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College

    If it's one thing the Florida Gators have enjoyed this summer, it has been talking smack about their SEC East rivals, the Georgia Bulldogs. The Twitter account for the Gators' football equipment got into the action this week. It all started when that same Florida account posted images of its moving trucks with fresh paintings of the Gators and the program's glory days. The images included the three national championship trophies on the side of one truck. A UGA fan tried to make fun of the trophy paintings, saying 'who put those trophy's on there they aren't level,' followed by several laughing emojis. Florida's twitter account could not resist the urge to respond. Here was the comeback: 'The trophy style has changed from the 90's to the early 2000'sjust look at the last trophy you won almost 4 decades ago. Completely different. #AndNowYouKnow.' Of course, the Gators were referring to 1980, the last time that UGA won the national championship. It's not that first time that Florida has gone in that direction with an insult. The Gators used their spring-game attendance number to also apparently troll the Bulldogs about the drought since 1980. The post Florida Gators' Twitter account fires back at Georgia fan appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Tyler Clark represents the old warhorse on the Georgia football defense, a durable 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman who just keeps coming back for more. Clark, a starter on the defensive front each of the past two seasons, has played 41 games in his career and is ready for more and better this season. 'I feel great, I'm healthier, I'm stronger and I'm faster,' said Clark, a product of Americus, Ga. 'We have everybody coming back (on the D-Line), and we're ready.' Clark and his fellow senior defensive linemen certainly have heard the talk that their unit is one of the most concerning on the team. There are no apparent first-round NFL Draft picks or senior dominators, and Clark admits he didn't make the progress last season that he should have. 'I didn't do as well as I thought, or as well as I could,' Clark said. 'I started feeling myself too much, and it got in my head. But I'm going to be back this year.' The fact Clark came out to talk to the media and own up to his lackluster junior season was telling. Apparently, all it took was letting him know the media wanted to hear from him during his autograph session at FanDay. Clark gives the impression of a team-first guy who is eager to please the fans and his coaches, to the point of playing through several painful ailments. Indeed, Clark said the training room has been a big part of his regiment and staying durable enough to answer the bell for the Bulldogs week-in and week-out. 'It's been pretty tough playing in the SEC, and when I come out of the games, of course there will be bumps and bruises,' Clark said. 'I go in the cold tub, I get the hammers, I get rolled out, stretched and massaged every Sunday.' And then Clark comes back for more, working against one of the best offensive lines in the country to sharpen his skills. 'It feels like a Saturday in Athens going against that O-Line in practice,' Clark said. 'But it's the only O-Line we'll face like that.' Clark would know, he's seen them all, and now he's ready for a strong finish his senior season. Georgia football DL Tyler Clark DawgNation Georgia football fall camp WATCH: Why Georgia has the best backfield in college football Versatile Cade Mays elevating his game, puts rough recruitment behind Solomon Kindley emerging as preseason first-team AA Georgia No. 3 in preseason AP Top 25 New DC Dan Lanning impressing early in fall camp Kenny McIntosh stands out in Scrimmage Two Kirby Smart breaks down 'spirited' Scrimmage Two Georgia football injury updates, post-Scrimmage Two Could RB James Cook be biggest UGA surprise? J.R. Reed says Havoc Rate is out the roof The post WATCH: Tyler Clark, Georgia's D-Line warhorse ready for more rugged action appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. Travon Walker, Georgia football freshman, looks to buck trend of 5-star defensive tackles In the past decade, Georgia has landed only two 5-star defensive tackle prospects. Freshman Travon Walker is one of them, as he was rated as the nation's No. 22 player for the 2019 cycle. That ranking is higher than the likes of George Pickens, Dominick Blaylock and Tyrique Stevenson, who have all gotten considerable praise in the early stages of their Georgia career. Walker has received his fair share of attention this fall as well, with most of the offensive linemen praising Walker's athletic ability. Offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson almost immediately identified Walker as the defensive lineman who has caught his eye so far. Cade Mays was a little more descriptive in his praise of Walker and why he's been able to stand out so far. 'He's a good player,' Mays said. 