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Tales from Tibby

    There was a day last week designated as National Moonshine Day. You’d think after all these years I’d know there was such a thing.  That same day was also National Gingerbread Day, National Running Day, and National Veggie Burger Day.   Nobody seems to know how National Moonshine day was assigned, but I’m guessing someone came across the day honoring running, gingerbread and veggie burgers and decided it was a date that needed something good going for it. I’ve only experienced true made-in-the woods kinda ‘shine a couple of times in my life.   Probably the best-tasting stuff was provided by my neighbor, Frank. Frank had been a mayor and a state representative and was a good ol’ boy with lots of good ol’ boy friends.   One of his friends was a judge in a tiny North Georgia town who had a still.   A judge. The same guy who sentenced bootleggers was one.   Frank claimed the judge wasn’t a bootlegger because he didn’t sell it, only gave it out to trusted friends.   That’s a finer point of the law I don’t know, so I didn’t judge. As the Good Book says, judge not lest ye be judged by a judge with the keys to a jail cell and the authority to put your a** in it.   My favorite moonshine memory is Ernest.   Ernest was a care-taker on a friend’s family farm in rural South Georgia. He was an affable, older gentleman who was friends with everyone.   Ernest’s job was tending the farm. He mowed, did light repairs and fed dogs.   And there were dogs.   The remote location of the farm made it an easy spot to drop off an unwanted dog, so strays were always showing up. Ernest and the family he worked for were quite happy to welcome those orphan hounds.   Ernest was easy to like. Whether or not he ever knew my name, he knew I was on the radio. Whenever I accompanied my friend to the farm, he’d flash that big jovial grin and say, “There comes the radio man!”   I don’t recall ever going to the farm when Ernest didn’t have his big cast-iron kettle of corn mash is some stage of preparation out in the yard behind his trailer.   One cool fall night, three of us high school buddies decided we’d grab a couple of six packs (drinking age was 18), head to the farm and build a fire.   Since the old farmhouse and Ernest’s trailer shared a yard, Ernest came to join us. He didn’t want our company as much as he wanted our beer.   His offer: a gallon of his corn mash in exchange for a 6-pack of what was very likely Schlitz Malt Liquor back then.   Judge not. We were young with undeveloped taste buds.   We accepted the offer and a gallon jug of Ernest’s fire water soon began circling the fire pit.   If you want to know how this saga ended, you’ll need to ask one of my other buddies.   I’m pretty sure that night I determined one of those stray dogs was a camel and rode him to Egypt. Click here for more Tales From Tibby. 
  • This needs a quick preface so it won’t come off as snooty.  We have no children. Therefore, no grandchildren. And no pets. Like everybody else, we occasionally spend a little money on things we probably shouldn’t but unlike y’all with kids and pets, we spend on things that don’t pout or poop.   For me, there’s something magical about the $100 price tag. Once an item crosses the $100 threshold, it’s officially expensive and that must be pointed out.   I was serving apple pie to neighbors recently and drizzled an aged balsamic vinegar on it, vinegar that had been brought back from Italy and cost…?   Yep, about $100. And I told them so. In defense of my spending so much for a tiny bottle of balsamic, it happened at a wine tasting that might have lasted just a wee bit too long. That same tasting also lead to the purchase of a $100 bottle of olive oil before my wife asked to ‘borrow’ my credit card then hid it.   But why did I need to point out the cost to my guests? Why not try to impress them with the fact that it was 30-year old balsamic - from Italy! - and leave it at that?   ‘Cause it cost a hun’erd dollars, that’s why. If I’m serving you a hun’erd dollar balsamic, you’re going to hear about it.   I’d probably do the same thing if I was serving you a $100 bottle of wine, but don’t hold your breath on that one. In our house, it’s likely the wine I’m serving you is only $2.99. For the whole bottle.   It would be a fair question to ask why I’m willing to spend $100 on olive oil but cheap-out on wine.   I think it has to do with longevity. I’ll have that oil and balsamic for some time to come, enjoying it along the way. Wine won’t make it past bedtime.   Once wine is opened, it evaporates or something. Maybe it grows legs and walks off, but it gets gone. If it’s expensive wine, at the end of the evening you’ve just plowed through a hun’erd dollar bill with nothing to show for it but a dopey grin on your face.   That’s not to say I would never pay up for good spirits. I have spent a few coins for good bourbon, though I have stopped chasing the ones that have gotten stupid expensive. There are some tasty whiskies and bourbons that are quite affordable once you get your nose out of the air and into a glass.   A cousin posted this for me to see. That is good stuff, but in my town if a store has any of this available at all, the store paid $30 for it. Thirty. That’s a ‘3’ with one ‘0’ attached. If they can get $200 for it, fine, but it ain’t coming from me.   With that proclamation though, I must confess to a recent bout of liquor lunacy.   A friend who knows I often find decent prices online for these things asked if I could find a particular tequila that was $100 in the store.   I did find a better price, though by the time you added in shipping it was $96/bottle.   Hey, $4 saved.   I was somewhat familiar with this tequila, having brought a bottle of it back from Mexico many years ago. I didn’t remember a thing about how it tasted, but at $100 it had to be good, right? So I figured I should also get a bottle for myself.   “Wait a minute,” he says. “I have a friend who might want a bottle, too. Before you order, let me check.”   I knew exactly what was happening. He was asking his friend (wife) if he could just go ahead and buy a second bottle while we were ordering.   Sure enough, he tells me his friend wanted a bottle, so I decided if he could get one for his friend, I could order one for my friend. So, the order was doubled to four bottles.   Turns out, he actually had a friend who wanted a bottle. I didn’t. But I now have two big bottles of expensive tequila, and one small problem.   I don’t care for it. Neither does my imaginary friend.   I cracked open a bottle for me and a buddy - after bragging that it cost $100, of course. We took a couple of sips and just sorta stared at each other with that look. The look that says, “um…. paid how much?“   And yay! There’s a whole ‘nother bottle!   Anybody need tequila? It’s a real purdy bottle. It even comes with instructions on how to turn it into a vase once it’s empty. (Spoiler alert: take the cap off and put flowers in it.)   I’m willing to let it go for a hun’erd dollar bill. I’ll even throw in $4 in change. 
  • If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, there’s a collard crisis underway. Not making this up. The cultivar Southerners crave this time of year is in serious short supply.  Blame the elements. In the Southeast, too much rain has flooded fields. California collards are the victims of wildfires, either too much scarring from blowing ash or too much smoke to harvest ‘em.   For me, none of this is particularly bad news. I hate collards.   Every year I seem to find myself in the company of friends and/or family who want that traditional New Year’s Day meal of collards, cornbread, black-eyed peas and ham.   Each of those foods supposedly represents something, though I have no idea what it is. Except for collards. Because they’re green, I think they represent money. Eat collards on the first day and you’ll enjoy prosperity throughout the entire new year.   I’d rather be poor. Collards taste nasty and give me gas.   I hate black-eyed peas, too, though I can tolerate them if I’ve got enough chow chow slopped on ‘em. (Chow chow is pickled something. In the South, usually cabbage or squash. Whatever it is, it’s mission is to mask the taste of the peas. Ketchup also works in a pinch.)   This is my own problem, I know. I’m a Southern boy with a Southern pedigree a mile long.  Having grown up with considerable exposure to three sets of great-grandparents, I learned things kids today aren’t allowed to learn or are simply not exposed to.   One grandfather was a sawmiller who taught me how to make a corncob pipe and smoke rabbit tobacco in it. His wife - grandmama - was a sturdy woman who dipped snuff and tried to teach me how to milk a cow. (I never learned. I was afraid I’d hurt the cow if I squeezed that thing too hard.)   Another grandpa raised chickens and cows and plowed his garden behind a mule while grandma was making stew from the snapping turtle her brother had killed and brought into the house, swingin’ it by the tail.   On my mom’s side, one great-grandfather was a preacher. A Baptist preacher. That’s an important Southern distinction. Wouldn’t be as meaningful if I had to identify him as Episcopalian. People might think we were drinkers. You know, whiskeypalians. And my elders did not drink. Had to learn to do that on my own.   I’ve skinned and consumed a hundred rabbits and squirrels and gnawed clean their bones. I can pick out a ripe melon by thumping it. And I can fry you up a mess of okra that will absolutely make you weep.   I shouldn’t have to prove my credentials as a Southerner, yet I’ve had a constant culinary clash with many of the foods beloved in the South.   It’s not just collards I don’t like, it’s turnip greens, mustard greens, rutabaga and virtually all peas and beans. (Except pork’n. I love me some pork’n beans. Probably because you gussy them up with brown sugar and bacon.)   I don’t like boiled peanuts, either.   Something’s wrong with my wiring. I much prefer Italian food to Southern fare. Given the choice of pizza or fried chicken…   Wait. Bad example. I’d definitely choose the fried chicken. And anything that taste like fried chicken. Frog legs, for example. Yum!   But I love Italian food the most. I’ve wondered if the doctor who delivered me was Italian. Or maybe he had just polished off a pizza and the first breathe I drew on this earth was a whiff of his breathe.   Adding insult to injury, the friend who prepares our collards every New Years Day is Italian. She claims what she cooks are Italian-style collards.   I don’t fight it, but I don’t buy it. If I cook up a possum with pepperoni, does that make it Italian-style possum?   Debate that while you eat your collards. If you can find any.   Personally, I’m hoping to catch a break this year.
