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Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry covers the ripples in college football which createdthe trail for Devin Willock to sign with a true dream school: The Georgia Bulldogs.

The Devin Willock to Georgia story starts with a picture. It is a visual of a surgical scooter, Matt Luke and a nearly 6-foot-7 and 345-pound future bulldozer for his O-line.

Words will not do it justice.

Check out the picture below. The visual validates Willock ( sounds like WIL-LOCK) as the biggest (and likely first) official visitor to Georgia who was in need of a surgical scooter.


Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

He took his official visit on that scooter. When he said he had to roll out, he meant it.

It cannot be confirmed if the UGA staff played "Roll Out" by Ludarcis during his photo shoot.

"So I rolled around campus," Willock said.

Willock actually broke the first scooter he had. It buckled. Of course it did.Some called it a "knee wheeler" instead of a scooter.

"When the coaches at Georgia saw me rolling around on my visit, they said it was definitely different than anything they had experienced on a visit before," he said. "They were still in good spirits about it and said they were just glad that I made the trip and everything."

The 3-star prospect signed with Georgia in simpler times during the early period. He rated for the 2020 class as the nation's No. 70 offensive tackle and the No. 906 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite ratings.

There is some flexibility as to where he might eventually line up.

"I committed to be a Dawg," Willock said back in December. "Whether it is a guard or a tackle. Coach [Matt] Luke is a great guy. A real genuine guy that I know is going to coach me up well. He has great past success with his players and I'm just going to be another star in the making."

Where's the place to start here?

  • He's strong now. Willock went from scooter to walking boot to crutches to now full weight support drills. This all came about after two injuries which should have ended his senior season. He tried to play through it, though. The second malady came in the final minutes of his last game. Yet with that, he now feels it all happened for the best possible reason.
  • What about the Sam Pittman move? If Pittman doesn't bolt for Arkansas, then he's not a Georgia Bulldog signee in the 2020 class. It is just that simple.
  • It took more than that: It took Pittman leaving and longtime commit Joshua Braun deciding he didn't want to get to know Luke in record time. When Braun de-committed from UGA to stay close to home at Florida, it opened up a spot for Willock.
  • Willock loved UGA back during the summer. He had an offer, but it was not committable. What would've happened if he could commit back in June of 2019? "Well, then I'm pretty sure that you and I are having this conversation about me going to Georgia in June or July," Willock said in December. "And not right now right before the early signing period."
  • A beloved uncle actually lives in Gainesville. For those that wonder about other links to UGA from North Jersey, there was one here. It was the same uncle who helped him shape his varsity football career. It was the move to powerful Paramus Catholic. Georgia had been his "dream school" option for the last two years of high school. At least.
  • How is Georgia closer to New Jersey than Pennsylvania? That also played a part in his unique recruiting story.

Those are all worthy green lights which would keep this rolling along, but it makes a little more sense to learn where Willock comes from. Those elements led the one-time Penn State committo Georgia.


Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Devin Willock: Forged at Paramus Catholic

The short-term memory roll call of Paramus Catholic alumni is stout: There's a pair of NFL first-round picks in former Michigan Wolverines Rashan Gary and Jabrill Peppers.

The feeling up there is the South has an edge because they don't hold spring practices up there. There are also no junior colleges to develop those players which need just a bit more academically or athletically coming out of high school.

There are very few high schools in America which have had two former players picked in the first round in the NFL draft over the last five years.Paramus can.

That's where Willock comes from. The last few seasons might have been a struggle, but the Paladins are still sending players to the Boston Colleges and Michigans, among others.

"We've had good athletes here," Paramus Catholic head coach John Whitehead said. "We've had good players. Very good players. We have kids in the NFL but Devin doesn't take a back seat to any of those kids and we have kids starting right now in the NFL."

Willock transferred to Paramus in the summer before his junior year. He was pudgy. Still carried some baby fat. Yet he was plugged in to play both ways at defensive tackle and on the offensive line for Paramus.

He'd been in the program for only a year, but he was named a captain for the 2019 team. That was rare, but itwas deserved.

"Really good kid off the field," Whitehead said. "Very soft spoken. Very well mannered. Comes from a really good family. Both parents are very great people. Very personable. Quiet. Hard working."

Whitehead rolled off all the reasons why recruiters were interested in Willock. Aside from that massive frame and size 16 cleats. Paramus had a player who was almost as tall as Willock about 15 years ago. He went off to Florida State.

Willock has bigger everything: Calves. Feet. Frame. Hands. Legs. Shoulders. The Paladins run a lot. It meant that most of that baby fat melted away after his first year in the program.

Whitehead describes him as a tireless worker.

"Doesn't go to treatment," Whitehead said. "Doesn't go to the trainer. Doesn't miss practice. Doesn't miss a lift. Doesn't miss a run. Doesn't miss a film session. He's got everything."

"I wouldn't have one negative thing to say about the kid."

Willock's family is from both Antigua and Barbados. He is the youngest of three brothers. They all played high school football, but they didn't have the size he has.