'He's fast off the ball, strong. He looks the part. He's a big dude, long arms.' Having established the fact that Walker's athletic traits have allowed him to stand out early in-person his arms look like octopus tentacles it's fair to mention that expectations for Walker's freshman season should not be all that high. For starters, the defensive line depth chart is crowded with upperclassmen. Tyler Clark, David Marshall, Michael Barnett and Julian Rochester are all seniors with tons of experience even if Marshall and Rochester are currently working their way back from injuries. Juniors Malik Herring and Devontae Wyatt seem primed for bigger roles this season after flashing in limited duty last year. As of right now, all of those defensive linemen seem likely to get more playing time than Walker to start the 2019 season. That's probably the way it should be, given all of those players have spent multiple years with the Georgia program, while Walker was playing basketball with his high school team just six months ago. Related: Homegrown 5-star Travon Walker resets a recruiting narrative at UGA There's also a bit of recent history regarding 5-star defensive tackles and how successful they've been as a freshman. From the 2014 to the 2018 recruiting cycles, 17 defensive tackles earned a 5-star ranking. Only two of them Ed Oliver of Houston and Terry Beckner of Missouri produced a freshman season that featured 5.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. By comparison, of those same 17 defensive tackles, five have already been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. In Smart's time at Georgia, the most disruptive freshman defensive tackle was Marshall. He who comes from the same Upson-Lee High School program as Walker finished with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in the 2016 season. Many of the aforementioned veterans didn't have much of an impact early on in their time at Georgia. Part of that is because they just didn't fully understand what they were supposed to be doing in Kirby Smart's defense. 'Just learning the playbook,' Barnett said on the most difficult aspect of playing on the defensive line as a true freshman. 'Right now they're out there just thinking they know this or they know that. But they don't know the system behind them. So once they learn that aspect, I feel like they'll play a lot faster.' Clark offered up a more blunt assessment. 'It can get a little overwhelming with all the plays,' Clark said. 'But once you learn the plays it'll be smooth.' Related: Following first scrimmage, Kirby Smart still looking for more consistency from Georgia defensive line And for all the examples of freshmen not making a significant impact early, there was a freshman defensive lineman for Georgia who made an impact just last season. The Georgia defense got markedly better when Jordan Davis was in the line-up. While Daivs didn't post eye-popping numbers 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks that can somewhat be attributed to the fact that in Smart's defense, linebackers are given far more freedom to create disruptive plays. Prior to Walker, the last 5-star defensive tackle Georgia landed was Trenton Thompson. He was the nation's No. 1 overall prospect in the 2015 class. But he never lived up to that lofty billing and went undrafted after declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. In his freshman season, Thompson finished with only 2.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. His sophomore year he was much more disruptive, as he finished with 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. So a year from now, if we're wondering why Walker didn't have a better freshman season, it will be worth remembering how difficult it is to be a disruptive player along the defensive line as a freshman. But for the season ahead, it also bears repeating that Walker's athletic ability might make him too good to stay off the field. 'I'm definitely excited to see what he can do,' Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning said. 'He's a guy that's good moving but he's also strong enough to hold the point. So, I don't think I would put a ceiling on Travon.' More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation ESPN makes surprising picks for Georgia's most important players WATCH: Versatile Georgia football offensive lineman Cade Mays elevating game Georgia football practice report: Everybody's legs back' after hilarious Matthew Boling prank Georgia football podcast: UGA might have history on its side in championship pursuit Richard LeCounte is arguably one of college football's most underrated players Why Sedrick Van Pran-Granger decided it was time to commit to Georgia Dawgs on Twitter Creating leaders #ATD #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/ajSh2AUOk6 Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) August 20, 2019 #ATD #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/GrGY51zzQ7 Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) August 20, 2019 I was lucky enough to see this race in person. Great fun! I continue to be amazed by the UGA family. They have definitely found the right formula for success, both on and off the field. https://t.co/NCjS66wFVA mboling57 (@mboling57) August 20, 2019 It was clearly a race for fun folks , Let's not start talking crazy Richard LeCounte