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Georgia football’s high-priced recruiting part of ‘return on investment’

Georgia football’s high-priced recruiting part of ‘return on investment’

Georgia football’s high-priced recruiting part of ‘return on investment’

Georgia football’s high-priced recruiting part of ‘return on investment’

ATHENS What does it take to sign the nation's top recruiting class? A lot of money, to start with.

That's one lesson learned from the Georgia Bulldogs, who in February closed on their second No. 1-ranked football recruiting class in the last three years. UGA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on chartered air travel just to get in front of some of the top prospects in America, many of whom resided far away from Georgia.

In a 13-day period that bracketed Georgia's appearance in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 7, the Bulldogs spent $422,047.07 on 42 trips by chartered air planes for coach Kirby Smart and members of his staff. Those flights landed in 23 different cities outside of Georgia's borders, some as far away as Van Nuys, Calif., and Ontario, Canada.

Those are just a few of the revelations discovered when UGA released this week travel documents requested by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January. According to those records, Georgia football coaches boarded chartered flights at least 74 times between September and mid-December of last year. On average, the UGA Athletic Association paid $9,409 for those trips, not including coaches' personal expenses. The total: $696,269.99

About this, the Bulldogs offer no apology.

"You want a return on your investment, right?" said Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, referencing to the recruiting class's No. 1 rank. "This is just part of what we do to help Kirby get the job done at UGA. (Recruiting travel is) one of many segments that are important to facilitating our program. It illustrates our commitment to Kirby to achieve our mutual goals."

Indeed, Georgia signed players from all over the U.S. Of the 25 players the Bulldogs inked, 16 of them came from outside the state. Some of them came from wayoutside.

Georgia signed two players from California, one from Nevada and another from Arizona. The Bulldogs also landed players from Maryland and New Jersey. They signed three recruits out of Louisiana and four from Florida. And these weren't just any players. In many cases they were the best prospect at their position in their respective states.

The Bulldogs' flight records indicate they would've taken even more out-of-staters if they could have gotten them. Georgia coaches made several trips to Ontario, Detroit and Kansas City in an effort to sign blue-chip recruits from each of those areas. Alas, even the indefatigable Smart can't sign every prospect he targets.

The financial support hasn't gone unnoticed. Smart made a point to thank UGA's athletic administration, as well as the school's faculty, his own assistants and Georgia football support staff, for their efforts after closing on the 2020 class.

"This really goes back to sacrifices that everybody made to give their time," Smart said. "It really takes a team effort when you have kids coming from Texas and California and all over the country. People have to sacrifice their time to give you an opportunity to sign players like this."

Time and money.

Sometimes Georgia's coaches flew on jets, such as the ones UGA hired from Georgia Jet, Inc., for $28,300 over two days in September. Other times they were on twin-prop airplanes, which come a little cheaper.

The most expensive flight logged was $27,153.50 for a trip from Athens' Ben Epps Airport to McCarren International in Las Vegas on Dec. 8. Darnell Washington, the nation's No. 2-rated tight end, lives in Las Vegas. That same day, UGA coaches also flew from Vegas to Van Nuys, Calif. Van Nuys is 15 minutes from Calabasas, where 4-star wide receiver Jermaine Burton resides.

Both Washington and Burton signed with the Bulldogs 10 days later.

That was the Sunday after Georgia lost to LSU 31-10 in the SEC Championship game. The Bulldogs rang up quite a bill in the days immediately after that contest.

That Monday, Georgia coaches were on planes traveling from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport to Love Field in Dallas, then on to Ontario. The Bulldogs were recruiting several prospects in the Dallas area of Texas, including 4-star cornerback Jalen Kimber, who signed with UGA. In Ontario, they were after top-ranked tight end Theo Johnson, who ended up signing with Penn State. UGA was charged $42,334.62 for those two sojourns.

The next day, a flight took UGA coaches from Phoenix, not far from where the nation's No. 1-ranked cornerback Kelee Ringo resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., to Kansas City, Mo., where the Bulldogs were recruiting No. 3-ranked cornerback Dontae Manning. The former signed with Georgia. The latter inked at Oregon.

UGA coaches probably flew to Houston, Texas, more than anywhere else. Records show they were at airports in that city at least four times. Zachary Evans, the No. 2-rated running back in the country, lives in Houston. He signed with Georgia in December, but then the Bulldogs released Evans from his letter-of-intent in January. That's a long story for another day.

In short, the AJC's request for charter air expenses for football recruiting in Fiscal Year 2019-20 was filed on Jan. 30. All of the flight information UGA provided was for trips that occurred on or before Dec. 13.

The early signing date for college football was Dec. 18 and the final signing date for the 2020 football recruiting classes was Feb. 5.

