturing thermoplastic elastomer, which are copolymers or a physical mix of polymers that consists of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. Top Polymer is committed to meeting customers' requirements by supplying the best TPE solutions to customers, offering infinite imagination for design objectives. Hiring and employment searches are being conducted by Human Resource Dimensions (www.hrdracc.com) and Global Recruiters of Wilmington (www.grnwilmington.com).
  • Faculty and staff at the University of Georgia will soon have a few extra dollars in their paychecks: UGA president Jere Morehead says merit-based salary increases will kick in after the first of the year.  From UGA president Jere Morehead... As the FY 2019 budget development process begins, we are pleased to announce a 2.0% merit-based salary increase pool for faculty and staff, with an effective date of January 1, 2019. While FY 2019 state appropriations for the University System of Georgia did not include funding for merit-based pay adjustments, we are able to fund a merit-based salary increase pool of up to 2% using internal resources.   The FY 2019 merit-based salary increases can be provided in the range of 0 to 4.0%. In addition, UGA is directing additional funds in its FY 2019 budget to increase its minimum hiring rate from $24,000 to $24,500 on July 1, 2018.    We are pleased to share this good news and appreciate your continued service to the University of Georgia.
  • An investigation continues in Gainesville, where a man working at the Chattahoochee Golf Course was killed in what appears to have been an accident: David Silcox was 69 years old. He was mowing grass when his riding lawn mower overturned, crushing him to death. It’s the second such accident in recent weeks in northeast Georgia: E.G. Higginbotham was 76 years old. Elberton Police say he was mowing grass at the Elberton County Club when his mower overturned into a pond on March 20, pinning him in the water.  A man was killed Thursday morning while working at the Chattahoochee 
  • The Georgia Bulldogs spring football game, G-Day (4 p.m. Saturday at Sanford Stadium), will offer the first look at the 2018 Georgia Bulldogs.  Here are five Bulldogs to keep a particularly close eye on Saturday:  Elijah Holyfield, RB— Holyfield has been a name on a lot of lips this spring and not just because of his massive guns. Head coach Kirby Smart recently called Holyfield one of his “favorite competitors out there.” With D’Andre Swift (groin) expected to be limited, if he plays at all, expect Holyfield to get plenty of carries and turn a few heads.  Brenton Cox, OLB/DE— Cox, an early enrollee, is a player too talented and versatile to not play as a freshman, whether that be at defensive end or outside linebacker. Smart noted recently that Cox has been getting some work with the first team, so he should get plenty of minutes at both positions at G-Day.  Richard LeCounte, DB— LeCounte, a rising sophomore, was considered by many a shoo-in for the starting safety spot vacated by Dominick Sanders. But Smart has been critical of LeCounte this spring, calling his performance “up and down.” J.J. Holloman, WR— Although Smart has expressed concerns about many positions this spring, he’s been pretty upbeat about the receivers. He singled out Holloman and early enrollee Kearis Jackson — another player to watch — as second-team guys who are “challenging the guys in front of them.” Justin Fields, QB— There is no player whose performance will be more scrutinized and overanalyzed than Fields. He’s one of the highest-rated players the program has ever signed and plays at the most high-profile position on the field. A lot of fans have speculated he could see the field as a change of pace behind center — a la Tim Tebow in his freshman year at Florida — or even beat Jake Fromm outright. While the latter seems highly unlikely, the former is well within the realm of possibility. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Coach Kirby Smart is doing his best to make sure that Georgia’s best and brightest players will all be available to play in the G-Day Game. But there is increasing evidence some key players may have to sit out Saturday’s heavily-promoted intrasquad game at Sanford Stadium. As of Thursday evening, Smart was holding out hope that offensive stars Terry Godwin and D’Andre Swift will be available. Godwin practiced in a limited capacity Thursday but looked a bit gimpy while doing so with groin and knee injuries. Swift was also going through position drills but hasn’t been participating in full-contact work the last week. “Terry’s been banged up a little bit but we expect him to be able to go and to play,” Smart said. “He’s pushing through. He’s been really tough about it. He has some groin soreness and a slight MCL knee (injury). He’s been able to go.” As for Swift, Smart said: “We’ll see how he does. He’s been