III (@LilEasy_35) August 20, 2019 Good Dawg of the Day This is Jessie. She works at a children's hospital teaching patients not to be afraid of certain procedures. For an echocardiogram, just lie on your back and hold your mom's hand. 14/10 pic.twitter.com/1VtAE74M0O WeRateDogs (@dog_rates) August 20, 2019 The post History suggests early expectations shouldn't be high for 5-star defensive tackle Travon Walker appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Could this Georgia football team have the best running game in the nation? It's a fair question to ask when one considers the powerful and deep offensive line, and the depth of great backs running behind it. UGA led the SEC in rushing last season, and it's hard to imagine any team in the league rushing for more yards in 2019. As much knowledge and passing accuracy as third-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm brings to the table, it seems like playing power football would be playing to the proven talent on the Bulldogs' roster. RELATED: Georgia QB Great explains importance of run game to pass game Whether it's dynamic D'Andre Swift, hard-charging Brian Herrien, electric James Cook, powerful Zamir White or versatile Kenny McIntosh, it seems like Georgia has the bases covered. As if the backs needed to do more, it's worth noting they are all capable pass catchers and utilized on special teams. Veteran beat writer Mike Griffith talked at length about the Bulldogs' runners, comparing them to some of the greatest backs in football that he's run across at other places, from Barry Sanders, to Shaun Alexander and Alvin Kamara. Also, more on the story of D'Wan Mathis and his emergency brain surgery, and how what Kirby Smart and the doctors at Athens Piedmont Medical Center history did was so impressive. On the Beat with Mike Griffith DawgNation Georgia football fall camp Versatile Cade Mays elevating his game, puts rough recruitment behind Solomon Kindley emerging as preseason first-team AA Georgia No. 3 in preseason AP Top 25 New DC Dan Lanning impressing early in fall camp Kenny McIntosh stands out in Scrimmage Two Kirby Smart breaks down 'spirited' Scrimmage Two Georgia football injury updates, post-Scrimmage Two Could RB James Cook be biggest UGA surprise? J.R. Reed says Havoc Rate is out the roof The post WATCH: Why Georgia has the best backfield in college football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The recruiting services said Georgia football signee Cade Mays was a 5-star prospect. Mays was once ranked the No. 1 player in the 2018 Tennessee High School signing class, and the No. 3 offensive tackle in the country. RELATED: Cade Mays has MVP quality on Georgia O-Line When Mays, the son of Vols legend Kevin Mays, was committed to Tennessee and former coach Butch Jones, the rankings were celebrated by hometown fans who watched Mays star at Knoxville's Catholic High School. Indeed, Tennessee had the highest rated class of commits when the 2017 season began, with high-profile quarterback Adrian Martinez also committed to play for Jones. But when the Vols season went sour and the fanbase turned on Jones, Mays made the decision to de-commit, and Martinez ultimately shunned the new staff and chose Nebraska. Rough reaction The Tennessee fan base is understandably as unsettled and as anxious as any, having not been to the SEC Championship Game since the year before Tennessee legend Phillip Fulmer was fired (2007). Mays de-commitment was met with a great deal of anger on social media, and there were hard feelings, and hurt feelings. 'It definitely was hard,' said Mays, who may finally get some relief from upset Tennessee fans now that his talented younger brother, Cooper, is committed to the Vols. 'I was getting all this hate, but I was doing something for me. My parents told me it doesn't really matter what the outside world thinks, my family loves me, and my God loves me.' Mays said he dealt with it as best he could. 'I just put the phone down and confided in my family,' Mays said. 'No one has ever really come up to me in person and tried to start anything.' Keyboard warriors aside, Mays quickly proved at Georgia that he was indeed every bit as good as the 247Sports Composite rankings indicated. Stepping up Georgia was battling SEC East challenger South Carolina in the second game of the season when preseason All-SEC left tackle Andrew Thomas went down with an injury. Mays remembers Kirby Smart yelling for him to get on the field, but before that, he had to switch jerseys. RELATED: Georgia Practice Report, Mays moves up for line drills 'I was actually wearing number 42 during that game, I was supposed to be the tight end, the extra big guy,' Mays recalled. 'Then I heard Coach Smart, yelling Cade, Cade, Cade.' They gave me this big jersey to put on, and I had to run out and tell the ref I was checking in with a new jersey.' Mays started against Middle Tennessee the next week and was back in the relief role in the fourth week when Thomas left the Missouri game after re-injuring his ankle. Georgia right guard Ben Cleveland also was injured against Missouri, breaking his fibula, leading to Mays starting the following week against Tennessee in Cleveland's spot. Mays played in 11 games last season before suffering a shoulder injured that sidelined him for three games, but he earned FWAA Freshman All-American honors. 