UGA coaches certainly made many other sorties between Jan. 17 and Feb. 1 when the NCAA's recruiting calendar allows in-person, off-campus contact with recruits. But those records weren't made available because McGarity said expense reports for any of those trips were processed after the AJC's Jan. 30 request.

The state of Georgia's open-record law was changed in 2016 to give athletic departments 90 days to respond to requests for anything other than employment actions and salary adjustments. Smart and McGarity were consulted about the prospective change before it was voted on in April of 2016.

The AJC also requested expenses for helicopter travel. Smart is known for renting choppers to help him get around Atlanta's notorious traffic during recruiting evaluation periods. UGA reported six instances in which it rented from Helicopter Express at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport. Those excursions, limited to Athens and Atlanta, totaled $55,900. Again, the last flight reported occurred on Jan. 30.

McGarity insists it's money well spent.

"It's respectful of the coaches' time," he said. "Recruiting is critical. If you're trying to fly commercially, you're probably not going to be able to go see people in consecutive places on the same day or consecutive days. As our results show, we recruited a lot more (prospects) out of state this year. Our guys were all over the place."

Indeed they were. Georgia's cross-continental romps explain its ascent from middle of the SEC to top of the nation in football recruiting expenditures. According to a survey by USA Today, the Bulldogs' $3.7 million outlay for football recruiting in Fiscal Year 2019 was the most in the nation. That topped rival Alabama by $250,000 and represented a $1 million jump for UGA over the previous year.

It remains to be seen if that number will be even higher for Fiscal Year 2020, which ends June 30. It certainly was trending that way when all in-person, off-campus contact concluded on Feb. 1. Then Georgia, like all NCAA programs, had to shut down on-campus recruiting and off-campus evaluations in March, April and May due to health and safety restrictions created by the coronavirus pandemic.

McGarity said UGA's place atop recruiting expenditure charts is more a function of accounting than lavish travel practices. He said the fact that UGA no longer operates its own plane inflates the figures.

Many of the SEC's schools have their own planes. The University of Georgia used to own a King Air twin-engine, turbo-prop plane that was available for athletic department use, but sold it in 2018 for $1.4 million.

Between that decision and Smart's penchant for recruiting the best players all over the country, UGA Athletics' line item for travel has swelled ever since. It had $2.96 million budgeted for recruiting and coaches' travel for Fiscal Year 2020, up from $2.26 million the previous year.

"That's been my point," said McGarity, who was deputy AD at Florida before becoming Georgia's AD in 2010. "Different athletic departments account for it different ways. At Florida, the respective sports were charged only for the statute miles traveled or hourly expenses. That doesn't reflect the cost of the airplane, pilots' salaries, maintenance on the aircraft, insurance or anything like that. All of that was in the aviation budget. So it's not really apples to apples."

McGarity said the prospect of buying another plane was going to be a "topic of discussion" at the next athletic board meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for June 4 at Lake Oconee. But he expects it will be shelved due to current global circumstances.

"We're constantly evaluating if we want to get back in the aviation business," McGarity said. "We've had to delay that decision until a later date when we get more clarity on the virus. To go out and make a purchase like that right now probably wouldn't be a wise decision."

If nothing else, Smart has proven he knows what do with an airplane.


In a sampling of records requested by the AJC, in the 13 days from Dec. 1-13, before and after the SEC Championship game on Dec. 7, Georgia officials made 42 airplane flights for recruiting visits. The cost of just those trips totaled $422,047.07.