"He's a laid back cat," Whitehead said. "Doesn't get into any trouble or craziness. Devin would rather sit on the porch and watch the traffic go by. Devin is like an old soul. He's an old soul. He's not a party guy. He's not into all of that. Very laid-back kid. Not going to go out and be skylarking at night. He's not like that."

Willock might be a homebody. But with good reason. He lost his older brother, Johnathan Willock, to a tragedy. It started with being out too late and a car accident.

"It was an accident with a drunk driver but the accident didn't kill him," Willock said. "It was the infections afterwards. He actually survived the accident, but it was infections from the accident which set in two or maybe three weeks after that."

He lost his older brother. Willock competes in his memory. He describes him as not being that big. He was 6 feet, 4 inches and 275 pounds. Most of us can only laugh at that statement.

But his oldest brother was probably the most athletic of the Willock brothers. He was 13 years older than Devin. That fateful accident happened 11 years age. He was just seven years old.

The Willocks believe that if you're home, then you are home. There's no going out to meet friends at the club after midnight. They keep their circle tight and don't follow the crowd.

His middle brother, Dave Willock Jr., has also helped him out a great deal with football. He did play in college at the Division II level.

"I want to make it for my family," Willock said. "For my family and the sacrifices they made for me. Even my brothers. The sacrifices that they have made for me is ridiculous. They put a lot of time into shaping me throughout this whole process. I'd be wrong to not try to ensure that it all pays off by doing my part."

You asked for it. We heard you. Our weekly live DawgNation "Before the Hedges" recruiting show is now up on Apple podcasts. Check it out.

Devin Willock: His greatest strength is his attitude

Whitehead said he feels Willock can be a left tackle at UGA. That will be very hard to do at Georgia. The Bulldogs signed three All-American tackles in his class who all rated higher than him on the rankings, but that's the type of program he's now a part of.

It will not deter him.His greatest strength? It has to be his attitude. When the Paladins did conditioning runs, he would always finish first or second among the linemen.

That's even though he had at least 30-40 pounds on everyone in that conditioning group.

"I've never had to worry about him," Whitehead said. "Ever. In class he has all AP and honors classes. Sometimes he goes for extra help and stuff. The teachers like him. He's been a gem."

"Devin is the last kid on the roster I would have to worry about. Don't have to worry about him at all. About anything."

That was until the game gave him something to worry about. That was the injury which led to that surgical scooter.

"It was originally a sprained ankle on my right foot," Willock said. "It happened a week before my actual real injury."

It was a bad sprain. The sort that forced him to play right guard in his last game. Not left tackle. He wasn't really fit to play and missed the team's first playoff game.

"I had to try to play our second playoff game," he said. "Just to give us a chance."

Willock estimated he was probably at 70-to-75 percent when he suited up. He couldn't push off that right ankle at all.

But he was that guy who never missed. Anything. He never missed any practice or workout time that week for treatment of that sprain. He only missed the last two minutes of his last game.

It was a fluke. An opposing player was trying to make a tackle. He missed. He struck Willock's ankle with the full force of his body.

"The next injury was a snapped fibula and a dislocated ankle on my left foot," Willock said. "It required an open reduction surgery."

When Willock describes it, he likens it to the procedure that Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa had performed on his ankle during the 2018 season.

"There are nine screws in it," Willock said. "Then there is a metal plate dow the side of my ankle holding it together."

Willock will always have those screws and that plate in his ankle.

"It definitely changed a lot of things," he said. "Like from the injury itself I learned you never know what can happen. You can't play the game thinking you are always going to be safe or injury-free. Accidents happen. You have to go out there every day every practice and every rep it has to be 100 percent. That's because you never know when it can be taken away from you."

He lost weight from 355 down to 333 with the injury and surgery and immobilization, but kept working his upper body. His torso changed. He was rebuilding it with muscle. His weight rose back up to 345 pounds.

"I don't know how long my recovery is supposed to be, but I think I'm ahead of schedule with how I'm feeling," he said back on February 22. "I expect it to feel stiff or my muscles to be stiff or still as I was progressing but I feel awesome."

When he looks at it all now, he feels like it will aid his career. He never trained the way he does now prior to that injury.

"During my PT coming back I realized how off and how bad my balance was," he said. "I realize there was so much I could work on with my training for my legs than just normal squats. If I really look at fundamental lifts and working on more core and my balance, it is definitely going to pay off. If I would have never had this injury, I would never have started to learn to focus on training different parts of my body."


Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

The road from Penn State to Georgia for Devin Willock

It makes sense to turn the clock back to second week of December in 2019.

It was a whirlwind for Willock.

The week began with him touting the fact he was set to take an official visit to Penn State. He committed to the Nittany Lions back on Sept. 1, 2019.

"When I flipped away from taking that visit to Penn State and taking that visit instead to Georgia, I went down there knowing that I was definitely committing," Willock said. "As soon as I made that phone call to coach [Kirby] Smart saying I was coming down for an official, I knew that I was committing during that time."

The timelines hit like Class V rapids here:

  • Sam Pittman was announced as the head coach at Arkansas on Dec. 9
  • Joshua Braun de-committed from Georgia on Dec. 11.
  • Willock de-committed from Penn State on Dec. 12 and took his official to UGA on Dec. 13.
  • The Paramus standout committed to UGA on Dec. 15 and signed with the program on Dec. 18.