2019 glue guy That versatility continues for Mays, who has added the ability to play center to his repertoire. 'I like being that useful, if anything happens, I'm the guy that can be plugged in,' Mays said. 'It has helped knowing the center spot and learning the offense and what everyone is doing. 'I think it's helped me pick my game up and elevated it to a new level.' Mays, now 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, was working with the first team at right guard in Tuesday's practice. Among those most impressed with Mays is former Auburn lineman and ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic. RELATED: SEC expert breaks down Georgia Great Wall' O-Line 'Ilike the way he plays more than any of those other guys in that entire group,' Cubelic said this summer. 'Cade is a finisher, he has that nasty you love to see and plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He has room to grow fundamentally, but he's fun to watch, regardless. 'You routinely see him 10 or 20 yards downfield looking for contact on each play.' Mays says that's exactly how he wants people to think about him. 'I would say the best thing somebody could say about me is that I play hard, I love the game, and I just want to finish blocks on people,' Mays said. 'I want to be looked at as dependable, and I take pride in that.' Georgia O-Lineman Cade Mays DawgNation Georgia football fall camp Solomon Kindley emerging as preseason first-team AA Georgia No. 3 in preseason AP Top 25 New DC Dan Lanning impressing early in fall camp Kenny McIntosh stands out in Scrimmage Two Kirby Smart breaks down 'spirited' Scrimmage Two Georgia football injury updates, post-Scrimmage Two Could RB James Cook be biggest UGA surprise? J.R. Reed says Havoc Rate is out the roof' The post WATCH: Versatile Georgia football offensive lineman Cade Mays elevating game appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart's quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 1,011 (Aug. 20, 2019) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about one stat that possibly puts UGA squarely in the national championship discussion. Georgia football podcast: UGA might have history on its side in championship pursuit Beginning of the show: Georgia is one of the few teams with a strong claim to a national championship according to veteran college football reporter Brett McMurphy. I'll talk about what that means on today's show, and what UGA coach Kirby Smart's likely response to the chatter would be. 10-minute mark: I talk about some of the 'explosive plays' that apparently took place at UGA's scrimmage this past Saturday. 15-minute mark: DawgNation's recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include Jeff's thoughts on 4-star offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran's commitment An examination of how UGA's collection of 2020 offensive line recruits stack up with some of the best of all time A review of the clever video UGA shared this week of sprinter Matthew Boling running with some Bulldogs football players And an interesting tweet from UGA tight ends coach Todd Hartley that seemed to send a message about the Bulldogs' effort at building a so-called 'super team' with its 2020 class. 35-minute mark: I take a look at other SEC headlines including reaction to the Preseason AP Top 25, some interesting comments from Florida coach Dan Mullen regarding quarterback Feleipe Franks and some possible skepticism for Alabama as a national championship favorite. 40-minute mark: I share audio of UGA coach Kirby Smart addressing some key injury scenarios including linebacker Nakobe Dean, and defensive linemen Julian Rochester and David Marshall. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. The post Georgia football podcast: UGA might have history on its side in championship pursuit appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football appeared back at full speed on Tuesday, Monday's light walk-through having served its intended purpose. 'When you have 48 hours, you can almost recover to a full extent and we're hoping to get everybody's legs back,' Coach Kirby Smart said following Saturday's 135-play scrimmage. 'You could see it (Saturday). The GPS says it. A guy that was running 19 (mph) is running 17. A guy that was running 21 is running 18, 19. They're hurting a little bit but part of that is mental toughness and the grit. They've been able to handle that.' Indeed, and a heat index of a mere 91 degrees likely made Tuesday's workout feel like even more of a breeze after Smart had his Bulldogs in full equipment sweating through days of 100 plus early in fall drills. Smart's practice management skills may have been modeled after Nick Saban's at first. But now in his fourth year leading the Bulldogs, Smart has modified much to his liking, such as the hilarious Friday activity of staging a 4 x 100 race between selected players and coaches. Georgia AD Greg McGarity was tipped off and was on hand to watch it. McGarity chuckled while recalling when the players realizing the fix was in with world-class sprinter Matthew Boling running the anchor leg for the coaches. 