Dec. 1/Detroit to Athens/$13,701.30

Dec. 1/Lakeland, FL to Athens/$8,706.22

Dec. 1/Kansas City, MO to Athens/$8,702.02

Dec. 4/Athens to Orlando/$7,628.12

Dec. 4/Orlando to Athens/$7,628.12

Dec. 5/Athens to Columbia, SC/$4,633.92

Dec. 5/Columbia, SC to Athens/$4,633.92

Dec. 8/Athens to Sarasota, FL/$9,148.05

Dec. 8/Athens to Las Vegas/$27,153.50

Dec. 8/Las Vegas to Van Nuys, CA/$6,323.46

Dec. 8/New Orleans-Houston/$9,262.76

Dec. 8/Athens to Orlando/$7,391.60

Dec. 9/Van Nuys, CA to Ontario/$8,065.52

Dec. 9/Ontario to Fresno, CA/$8,065.52

Dec. 9/Fresno, CA to Las Vegas/$8,871.23

Dec. 9/Las Vegas to Phoenix/$8,061.32

Dec. 9/Sarasota, FL to Athens/$8,534.45

Dec. 9/Arlington, TX to Phoenix/$16,763.70

Dec. 9/DeKalb to Dallas/$21,167.31

Dec. 9/Dallas to Ontario/$21,167.31

Dec. 10/Phoenix to Kansas City, MO/$20,155.41

Dec. 10/Kansas City, MO to Athens/$15,316.93

Dec. 10/Memphis to Houston/$9,795.30

Dec. 10/Houston to Athens/$11,074.60

Dec. 11/Floyd County, GA to Lakeland, FL/$11,284.17

Dec. 11/Lakeland, FL to Floyd County, GA/$12,089.88

Dec. 11/Floyd County, GA to Athens/$8,061.32

Dec. 11/Jacksonville to Lakeland, FL/$4,491.78

Dec. 11/Lakeland, FL to Fort Lauderdale, FL/$4,495.98

Dec. 11/Middle Georgia to Floyd County, GA/$11,074.60

Dec. 11/Floyd County, GA to Teterboro, NJ/$11,078.80

Dec. 12/Athens to New Orleans/$12,895.60

Dec. 12/New Orleans to Columbia, SC/$12,895.60

Dec. 12/Columbia, SC to Athens/$8,065.52

Dec. 12/Teterboro, NJ to Washington, DC/$11,074.60

Dec. 12/Washington, DC to New Orleans/$11,074.60

Dec. 12/Colquitt County, GA to LaGrange, GA/$4,083.82

Dec. 12/New Orleans to Jacksonville/$7,763.88

Dec. 13/Jacksonville to Athens/$6,171.37

Dec. 13/Jacksonville to Houston County, GA/$4,681.32

Dec. 13/Houston County, GA to Dodge County, GA/$4,406.32

Dec. 13/Dodge County, GA to Athens/$4,406.32

This story first appeared on AJC.com

The post Georgia football's high-priced recruiting part of return on investment' appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • The Hall County Sheriff’s Office says there have now been four arrests after a fight that led to multiple stabbings at a park in Hall County. Investigators say none of the injuries were life-threatening.  There are drug and weapons charges for two men arrested in Habersham County: the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office says 22 year-old Jonathan Norton and 28 year-old Cody Bennett were caught trafficking in methamphetamine. They were booked into the Habersham County jail.  The GBI is investigating in Dawsonville after an inmate is found dead in the Dawson County jail. The investigation continues in Chatsworth, where an 11 year-old girl was killed, apparently mauled to death by dogs. 
  • Cole Wilcox was off to one heck of a start to his sophomore season at Georgia. After an abrupt end, the right-handed pitcher may have played his final collegiate game, the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Major League Baseball draft approaches. Well, Wilcox may have played in last game for the Bulldogs. Such is life in these days. After he went 3-0 record with a 1.57 ERA, Georgia’s season was canceled after 18 games. Wilcox had struck out 32 and walked only two over 33 innings. There were high hopes for Georgia to return to the College World Series. Now, the focus must be on the draft. The MLB draft will be held June 10-11 and will be limited to five rounds, down from 40. That is where the uncertainty comes in for Wilcox, who is projected to be a late first-round pick. He has not committed to turning professional. “I don’t know yet,” Wilcox said Tuesday in a video conference call with reporters. “That is something that I probably won’t know until after the draft is over because that’s how it works, teams keep their business to themselves. It’s kind of a guessing game. Whatever happens, happens. I look at it as a win-win. “Obviously I love the university for the two years I was there, two of the best years of my life, not only with baseball but my experience and growth as a person. And then on the other side of it, you have something that is going to fulfill a lifelong dream. Either way, I look at it as a win-win, for sure.” The draft begins Wednesday of next week with the first round, 37 picks in total. Rounds 2-5 will be held the next day, with a total of 160 players being selected. Wilcox is rated No. 23 in the MLB prospect rankings. It’s likely the Wilcox will be drafted early, along with teammate right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock, rated No. 4. Georgia was 14-4 before the season ended. Among Wilcox’s victory was a shutout of Georgia Tech on Feb. 29, when the 6-foot-5 pitcher threw seven innings and allowed three hits while striking out 11 and walking none. “I got off to a good start, and I feel like I was just starting to scratch the surface,” Wilcox said.  