able to do some things but hasn’t been able to do everything. He hasn’t been live tackling. He’s getting a lot of mental reps and things like that. He’s still kind of a game-time decision.” One player who definitely won’t play Saturday is cornerback Mark Webb. The converted receiver suffered torn cartilage)in his right knee in practice on Tuesday and underwent arthroscopic surgery on Thursday. However, he should be available to compete in preseason camp in August, or earlier. “Mark had a torn meniscus and he won’t be able to play in the spring game,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ 14th practice. … We’re expecting a full recovery. He should be back.” Webb had been moving up the ranks in the secondary and appeared poised to contend for a starting position at cornerback. Instead, the Bulldogs are down to just 10 defensive backs overall. Georgia is also going to be without freshman early enrollee Divaad Wilson, who suffered an ACL tear the first week of spring practice, and safety Jarvis Wilson, who has a sprained foot. Sophomore William Poole may have to switch back-and-forth between the Red and Black squads on Saturday in order to preserve competitive balance. Godwin is the leading returning receiver from last year. He had 639 yards and scored six touchdowns, including one via a fairly miraculous catch at Notre Dame Stadium. Swift averaged 7.6 yards a carry and scored three touchdowns while playing behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as a freshman last season. He finished with 618 yards and was also the Bulldogs’ leading receiver out of the backfield with 17 catches for 153 yards and one score. The post Some key Georgia players may be missing for G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — New Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean has finally pulled the trigger on naming a second assistant basketball coach. Joe Scott, most recently an assistant coach at Holy Cross, sports 16 seasons of head coaching experience at three Division I schools. He joins Chad Dollar on the Bulldogs’ staff. “I’m excited to welcome Joe, Leah, Ben and Jack to our Georgia Basketball family and the entire UGA community,” Crean said in a statement released by the school. “Joe is known nationally as someone who excels at coaching, teaching and competing. He has tremendous respect of his peers who have gone against him and those who have worked along side him. He will bring many different elements to our program, but overall and he will help our young men get better every day.” Said Scott, also in a statement: “My family and I are extremely excited to be joining the Georgia family. The University of Georgia is a special place. This is a tremendous opportunity to help Coach Crean implement his vision and make Georgia Basketball special. I cannot wait to get started coaching our players to develop and get better every day.” Scott was tabbed one of the nation’s top-20 “Xs & Os” coaches in a survey of his peers by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman in 2013. He was head coach at Air Force for four seasons, Princeton for three campaigns and Denver for nine seasons. He also has served as an assistant coach at Monmouth, Princeton and Holy Cross. All told, Scott sports 27 years of collegiate coaching experience. Before breaking into the head coaching ranks, Scott was an assistant coach at Monmouth during the 1991-92 season and at Princeton from 1992-2000. While at Princeton, Scott helped the Tigers to five consecutive postseason appearances, with trips to the 1996, 1997 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments and the 1999 and 2000 NITs. The Tigers won three Ivy League titles from 1996-98, including perfect 14-0 records in the final two seasons. Princeton upset defending national champion UCLA in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and ranked as high as No. 7 nationally in 1998 en route to earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest ever for an Ivy League team. The post Georgia’s Tom Crean finally settles on a second assistant coach appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia held their final actual practice of the spring at the Woodruff Practice Complex on Thursday. Under clear skies and relatively cool temperatures, the Bulldogs were working out in shorts and helmets and were scheduled to for about two hours. The next time they get together and play as a team will be during G-Day Saturday at Sanford Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB). Actually, it will as two teams. UGA on Thursday released its split rosters for the Red and Black squads for Saturday’s intrasquad game. This year, Georgia’s No. 1 offense, led by quarterback Jake Fromm, will be the Red team. The Black Squad will be led by the Bulldogs’ No. 1 defensive unit — and freshman quarterback Justin Fields, of course. Fromm’s Red squad will be