'I was there when J.R. Reed spotted him and said, there's that 9.9 dude, this is a setup!' ' McGarity said, recalling how Reed described Boling, a UGA track athlete who has run the 100 meters in 9.98 seconds. 'It was a really neat event for the kids to be a part of.' 4100. Players vs coaches. Watch til the end. @UGATrack, thanks for the assist! #ATD #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/TI5q2WEEz0 Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) August 19, 2019 The Bulldogs went on to have their best scrimmage of the offseason the next day, drawing praise from Smart after last Saturday's work at Sanford Stadium. Receiver rotation Redshirt sophomore Matt Landers has apparently held on to the top spot in the starting three-rotation after Scrimmage Two. Tyler Simmons and Demetris Robertson continue to hold down the top sports in the slot and the other outside receiver position. Freshman George Pickens and Miami grad transfer Lawrence Cager are running with the twos. Dominick Blaylock, who has been working with the threes (behind Kearis Jackson in the slot), got a positive call out from OC James Coley during practice. RELATED: Dominick Blaylock battles to get on 70-man bus trip Nakobe Dean injury Freshman 5-star inside linebacker Nakobe Dean was not seen at practice and is dealing with a high ankle sprain. Dean is the No. 3 ILB behind starters Tae Crowder and Monty Rice. Sophomore Quay Walker has moved up with the second team to work beside Channing Tindall with Dean sidelined. Tyrique Stevenson back Stevenson, the athletically gifted true freshman cornerback, was back at 100 percent in drill work after being somewhat limited last week. Stevenson was taking part in all of secondary coach Charlton Warren's drill work. Line Dance Sophomore Cade Mays was working with the first team offensive line at right guard during the media viewing portion of practice. Andrew Thomas continued to anchor the line at left tackle, with Solomon Kindley at left guard, Trey Hill at center, Mays and Isaiah Wilson at right tackle. The second group featured Xavier Truss at left tackle, with Justin Shaffer at left guard, Clay Webb at center, Ben Cleveland at right guard and Warren McClendon at right tackle. D-Line update Senior defensive linemen Julian Rochester and David Marshall were working through drills with their teammates at the start of practice. Smart said Rochester (ACL) and Marshall (foot) have been limited in fall camp while they rehabilitate from offseason surgeries. DawgNation Georgia football fall camp Solomon Kindley emerging as preseason first-team AA Georgia No. 3 in preseason AP Top 25 New DC Dan Lanning impressing early in fall camp Kenny McIntosh stands out in Scrimmage Two Kirby Smart breaks down 'spirited' Scrimmage Two Georgia football injury updates, post-Scrimmage Two Could RB James Cook be biggest UGA surprise? J.R. Reed says Havoc Rate is out the roof' The post Georgia football practice report: Everybody's legs back' after hilarious Matthew Boling prank appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football fans crave a national championship, and this season might be the year their wait comes to an end. However, the first step toward making that happen is for UGA coach Kirby Smart to lead the Bulldogs to a third-straight SEC East title. With that in mind, DawgNation is proud to present in partnership with Georgia's Own Credit Union the 'Own the East' series. A season preview content series focused on what it will take for UGA to dominate the division once again, and possibly return to the College Football Playoff. Georgia safety Richard LeCounte hasn't shied away from criticm. He's willingly taken it head on, and used it as fuel to attempt to improve his game. However, perhaps too much attention has been paid to his perceived shortcomings at the expense of not noticing LeCounte's true value to the UGA defense. LeCounte led the Bulldogs with 15 missed tackles last season, and many of those were high-profile misses. For instance, UGA's lackluster effort in the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas comes to mind. LeCounte has readily admitted his role in some of the Bulldogs' most disappointing performances in 2018. 'Last year we weren't defensively the best all the time, and my missed tackles hurt the team,' LeCounte said. 'I took that very personal. I also took a lot of those things that I did wrong, and I kind of blamed that on myself and made sure that won't be the case this year.' LeCounte's willingness to take responsibility for his actions is probably viewed as admirable by many UGA fans, and it's likely spurred on by UGA coach Kirby Smart who has seemingly challenged LeCounte to be the best he can be from the moment LeCounte arrived on campus as part of the 2017 recruiting class. LeCounte doesn't seem to mind being pushed by Smart and the other UGA coaches. 'I just take that as a stepping stone to be able to listen to criticism, listen to coaching,' LeCounte said. 