In two seasons at Georgia, Wilcox went 6-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 23 appearances. He struck out 96 and walked 40 for his career and was an All-SEC selection as a freshman. If Wilcox is to move on, he will leave memories, some of the best of his young life, behind. “It affected all of us, in I feel like, the same way,” Wilcox said of the shortened season. “We knew we had a special team, a special group. We had good bonds throughout the whole team, and that’s what was so special about it. The season ending like that cuts out two and half months of memories out of your life, really, that you could be out there playing with your teammates, traveling on the road, going to different places.  “Looking back at last year, that was something that were the best memories of my life, traveling to Mississippi State, going to Hoover (Ala.) for the SEC Tournament. Stuff like that is just tough, and you are really going to miss, and you know that you’ll never play with those guys again.” This would be the second time Wilcox has been drafted. Coming out of high school in Chickamauga, he made his intentions known that he intended to play college baseball. Still, Washington selected him in the 37th round. Wilcox said it will help this time around knowing what to expect. Wilcox said he has been in contact with several major league teams. He remained in Athens for much of the hiatus, working out at an available gym. He has kept a throwing regimen not throwing off a mound but ready to ramp up if and when the time is right. When and where is still to be determined.
  • Five members of the OLLI@UGA program were recognized for outstanding service and contributions at the organization’s annual meeting May 28. Recipients of the Carol Fisher Award, OLLI’s highest honor, are Lee Albright, Andy Horne and Penny Oldfather. The President’s Award, which recognizes special projects benefitting OLLI, was presented to Peter Balsamo and John Muthe.  The awards were presented by Chris Jones, whose term as OLLI president ends June 30. Jones announced the recipients in the OLLI annual meeting held via Zoom due to coronavirus restrictions. The Fisher Award is named for a deceased former professor in the University of Georgia’s Mary Francis Early College of Education who was instrumental in starting the Learning in Retirement program, which evolved into OLLI@UGA. The award recognizes outstanding service over a long period of time.   Albright was OLLI president in 2016-17 and served on numerous committees including the search committee that selected the current OLLI executive director. As chair of the Hospitality Committee she led planning for many social events, the annual meeting, the OLLI Fair and the New Member Orientation. She represented OLLI at several national and regional meetings of lifelong learning organizations.  Horne, retired former dean of the education college, was instrumental in transitioning the Learning in Retirement program into the national OLLI network founded by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He was vice president of the OLLI Board of Directors, a member of three Nominating Committees, and as co-chair of the Curriculum Committee helped arrange dozens of classes.  Oldfather served six years on the Curriculum Committee, recruiting instructors for hundreds of classes and advocating for greater diversity in class offerings. A retired professor in the College of Education, she is beginning her second term on the Board of Directors and is co-chair of the committee that arranges luncheon programs.    Balsamo and Muthe received the President’s Award for their leadership in helping OLLI initiate use of Zoom for classes and meetings. As a member of the Curriculum Committee, Balsamo arranged OLLI’s first remote classes via Skype about two years ago. He has since recruited numerous instructors at distant locations to teach via Skype and more recently via Zoom. He also helped start the WiseMEN Special Interest Group, which brings male OLLI members together for discussions. Muthe lives at Iris Place retirement center and was responsible for starting OLLI Zoom classes at the center. He manages the technology that enables about 25 residents who have joined OLLI to attend the classes. He has taught some classes and also helped start the WiseMEN group. He uses his technology skills to help Iris Place residents with their camera phones and to make phone check-ins with them.  