"The first time I went down there I loved Georgia," Willock said of his two summer visits. "They were always my dream school, but they weren't quite sold on me. I was late for them basically. They had other guys they were looking at. I had to do the waiting game."

"I basically had gotten offered, but it wasn't really committable at the time. Penn State was always a great option there for me all the way to the process. I felt comfortable going up to them in July and stated to think about going there. I started to see myself there."

The opportunity came about. James Coley and Matt Luke worked fast there. They wanted to add him to the class with the departure of Braun.

Georgia was also preparing itself to lose up to four offensive linemen to the NFL. They didn't lose all four, but it worked out for the greater good especially after Cade Mays opted to transfer to SEC East rival Tennessee.

"One factor that worked in Georgia's favor was how well the program has done in getting bigger guys like me ready to play in the SEC and to be noticed by the NFL," Willock said. "Just how my body type fits. Georgia has done great developing Isaiah Wilson. Solomon Kindley was up there. I knew I could fit into a program that is used to taking bigger guys and molding them down to what they want them to be versus me going to a school that usually tends to get the leanest 300-pound guys. It was that versus a heavy run game school at Georgia that makes it go with bigger guys."

When the Georgia offer became committable, it gave the future civil engineer a lot to think about. Quickly. He termed it a "very hard decision to make" because of the relationships he had built with Penn State's staff and the 2020 recruiting class.


Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Quickgeography: Why UGA felt closer than College Station

He plays football for his family. Willock made a promise to his loved ones when he was in the sixth grade that they were not going to have to pay for his college education.

"Folks say I have this rare once-in-a-lifetime type size for the teams I played for growing up," he said. "But I didn't want to depend on my size. I wanted to put the same work in and then even more work. The same as any other Division One player is going to do."

"I have the size to be an NFL-caliber talent, but I am going to make sure the reason I make the NFL is my work ethic. Not my size."


Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Family was a big factor in his decision.

"What made the flip happen for real?" he said. "It was more of a family thing or a personal thing. Penn State has always been a great place. They've never done anything but right by me, but it wasn't comfortable for my whole family and that's a very big thing to me."

Willock said his father has vision issues. He suffers from glaucoma. He isn't supposed to be driving long distances. There were also potential issues with backroads and weather elements like snow.

"Penn State was not easily accessible because we had to drive there," Devin Willock said. "There are no flights. No easily accessible airports. So it was kind of like a hassle."

He estimates it was a four-hour trip to reach Penn State from his home in New Jersey. That's 237 miles and yet somehow it seemed easier to cover the 822 miles from Paramus to Athens.

"I have family down in Georgia and after you take the hour and a half flight down to Atlanta it is not really too much of a drive to get to the stadium and to get to campus," he said. "That factor there played a big role here in making this change."

The commute to UGA was about 90 minutes by air and another 90 minutes by car. Depending on the Atlanta rush hours. The Willocks also have family in Gainesville.

"The commute was even to me but to my family it was going to be better for them" Willock said. "Just like our personal situation. How do we get there? How do they get to visit me and stuff like that? I want to be able to reach my family when needed because I think of myself as a very home-based guy. I love to be around my family and my people."

Penn State was going to be harder for his family to reach him. There was that four-hour drive.

"That was in comparison to them taking an hour-and-a-half flight," he said. "Then driving and then staying with my family in Gainesville which is 45 minutes from campus and being able to visit me often."

Those family members in Gainesville are also big Georgia fans.

Willock feels he can be a guard or tackle at UGA. That means the skill set to shadow the speed rushers on the edge plus the power to hold back the big guys in the middle.

Warren McClendon and Xavier Truss hosted him on his official visit to UGA, but he wasn't quite as big as the 6-foot-7 Truss. He was right there with him.

He was planning to graduate on June 1 from Paramus and then report to UGA on June 2. That was before the COVID-19 outbreaks across our nation.

"Looking at it it was the best move I have ever made," Devin Willock said. "At first the original regret was that I lost all the relationships with the recruits I had bonded with from Penn State. But now I look at is as making this move opened up a door that I never expected to have. We definitely have the talent in our class to contend for a title within the next three or four years for sure. Who knows what can happen at Georgia even in the first two years?"

Check out his senior film below.