  • “Always wear clean underwear. You never know when you might be in an accident, and you don’t want people in the emergency room seeing you in dirty underwear.” - Your mom or someone like her.  ‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and I was in the emergency room.   I had been golfing that day and couldn’t shake the uneasiness in my chest, so I quit halfway through the round and headed for the hospital.   Quick background: This had happened before. Seven years ago, I left the golf course, went to the emergency room and was invited to stay for a triple bypass. So I’ve got history. And trust me, that kind of history heaps a whole lot o’ paranoia on you when things start feeling squirrely in your chest.   I will say this: seven years ago, I was given an additional indicator something was amiss. That hot day in July, after finishing my round, I cracked open a cold beer and never took a sip.   There’s your sign.   Now, here I was again.   In the emergency room, the first thing that happens is a check of your pulse and blood pressure. My pulse was fine, but my blood pressure sent a message to Houston: We have a problem.   I’m not a guy that ever fights BP problems, but it was through-the-roof high. And that little piece of news was going to buy me an extended stay to ‘check on things.’   “Let’s get you into a hospital gown,” said the nurse. Oh, yeah… cute nurse. About age 30. Because when you’re a guy in your 60’s and you wind up in the hospital, you’re never gonna get the dude nurse who looks like he might have stayed up all night binge-watching Game Of Thrones and eating nachos. You’re getting the cute, young nurse.   And she’s just asked you to take off your clothes.   This is where UPS sets in. And it ain’t about nobody getting a delivery. (Though you could argue it involves a package.)   UPS = Underwear Panic Syndrome.   It’s real.   Underwear Panic Syndrome is that sinking feeling an older guy gets when the cute, young nurse is going to see his underwear, and he has no idea which pair he has on.   Let’s face it, y’all, we all have underwear that should have found the trash can a long time back. It’s got holes, it’s got a shot elastic band, it’s got (whispering…) stains! You know what I’m talking about here.   To further expound on UPS, here’s some info you didn’t ask for, but I’m a briefs guy. Always have been.   I get that briefs are not particularly cool, but neither am I. With briefs, I get the one thing I demand from my underwear: support for the troops.   Let’s keep everybody together. Nobody needs to be wandering off.   (For the record, briefs used to be cool. Google images of ‘Jim Palmer underwear.’)   In college, I experimented with a few things. One of those was boxers, because a lot of my friends wore boxers. I spent those few days doing a whole lot of… um, adjusting.   As I have lived my life and observed a few things, I’ve never regretted staying with briefs. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Women aren’t the only ones affected by gravity.   At one point in my morning radio show career, I had a mid-20s, male co-host who wore boxers. Because we’re boys, I suppose, underwear was a frequent topic of discussion. Our female partner was proud to proclaim her preference for going commando, so she mostly just refereed our briefs vs boxers arguments.   “You’ll regret boxers,” I would warn him. “Your knees will have playmates when you’re older.”   One day, he texted me from the local YMCA. He had just finished a workout and while in the locker room had encountered a much older man, shaving in front of the lavatory mirror. Nude.   My cohort had just seen his future. And I have never received a text containing so many exclamation points.   He now wears boxer briefs.   And maybe that should be my direction. Boxer briefs tend to keep all the eggs in the basket, as some of us prefer, and are probably considered cooler than briefs. Again though, I’ve experimented and still prefer briefs.   The UPS I suffered the day before Thanksgiving wasn’t as much about just wearing briefs as it was about the color of briefs I might have on.   Underwear multi-packs usually contain various colors: black, gray, blue, red, even white can be included. (Never brown, though. Wonder why? Especially for men of a certain age.)   I rarely wear the white ones, usually opting for another color. But what if I was wearing the blue ones? They’re not a manly dark blue. They’re a baby blue. Carolina blue. Might as well be tighty-whities, really.   As I unbuckled my belt to drop my drawers, I secretly prayed: please no blue, please no blue.   Ta da! Black! Yes!   But they were still briefs, and I still felt some pangs of shame.   To wrap up the hospital story, my blood pressure had gotten whacked out (I had wa-a-a-y overdone salty foods the day before), and I was released 24 hours later after extensive testing determined my heart is actually in excellent condition.   But comfortably back home, I’m thinking I need an undies upgrade. Maybe buy some boxer briefs to keep in the truck. Next time I take myself to the hospital, I can do a quick-change before walking into the emergency room to announce that I may be having a heart attack.   When the cute nurse tells me to undress, she will still see an older man with a ponchy belly, large love handles, a developing turkey neck and gray, thinning hair, but she’ll see I still got style.   She won’t say it out loud, but she’ll be thinking, “Hey, cool undies.”   Winner, winner, chicken dinner, old man!   You take your little victories whenever they come.
  • This is not a story about traveling to Italy. It mentions Italy because that’s where I finally found clarity for my life.   Since clarity is a rarity, it is charity for me to share for thee.    I’m not gonna lie. Since retiring, I’ve struggled.    While comfortably tucked into my career as a morning radio show announcer, I knew how my day would go. I’d finish up work around 10 or 11 am every morning, then go join the old fart golf group that teed off every day around lunchtime. Many years, I would play 150 days or more.    The point is, I knew what I was doing with my days. In retirement, I’m playing maybe 50 rounds a year. That leaves a lot of days in limbo.    To some extent, golf has been replaced by travel. Oh, it’s not all exotic. For example, we’re taking in more live concerts now, so sometimes our trips are just a quick overnighter to hear an artist we enjoy.    We’ve fallen in love with Nashville, Tennessee’s music scene, so we wind up in Music City way more than I would have ever imagined.    Still, we are trying to see some other parts of the world and recently returned to Italy for the second time in two years. And for a second time, we hooked up with a travel guide named Max.    On our first tour of Old Italia, it took Max about one day to figure out what we liked: wine. With lunch.    On our just-completed trip, he didn’t even ask what we wanted to see. Every day, he had arranged a wine tasting at a nice winery, usually with lunch thrown in.    Lunch often lasted for a couple of hours. Afterwards, Max would just drive us around until we fell asleep. When we woke up, he’d tell us of the nice places he had taken us and say something like, “too bad you slept through it.”    In the Tuscany region, we hit a couple of places that are actually referred to as wine castles. Translated to English, that’s a castle with wine.    A castle, y’all. With wine. Take a moment, if you need to.    Besides wine, another thing to love about Italy is gelato. Gelato is actually Italiano for ice cream, but gelato is better. It uses more milk…. something, something, something… so it’s not just like American ice cream.    Gelato is sold in a gelateria. If you think about it, that makes sense. Pizza is sold in a pizzeria; gelato, in a gelateria.    I’m a big fan of gelato. Specifically, coconut, though I’m multi-gelatinous and can swing many directions.    So, the epiphany: I want to open a gelateria in a wine castle.    When I told my wife, she suggested I build the castle from the corks we have in the basement. It was meant as a snide remark, a dig at me for saving corks, even though I have no plan to do anything with them.    But her idea is brilliant. A cork castle!    Enemy bullets would bounce right off the cork walls. And if someone bombed my castle, what’s the damage? Broken cork? No problem.    “Hey, we need more cork!” And out comes a corkscrew.    My cork castle would also be flood-proof. The same rains that floated Noah’s arc would float my castle. When the rain subsided, who knows what country my castle would have landed in? But it wouldn’t matter. The local chamber of commerce would welcome me. Because I’ve got a castle full of wine.    And gelato.    Who wouldn’t want to be my friend?    Beautiful minds like mine – and Steve Jobs – don’t come along that often. I can only imagine that you’re thinking, ‘Dang, I wish I had thought of that first!’    But you didn’t.    Bring money. I will be charging admission.   