protected by the first-string offensive line — which included both Solomon Kindley and Kendall Baker to play left guard. It will also feature juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien at tailback and Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman at wideout and Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner at tight end. Fields’ No. 2 offensive unit will have walkons Prather Hudson and Ian Donald-McIntyre in the backfield and will feature a receiving corps of Ahkil Crumpton, J.J. Holloman, Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers and Tyler Simmons. Of course, the Black team will be hanging its hat on a defensive team led by Tyler Clark, DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, Jonathan Ledbetter, Julian Rochester and Malik Herring and inside linebackers Juwan Taylor, Tae Crowder and Nate McBride. D’Andre Walker, Robert Beal and Walter Grant will man the outside linebacker positions. The secondary for the Black squad has Deandre Baker and Tyrique McGhee at the corners, William Poole at star and J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte III at the safeties. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs appeared to be going through normal drill work and play-polish in the early portions of practice on Thursday. Following are a few observations: Senior Terry Godwin was going through regular drill work with the receivers but appeared to be a bit gimpy in doing so. He had a reinforced brace on one knee and a regular sleeve on the other. Cornerback Mark Webb was not practicing after suffering a knee injury of undisclosed severity on Tuesday. Indications are it’s not a “major” injury. D’Andre Swift was going through bag drills with the running backs and did not exhibit noticeable limitations. He is dealing with a groin injury, according to coach Kirby Smart. Defensive tackle Michael Barnett (knee) was not at practice again, assuring that he’ll miss G-Day. Justin Young, who missed practices last week due to a minor knee sprain, has been able to practice and might be able to play. One area lacking depth that has not been much discussed is deep snapper for special teams. The Bulldogs technically have just one on the roster in redshirt freshman Oren Morgan of Toombs County. But senior fullback Nick Moore also snaps to the kickers. Former tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were watching Thursday’s practice from the sideline and having a good time commenting on what they say. Asked which tailback they expected to be the leading rusher for the G-Day Game on Saturday, they simultaneously said “Prather Hudson.” Hudson is a redshirt sophomore walkon from Columbus. Recently-matriculated receiver Javon Wims was also at practice watching his position group. All of them plan to attend on Saturday, with Chubb conducting an autograph-signing at the bookstore.   The post Practice report: Jake Fromm to lead Red against Justin Field’s Black squad on G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to a feature on DawgNation, where our writers answer (or try to answer) the best questions submitted by Georgia fans. If you’d like to submit a question, please e-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday Dear DawgNation: What is up with Nate McBride? —  James McConnell, Chickamauga What’s up with Nate McBride, you ask? Lots of things are up with the linebacker from Vidalia. First off, he’s up in class. He’s a legitimate sophomore academically, even though he’s still in his first year at UGA. He’s also up in age and experience, as well as strength and size. And while he’s up, he’s also down. Not mentally, but physically. Lee Chomskis (pronounced HOM-skiss), his coach at Vidalia High, said McBride is down to about 218 pounds after playing last season at Georgia at 225 and his senior year at Vidalia at almost 230 pounds. That said, having had a year under his belt with strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair, he looks a bit different physically. Not necessarily thinner, but certainly more cut. But reading between the words of your brief, one-line question, I suppose that’s not exactly what you meant by, “what’s up with McBride?” You probably are wondering, like a few folks I’ve heard from, why we aren’t hearing more about him. Why isn’t he creating more buzz and why isn’t he a starting linebacker for Georgia already? That’s what people often wonder when a former blue-chip prospect of McBride’s ilk — he was the No. 2-rated inside linebacker in the country at one point — is not starring by his second year on campus. A couple of points here: McBride is not even all the way to his second year at Georgia yet; two, we don’t fully know exactly what McBride’s role is going to be on the defense in 2018. We do know that he is competing with Monty Rice, Juwan Taylor and Jaden Hunter for the Will linebacker position manned so well last season