The post Devin Willock: His surgical scooter ride to becoming a Georgia Bulldog appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • Gov. Brian P. Kemp has announced his selection of Judge Carla Wong McMillian to serve on the Supreme Court of Georgia and Judges Verda M. Colvin and John A. “Trea” Pipkin III to serve on the Georgia Court of Appeals. Carla Wong McMillian currently serves as a judge for the Court of Appeals of Georgia. Prior to that role, she served as a judge for the State Court of Fayette County, associate and then partner with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, and as law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Judge McMillian earned her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. She and her family live in Tyrone. Judge McMillian will become the first Asian-American female in the Southeast to be appointed to the state’s highest court. Verda M. Colvin has served as Superior Court Judge of the Macon Judicial Circuit since April 2014. Previously, she served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Assistant District Attorney for the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, Assistant General Counsel for Clark Atlanta University, Assistant Solicitor for the Solicitor’s Office in Athens-Clarke County, and as an associate for Ferguson, Stein, Watt, Wallas, and Gresham, P.A. Judge Colvin received her bachelor’s degree from Sweet Briar College and law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. She and her family reside in Macon. Judge Colvin will become the state’s first African-American female appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals by a Republican governor. John A. “Trea” Pipkin III currently serves as Superior Court Judge and served as Solicitor-General in McDonough, Georgia. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Gordon State College. He previously served as Assistant District Attorney for the Flint Circuit District Attorney’s Office and as an adjunct professor of law at the Emory University School of Law. Judge Pipkin earned his associate’s degree from Reinhardt College, bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, and law degree from Georgia State University College of Law. He and his wife reside in McDonough.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Class will soon be in session for Jamie Newman and the rest of the Georgia quarterbacks with online football chalk talks approved to start at 1 p.m. on Monday. RELATED: SEC steps toward resuming football preparations Renowned quarterback trainer Quincy Avery predicts Newman will be a star pupil for the Bulldogs just as he was during the Avery's QB Takeover training sessions this past offseason. 'Jamie is one of the hardest working, detail-oriented guys you'll find,' Avery told DawgNation. 'Whatever his position coach gives him, he'll attack it. He wants to be great.' Avery knows greatness first hand having worked with such quarterbacks as Deshaun Watson, Josh Dobbs, Dwayne Haskins, Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields. New Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has experience with Air Raid and RPO-tinted offenses. Kirby Smart has indicated UGA will maintain a balanced Pro Style approach regardless of what elements are accented or sprinkled in. 'They will put a lot on Jamie's shoulders, because he's shown he can handle it,' Avery said, pointing to Newman's impressive production at Wake Forest last season. RELATED: Comparing Jamie Newman's production to Justin Fields last season 'Jamie will be able to read some stuff inside the numbers, and go pure progressions and develop in that way,' he said. 'Those are the things you've got to do to play on Sunday. He will be able to show all the things they need at quarterback.' The Georgia offensive playbook figures to be tapered down from last season. Three-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm was previously at the helm, making play calls at the line of scrimmage. That sort of QB autonomy required receivers making the same reads and adjustments, which didn't always happen with Fromm's less-experienced perimeter targets last season. The genius in this season's offense figures to be in the simplicity. It should enable more players to contribute quickly and facilitate sharper execution. RELATED: D'Wan Mathis continues brain surgery comeback home' in Athens That said, Avery believes Newman's experience makes him more valuable than ever compared with quarterbacks who have yet to compete at the collegiate level. 'Jamie understands how to be a Power 5 quarterback,' Avery said. 'He's been out there and done it in big-time situations. 'That's a different ball game, you can have some trust in a guy who has proven himself.' RELATED: Newman's former Wake Forest teammates weigh in on transfer The coronavirus pandemic has meant more limited preparation for all collegiate programs. Newman has stayed on top of his game this offseason by enrolling early at Georgia and going through offseason conditioning with the Bulldogs before his stints with Avery and back home working out. RELATED: Former Jamie Newman coach says Newman working to perfect his craft Once the teams are cleared to practice in groups there is no timetable at the time of this publication (March 30) Newman will be prepared to lead. 'Jamie has a presence that's clear and evident,' Avery said. 'He's always one of the most active guys around. He's very mature, so when he talks you listen. When he's there, he's doing everything you want.' DawgNation Jamie Newman stories Jamie Newman among Top 5 Heisman Trophy favorites Jamie Newman offseason training includes hometown visit How Georgia will look a lot like home to Jamie Newman ACC star says Jamie Newman will bring UGA different dynamic Future Georgia players weigh in on addition of Jamie Newman Jamie Newman much more than just a dual-threat Wake Forest players swear by Jamie Newman at NFL combine QB trainer: Jamie Newman fits new direction of Georgia offense Numbers game: How Jamie Newman compared to Jake Fromm Why Jamie Newman can adapt to any offensive system The post Head of the Class: Georgia QB Jamie Newman expected to excel quickly appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football didn't get a chance to start spring football drills in earnest, but the Bulldogs are moving up in the ranks in terms of perception. The latest example comes via the updated USA Today preseason Top 25, per Paul Myerberg last week. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 3 in the newest rankings, behind preseason No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Ohio State. This, after checking on at No. 11 in the first USA Today 'way-too-early college football Top 25' on Jan. 14. At that time, Georgia was seen as a program with 'enough unknowns to put the Bulldogs behind Florida in the race for the SEC,' per the January article. To be fair, there was some shock value to Jake Fromm announcing he was turning pro and Cade Mays announcing his intention to transfer less than a week before the initial early rankings. It's also important to note that, while Jamie Newman was on board as a graduate transfer quarterback, Todd Monken had not yet been hired as the new OC. RELATED: Jamie Newman, Georgia football stand tall per oddsmakers Those not following the program closely couldn't have the same sort of read on Georgia football as the passionate DawgNation fans and those who keep up with the program daily. Alabama, meanwhile, dropped from No. 2 in the early USA Today rankings to No. 5 in the latest one. Could losing Scott Cochran mean that much? REPORT: Nick Saban was riding (Scott) Cochran mercilessly' The Tide, like the Bulldogs, had yet to start spring drills when the coronavirus pandemic triggered a shutdown. USA Today's most recent breakdown of the Bulldogs states: 'Georgia takes a big step forward in the post-spring rankings after cementing its quarterback position with Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman. If replacing Jake Fromm's experience and reliability may be difficult, Newman's arm and athleticism should provide a different look to an offense run by a new coordinator in Todd Monken.' The offense will be a work in progress, though it's safe to assume much will run through the quarterback position with a heavier presence of RPO action in UGA's Pro-Style scheme. Kirby Smart has said he wants to maintain a degree of balance while seeking explosive elements. That comes down to players, and Georgia will have plenty to sort out at the skill position when practices resume. Still, it seems many are overlooking the biggest reason to have the Bulldogs projected as the top-ranked team: Defense. RELATED: Why Georgia best equipped in SEC to handle break Dan Lanning proved worthy of the internal promotion to defensive coordinator last season. UGA led the nation in scoring defense and run defense, and it also ranked No. 3 in total defense and No. 8 in pass efficiency defense. Nine of the 11 defensive starters from the Sugar Bowl team return. It's not a stretch to say Georgia should have the best defense in college football presuming the season starts as scheduled. Here's the updated USA Today preseason Top 25, reflecting how teams have gone up or down since the nation's largest newspaper released its version version; 1. Clemson (1) 2. Ohio State (3) 3. Georgia (11) 4. Oregon (6) 5. Alabama (2) 6. Oklahoma (5) 7. Florida (8) 8. Penn State (7) 9. LSU (4) 10. Notre Dame (9) 11. Michigan (12) 12. Auburn (13) 13. Texas A&M (19) 14. Iowa (10) 15. Texas (14) 16. Iowa State (21) 17. Cincinnati (16) 18. Wisconsin (18) 19. Oklahoma State (NR) 20. North Carolina (25) 21. Boise State (20) 22. Southern Cal (17) 23. Cal (23) 24. Washington (24) 25. Louisville (NR) Dropped out: Memphis (15), Baylor (22) Georgia football offseason reads WATCH: Monty Rice shows proof of 'invisible progress' at Georgia Why Scott Sinclair keys positive culture shift under Kirby Smart Georgia football odds on title run and Heisman Trophy winner J.R. Reed explains why UGA won't be 'No-name' defense much longer Georgia offense has areas where much to be determined The post Georgia football jumps 8 spots in USA Today preseason rankings appeared first on DawgNation.
  • DawgNation has four staffers who cover Georgia football from every angle: Beat, live streams, photos, podcasts, recruiting, etc. The 'Cover 4' concept is: 1) Present a topic; 2) Offer a reasoned response; 3) Share a brisk statement on that opinion. 4) Pepper the page with photos for the big picture. For this edition, we discuss what we still think the Georgia startingoffensive line will look like for the first game of 2020 against Virginia. DawgNation continues with the 'Cover 4' concept. The focus is always a timely look with each of our guys manning the secondary on a pertinent topic. The Cover 4 thought for today focuses on the offensive line. Here's a quick look at the turnover at that position for the Georgia program. OUT: Line coach Sam Pittman (HC: Arkansas); LT Andrew Thomas (NFL); LG Solomon Kindley (NFL); RT Isaiah Wilson (NFL); G/T Cade Mays (Transfer to Tennessee); G/T D'Marcus Hayes (graduation) IN: Line coach Matt Luke: 5-star OT Broderick Jones; 4-star OT Tate Ratledge; 4-star C Sedrick Van Pran-Granger; 4-star OL Chad Lindberg; 3-star OT Devin Willock; 3-star OT Austin Blaske; 3-star OT Devin Willock; 3-star OG/C Cameron Kinnie That's pretty considerable, huh? We just though we'd make it a wild and crazy Sunday. The aim here was to try to predict what the starting line might look like for the eventual 2020 opener against Virginia. No degree of difficulty there, right? Especially with the cloud of no spring practice looming over that competition. The quick in-and-out game remains. The Cover 4 is designed to come out as quick as everyone is trying to maintain their social distancing these days. What will theeventual Georgia starting O-line look like against Virgina? Brandon Adams: LT: Broderick Jones; LG: Justin Shaffer; C: Trey Hill RG; Ben Cleveland; RT: Jamaree Salyer The 'why' from 'DawgNation Daily' here: 'A healthy Shaffer gets the nod at left guard because he was in line for playing time prior to his neck injury. Hill