  • Maybe you’ve seen the post – or email – making the rounds about how ‘old’ people should present themselves? It defines old as 60 or over. So much for 60 being the new 40, eh? If you haven’t seen it, here’s a sample of some pairings it suggests you avoid: A nose ring and bifocals  Miniskirts and support hose Unbuttoned disco shirts and a heart monitor Bikinis and liver spots Thongs and Depends. Cute. But on a more serious note, I’m here today to address the first item, the nose ring.  *GRUMPY OLD MAN ALERT* I’m not good with some current trends. If I’ve not mentioned it before, I hate tattoos. I hate them more on women than men. To me, they look trashy.  I’m trying to adapt. Mainly, because everybody but me seems to have one. Also, I know some really quality, non-trashy ladies with tattoos. By ‘quality’ I mean I’ve Googled them and can’t find any pictures of them without clothes.  I’ve never liked belly button jewelry. (Unless you’re a belly dancer. In that case, you might as well put something shiny in that cavern.) Nose and lip studs? Nope. But I’m trying really hard to be a better person and stop judging the book by its cover. That’s probably my biggest flaw, honestly. But the one decoration I do not get is the nose ring. First thought: are you a dang cow?? If we go out on a date, can I hitch up a rope to that thing and lead you into the theater? I don’t care how otherwise beautiful you are, inside or out, something hanging out your nose does not look good. And there’s nothing – NOTHING – you can do to change that. Make it silver, gold, bejeweled, bigger, petite, or blessed by the Pope, it’s still something coming out of your nose and needs wiping. I know, shut up ol’ man!
  • Just returned from a trip that included a few days in New York City. It wasn’t my first time. We were there just two years ago, so I knew I was getting in to. I love/hate that place.    The over-the-top weirdness of Time Square. Visiting the M&M store and paying $14 a pound for peanut M’s that would cost about $3 at my local grocery store. A truly unintelligible subway system. The fabulous – use your ‘jazz hands…’ fab-u-louus - Broadway shows.    It’s like no other place. It’s also like no other place should aspire to be, really. Especially the subway trains. The subway system there was designed by chimpanzees who then hired kindergarteners to draw the maps and legends explaining it.    Locals eventually figure it out by osmosis; visitors have no chance.    The way we handle the trains is to wander around in the subway station looking lost until someone takes pity on us and helps.    Mostly, we just walk. We certainly don’t attempt to drive in that carnival.    If you do drive in NYC, you need to be fluent in ‘horn.’ It’s the official language of drivers there.    But here’s what I’ve figured out: Honkers are almost always several cars back in the pack.    The first car in line has stopped because it’s illegal to run over pedestrians. The second car can see what’s going on so sits quietly. Get back to about the fourth or fifth car and all they know is that the light is green and they ain’t moving.    *beeeeeep*    Honking changes nothing, but I reckon it gives the drivers a way to vent their frustration of being in a city where a billion people live and having to deal with another billion visitors who know it’s illegal for you to run over them with your car and will therefore cross the street whenever they dang well want, traffic lights be damned.    The other language of New York City is every other language in the world. Except English.    Look, I’m a bumkin in The City, but I’m telling you, it was rare to hear English conversationally spoken. On the streets, in the subways, in the bars (so I’m told), on the elevators, the conversations were almost always in a foreign language.    That’s more observation than complaint.    To start with, we all know that as a country we’ve become heavily reliant on immigrants for service work. The servers, dishwashers, attendants, hotel staff… the list is endless of jobs immigrants are willing to do for the opportunity to live in the States.    Now, couple that with all the foreign visitors who are simply making NYC one of their must-do destinations, and there’s a whole lot of no speak-y English going on.    What if, I thought… what if we passed a law that required everyone in an American city to speak only English. That would probably cut down on the crowds since so many people would have to learn the language instead of relying on a single interpreter to be the English voice for their entire bus.    Then there’s a possible downside. What if that law not only required English, but required the proper use of the language?    That would shut most Americans out of places like New York City.    So, let me just say this, y’all. I ain’t never gonna go back to that place. Not never, not no how. I don’t know what them farners are sayin’, an’ until them people done learned how to tawk like me, I’d just a-soon stay home.    Somebody fetch me a beer.
  • Just heard a song from Dan + Shay called ‘Tequila.’ Wow, a song about tequila. How novel! While that oozes sarcasm, it’s a decent song, and so adds to an every-growing list of odes to a cactus. Off the top of my head, I can probably name 9 or 10 songs about tequila. There are more, I know. Many more. Almost all songs about tequila involve drinking too much. From there, we work on secondary themes, like being lonesome, drinking away a memory or doing something stupid. Tequila songs can also involve a fair amount of promiscuity. “Who is this cowboyWho's sleepin' beside me?He's awful cute, but how'd IGet his shirt on?I had to much Tequila last night.”  - ‘Jose Cuervo,’ sung by Shelly West Anyway… Hello, everybody, and welcome to TEQUILA TALK. As your host, you should know I fancy myself a tequila aficionado (I drink it), a tequila snob (I like the good stuff), and I may be the only person you’ve ever met that has never gotten sick from drinking it. Like, ever. Full disclosure: Oh yeah, I’ve overdone it. I’ve just never overdone it on tequila. And I’ll let my sainthood stop right there. Tequila gets a bad rap, and it’s not to blame. Its smooth, sometimes smoky goodness is a delicious sip, either neat or over a little ice. There are two main problems we have with tequila. First, we’ve made it a barroom game to see how much of it we can drink before we puke. Secondly, and a contributor to the first point, barroom tequila shots are usually done with a low-grade product. While anything calling itself tequila must, by law, contain at least 51% distilled blue agave, that leaves the other 49% to be distilled from something else. That’s very often corn syrup. And in these cheaper tequilas that nice golden color comes not from barrel aging, it comes from caramel coloring. I’m not hating on Cuervo Gold, y’all. Despite it being made from a whole lot of sugar and only minimally-required blue agave, it doesn’t taste bad. But even folks who think it does taste bad are willing to toss a few down so we can part-a-a-a-y!!! I’ll be worshiping at the porcelain alter later, but right now I have never been funnier, prettier, wittier or danced better! The girl who cuts my hair told me she can’t drink tequila. And why? “Well, one night…” …and we all know the rest of that story. Her drink of choice is vodka. Have you ever, I asked, sat down with some friends and slammed shots of cheap vodka down your throat until you went blind? Still, it’s hard to deny tequila has rendered some fun tunes. An all-time favorite became Pee Wee Herman’s dance groove: ‘Tequila’ by The Champs. In fact, that one may be the top tequila song of all time because of Pee Wee’s signature dance – let’s face it, tequila can lead to some pretty stupid dance moves – and because it’s easy to sing. The lyrical content of the song is a total of three words, and they are all ‘tequila!’ Speaking of lyrical content, Joe Nichols had a #1 hit with ‘Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.’ Given its title, I’m not sure why it needed any lyrics. Seems fairly self-explanatory. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!