'I know at the end of the day it's going to help me.' LeCounte also knows that extra attention from coaches typically means they believe in the player. 'When somebody ignores you, you're not in a really good spot,' LeCounte said. 'I see that as coach giving me a chance and working with me, and I try my best to do more and being able to help the team.' LeCounte seems to be responding well to the coaching. He's seemingly worked hard to improve himself including adding bulk. 'Definitely that was a point of emphasis during offseason training,' LeCounte said. 'I tried to put on at least 15 pounds, being able to be more physical at the point of attack and tackling, going back to my fundamentals being able to help the team.' LeCounte noticed during spring practice that the hard work he put in during winter workouts was already paying off. 'I definitely feel better,' LeCounte said at the time. 'I feel more confident in my strength and things like that because I know I've put in a lot of work to be able to change this problem I had last year.' When LeCounte spoke on the subject again during the early portion of summer practices he went into more detail about how being in better shape will help him improve. 'I feel a lot stronger going in there with those big ole' hogs,' LeCounte said. 'I have a lot of confidence in my tackling ability now, and also I'm ready to attack the ball more, and get a lot more pass deflections which our team needs.' LeCounte's quest will be justifiably lauded, but it also comes with the potential side effect of creating a public perception problem. In other words, LeCounte might be so open about the areas he wants to be better that it distracts from the areas he's already quite good. For instance, while it's true LeCounte led the Bulldogs in missed tackles in 2018, he also led the team with 74 total tackles including 22 of what Pro Football Focus defines as 'defensive stops.' According to Pro Football Focus, a 'defensive stop' is 'a play where a defender makes a tackle, and the location of the tackle means the play is a successful one for the defense.' For instance, a tackle on third or fourth down that prevents a first down or a touchdown would be considered a defensive stop. LeCounte's 22 'stops' suggests he was often doing more for the UGA defense than was noticed by fans. That was possibly true in pass coverage as well. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has called LeCounte the best safety in pass coverage of any who'll be eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft. Miller has also rated him third-best safety prospect overall. If that rating holds true this season, LeCounte will have a chance to sneak into the first round next spring if he decides to leave UGA early. Of course, draft projections especially ones made nearly a year in advance can be erratic, but the point is there are plenty of observations regarding LeCounte that place him among the top players at his position despite some fans' occasional assumptions to the contrary. Yet 2019 could be the year for LeCounte when all doubters are silenced. The hard work he's committed himself to could prove beneficial when the season starts, and not just for LeCounte, but the entire UGA defense as well. 'I want to do everything I can for this team,' LeCounte said. 'As a guy that's been here going on my third year, I have to step up to the plate, and I have to put a lot of things to the side and focus on football.' A new 'focus' from LeCounte coupled with a beefed-up frame could truly be a weapon for the Bulldogs defense, and it might lead to a boosted reputation for him among UGA fans to match the credit he's already received from some in the national media. The post Richard LeCounte is arguably one of college football's most underrated players appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Kirby Smart has sealed the deal on commitments in every possible way under the sun. Elite OL prospect Sedrick Van Pran-Granger very likely broke new ground, though. Van Pran-Granger had wanted to make his choice known on the traditional February signing day. Then it was the Under Armour All-American Game. Things. Just. Kept. Escalating. It all just came to a point at the late July cookout event in Athens. That's where the Bulldogs trotted out the food, the frisbees, the ring toss, the Super Soakers, the water balloon catch and throws and everything else for a 5-star cookout. Sam Pittman no doubt teed things up for his future pupil, but then it all became crystal clear. Smart and Georgia had the nation's No. 3 center after a Slip-N-Slide run. 'I think when I recently went to UGA when they had the Slip-N-Slide' and stuff and coach Smart he got [the slide] on with the recruits,' Van Pran-Granger said. 'He had on like a polo and some cargo shorts. I think that stood out to me. He wanted to get down and just have fun with his players. He wasn't even dressed for the occasion but he just went with it.' 'Just to show that loves us and that he wants to have a little fun with it. So I really appreciated that.' Van Pran-Granger had long thought he wanted to be coached by Pittman. He thought highly of joining a UGA to the NFL pipeline that might see four starters off the 2019 line selected in the 2020 Draft. Watching Pittman's boss skid face-first on that slide cinched it. 