at center is the only true given, but Salyer is definitely starting somewhere. However, the critical spot is left tackle. Jones faces an uphill climb in becoming a freshman starter, but his competition is also inexperienced.' Mike Griffith: LT: Xavier Truss; LG: Justin Shaffer; C: Trey Hill RG; Ben Cleveland; RT: Jamaree Salyer The 'why' from 'On the Beat' here: 'This is the area Kirby Smart is most concerned about, and he'll say it. There will be discussion about different players lining up in different places, and injury updates . ' Connor Riley: LT: Xavier Truss; LG: Justin Shaffer; C: Trey Hill RG; Ben Cleveland; RT: Jamaree Salyer The 'why' from 'Good Day UGA' here: ' It wouldn't surprise me to see Warren Ericson slide into one of the guard spots or possibly center if Hill wanted to move to guard. I do think Salyer played well at the right tackle spot and think he's got the athletic gifts to play and do well there in college .' Jeff Sentell: LT: Jamaree Salyer; LG: Justin Shaffer; C: Trey Hill; RG: Ben Cleveland; RT: Broderick Jones The Intel here: 'There was nothing off with Sayler. Georgia just had NFL talent with a year of progression in the program lined up ahead of him. Look for Salyer to stabilize the UGA line at one of the two tackle spots. He blocked the 5-star edge guys at elite prospect camps in high school. He could do it then and can definitely do it now. No spring practice might still allow an uncommon freshman like Jones or Sedrick Van Pran-Granger the chance to earn early time. The veterans will now pivot to Luke and Todd Monken's system at the same time with all of the new guys. That is hard to do in the SEC but guys like Jones, Van Pran-Granger and Tate Ratledge can be special. If Van Pran-Granger is ready, there could be a position flex for Hill in order to put the best five guys up front. ' The post Georgia football: What might the starting offensive line look like versus Virginia? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Like many of you, I have watched repeats of various SEC football games from recent years over the past couple of weeks, what with spring sports sidelined by the pandemic. In fact, I've even having resorted sampling a couple of Wake Forest games on the ACC Network to get a look at transfer quarterback Jamie Newman. Even though it's mostly repeats and old documentaries on the SEC Network and its ESPN parent right now, I've still been struck by how spoiled today's UGA fans are when it comes to seeing the Dawgs on television. Those of us following the Bulldogs in the 1960s, '70s and even the early '80s can remember when getting to see Georgia play on TV was a big deal, something that didn't happen all that often. Nowadays, all of the Dawgs' games are televised, even the cupcakes, but, through the '90s and even into the early 2000s, that wasn't the case. Still, the last time less than half the Bulldogs' schedule was televised was 1993, when we got to see only five games. And five games seemed a lot at the time. Incredibly, during the national championship season of 1980, Herschel Walker and the Dawgs were on TV only three times: the South Carolina matchup with George Rogers, the Florida game, and the Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame. No wonder Larry Munson's radio broadcasts were so important to us. Actually, I clearly can recall the very first time UGA was seen playing football on TV. It was New Year's Day, 1960, and Wally Butts' Bulldogs, led by QB Fran Tarkenton, were set to play Missouri in the Orange Bowl. I awoke that morning with both sides of my face ballooned out with a terrible case of the mumps, but my 7-year-old self was determined not to miss the game! Thankfully, Mom allowed it, propping me up with pillows to see Georgia take a 14-0 win. The next time the Dawgs were on TV was the following fall, when Georgia's 21-6 loss to Alabama in Birmingham became the first regular-season Georgia football game to be televised and, in fact, the first college football game ever televised by ABC Sports. The Bulldogs weren't on the tube again until Vince Dooley wound up his first season at the helm, with 7-0 win over Texas Tech in the Sun Bowl. The fact that Georgia rarely appeared on TV in those days wasn't unusual. Back then, the game of the week was literally the game of the week! I remember what a major event it was when ABC came to Athens to televise the 1965 season opener against national champion Alabama. There's no doubt that the Dawgs' flea-flicker upset win being televised to the entire nation was a big leg up for Dooley in returning the Georgia program to national relevance. I was in 8 th grade at the time, and attended the game with my Dad, so I didn't see the telecast, but 12-year-old Darrell Huckaby watched it on TV at his home. After the Dawgs won, he ran out his back door and turned down the alley toward the house where future Bulldogs player Craig Hertwig lived. 'We leaped into one another's arms, like in one of those old movies,' he recalled. Beginning in the late 1960s, and lasting until the mid-70s, Georgia usually only had two or three regular-season games on TV each year. An eye-opener for many younger fans is that the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, now an automatic addition to the CBS schedule, wasn't televised at all until ABC gave it a regional slot (as opposed to national) in 1967. It would be another 20 years before the clash between the Dawgs and Gators started being televised every year. A little-remembered Dawgs TV footnote is that, in 1981-82, Georgia's games were taped for delayed replay Sunday nights on Channel 5 and Monday nights on cable's USA Network. Longtime Atlanta sportscaster (and UGA grad) Bill Hartman called those games, with folks like Lewis Grizzard, Buck Belue and longtime high school coach Butch Clifton doing the color. 'It was all about Herschel,' Hartman told me this week. 