  • As a four-year starter on the University of Georgia men’s basketball team from 1988-91, Rod Cole was known as a versatile fighter on the court. Sliding back and forth from guard to forward, Cole was the go-to player when positions needed to be filled.    His ability to make decisions in high-pressure situations helped lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history. Now the owner of Above All—a cleaning and restoration company—Cole is using his and his business’ versatility to help fight a much bigger adversary—the coronavirus, or COVID-19.    Above All specializes in indoor air quality, a component essential to combating the virus. Cole says joining in the fight against COVID-19 was “right up their alley.” Even so, the company has experienced many changes due to the virus.    The company has had to turn its attention to sanitation – Above All uses the disinfectant Noroxycdiff – rather than only remediation. To do so effectively, Cole brings in individuals to train his staff.    “I want my guys knowledgeable about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it,” Cole said. “Knowing the right protocols and ways to do these things are in the best interest of everyone.”   For Cole and his team, some of the biggest adjustments are simply in the day-to-day routine in treating facilities. Cole describes his and his team’s new uniform as the type of thing one would see on TV. Along with their respirators, Above All workers wear full Tyvex suits with shoe coverings and sealed hoods, and their hands are double-gloved and tied at the wrists.   “It’s not normal for people to put on PPE (personal protective equipment) and suits like that,” Cole said. “For one, that stuff is hot. Then, by nature, we want to jump out of the truck and shake each other’s hands; you can’t do that now. The stuff that used to be normal can’t be right now, so I think that is probably the biggest shift my guys and I have had to make.”     Cole likens operating Above All to sports, how athletes adjust to changes on the field much like he did on the Georgia basketball court.    “Athletes have that ability to not only view the physical but to think,” Cole said. “They process data very quickly, because things come at them even quicker. They’re forced to adjust to those [changes] and move. That process isn’t just a physical one; it’s a thought process, too. Business is the same way. There are a lot of obstacles to face, but there are ways to adjust.”   While the pandemic has required Cole and his company to make major changes, this is not the first time Above All has been faced with business-altering obstacles.    Cole began his business nearly two decades ago as a cleaning service primarily for large hotels. However, the aftermath of 9/11 included a near standstill in travel which forced hotels to cut back on things such as cleaning services.    From there, Cole’s business shifted its attention to water damage. He acknowledges the importance of this business decision.   “Over the years, I’ve learned to diversify,” Cole said. “You learn a lot from the mistakes you make [and] a lot through trial and error. Sports taught me how to deal with adversity. At that point, unfortunately, a lot of people lost their way of living [and] threw their hands up, right away, at the stress of it. I try to look at the positive, and I try not to get down. I tell myself that if 90 percent of the world is looking at it [negatively], I need to look at it [positively].”    Many of Above All’s business clienteles include colleges and commercial businesses. When colleges shifted to online instruction and shelter-in-place orders went into effect, work for Above All slowed down a bit.    However, Cole remains optimistic things will begin to pick up as businesses begin to reopen. Above All has picked up new business in retirement homes and more, and Cole is excited for his company’s plans in the future.    Cole encourages the student-athletes – seniors in particular – whose seasons were cut short due to the pandemic to harness the strength they have to refocus on the positives.   “It’s really difficult, and no individual is the same or has the same thought process,” Cole said. “We’re all faced with hardships in sports, work [and] life in general. Something I’ve always appreciated about athletes and military people is they have been pushed to the limit. Athletes have coaches who push them to their physical limits. When you get older, you just have to realize you can refocus all that strength you had as an athlete – the ability to push yourself, physically, to the limit – harness that mentally and know you can move forward if you try.” 
  • Madison County High School makes plans for an in-person graduation ceremony, which had been postponed from May because of coronavirus: it will be held June 20 at the Madison County High School football stadium in Danielsville.  Franklin County’s in-person graduation will be held on the same Saturday.  Other area high schools, including both high schools in Oconee County, have talked about holding in-person graduation exercises, possibly in July. 