'That was the final straw,' Van Pran-Granger said. That was the 'why' here. It is the time of focus on the 'when' with his choice. The 'when' behind the Sedrick Van Pran-Granger decision It was just time. Van Pran-Granger wanted to secure his spot in the 2020 class at Georgia. Pittman had promised to save him a seat for a long time, if necessary. The team-first senior at Warren Easton High cares about the promise of his final season with his brothers in New Orleans like few seniors do. A lot of elite prospects say that, but Van Pran-Granger would be fine with not taking any recruiting calls or chatting in interviews this fall. He's said he will go from 'The E to the G' with his college choice. But his mind and methods are focused on his present. This young man means it. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior just took a month-long sabbatical from social media. It could have been any of that. A combination of all of those things would be a fine answer. That just would not be the correct answer. This was a family decision. Sedrick Van Pran-Granger recently said that it would be a good thing to see his father's name in all future DawgNation stories about him. 'I love my father,' he told DawgNation. 'Hard-working guy. So much respect for him.' His Dad gave him the green light with this. It will mean quite a lot for those that worry if this commitment will ever budge. 'It was my Dad,' Van Pran-Granger said. 'My Dad kind of was pushing it for me. You know I just kind of figured it was right and to just go with and kind of focus on my senior season. So I'm going with it.' The Georgia line coach was 'ecstatic' when he told him he was coming. He said Pittman had been wanting him to take that center spot in this class since he offered him last summer. 'Coach Pitt always believed in me and my athletic abilities and also my mental capabilities,' he said. 'He's always wanted me on board and I'm just really happy that a guy who has been showing me love since Day 1 that I get to play for him and I think he's a really awesome coach.' 'He was really excited. I'm really excited.' Sedrick Van Pran-Granger has a message for DawgNation When asked about what he wanted to say to the fans, the young man took a minute. He wanted to shape what he was about to say. It was more than just gratitude for picking up 500 new followers in less than 24 hours. 'My message to the fans is that I plan on giving you guys a great three to four years,' Van Pran-Granger. 'I'm not going to say I want to change the culture in Athens but to enhance the culture to kind of get things going in my own way. I'm the type of guy when I am at a school that I really build a love for a school and I become attached.' 'So definitely I will be all Georgia football and I can't wait. Go Dawgs.' His father gave Pittman his blessing first to coach his son. When Pittman heard that news, he wanted to let Van Pran-Granger and his family know exactly what that meant to him. 'He was really telling my Dad he was so thankful that he gave him that blessing to coach his son,' Van Pran-Granger said. 'I think it was very good. Coach Pitt' is a real genuine guy. He was just so happy to have me as a Dawg. It was surreal, man.' 'Because being a recruit is not a normal thing. When you are just playing ball you are just happy to be playing and kind of think you might be there as a recruit one day. But when you are actually there it is a lot different. Just being able to play for the best o-line coach in the country is just crazy, man.' If folks want to worry, they can about LSU pulling another John Emery Jr. flip with a prized Georgia commit. This one is just different. In a lot of ways. Van Pran-Granger even addressed that. 'It will be extremely hard,' he said. 'Extremely hard. I don't see myself switching at all.' He did take a spin or three around that 'Slip-N-Slide' himself. His future teammate Corey Wren, another 2020 commit out of New Orleans, was sort of his wingman for a few runs. 'We spent a lot of time there together,' Van Pran-Granger said. 'He and I were on the same team together going back-and-forth on the Slip-N-Slide' so we had a lot of fun.' How did that go? 'I am controlled man,' he said. 'I was controlled. A big man coming that can move.' A few more things to know about Sedrick Van Pran-Granger Van Pran-Granger got his first big SEC offer from Georgia. It was also his first big recruiting trip for the season opener in 2018. The seeds for this commitment were planted almost 51 weeks ago. They really took hold after he opted to become an offensive line recruit in the summer prior to his junior season. That's when Pittman first offered ahead of all of the SEC, including some six months before in-state LSU. 'I always thought about it,' the future graphic design major said. 'I definitely always thought about it especially from that game when you start trying to envision yourself in that black and that red and it just like Man that is nice' but once you actually get in the situation and it all actually happens it is a totally different thing and a totally different feeling.' 