  • Did you see the recent news story from New Jersey about the woman turned away from a flight because of her emotional support animal? In case you didn’t, the woman had been told in advance by United Airlines that she could not bring her emotional support animal onboard because they couldn’t accommodate the peacock. A peacock, y’all! Her emotional support animal was a feakin’ peacock! She showed up for the flight anyway. With the peacock. Access denied. Most of us watching or reading that story probably rolled our eyes and gave whoever else was around that look. You know the look.  ‘Really?!’ Also known as the ‘is she on crack?’ look. This story originally was going to be about her and others like her, people with emotional support animals (ESA). Specifically, people with unconventional emotional support animals. People wanting to fly with pets has gotten so whacky that Delta has just updated it’s ESA policy, saying, “Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more...” I had planned to write about the peacock lady. I wanted to write: Ma’am, number one, that peacock don’t care about your emotions. And number two, I’m betting you’re single. Then, a couple of things happened.  First, another ESA story emerged involving an emotional-support dog that attacked a passenger on a plane. In this case, though, the dog was a veteran’s ESA. That a veteran is part of the story gave me pause enough. (Gave me pause… get it? Pause… paws… OK, not that funny). Even putting that aside, though, if you’ve ever owned a good dog, you know that dog does indeed care about your emotions.  So, what do I do? Leave out people with dogs? The other incident derailing my original story involves a donkey. On my walk past a nearby farm just this week, I stopped and asked the young woman shoveling out the barn what happened to the white horse that had been there for years. “The white horse died, but we may get another one. That white horse and the donkey were close. The donkey is really lonesome.” What? “When we buried the horse, the donkey stood nearby and watched the whole thing. It was like she was at a graveside service.” The woman spoke of it all very matter-of-factly, like a seasoned farm hand would. On the farm, when a large animal dies, you take your backhoe or whatever implement you have to dig a hole, you dig that hole, then push the animal in and cover it up. The facts of life. She spoke just as stoically about the donkey’s loneliness. No emotion, just ‘yeah… the donkey’s lost her buddy. We may have to do something about that.’ But if a donkey can have an ESA, I knew my story idea-in-the-making, poking fun of people with emotional support animals, was going south quickly. So, I’ve decided to change gears. Let’s look instead at what other animals might make a good ESA. Like, a turkey. If you ever breakdown emotionally and need a meal, voila! And after eating the turkey, you could be thankful. (Thankful… turkey… Thanksgiving…? Is funny still not happening here?) How about a fish? Imagine, a friend comes over. She needs to unload her troubles, so you dutifully sit and listen as she drones on, endlessly. And you finally say, “Why don’t you kiss my bass.” But you mean it. What a friend! How ‘bout a bumblebee? Maybe all you need to pick you up is a little buzz. Speak of buzz, what about a buzzard? If you’re a particularly deep person, a buzzard could pick your brain. (And any other parts. Once you’re gone, of course.) Feel free to offer your own thoughts. There’s gotta be plenty of other animals that would make ESAs. I’m sure you’ve heard about the (true story) incident recently involving a lady with an emotional-support hamster? After being told she couldn’t have it onboard a Spirit Airlines flight, she flushed it down the toilet. You can Google up the details, if you want. It’s a weird story. But I have to wonder what kind of person relies on a hamster for emotional support. I doubt that hamster cared about her emotions. I bet she’s single. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!  
  • I’m not sure when ‘The Season’ begins. Is it Thanksgiving into Christmas, then into New Years? Or do we back it up to Halloween? Halloween into Thanksgiving into Christmas into New Years? And why do we say ‘new years’ like there are several of them? All I know is I eat a lot in ‘The Season.’ I’ve made pecan pies before, but making them this year was different. For some reason, this year I paid attention to what actually goes into making a pecan pie. It may be because I’m trying (in vain) to reverse the slow trend of becoming a slightly larger person every year. I’m still trying to get my brain wrapped around this notion that what I put in my mouth has some direct correlation to the size of my midsection. So... pecan pie: -syrup-sugar That’s your pie: liquid sugar, granular sugar. The sugars need something to hold them together, so let’s toss in a few eggs. Of course there are pecans, but it could be anything. Want a peanut pie? Walnut pie? Use dill chips and it becomes a pickle pie. The point is, we’ve named the pecan pie not after the mainingredients but after the only healthy ingredient in the thing. Rightfully, it should be called a sugar pie. “Oh, you’re making sugar pies for the holidays? Do you do anything special?” “Well, I like to top mine off with pecans. Adds a little crunch to the sugar.” Years ago, I made a ‘dark’ version of pecan pie. Instead of a light corn syrup, I used molasses. Instead of white sugar, I used dark brown sugar. I called it Pecan Mud Pie. I should have called it Pootie Pie. It hung around for days in unfavorable ways. Pecan pie is hard to turn down, especially if you know the reputation of the person or restaurant that is offering it. Once you become known for making a good pecan pie, you are considered an excellent cook for anything else you make. You could prepare an entire meal from canned food, nuke it in the microwave and serve it on plastic plates, and it would be the best meal ever. Because we’re all just waiting on your delicious pecan pie at the end of the meal. My pies this year were a failure. While they looked good coming out of the oven, apparently, I did something wrong. Serving them was serving a soupy, syrupy mess. With pecans. They had good pecan pie flavor and got eaten (with spoons), but I doubt I will be asked to make them again for the family gathering. I’m OK with that. Maybe it’s just to discourage myself from eating something that will only make me a little rounder in the middle, but next time I’m serving pecan pie, I’m gonna call it like I see it. “Alright now, I’m serving diabetes for dessert. Who wants Cool Whip on theirs?”

Local News

  • The annual conference of North Georgia United Methodists wraps up today in Athens: the conference began Tuesday at the Classic Center. From the Methodist Conference website…   Friday, June 148 a.m. | Session 72 p.m. | Session 8, Closing Worship4 p.m. | Adjournment   Comprised of more than 800 churches, more than 1,300 clergy members, and approximately 350,000 lay members, The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church seeks to develop principled Christian leaders, to engage in ministry with the poor, improve global health, advocate for justice, respond to disasters, and fulfill the mission of the denomination: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Currently, it is the largest United Methodist Conference in the United States. 
  • Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol and agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said they made a marijuana bust Tuesday afternoon worth more than $200,000. The GBI sent Channel 2 Action News a photo of the 70 pounds of marijuana officials said agents discovered during a traffic stop in Gwinnett County near the Hamilton Mill Road exit on Interstate 85 northbound. Three men from Charlotte, North Carolina, were arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana: Phetprasong Souriyo, 34, Brandy Souriyo, 28, and Somphone Thongkhamdy, 30. The GBI said their arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into marijuana trafficking via the I-85 corridor from metro Atlanta north to neighboring states.