Bulldog News

  • It seems like fourscore and four news cycles ago when Georgia football coach Kirby Smart joined the beat reporter corps on Zoom last Thursday. It came before a weekend when America's attention shifted away from the novel coronavirus to Minneapolis. There were the actions of peaceful protestors and then those not-so-civil activists. It turned our heads away from the policies which would be in place this week for the return of Georgia's players to Athens to begin preparations for the 2020 season . This week marks a rite of passage for every new season.The UGA signees from the 2020 signing class that did not enroll early are officially moving away from home to join the program and campus life in Athens, too. In the midst of all of that, the Bulldogs were also able to add another former 5-star QB prospect to first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken's room. That JT Daniels stuff took on a life of its own, too. Those events eclipsed a lot of what Smart said on that Thursday morning visit with the beat reporters who cover the UGA team on a regular basis. It was specifically interesting what Smart had to say about recruiting. 'First off, it's extremely different,' the fifth-year head coach said. 'The recruiting world has changed as much as anything because you're just not capable of going to high schools.' He did not duck the obvious there. When we come to think of it, the Georgia staff has basically had three full weeks (weekends included) of on-campus recruiting in 2020. That's now into the first week of June. Those were the last three weekends in January. That was followed by the National Signing Day for the 2020 class in the first week of February, but then another dead period for the rest of that month. Georgia only had a small number of unofficial visitors on campus in March. The Bulldogs were taking advantage of spring break before ramping up to roll the welcome mat out after the first weekend in March. Spring drills would be underway and the months of March and April would be big for visitors. 'We would be going out watching spring practices, going school-to-school,' Smart told the UGA beat on Thursday. 'I wouldn't be able to because I don't get to go out in May, so that didn't really change for me, but it changed for a lot of our coaches. We've done what you guys know to be the case. There's no magic potion. There's nobody doing something magically that everybody else isn't doing. We're jumping on Zoom. We're communicating with parents, coaches, recruitswe're doing everything virtually, and that's really the best we can do.' The staff was set to go on the road from April 15 to May 30 to further evaluate the top 2021, 2022 and 2023 prospects during their own spring practices.The pandemic made sure none of that took place. Throw away that calendar. The NCAA also shared word last week that all on-campus recruiting would still be halted until July 31. too. Division I Council Coordination Committee extends recruiting dead period: https://t.co/kxNibUf3B2 pic.twitter.com/0cRcTbrxQp Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) May 27, 2020 'They keep extending the period that you can't come on campusthe ability to come on campus, they just extended that, so it's looking like that's not going to happen through the end of July,' Smart said. 'So, it's going to be a very different May-June-July period and that's unique. Who manages that the best will be importanta lot of this is who had the best relationships leading into this because, at the end of the day, you can only develop so much of a relationship through a phone, through a text, through a virtual activity. We've tried to be creative in the way we use that. I'm certainly not going to divulge everything we've done because I don't think that's open for everybody to do, and I think we're all competing in the SEC, trying to make ourselves different.' Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. Georgia football: Kirby Smart continues to empathize with recruits The Bulldogs are certainly not lacking in the recruiting department. They never will be under this staff. Despite those obstacles, the Bulldogs still have the No. 13 overall recruiting class on the well-respected 247Sports Team Composite rankings.That ranking was boosted by the commitments of All-American Georgia prospects Chaz Chambliss and Dylan Fairchild over the last week. That gave the Bulldogs nine commits for the 2021 cycle. It comes while still showing remarkable restraint in not taking commitments from prospects the staff still felt like it needed further in-person or more senior year film for a complete evaluation. When it comes to those national team rankings, there'snot a single team above the Bulldogs that does not have at least two more verbal commitments at this time. The number of commitments those schools have on UGA at this time is even markedly higher than that in some cases. The average number of pledges for the top 12 comes out to 15.8 commits per school. Georgia is well-positioned based on the fact that the average 247Sports Composite rating of each of its commitments currently stands at 94.05. That's a focus on quality rather than an impressive volume of commitments at this time. Tennesse sits at No. 2 overall due in large part to its 24 commitments, but those prospects merit an average individual player rating of 89.73.Ohio State has the No. 1 class right now due to its average rating of 95.34 for each of its 18 commitments. Clemson also has a mean rating of 94.55 for each of its 13 pledges. Smart wonders about the effects on the 2021 recruits in general with all of this downtime. The alpha recruiters on every major Power 5 staff have had nothing consequential to do over the last three months except focus on the core recruits on the board. 'I can tell you this: it's probably created a bigger burden on our recruits, and if I was a recruit or a recruit's parent, I would be more concerned with that volume of virtual usage and phone usage, and it's probably led to more kids committing because you can make the case that they're committing because they can't go anywhere,' Smart said. 'I would make the case that they're sick and tired of being barraged by phone calls and virtual activities.' National recruiting analyst Bud Elliott of 247Sports continues to do an admirable job tracking the number of 2021 commitments to this point and comparing it to previous the same timestamp in previous cycles. Morning of May 30: 913 Last year's class on this date: 390 The gap grew again. https://t.co/plzt0mRvXT Bud Elliott (@BudElliott3) May 30, 2020 Will this class just be different? Or will the real recruiting cycle for the 2021 class take place in the span of just seven months? Could we see official visits in August in the thick of fall practices? When prospects do get the NCAA green light to return to campus again, it will mean they will have less than five months before the first day of the early signing period to figure out where they want to go. That same condensed time frame will also influence the schools handing out these scholarships, too. Smart wondered what that might lead to. 