'Once he left Georgia, the production stopped.' Things started looking up in 1984, when Ted Turner's SuperStation signed an SEC football deal. That year, half a dozen Georgia games were televised, and that was about par for the course through the rest of the '80s. We gradually started seeing more games televised as CBS, ABC and Turner were joined by Fox, the nascent ESPN (which showed its first UGA game in 1984) and various regional syndicators like Jefferson-Pilot/Raycom. Local Atlanta stations even televised games occasionally. There also were a few cupcake games shown on pay-per-view. That included one game in 2004, the first season that all of Georgia's games were on TV in one way or another. An ESPN syndication package, originally called the SEC Network (later SEC TV), joined the fray in 2009, and all of Georgia's football games have been televised nationally or regionally ever since then. SEC TV was replaced in 2014 by today's 24-hour SEC Network. Looking back over 60 years of Bulldogs football on television, many high points come to mind. Asked to name their favorite Georgia game on TV, a lot of fans automatically say the 1981 Sugar Bowl against the Fighting Irish. Frankly, I think viewers who weren't fans of either school probably found that 17-10 Georgia win a bit of a snore. My longtime friend Ben Anderson conceded that it was 'not the most dramatic of games with a lot of twists and turns,' but he made the valid point that it still 'was a national title game with a one-possession final score.' The other great TV game that quickly comes to mind is the thrilling double-overtime 2018 Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma. Many believe that one is Georgia's greatest game ever and its back-and-forth nature made it great television, too. Another fan favorite is the 1971 Thanksgiving night comeback win over Georgia Tech engineered by Athens' Andy Johnson, televised nationally by ABC. A much less remembered game, treasured by Jeff Dantzler of the Bulldogs radio network as an 'underrated doozy,' is Georgia's 1982 visit to Starkvegas for a 29-22 win over Mississippi State. 'Herschel was tremendous,' recalled Dantzler, who watched the regional CBS telecast as a boy from his home in Statesboro. Another TV game that stands out in the memories of fans who came of age in the '90s is No. 12-ranked Georgia's 28-27 upset of 6 th -ranked LSU in Baton Rouge in 1998. The Dawgs' freshman quarterback, Quincy Carter, had a great night, completing 27 of 34 passes for 318 yards, catching a pass for 36 yards and rushing for 41 more. Three-way player Champ Bailey, who was in for 96 of the game's plays, caught 7 passes for 114 yards, and fellow defensive back Kirby Smart had a team-high 12 tackles. Clinging to a 1-point lead, the Dawgs' final, clock-killing drive of the fourth quarter, highlighted by a key third-down reception by Bailey, was gripping viewing. And, certainly a TV classic was the New Year's Day 2000 Outback Bowl, billed as 'the first sporting event of the millennium,' which saw Carter lead the Dawgs in an amazing comeback against the Purdue Boilermakers, who had future NFL star Drew Brees at QB. Brees set or tied six Outback Bowl records in the game, including passing for 378 yards, and, early in the second quarter, Purdue had a 25-0 lead over Jim Donnan's Dawgs. Things looked bleak. Terrence Edwards finally put the Dawgs on the scoreboard with a 74-yard scoring run, and it was all Georgia from that point on, with an 8-yard Carter-to- Randy McMichael TD pass tying the game with 1:19 remaining. After the Boilermakers missed a field goal in overtime, Georgia placekicker Hap Hines made a 21-yard kick for the win. At the time, it was the largest comeback in bowl history. Now, that's great television. When ESPN televised Georgia's visit to Tuscaloosa in 2007, I watched it on a big-screen TV with my two brothers, my daughter and one of my nieces. We wanted to hear how the Scott Howard-Eric Zeier broadcast team did in their debut without Munson, so we muted the sound on the TV and instead listened to the Bulldogs radio broadcast while watching. The last time previously where all three King brothers had watched Georgia on TV together was the 1999 game against Tech, an overtime affair that didn't turn out well. So, when this one also went to overtime, we were more than a bit nervous. Thank goodness, Matthew Stafford and Mikey Henderson were as cool as could be, though. After Bama kicked a field goal in OT, Stafford threw a perfect strike to Henderson for the one-and-done winning score. That's the last time the Dawgs have beaten the Tide to date. Another fan favorite from the 2007 season is the 42-30 win over Florida that saw most of the Georgia team celebrating the Dawgs' first score by dancing in the end zone. There was a lot more to the game, of course, with Knowshon Moreno running for 188 yards and 3 TDs, and the Dawgs defense sacking Gators QB Tim Tebow 6 times. But the 'Gator Stomp' is what fans remember most. Other fan TV favorites include the 1996 win over Auburn (Georgia was terrible in the first half, but the second half and four overtimes were great viewing); and the 2007 Auburn 'Blackout' game, with CBS' Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson dancing along to Soulja Boy in the booth. However, the most frequently mentioned choice as the greatest Bulldogs TV game is known by two words: 'Run, Lindsay.' The 1980 Jacksonville clash saw the Dawgs trailing 21-20 in the fourth quarter, facing third-and-long at their own 7-yard line. Backed up in his own end zone, quarterback Buck Belue found receiver Lindsay Scott at the 25-yard line. Urged on by Munson on the radio, Scott scored the game-winning touchdown. That game was playing on TV during Clint Ard's 21 st birthday party, and, he said, when Scott scored, 'my whole family exploded with joy. It was one of the greatest birthday presents I've ever received!' Jason Hasty, now the sports archivist at UGA's Hargrett Library, was just 5 years old at the time, but his favorite memory of watching the Dawgs on TV is looking up from playing with his toys to see his quiet church secretary mother on her feet as Munson shouted 'Run, Lindsay!' on the radio. Hasty still prefers a radio soundtrack for TV games. 