  • Minicamp ended for the Falcons on Thursday, and players, coaches and staff have about a month away from the facility in Flowery Branch before training camp begins.  Though he didn’t practice all three days, wide receiver Julio Jones said he will be ready for the season and is happy with his place on the team. Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that he and the Falcons are continuing to work on a long-term contract. Jones, who’s also nursing a foot injury, is scheduled to be the 13th highest paid receiver in the league in 2019, according to NFL stats. Tampa Bay’s Michael Evans ($20 million) is set to be highest paid, while Jones is at $13.4 million. The six-time Pro Bowler took more of a leadership role this minicamp, acting as a coach on the field and mentoring younger receivers during and after drills. Former Georgia Tech and Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was in attendance for practice today, as coach Dan Quinn invited him in hopes of providing inspiration for the team’s younger players.  Even if his production has slipped, Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley said he doesn’t feel intimidated heading into an important season — both financially and on the field. The 2015 first-round pick skipped all team offseason programs after the Falcons picked up the $12.8 million fifth-year option on his contract instead of offering a longer-term deal. Beasley, who compiled 15.5 sacks in 2016, has had only 10 sacks in the previous two seasons combined. Quinn said his project over the season is to help Beasley develop more moves off the line of scrimmage, so Beasley has different ways to get to the passer. After skipping OTAs, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett reported for minicamp, but wore a hat instead of a helmet for all three days. Jarrett, too, skipped OTAs while he and the Falcons work out a long-term deal. The Falcons placed the franchise tag on the former Clemson Tiger in March and will pay him $15.2 million this season. On Tuesday, Jarrett deflected all questions from the media regarding his contract to the media. Heading into training camp, it’s possible Grady may continue not to participate if a long-term deal isn’t reached.   Matt Ryan has a problem every player in the league would dream of: How do you get better when you are already one of the best? The Falcons quarterback said he will continue to work on his strength and flexibility this season, and has enlisted professional help to do so. He also plans to organize a players-only camp to help the team create bonds together without coaches present.
  • What makes a great teacher? Aspiring English teachers from the University of Georgia saw one in action this year at Classic City High School in Athens, according to their professor Peter Smagorinsky. Smagorinsky is a Distinguished Research Professor of English Education in UGA’s Department of Language and Literacy Education (English Education). Smagorinsky has profiled many amazing teachers for his Great Georgia Teacher series here on the blog over the years. This time, he lets his UGA education students do most of the talking about what makes teacher Stephanie Johns so effective and so inspiring.   By Peter Smagorinsky   At the University of Georgia, I teach the educational foundations course for undergraduates who hope to become English teachers. The course, Service-Learning in Teacher Education, involves three main components. On campus, they lead one another in discussions of books they choose to broaden their understanding of students, families, and communities. At Classic City High School, the non-traditional school in Athens, they tutor and mentor to learn about school from students on the margins. Finally, they make sense of their experiences in a paper in which they reflect on their learning during the semester.  When I completed my reading of my students’ course papers, I was struck by how many of them talked about what they learned from observing Classic City High School English teacher Stephanie Johns. She’s a great Georgia teacher in a setting where students need her support and love to succeed.  I’ll let my UGA students do most of the talking from here on out. Without being prompted to talk about her, they did quite a bit, and I can only excerpt a small amount of what they wrote:  Love, Encouragement, Respect, and Support “Mrs. Johns . . . really cares about her students and wants them to succeed. She talked to her students as people rather than as a superior to an inferior, which I really appreciated seeing because I’ve definitely seen teachers who come across as condescending or patronizing. Mrs. Johns seemed to really know her students and what they struggled with and tried to provide as much help as she could. She was also understanding of students who might not be having the best day, which was really great to see.”  “I was able see the unconditional love that a teacher has for her students. . . . She recognizes potential in students and pushes them to do their best.”  Going Above and Beyond “All of the extra stuff she was doing for her students was all just extra work and more grading that she was going to have to do, but she was always willing to do that and go above and beyond for her students, which I just found to be very inspirational for my future career as an English teacher.”  Attentive to Students’ Heritages, Needs, and Interests “Mrs. Johns’ class made me realize how important it is to have a variety of diverse materials for the students. I noticed the change in the atmosphere when she brought out information about Hispanic and African American individuals. The atmosphere changed simply because they had something to relate to. I really enjoyed how Mrs. Johns asked the kids what types of poems interested them to keep them focused. When she asked them what they wanted to read, they perked up and were more engaged. . . . I respect Mrs. Johns for recognizing how unmotivated these kids are and have been in previous times. Yet, she still goes out of her way in order to keep them focused and learning.”  Compassion, Energy, Patience, and Positive Outlook “Ms. Johns has a great level of student awareness. . . . I’m particularly inspired by her level of compassion and patience with her students. I can tell that she enjoys her job, which is so important.”  “She approached every lesson and activity with enthusiasm, even when the students were not responding or refused to do work. . . I found the lack of effort from certain students to be frustrating and distracting, but Mrs. Johns only continued to try harder, taking the extra time to reach out individually to those students, until she was able to break the barriers they had put up.”  “Students within institutions such as Classic City High School need teachers like her, who bring a positive attitude and outlook on life into the classroom. . . It’s important for these students to realize that people do truly care and that if school isn’t necessarily working out, there are other pathways that lead to success and happiness.”  Calm Demeanor for Stressful Times “I feel lucky to have been able to witness her in action the week before what some might say is the most stressful time of the year: standardized testing. Mrs. Johns brought a sort of calm to her students that isn’t really describable. It is almost as if there is a tone shift as soon as they walk in the door.”  “It is apparent to the students that she trusts them and that she really cares about them and their families. With all of the stress of graduation and testing coming up, she had meaningful conversations with multiple students about what else is going on in their lives. I feel lucky to watch Mrs. Johns mentor and teach during such a busy time of the school year, and it really gave me perspective on how to navigate preparing your students for big changes. Just because it is an important and stressful time, doesn’t mean you need to escalate or apply more pressure that is already there. There is a way to get people to take things seriously without completely stressing them out. I feel like ultimately, the confidence she was instilling in them will have the biggest impact on their performance.”  Flexibility and Respect for Individuals “She instructs in a way that the students feel comfortable opening up to her and asking questions. . . . It is apparent that she values each student as an individual and their opinions. . . . She is constantly reminding them that they are more than capable and gives them flexibility to work on whatever is at the top of their priority list.”  “I can tell she truly cares about her students and their success. She is not a pushover teacher, but she is very flexible which I think is a great attribute she possesses when dealing with students. . . Her personality is very approachable and she allowed her classroom to be a safe space for students to air out anything that was bothering them; it didn't matter if it had to do with their course work or not. Ms. Johns explained to me if they can’t have a place to comfortably express their issues, then they will not be completely focused on their course work.”  An Inspiring Model “She reminded me of my 12th-grade English teacher who inspired me to become an English teacher. My mentorship allowed me to meet another amazing English teacher who can get through to any student, even the hard ones.”  “I learned a lot from Mrs. Johns, as she was a perfect model of what a teacher should be. I found her attitude and outlook for these students to be inspiring and I hope to one day carry myself like her. I think that without teachers like her in these schools, the success of the students would suffer. She was a true testament to what it means to care and engage your students, no matter the response they give you. One piece of advice she gave me was to remember that as a teacher, you cannot hold a grudge against a student, not even for a minute because when that student is ready and needs you, you have to be ready. I truly believe this was the most important takeaway for me, because I found myself often getting frustrated for her when students failed to complete assignments or participate in class.”  “Mrs. Johns seemed to really care about her students and knew how to motivate them to do their work. When I am a teacher one day, I hope to have the same understanding and ability to connect with my students.”  “I also was able to learn hands-on beside Mrs. Johns, who I know will be an inspiration to me throughout my teaching career. If one day I’m half as amazing of a teacher as she is, I’ll be in pretty good shape. Because of having the opportunity to work one-on-one with these students, I am more understanding, patient, and supportive, all of which will be wonderful things for me to carry into my classroom and the rest of my life.” My Brief Conclusion My UGA students found much to admire in working with Ms. Johns. The qualities they talk about are largely interpersonal. They speak to her care, flexibility, love, respect, compassion, patience, positive outlook, and other non-technical aspects of teaching. Her students in turn tend to work for her, because she makes the effort to connect with and reach out to them. The academics follow from the relationships she cultivates.  That’s the most important trait my students observed again and again, and it rarely makes an impression on policy. But it should. 