by Roquan Smith. Though early signs point to Rice leading that competition, nothing is written in stone — or even on paper — and there is a long way to go before that’s decided. We also know that McBride has the size and skills to earn playing time at the Mike, the other inside linebacker spot in Georgia’s defense, and that the Bulldogs desperately need help at both spots in 2018. Regardless of how those competitions turn out, you’re still bound to see a lot of McBride this season, just like we did last season. In fact, while playing on several of Georgia’s special teams units McBride was one of just six true freshmen to play in all 15 of the Bulldogs’ games. The others were Jake Fromm, Andrew Thomas, D’Andre Swift, Walter Grant and Malik Herring. Rice played in 14. So you can bet that the swift-footed McBride will be on the field at least for special teams, if not also in a defensive role. He has one of the traits that coach Kirby Smart covets most — speed — as his four Class AA sprint championships as a high school senior attest. To date, I haven’t had a chance to ask Smart about McBride. But I reached out to Chomkis, who communicates with him on a regular basis, for a little insight. “He played on a team that played for the national championship,” Chomkis said. “That means there’s a lot of talent there at Georgia. He could’ve gone to Vanderbilt or Missouri and started every game, but he wanted to play for championships. I think he’s running with the 2s or 3s right now during the spring, and that’s because he’s still learning the position and having to think a lot. “But I think he’s an outstanding kid and an outstanding football player and I think he’ll play a lot for Georgia before it’s over. He has good size and great speed and that’s why they recruited him, because he can run so well. He can flat fly, and I’m not sure that there’s many that can run with him.” That pretty much sums it up. As Smart and the Bulldogs like to say this year, he “ain’t going nowhere.” Have a question for beat writer Chip Towers? E-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com The post ‘What’s up’ with Georgia linebacker Nate McBride? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Really, we don’t know all that much about Georgia’s Monty Rice. But you have to like what the sophomore linebacker has to say about the enormous challenge that’s before him and the Bulldogs’ entire defense in succeeding Roquan Smith and that star-studded unit of a season ago. “We can’t live off what Roquan did, or Lorenzo [Carter] did, or Dom Sanders did,” said Rice, who is poised to follow Smith at the Will inside linebacker position. “What’s Juwan Taylor gonna do? What’s Nate McBride gonna do? What’s Monty Rice gonna do? We’ve got to live off what we’re going to do. We can’t dwell on last year’s success.” Monty Rice Truer words have not been spoken this spring about Georgia’s defense. The Bulldogs lost a boatload of exceptional football talent off last season’s 13-2, No. 2-ranked team. That fact will be underscored in the NFL draft next week. Most notable among those departures is Smith. The Butkus Award-winning linebacker is expected to be an early first-round draft choice. The battle to replace him is ongoing. But the odds-on favorite to handle that considerable task is Rice, who is really kind of a mystery man. If you don’t follow recruiting closely, you might need a refresher. Rice sort of just showed up at Georgia. Rivals and 247Sports pegged him as a 3-star recruit, but his offer list said otherwise. He had upwards of 20 offers, including pretty much the whole of the SEC. Rice actually committed to LSU (over Auburn and Georgia) in mid-December 2016. It’s something he now says was an act of confused desperation. But, as an early enrollee, he’d long been pursued by Mel Tucker, first at Alabama and then as defensive coordinator at Georgia. In the end, Rice pursued that relationship and simply enrolled at UGA without signing a letter of intent, according to his high school coach. “When he announced that day that he was going to go to LSU, me and everyone else going in thought it was going to be Georgia, just because of his relationship with Coach Tucker and Coach [Kirby] Smart,” said Wade Waldrop, Rice’s coach at James Clemens High School in Madison, Ala. “They already knew him, because he had visited Alabama a number of times throughout his sophomore and junior years, so they were familiar with him. “He came out right away and said, ‘I think I made a mistake.’ I said, ‘That’s all right. You haven’t signed a thing. As long as you let Coach [Dave] Aranda and Coach O [LSU coach Ed Oregeron] know, you do what’s best for you. You’ve got to wake up in that dorm room every day.’ ” Said Rice: “I just followed my heart.” Rice’s arrival in Athens in January 2017 has been a blessing both for the Bulldogs and for Rice. As a freshman last season he played in 14 of Georgia’s 15 games and even got a start against Missouri in the season’s seventh game. He finished with 22 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. The one start came at Mike linebacker alongside Smith after Natrez Patrick was suspended and Reggie Carter was injured. But he primarily as a Will — or weakside linebacker — which happened to be the position manned by Smith. So it was difficult to get on the field much with the defense. His work came mostly at “garbage time” and on special teams. But Rice said last season’s experience was invaluable to him, if for no other reason than getting to know Smith and watching how he worked. “Roquan is not a selfish person,” Rice said. “He was helping me out when I first got here, telling me what calls I had to make, telling me what to do or whatever. So he was real helpful. So was Lorenzo and Davin [Bellamy] and all of those guys.” As for motivation, Rice doesn’t need a lot of help in that department. This is a young man who has had his sights set not only on major college football but the NFL for a long time. That’s what distinguished Rice at James Clemens High. Originally from Huntsville, Ala., he actually lived with another family in Madison while playing there. The reason for that was two-fold. One, he wanted to play high school football at the highest level possible; and, two, he needed to escape the crime and poverty that ravaged the community in which he was raised. That ended up being a move made in heaven. Not only was Rice wildly successful as a player — he recorded 137 tackles, 4 interceptions and 4 touchdowns to lead the Jets to the Class 7A quarterfinals as a senior — but also as a student. “Monty Rice is a football player,” Waldrop said. “He came to school every day — and he had a 3.2, 3.1 GPA — and he did well in school because he wanted to play football. Everything he does is to play football. A lot of people, it’s the other way around. He did what he had to do on a daily basis to be a big-time football player. You didn’t have to hold things over his head to get him to do something. He loves playing football.” It’s not all about money and fame for Rice, either. He hopes football can give him a platform to call attention to a cause that is very personal to him: excessive force used by police, particularly against victims suffering from mental illness. You can read about it yourself from the pinned tweet at the top of Rice’s Twitter account, @RiceMonty. It takes you to a Facebook page dedicated to telling the story of Horaesheo Rice, a cousin eight years Rice’s senior who was killed by police gunfire on Sept. 20, 2017. That was the Wednesday before the Bulldogs would play Mississippi State in Sanford Stadium. Rice has his cousin’s name tattooed on his right forearm as a reminder of what he’s playing for. “I know he’s looking down and smiling about what I’m doing,” Rice said Thursday night after Georgia’s 13th practice of the spring. “We used to live together, so I was real close to him. I’m not a big social media guy, but I don’t want his name to ever be forgotten. I don’t want what happened to be, ah, this is just another killer. I want it to be known what happened to my cousin.” So, yes, Rice is supremely motivated. And apparently he’s a pretty good player, too. At this point there’s still no guarantees that Rice will be the undisputed starter and/or primary player at Georgia’s all-important Will linebacker spot. Among others, he’s competing with senior Juwan Taylor and fellow sophomore Nate McBride, not to mention two freshmen who will join the team in June. But indications are that No. 32 has been making a name for himself at that spot during spring practice. “He’s pretty difficult,” sophomore tackle Andrew Thomas said of trying to block Rice. “He has one speed. He’s, like, full-going all the time and he’s going to hit you. He doesn’t care if you’re bigger than him, he’s going to strike you and try to make a play. He’s making us all better.” That this one-time 3-star prospect is in position to become a full-time starter at a marquee position in his sophomore year may come as a surprise to a lot of people. But not to those in Madison and Huntsville who have known Rice for a while. “I’m absolutely not surprised, because he’s driven,” said Waldrop, who visited with Rice shortly before spring practice began. “He has a purpose. The purpose of just trying to start is probably big for him. He’s got NFL aspirations. He knows if he does the things that Coach Smart and Coach [Glenn] Schumann and those guys tell him to do and he buys into it, he knows he’ll have a shot to one day go get money.” And perhaps draw greater attention to a cause that is dear to him. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes on the football field, but for now we have an idea of what Monty Rice is all about. The post Georgia’s Monty Rice: Linebacker with a cause appeared first on DawgNation.