'I'm still relishing the moment man,' he said on Sunday night. 'I still can't believe it.' He shared a few quick hits on what to expect from his recruiting moving forward. SVPG will definitely take his official visit to Georgia. It will be in December. He's not sure about any other trips to check on other schools at this time. He cannot enroll early. Warren Easton does not allow that. Look for him to join the Bulldogs in late May of 2020. Ashaad Johnson, the 4-star RB for the Easton team, has already heard Van Pran-Granger's best pitch about coming with him to play in Athens. Johnson, a 200-pound back, rates as the nation's No. 11 RB for 2020. 'I'm trying to get him over here of course,' Van Pran-Granger said. 'But at the end of the day that is my brother and I respect his decision. So you know as of right now, I'm an active recruiter for Georgia so I'm trying to get him over here but you know at the end of the day if that is not what he thinks is best for him and his family then I do respect that.' He said he never really had a true leader, but for the longest stretch, he was undecided between Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. 'I'm glad things worked out the way they did,' Van Pran-Granger said. Look for him to play center, guard, tackle and on the defensive line for Warren Easton. The post Why Sedrick Van Pran-Granger decided it was time to commit to Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The 2019 Georgia team is loaded with great players. There's quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D'Andre Swift and safety J.R. Reed. Even the Bulldogs' kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is one of the best country. However, none of those players made ESPN's list of the 25 most important players in all of college football. Instead, ESPN's Bill Connelly pegged offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and wide receivers Demetris Robertson and Tyler Simmons as the players most important on the Georgia team. For Thomas, Connelly justified his selection by highlighting how the junior offensive tackle is able to make life so much easier for Fromm, Swift and the rest of the Georgia offense. 'Thomas spent a good portion of last season both battling an ankle injury and playing the best ball on one of the youngest and best lines in the country,' Connelly wrote. 'Now, he's the healthy anchor of maybe the best line in college football. His transcendence might make running back D'Andre Swiftand/or quarterback Jake FrommHeisman contenders.' In Georgia's last two seasons, Thomas has started 28 out of 29 games. In both years, the Bulldogs have led the SEC in rushing and won the SEC East both times. With Thomas back this year to go along with the likes of Solomon Kindley, Isaiah Wilson and Ben Cleveland Georgia could have the best offensive line in the country. As for the selections of the two wide receivers, Connelly selected Robertson and Simmons due to the fact that Georgia must replace its top five receiving leaders from a season ago. Robertson and Simmons were both on the team a season ago but combined for just nine catches. It's not a guarantee that Robertson or Simmons end up making a significant impact on the team, as the Bulldogs have freshmen such as George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock fighting for playing time as well. But to start the season, it would be a shock if Robertson and Simmons weren't starting for the Bulldogs given the two have spent the entire preseason working with the first team. Robertson has produced at a high level before, but that came in his freshman season at Cal when he caught 50 passes. 'He's gotten more opportunity. Last year he had a plethora of guys. He had three draft picks in front of him. And he was coming in not knowing an offense,' Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of Robertson earlier this month. 'Now he's got three draft picks removed, and he's the guy that's out there playing the slot, catching the balls, and he did some nice things today. He's got to continue to work and improve.' Related: The absurd George Pickens catch, Demetris Robertson and the wide receiver hype train Some of the players that made Connelly's list who Georgia will see this season include Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond, South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley and a trio of Notre Dame wide receivers. The Bulldogs open the 2019 season on Aug. 31 when they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on the SEC Network. More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation ESPN lays out simple path for Georgia to get back to College Football Playoff Georgia football coach Kirby Smart: special teams determines who's getting on the bus' Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality predicts UGA to win national championship WATCH: Zamir White runs through another Georgia linebacker in drill video Georgia football's new DC Dan Lanning outside the box,' impressing Kirby Smart 5 takeaways from Georgia football Scrimmage Two: Pass game pivotal The post ESPN makes surprising picks for Georgia's most important players appeared first on DawgNation.