  • The 19th annual North Georgia Folk Potters Festival is set for Saturday in Homer: the festival, organized by the Banks County Recreation Department, starts at 9 and lasts til 2 on Thompson Street in Homer. Following is a list of potters expected to take part…   Steve Turpin Abby Turpin David Meaders Wayne Hewell Dwayne Crocker Sid Luck Shelby West Stanley Ferguson Mary Ferguson Jami Ferguson Kris London Marvin Bailey Roger Corn Rex Hogan Carolyn Simmons Rob Withrow Walter Aberson Rodney Leftwich Kim Leftwich Joyce Branch Mike Ledford (Joes Lake Pottery) Mike Craven Bo Thompson Mike Williamson Lynn Thrurmond Michael Ball Michel Bayne Joe Craven Dal Burtchael Stanley and Kathy Irvin Brian Wilson Bobby Gaither · Mike Hanning

Bulldog News

  • Georgia junior defensive end Malik Herring is one of the players Kirby Smart is counting on to step up on the football field this season. But on Saturday, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Herring took time to give back to his home community, taking part in a “Kids Fun Day” in Forsyth. Kickball, face painting and water slides were all part of the good times Herring shared with family, friend and youngsters at the Monroe County Rec Department. Macon’s WMAZ-13 was on hand to interview Herring, who explained his motivation for the event. “I saw kids like outside on the porch just bored, and it was just like I called my mom, and was like ‘hey mom we gotta do something for the kids, they don’t have nothing to do,” Herring said in the WMAZ-13 interview. “I just wanted to have something  for the kids to give back, and give them something we’d never had growing up.” UGA defensive lineman and former @MPHSFootball player @HerringMalik came back to his hometown and held a Kids Fun Day. He just wanted kids in his neighborhood to have fun and do something in the summer. At the end you’ll see how he dominated in kickball. He didn’t go easy on them pic.twitter.com/ruzpFMNPXY — Jonathan Perez WMAZ (@_JonathanMPerez) June 15, 2019 Herring, a 6-foot-3, 280-pounder, is one of the more pivotal pieces on a Georgia football team that’s greatest weakness is considered by many to be the defensive line. Smart knows all about Herring’s talent and ability. Herring was part of Smart’s first recruiting class, which this season makes up the nucleus of what’s expected to be a national championship contender. “ Malik can be a good player, (but) he’s gotta hone in and do the little things right and he’s gotta be a little more mature and serious about things to be the player we want him to be,” Smart said in the midst of spring drills. “He’s talented, though and he’s played well. He’s just gotta mature some.” Smart, it should be noted, typically saves his public challenges for the most talented players on his team. It’s an indication the head coach has high hopes set for Herring this season. Herring has made 30 tackles in the 29 games he has played the past two seasons, with 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. “Everything I do, I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten here if it wasn’t for this community, they all supported me throughout it all, with my ups and downs,” Herring said. “I just want to give back and show them that I really appreciate what they have done for me.”   TODAY IS THE DAY‼️‼️‼️ we’re here ready to have a great time‼️‼️ come out and have some fun ‼️‼️‼️ #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/MVlAYILbLP — Malik Herring (@HerringMalik) June 15, 2019 The post Georgia football DE Malik Herring makes time for ‘Kids Fun Day’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • SUNDAY READER ATHENS — The general thought on the Georgia Bulldogs heading into the 2019 season is they’re going to be better offensively than defensively. There’s data beyond tackles and touchdowns that backs that up. The Bulldogs already have been established as a consensus Top 4 team and one of the favorites to contend for the College Football Playoff spot this coming season. Obviously, that means coach Kirby Smart has put together a talented football team for the third year in a row. Georgia’s 2020 recruiting is going the way of the Kirby Smart’s last three classes. That is, among the top in the country including the likes of No. 1 running back Kendall Milton (second from left). (Charles Felder/Special to DawgNation) But DawgNation has taken a closer look and broken down the projected starting lineup for the Bulldogs’ season opener on the road at Vanderbilt (Aug. 31, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network) to examine exactly what is the recruiting profile and makeup of what’s expected to be perhaps Smart’s best team so far. Some of the revelations are surprising, some not so much. For instance, we all know that Smart and his staff have been all-star recruiters since they arrived in town. His first four classes at Georgia have carried an average national recruiting ranking of No. 3 (6, 3, 1, 2, respectively). The one currently being assembled for 2020 is ranked No. 4 at the moment. So it follows that Georgia is should be fielding good teams. Accordingly, the majority of the projected starting lineup for this year’s opener comes from the last three classes. While some from the 2016 class might be considered holdovers from the previous regime, Smart gets full credit for the last three and, by extension, the majority of this year’s squad. That will be reflected in the projected lineup against the Commodores. Only six of the starting 22 came from the 2016 class or before. Linebacker Tae Crowder holds the distinction as the sole Mark Richt recruit in the starting lineup. Then again, there just aren’t that many redshirt seniors on the team period. A few other observations from the accumulated data: Fifteen of the 22 projected offensive and defensive starters (68.2%) are from the state of Georgia. That includes guys from places like IMG Academy in Florida. That’s where they attended high school briefly, not their residence. The other starters are from Florida (2), Alabama (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Pennsylvania (1) and Texas (1). The average star-rating for Georgia’s offensive players versus its defensive players is 4.09 to 3.82. That’s based on the industry-accepted composite ranking of 247Sports, which takes into account the rankings of all services. Therefore, to be considered a 5-star, one must be a consensus 5-star and not just garner the rating from one service. It’s a moving target by the Bulldogs at one time had the most 5-star recruits on its roster. Six are expected to be in the starting lineup versus Vandy, three on offense and three on defense. Stars aren’t the best measure for one’s recruiting pedigree, however. There are high-4-stars and low-4-stars are everything in between. Fortunately, the 247 composite goes deep in their assessment and gives each individual prospect a national prospect. And that’s where the makeup of Georgia’s lineup gets really interesting. On offense, the average national ranking of each individual player is 181. That includes a high of No. 1 for receiver Demetris Robertson and a low of 1,051 for left guard Solomon Kindley. The average national position ranking on that side of the ball is 21.09, though not every player plays the same position now at which he was projected as a prospect. The defense is notably lower-rated on all counts. The average national prospect ranking is a fluffy 555.4. The average national position ranking is 50.18, though many of the players aren’t playing those projected positions. The lowest, or worse, ranking on defense belongs to Tae Crowder, who was rated the 1,863rd prospect in the Class of 2015. But that was as a wide receiver. Crowder actually was signed by the Bulldogs as a running back and now he’s a middle linebacker. So do with that what you wish. Senior J.R. Reed was actually rated just seven spots higher than Crowder at 1,856. He was considered a cornerback then. Now he’s an All-America candidate at free safety. The highest ranking on the defensive side of the ball belongs to cornerback Tyson Campbell. He’s was rated 12th overall and No. 2 at his position when he signed with the Bulldogs out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Of course, he lost his starting position last year to Eric Stokes, ranked 668th and 63rd at cornerback out of Covington’s Eastside High. What’s it all mean? Really, only that good players come from everywhere in all shapes and sizes and with widely varying prospect profiles. That’s why scouting and development are so important, and the Bulldogs seem to be scoring well on both counts. Also, we can quibble all summer and into the fall about who will actually be in the starting lineup. There’s not a lot of argument to be made about quarterback Jake Fromm or running back D’Andre Swift. But, otherwise, Georgia has a bunch of other unresolved position battles heading into preseason camp, and Smart likes to mix-and-match situationally, especially on defense. So that’s moot exercise. For the sake of transparency, though, we went with Demetris Robertson in the slot. He may not end up actually being in the starting lineup and his No. 1 ranking might’ve inflated the overall offensive rating. But if he’s not, his playing time might default to either of two 5-star signees Dominick Blaylock or George Pickens, or at least high 