'Will we see more kids come November or December de-commit, or go back and start visiting?' Smart said. 'I don't know because I don't know when we'll be able to bring kids to campus. All that will probably come out at the end of July when we know more about what kids are going to be able to do in recruiting.' DAWGNATION RECRUITING (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) Nation's No. 1 CB prospect Tony Grimes places UGA among his top four schools BREAKING: All-American OL Dylan Fairchild has made his college decision Brock Vandagriff: How does that family feel about the JT Daniels transfer? The JT Daniels to Georgia buzz seems very real BREAKING: Elite 2022 DB Marquis Groves-Killebrew commits to UGA Who is Chaz Chambliss? Carrollton staff shares the goods on the new Bulldog commit BREAKING: Chaz Chambliss commits to Georgia football Taking a deep dive at how well Georgia has been recruiting Metro Atlanta of late Elite 2022 defensive athlete Daniel Martin already has a 'family' feel at UGA Brock Bowers: Nation's No. 3 TE knows what he needs to do before his college decision De'Jahn Warren: The 'nugget' for the nation's No. 1 JUCO prospect with UGA Decrypting that recent tweet from 5-star LB Smael Mondon Jr. Prince Kollie: The ILB target who had 1,085 yards as a receiver in 2019 Lovasea Carroll: DawgNation goes one-on-one with the 2021 RB commit The post Georgia football: Kirby Smart's comments on the 2021 recruiting cycle laced with empathy, uncertainty appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Hutson Mason admits he was as surprised as anyone last week when news dropped that former Southern Cal quarterback J.T. Daniels intended to transfer to Georgia. 'I wasn't so much surprised he chose Georgia (over Tennessee and Michigan), I was more so surprised that Georgia wasn't looking for another quarterback,' Mason, a former Bulldogs' quarterback, told DawgNation. 'Kirby is in an interesting spot with Jake Fromm gone . ' Interesting, for sure. Quarterback Derby The Bulldogs return 80 percent of the production off a championship caliber defense while reloading on the other side of the football with offensive gurus Todd Monken and Matt Luke. Daniels, should he be granted a waiver for immediate eligibility, would jump into a five-man quarterback derby. WATCH: USC beat writer shares inside info on JT Daniels Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman appears to be the favorite to start, but there's also D'Wan Mathis (redshirt freshman), Carson Beck (freshman) and Stetson Bennett (redshirt junior). Mason said he doesn't think UGA's tentative offensive blueprint would need to drastically change course with Daniels under center. USC has also run a Pro Style version of the spread with RPO concepts. 'One of the things I was surprised by when I was watching tape on him, he's far more nimble and shifty and elusive in the picket than I thought,' Mason said. 'I think he's far more athletic than Jake . 'That was the first thing that stuck out to me. I would see a clip where the pocket collapsed and would normally be a sack or a negative play last year for Jake, and for me, he gets out of. He turns what should be a sack into a 4-yard pickup, or he extends the play and makes something out of nothing.' Questionable Knee Mason said as much as he liked on tape, there's a question if Daniels will possess the same mobility if he's playing in a knee brace after suffering a torn ACL in last season's opening game. 'I don't know if he will be the same in the pocket and escape a lot of things because that knee brace is extremely restrictive on quarterbacks,' Mason said. 'I tried to wear one because a lot of offensive coordinators in college have the theory that they want their quarterback to wear one to protect their knee from the blind side.' Quarterback injuries have become more common as the speed of the game has increased and more teams have spread the field. Mason, himself, has experience attempting to play in a precautionary knee brace. 'I tried fiddling around with it a coupe springs, and I was like 'I hate this,' it's like a peg leg, you literally feel like you have one leg,' Mason said. 'So that that was my concern if he's coming off that knee injury and he has to wear a knee brace, will he ever be the nimble guy in the pocket that I saw on tape?' First Look Mason, who quarterbacked Georgia to a 10-3 record in 2014 and now provides analysts on Atlanta's WCNN-AM 680 'The Fan,' went directly to the archives upon hearing Daniels was heading to Athens. Hearing about a player is one thing, but seeing him and evaluating him in game action, is another. Mason provided a video breakdown of Daniels on Twitter last week. @GeorgiaFootball adds another 5 QB in JT Daniels. The more tape I watch of him the more impressed I become. pic.twitter.com/yEgWPkLdqH Hutson Mason (@HMason14) May 29, 2020 'I believe the two most important traits are accuracy and tight windows, that's why I chose that clip,' Mason said. 'And, it was functional arm strength. A lot of people think arm strength is how far can you throw the ball in a straight line, and that'a a huge misconception. 'It's more of when the pocket collapses, and you have a messy pocket, with somebody at your feet and you can't step into the throw, do you still have enough functional arm strength to get the ball down the field?' NCAA Waiver It has yet to be determined if Daniels will be seen on the field this season, as the will need the NCAA to grant him a waiver for immediate eligibility similar to the one Miami's Tate Martell received when leaving Ohio State. 'I'm sure Kirby's pitch was, We are a quarterback position away from being a national champion,' that's what I believe Kirby's pitch to him was,' Mason said. 'That's pretty enticing. 'I think the program is selling itself, and that was probably more of the angle. But I was surprised, because it seems like, man,'how much more room do you have for quarterbacks?' Time will tell. Georgia players have started arriving back on campus with voluntary workouts set to begin next Monday. DawgNation JT Daniels stories Georgia getting accurate, cerebral' quarterback in JT Daniels Addition of JT Daniels continues UGA inroads into California Breaking down the angles of JT Daniels' addition Details emerge on USC transfer JT Daniels Kirby Smart addresses new normal routine for players The post WATCH: First look at new Georgia quarterback JT Daniels from Hutson Mason appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia baseball pitcher Cole Wilcox is playing the waiting game and a poker game of sorts while waiting on the Major League Baseball Draft. Wilcox, like fellow UGA pitcher Emerson Hancock, is a projected first-round pick who is eligible for the draft (June 10-11). Like Hancock, he has not committed to leaving Georgia if selected. RELATED: Star pitcher Emerson Hancock undecided on 2020 MLB Draft 'I don't know yet,' Wilcox said on a Tuesday Zoom call with UGA media. 