'When I'm not in Sanford Stadium, the TV will be on with the sound turned down and the radio broadcast turned up,' he said. Mark Symms, meanwhile, was a UGA student watching that Florida game at the Alpha Gamma Rho house in Athens. After Scott's touchdown, Symms said, he and his drunken fraternity brothers ran out the front door and straight into Milledge Avenue, bringing traffic to a complete halt as they jumped up and down, screaming. A police officer, who had no idea what they were celebrating, got them out of the street and wrote Symms a ticket for 'rioting.' The brothers continued their celebration safely on the sidewalk for a few more minutes, when the cop suddenly returned. 'I am really in trouble,' Symms thought, but the officer grabbed the ticket and tore it up. 'He glared at me again, then winked. He had heard the news. He walks back to the car and says, Stay out of the damn streets. Go Dawgs!' As Symms put it: 'Greatest UGA TV game ever.' The post Dawgs on TV have produced some great memories for fans through the years appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis was back in his home state of Michigan over spring break when the coronavirus pandemic began to take effect. Some of the Bulldogs' players would end up staying home when UGA suspended and then canceled face-to-face spring semester classes. But not Mathis. 'D'Wan came back on spring break and told me he loves where he is from, but that he needed to go back to Georgia,' Terence Mathis told DawgNation on Friday. 'He said, Daddy, I love you, but I'm leaving.' 'For us, we're just happy he was granted the exemption to stay near campus where they have the best doctors in the world keeping up with him.' The former Ohio State quarterback commit from metro Detroit has had a challenging rehabilitation period after an emergency brain surgery procedure last May 23 put him in the ICU unit at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. 'I want the public to know this, please write this: Georgia could have given up on my son,' Terence Mathis said. 'But instead, Kirby and his staff have treated D'Wan as though he was their own son. They've used every possible resource to stay behind him and keep him engaged with the team after saving his life.' RELATED: Georgia saved my son's life, medical director Ron Courson praised Indeed, Coach Kirby Smart made it clear last May that Georgia would not rush Mathis' comeback, and they planned for a complete recovery. 'We are expecting a full recovery, and the timeline is the least of our concerns,' Smart said at SEC spring meetings. Mathis' comeback has come in stages. He was cleared to run and lift last July. By the start of the 2019 season, he was participating in limited drill work. By last November, Mathis running the scout team offense and playing with such passion that coaches and doctors had to reel him in and remind him to use some restraint. Mathis was cleared to go through spring football drills, though it's important to note he's not yet been cleared for game action. There's an MRI test scheduled for May that could provided the all-important clearance for total contact (UGA doesn't tackle its quarterbacks in spring drills). More good news came on Friday, when the SEC added some provisions for coaches to instruct players. Mathis, along with fellow Georgia football quarterbacks Jamie Newman, Caron Beck and Stetson Bennett, has the benefit of chalk talks starting at 1 p.m. next Monday. RELATED: SEC moves toward resuming football preparations Terence Mathis maintains the football will take care of itself. He said the most important thing to the Mathis family is how D'Wan has been accepted into the Georgia football community. 'I'm indebted to Georgia, they have extended this incredible opportunity to D'Wan,' Terence Mathis said. 'Especially during these tough times, and you know it's bad up here in Michigan. 'It means everything to us as a family for him to now have the opportunity to be involved with the football planning while still pursuing academics. 'Coach (Todd) Monken has reached out to me and let me know that D'Wan is having positive progress.' Mathis' upside was obvious to all who watched last year's G-Day Game. The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards and provided one of the biggest highlights of the Georgia football spring game. Mathis, who ran a 10.8-second time in the 100 meters in high school, showed his speed when he caught a double-reverse pass from Matt Landers for a 39-yard touchdown. TRICK PLAY ALERT #GDay #GoDawgs Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) April 21, 2019 'D'Wan, he's explosive,' Jake Fromm said of his former understudy. 'I think he converted three or four first downs in a row with his legs. 'The guy can run the ball, he can throw it 70 yards, he's going to be a great player.' The strong performances in spring drills kept Mathis going during the dog days of last summer and into the season. But there were also frustrating times when D'Wan Maths didn't know what to do without football, unable to travel to away games. That's when Georgia came up biggest, according to his father. 'As frustrated as he got, the more they wrapped their arms around him,' Terence Mathis said. 'Those coaches could have said they were too busy trying to win the SEC East again and play for another league title. But they didn't say that. 'They believed in D'Wan, and they have stayed behind him, and the DawgNation fans have stayed behind him, too.' There is no timetable for college football to return at the time of this publication (March 28). The coronavirus has put all group activities around the world on hold. But Terence Mathis said his son will remain in Athens. 'That's what he considers his home now,' he said, 'and it's where we believe he belongs.' DawgNation D'Wan Mathis stories Mind Game: D'Wan Mathis ready to compete for starting job Mathis tipped by social media Ohio State misled him on Justin Fields D'Wan Mathis recovering after emergency brain cyst surgery Jake Fromm shares observations of D'Wan Mathis The post Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis continuing comeback home' in Athens, granted exemption appeared first on DawgNation.