4-star Kearis Jackson. Conversely, though, the low-rated offensive line prospect Kindley could be supplanted in the starting lineup by anyone of several 5-stars, which would take the overall ranking higher. Defensively, there’s still a lot to be sorted out, too. We went with 5-star signee Brenton Cox at the jack outside linebacker, but that could easily have gone to fellow 5-stars Adam Anderson or Robert Beal. Should freshman Nolan Smith end up winning the position, it’d inflate the ranking even more as he was considered the No. 1 overall prospect in America. Same with Nakobe Dean at inside linebacker. There are many other conclusions to draw from this data. And, of course, Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State could make many of the same claims. But breaking it down this way and debating who’s going to be where is a fun exercise during the dog days of summer. Please check out the breakdown below and share your own observations in the comments section. ANATOMY OF THE LINEUP — OFFENSE — QB Jake Fromm As a prospect: 4-star ranking, 44th nationally, 3rd at position As a player: Played in all 29 games in his first two seasons, including 28 starts. Georgia is 24-5 in those games. Fromm has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 5,364 yards and 54 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Realistic candidate for all national awards, including Heisman Trophy and All-American. RB D’Andre Swift As a prospect: 5-star rating, No. 23 national ranking and No. 4 at position As a player: Swift rushed for 618 yards and 3 touchdowns as an understudy to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. He overcame early injury issues last year to lead the Bulldogs with 1,049 yards and 10 TDs and added another 32 catches and 3 scores as a receiver. If he can stay healthy and be Georgia’s featured back all year as expected, he’ll be a Heisman Trophy contender. WR J.J. Holloman As a prospect: 4-star ranking, 125th nationally, 18th at position As a player: Played in 19 of 29 games, including five starts and all 14 games as a sophomore. Was team’s fifth-leading receiver last year (24-418-5 TDs) but enters his junior season considered Georgia’s top wideout. TE Charlie Woerner As a prospect: Signed as a wide receiver.  4-star rating, 138th nationally, No. 25 at position As a player: Switched to tight end as a freshman. Played in 32 of 39 games in first three seasons with five starts. Nine catches each of last two seasons with 23 for 271 for his career. Yet to score. Sidelined with broken leg at end of 2017 season. With early departure of Isaac Nauta for NFL, only experienced tight end LT Andrew Thomas As a prospect:  4-star rating, ranking 45th nationally, No. 9 at position As a player: Started every game he’s played in his career, all 15 at right tackle as a freshman and all 13 at left tackle as a sophomore. Missed one game last year due to ankle injury from previous contest. Consensus all-conference and All-American. LG Solomon Kindley As a prospect: Signed as offensive tackle. 3-star rating, ranked 1,051st nationally, 89th at his position. As a player: After a redshirt year in 2016, Kindley has played in every game the last two seasons, with 21 starts, including every game last season. Played 75 percent of the snaps in SEC play last season. C Trey Hill As a prospect: 4-star rating, ranked No. 63 nationally and third at his position. Signed as guard. As a player: Played in all 14 games as a freshman, starting the last four at right guard as injuries sidelined Ben Cleveland and Cade Mays. Also filled in for starting center Lamont Gaillard. Won the center position in spring camp. RG Ben Cleveland As a prospect: 4-star rating, ranked No. 90 nationally and 10th at position. Signed as tackle. As a player: After redshirting his first year, Cleveland beat out Kindley for the starting job at right guard for the last four games of the 2017 season, which included an SEC championship and run through the CFB Playoffs. Started the first four games of last season before a broken leg against Missouri sidelined him for the season as an offensive lineman. Won back the starting job over Cade Mays and Jamaree Salyer in spring practice. RT Isaiah Wilson As a prospect: 5-star rating, No. 16 nationally, fifth at position As a player: Conditioning and heat acclimation led to first-year redshirt for the Brooklyn native. Earned freshman All-America honors last year after starting every game at right tackle WR Tyler Simmons As a prospect: 3-star rating, ranked 383rd nationally and No. 65 at his position. As a player: Simmons earned his place as a special teams player and blocking specialist on offense. He didn’t get his first of six starts as a receiver until his junior season. Now a senior, Simmons has 14 catches for 183 yards and two TDs in his career. But he’s one of the team’s fastest players and the thought is he has more to offer as a receiving target. WR Demetris Robertson As a prospect: 5-star rating, No. 13 nationally, No. 1 at position As a player: Robertson earned freshman All-America honors when caught 50 passes for 767 yards and 7 touchdowns at Cal. But he hasn’t been able to replicate that production since transferring to UGA before last season. He played in only nine games as a sophomore and, remarkably, did not record a catch. However, his blazing speed resulted in 109 yards rushing on four carries, including a 72-yard TD in the season opener. Continued improvement on the playbook, sight-adjustments and blocking must be demonstrated to earn more playing time as a junior. — DEFENSE — CB Eric Stokes As a prospect: 3-star rating, 668th nationally, 63rd at position As a player: A track star in high school, Stokes redshirted as a freshman, was pressed into duty due to an injury to Tyson Campbell, then edged Campbell in the battle for playing time opposite of star corner Deandre Baker. One of the fastest players on the team, his DB skills have started to catch up with his speed. CB Tyson Campbell As a prospect: 5-star rating, No. 12 nationally, No. 2 at position As a player: Campbell lived up to his lofty billing by starting the first 10 games of his freshman season. But as Baker’s star rose, Campbell found himself increasingly targeted on his side of the field. Loss of confidence and fundamental breakdowns led to Stokes getting three of the last four starts at corner and one for Tyrique McGhee. FS J.R. Reed As a prospect: 3-star rating; 1,856th nationally, No. 157 as cornerback As a player: Went to University of Tulsa out of Frisco, Texas, and only played sparingly before transferring to UGA and sitting out per NCAA rules. Quickly blossomed under the tutelage of former DBs coach/coordinator Mel Tucker and has started all 29 games he’s played at Georgia. Now serves as brains and brawn of the secondary. SS Richard LeCounte As a prospect: 5-star rating, 25th nationally, No. 2 at position As a player: Arrived somewhat raw in defensive fundamentals but with off-the-charts athleticism. Spent his freshman season as backup to Dominick Sanders, but moved into a starting role last season and started 13 of the 14 games. LB Monty Rice As a prospect: 4-star rating, 334th nationally, 18th at position As a player: Rice’s tremendous potential first became evident when he got his first start as a freshman filling in for an injured Roquan Smith. Rice had four tackles against Missouri that day and has been impressing ever since. He started five of nine games last year but has been dogged by injuries, which kept him out of the last four games. Could be a star with a full, healthy season. LB Tae Crowder As a prospect: 3-star rating, ranked 1,868th nationally and 221st at his position (actually wide receiver) As a player: Crowder became a prospect at Harris County High as a wide receiver, switched to running back during his senior season and signed with the Bulldogs as a back. However, he never recorded an in-game carry and, after a redshirt season in 2015, was moved to inside linebacker in the middle of the 2016 season. After playing in only one game that season, he has played in 28 of 29 the last two, including five starts last year. Slated to start this year at middle linebacker. OLB Walter Grant As a prospect: 4-star rating, 202nd nationally, No. 11 at position As a player: Grant has played in every game for Georgia since he arrived from Cairo High. His work came mainly on special teams as a freshman, but he started 8 games at Sam (strongside) linebacker last year. Unfortunately, Grant mans a position that is proving increasingly obsolete against today’s spread offenses. Got some looks at running back and tight end this spring. OLB Brenton Cox As a prospect: 5-star rating, No. 23 nationally, third at position As a player: This is an unresolved competition that just as easily could end up being Adam Anderson, Robert Beal, Azeez Ojulari or Nolan Smith. The interesting aspect is they all share similar recruiting profiles as top-rated, elite prospects. Cox did not distinguish himself when forced into action for an injured D’Andre Walker in the SEC Championship Game. But he has played more and been more productive than others in the competition for playing time. DE David Marshall As a prospect: 3-star rating, 433rd nationally and No. 19 as defensive end As a player: The senior Marshall has a lot of experience and playing time, but it has