'That's something I probably won't know until after the draft is over, because that's kind of how it works. 'Teams keep their business to themselves. It's kind of a guessing game at this point. Whatever happens, happens.' Listening to the 6-foot-5, 232-pound sophomore talk on Tuesday, it became evident he's planning on launching his professional baseball career after the draft. Even then, more unknowns await him. While Major League Baseball is still trying to iron out a plan to restart the season, there have been indications the Minor League Baseball seasons will be canceled. Wilcox was 3-0 in four starts with a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings with 32 strikeouts and only two walks when the season was halted amid the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12. The Chickamauga, Ga., product said he tries not to think about professional baseball's plight. Though, he does factor it into a workout regimen that's designed to help him get even stronger while keep his arm fresh and loose. 'If we were in season I'd have just finished the (NCAA) regionals, so I'd be in game shape, I'd be throwing 7 or 8 innings, 120 pitches,' Wilcox said. Instead, Wilcox said, 'I'm throwing, just not off the mound or anything. No bullpen, no long toss, nothing super taxing, just keeping my arm in good enough shape for when it is time to ramp it back up.' Wilcox has a 100 mph fastball as evidenced in the Tweet below, along with the power and stamina that had Major League Baseball teams calling his number throughout the past two seasons. Hey @DSeifertD1PBR I finally got a good #HeatSheet Alert for you: here's @BaseballUGA freshman righty Cole Wilcox blowing away Jacob Olson on a 100 mph heater. Sat mostly 98-99 with a couple 88 mph sliders in a 1-2-3 5th, also fanned Luke Berryhill on 99. pic.twitter.com/aHmdlKlIxz Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) March 16, 2019 'I've spoken with a good majority of the teams, they come meet with us in the fall, and you build relationships with them,' Wilcox said. 'They stay in pretty good contact throughout the season. It's kind of hit and miss, you don't really know how to take all the calls and stuff. 'I've stayed in pretty good contact with a lot of teams in all areas of the draft. It's hard to tell interest at this point and what they are thinking right now.' Wilcox has been widely projected in the first half of the 37-man first round, but a Tuesday ESPN pay site article projects Wilcox as the No. 23 overall pick. According to the ESPN story, Wilcox is 'A first-round talent in the 2018 prep class who hasn't progressed much in college; he's still throwing up to 100 mph to go with an above-average slider and changeup.' Wilcox said he feels he has matured and grown stronger since high school while experiencing some of the best times of his life with his Georgia teammates. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 2 when the season came to a premature end. 'We knew we had a special team and a special group, we had good bonds throughout the whole team, that was what was so special about it,' Wilcox said. 'Last year, that was some of the best memories of my life, being able to travel to Mississippi State, and go to Hoover for the SEC Tournament, you're really going to miss it when you'll never play with that group again 'I feel like I was just kind of scratching the surface.' But still, having some fun along the way, needing nine takes before releasing this diving board, trick shot video on his Twitter account: For pitchers everywhere pic.twitter.com/NHkoE859zF Cole Wilcox (@ColeWilcox11) June 1, 2020 The post Georgia pitcher Cole Wilcox: 2020 MLB Draft still a guessing game' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Former Auburn coach Pat Dye, who took over a downtrodden football program in 1981 and turned it into a Southeastern Conference power, died Monday. He was 80. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said Dye died at a hospice care facility in Auburn from complications of kidney and liver failure. Dye, who played college football at Georgia, had been hospitalized in Atlanta last month with a kidney issue. He had tested positive for the coronavirus.  The news was first reported by 247Sports. » MORE: Notable sports deaths in 2020 Dye was born in Blythe, Ga. He was team captain of the 1956 Class AAA champion Richmond Academy in Augusta. He went on to play from 1957-1960 at Georgia where he was a two-time All-American, under head coach Wally Butts. When Dye came to Auburn, he inherited a program that was deeply divided after only three winning seasons in the previous six years. In 12 years, he posted a 99-39-4 record, Auburn won or shared four conference titles and the Tigers were ranked in The Associated Press’ Top 10 five times. Dye’s overall coaching record was 153-62-5 in 17 years at Auburn, Wyoming and East Carolina. His coaching career ended in November 1992 when he was forced to resign after a pay-for-play scandal rocked the program, which was placed on two years’ probation. Dye served as athletic director as well as coach for most of his career with Auburn. He remained associated with the university after his resignation and was a frequent commentator on football talk-radio shows. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.  Dye is survived by four children — including Pat Dye Jr., an NFL agent — and nine grandchildren.
  • Longtime Auburn coach Pat Dye has died. He was 80. Dye, who played college football at Georgia, had been hospitalized in Atlanta last month with a kidney issue. He had tested positive for the coronavirus.  The news was first reported by 247Sports. Dye was born in Blythe, Ga. He was team captain of the 1956 Class AAA champion Richmond Academy in Augusta. He went on to play from 1957-1960 at Georgia where he was a two-time All-American, under head coach Wally Butts. Dye, a three-time SEC coach of the year, coached the Tigers to a 99-39-4 record in 12 seasons from 1981 to 1992. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Before coaching at Auburn, Dye coached at Alabama, East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye is survived by four children — including Pat Dye Jr., an NFL agent — and nine grandchildren.