typically been in a specialized role as a run-stopper while sharing time with Jonathan Ledbetter. So his production of 58 tackles in 32 games and just seven starts doesn’t jump off the stat sheet. But Marshall’s absence was evident last season when he missed the last eight games with a broken foot. He was extremely limited in spring practice as well. Again, he’ll be sharing playing time with Malik Herring and Julian Rochester, at the least. DT Tyler Clark As a prospect: 4-star rating, 264th nationally and No. 27 at his position. As a player: Everybody is still waiting for the same Clark to emerge who dominated the second half against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl in 2017. He hasn’t been bad and actually has been the best of the Bulldogs’ tackles, but he hasn’t made enough of the impactful “havoc plays” coach Kirby Smart so desires from his defensive front. Clark has played in all but one game since arriving from Americus in 2016 and that includes 22 starts. But several young prospects will be trying to steal playing time, and Clark needs a big year to attract NFL attention. NG Jordan Davis As a prospect: 3-star rating, 424th nationally, No. 29 at position As a player: Davis is one of those great stories where he proved much better than his recruiting profile. The 6-foot-6, 330-pounder over game weight and conditioning issues to earn a starting job midway through his freshman season and, after recording 25 tackles and 1.5 sacks, was named a freshman All-American. He will need to continue to demonstrate that sharp rate of progress for the Bulldogs to take another step toward becoming an elite defense. The post Anatomy of a lineup: The makeup of the highly-touted 2019 Georgia Bulldogs might surprise you appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS-----University of Georgia All-American Aaron Schunk has been named the 2019 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year, the College Baseball Foundation announced Thursday.   “In the end, we felt that Aaron’s impact on the mound, where he factored in the decision in 15 of his 17 appearances, his steady bat and his outstanding play at third base put him just a tick above the others,” said George Watson, chairman of the Olerud Award selection committee. “Plus his ability to positively affect the lives of others off the field makes him the perfect example of what the Olerud Award is all about. We are excited to see what the future holds for him.”   A second-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in last week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Schunk helped lead the Bulldogs to a No. 4 National Seed in the NCAA Tournament and a final record of 46-17. He became the first Bulldog in nine years to capture the “Triple Crown,” leading the team with a .339 average, 15 home runs and 58 RBI. On the mound, he tallied 12 saves to go with a 1-2 record and a 2.49 ERA in 17 appearances. Earlier this week, Schunk was named a first team All-American as a utility player by Baseball America along with other multiple All-America and All-Region squads by various outlets. Additionally, Schunk is a Dean’s List student and a three-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He earned a spot on the 2019 SEC Community Service Team. Schunk signed a professional contract with the Rockies earlier this week.   “We are honored that Aaron has been selected as this year's John Olerud Award winner,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “It's a tremendous accomplishment for him and well-deserved. He's been an outstanding representative of the Georgia baseball program on and off the field throughout his career.”    The John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award is named for the former Washington State University standout who achieved success both as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher during the late 1980s and who was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. The College Baseball Foundation (CBF) will present Schunk the 2019 award later this year. The other finalists this year were Will Mattiessen (Stanford), Alec Burleson (East Carolina), Tristin English (Ga. Tech) and Davis Sharpe (Clemson).   Schunk is the first Bulldog to win the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. Previous winners of the award include Mike McGee (2010-FSU); Danny Hultzen (2011-Virginia), Brian Johnson (2012-Florida), Marco Gonzales (2013-Gonzaga), A.J. Reed (2014-Kentucky), Brendan McKay (2015-17-Louisville) and Brooks Wilson (2018-Stetson). For more information on the CBF’s John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, visit www.collegebaseballhall.org.
  • ATHENS — The Georgia football offense is loaded for 2019, from its experienced and vaunted front line, to a third-year starting quarterback in Jake Fromm and returning 1,000-yard rusher in D’Andre Swift. Sports illustrated is the latest to take note, listing Fromm and Swift among the Heisman Trophy favorites entering the 2019 season. Fromm was listed among four “Elite Quarterbacks on Elite Teams” along with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts. Swift, meanwhile, was in the “Workhouse Running Backs” group with 20 other backs. WATCH: Kirby Smart plans heavy usage for D’Andre Swift Fromm and Swift have been among the Heisman Trophy favorites throughout the offseason, with BetOnline.Ag installing them at 12-to-1 back in January. Fromm, Swift among early Heisman Trophy online betting favorites BetOnline.com kept Fromm and Swift’s Heisman Trophy odds at 12-to-1 in February, too. It appears spring drills did nothing to remove Fromm and Swift from the frontrunners for the award. Georgia coach Kirby Smart sounds ready to give new offensive coordinator James Coley some latitude to open up the offense this season. “People think balance means 50-50, (and) balance is not 50-50,” Smart said this spring. “Balance is being able to run the ball when you have to run the ball and being able to throw the ball when you have to throw the ball. So can you do both? Yes, you can be successful at both. “That might be 70-30 one game and then 30-70 the other way the next game.” The good news for Swift — and Fromm — is that Coley’s offense is expected to include plenty of throws to the backs. RELATED: James Coley expected to put his spin on Georgia offense Swift has proven an effective receiver as well as runner. Swift caught four passes or more in five games last season. In the last two games, Swift had more than four catches two TD reception. That bodes well for Fromm, as well. UGA lost four of its top five pass catchers from last season to the NFL draft. Fromm finished fifth in the nation in passing efficiency lat season, with Tagovailoa the only returning QB who was ranked higher. RELATED: Kirk Herbstreit says Georgia offense starts with Jake Fromm Fromm ranked only 42nd in the nation in passing yardage (2,749), but that was with Smart looking to play former Georgia QB Justin Fields as much as possible in relief. That’s not as likely to be the case in 2019, meaning the Bulldogs could put up single-season record offensive numbers, and place Fromm and Swift squarely in the Heisman Trophy race.   The post Why Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift are legit Heisman Trophy favorites appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Rankings are subjective, even so, it’s always interesting to ascertain how coaches and programs are judged from the outside. Take Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, for example. Smart, only 43 years old and entering this fourth year as the Bulldogs’ head coach, is already considered to be in rarified air by The Sporting News. Six-time national champion Nick Saban was ranked No. 1 among college coaches, while two-time national champ Dabo Swinney is at No. 2. Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher comes in at No. 3, and then there’s Smart at No. 4 with Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley No. 5. The rest of the top 10 includes Washington’s Chris Petersen at No. 6, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly at No. 7, Florida’s Dan Mullen at No. 8, Texas coach Tom Herman at No. 9 and Jim Harbaugh at No. 10. Smart will go head-to-head with Fisher for the first time this season when Texas A&M plays at Sanford Stadium on Nov. 23. Here’s the Top 10-ranked coaches by Sporting News analyst Bill Bender, and how they compare in age and record at current school: 1. Nick Saban (67), 141-20 (.881) 2. Dabo Swinney (49), 116-30 (.795) 3. Jimbo Fisher (53), 9-4 (.692) 4. Kirby Smart (43), 32-10 (.762) 5. Lincoln Riley (35), 24-4 (.857) 6. Chris Petersen (54), 47-21 (.691) 7. Brian Kelly (57), 60-34 (.638) 8. Dan Mullen (47), 10-3 (.769) 9. Tom Herman (44), 17-10 (.630) 10. Jim Harbaugh (55), 38-14 (.731) Other SEC Coaches, and where they are ranked: No. 15 Ed Orgeron (57), 25-9 (.735) No. 19 Gus Malzahn (53), 53-27 (.663) No. 33 Mark Stoops (51), 36-39 (.480) No. 36 Will Muschamp (47), 22-17 (.564) No. 37 Joe Moorhead (45), 8-5 (.615) No. 40 Barry Odom (42), 19-19 (.500) No. 53 Derek Mason (49), 24-38 (.387) No. 54 Jeremy Pruitt (45), 5-7 (.417) No. 62 Matt Luke (42), 11-13 (.458) No. 65 Chad Morris (50), 2-10   (.167)   The post Georgia’s Kirby Smart chasing two SEC coaches in Sporting News rankings appeared first on DawgNation.