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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense
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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

EDITOR'S NOTE: This original Trey Hill story continues a special series in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau profiling homegrown talent from the state of Georgia. To access the other HomeGrown Talent articles please visit the series hub on DawgNation.com.

Trey Hill now snaps the ball to Jake Fromm at Georgia.

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

That's the picture for 2019 after those two played together for two seasons at Houston County High School in Warner Robins. What are the odds of that?

The same high school program sending two players to Georgia is one thing, but what about the center and the quarterback?

Those are mighty long odds. DawgNation might not grasp that with every snap of the ball. But the man who coached them both during Fromm's senior year and Hill's junior year certainly does.

When Von Lassiter looks at the TV now to check out Georgia, he can't help but smile.

"When I see Trey now I see him doing the things I always knew he could do," Lassiter said. "I see him on the right track to living the life he has always wanted to live. I'm thankful that I can look at one spot on that TV and see two kids that I am very very proud of."

Lassiter is humbled by that sight.

"It is just a blessing from God," he said. "It is a blessing from God that he would see fit to coach this game that I care a lot about and then for him to entrust me with watching over and trying to help out the careers of these players that I have had."

The real head-scratcher is there was only one time when Fromm lined up behind Hill in high school.

A homegrown story that says a lot about Trey Hill

The first time Lassiter ever laid eyes on Hill was at an Academy Sports in Warner Robins. It was just right around the time he was entering high school.

Hill had a Macon County T-shirt on at the time. but it wasn't long before he made the decision to move to Warner Robins and play for Lassiter at Houston County.

"The next time I saw him it was a year later and he was just at the front steps and I had gotten a call that he had just enrolled at Houston County High School," Lassiter said. "He was coming to live with his brother and his brother was going to take him in."

Lassiter, now leading the program at Bleckley County, knew he had a fixture for his offensive line from that moment on. Hill was already right at 6 feet, 3 inches and about 350 pounds even back then.

"Large human being and one of the biggest kids in our school when he walked in, Lassiter said. "We knew from that first day he wanted to be a great football player and had a desire and a passion about it and was in tune with what we were looking for."

He started for three seasons at Houston County. Mostly a tackle for the Bears while Fromm was there. Well, except for that one game.

That takes things down the road of one of the best stories we can share about Hill.

Remember those long odds about the quarterback and center of the nation's third-ranked team playing together at the same time?

They get even longer than going hunting with Fromm and him not choosing to sit in the best "hot spot" for the ideal line of fire for the birds.

Hill was only the center for Fromm for just one high school game. That was also his idea.

It came about because Houston County had to face powerful Lee County during Hill's junior year. Fromm was a senior at the time. It was one of the biggest high school games in Georgia that fall.

Kirby Smart even showed up on the sidelines for that one.

Lee County lined up imposing 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon at the time. Hill saw that, noted that and felt that he needed to do more that week to try to check Solomon.

The coaches had been thinking about it, but it was Hill who suggested it.

"The ultimate motivation to see how much a kid wants to get better and to test himself was when he picks up the phone and tell his coach I want to block the best player on the other team' and do it as a position he had not played the whole year," Lassiter said. "He was telling me then that he wanted to be better and that he was going good but that he could be even better and do more for us. He thought he could block him and he knew our team needed him to line up and block him."

Hill did his job that night. Solomon made a few plays, but he wasn't the reason why Lee County took down Houston County that night.

"Trey doesn't say a whole lot now," Lassiter said. "He doesn't talk a whole lot, too. But he is a business-type player when the lights come on and when it is time to go you want to be behind him. I saw that over and over again with Trey."

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Trey Hill: How he found his way to Georgia

The Hills tried out an organic method for choosing Georgia. There was a clear acceptance he was going to be just fine playing football where ever he wound up.

It meant a lot of the normal things like depth chart and recruiter relationships and power programs were lesser issues.

Georgia had some built-in strong ties. Hill's older brother, Derrick, played football for Valdosta State when Smart was there as a young assistant. Astrong foundation of trust was established during that time.

The Hill family went about talking to the coaches at Georgia. They spoke to the current players on each team about the program. It meant they did the same for schools like Alabama and Auburn, among others.

"They all said he would be taken care of at Georgia," his mother said on the day Trey chose Georgia. "But that was what I already knew from the time when Derrick was with Kirby at Valdosta State. He knew and we knew what kind of person and what kind of a man he was. We knew he would take care of Trey."

The Hills then went on to interview the parents of those players. Those guys on the team would say something nice. But what would their families think?

They took another step. That was scouting out the churches in the potential campus communities for Hill.

"Our family is made up of Christians," Lillie Hill said on the day Trey chose Georgia. "We believe the church to be the leaders and at the heart of every community. We believe if you put God first in everything you do, then everything else will fall into place."

She found a place like that in Athens.

"It was important to me because I wanted him to have a church home," she said. "Someone he could talk to if he was down and we were not around. A place that felt like family and Georgia was that place that felt like family all the way around."

Family is important to Hill. Trey has three brothers and two sisters and three adopted siblings. He's the baby out of all his biological siblings.

"In the end, I didn't think it was close at all between Georgia and all those other schools," she said back in December of 2017. "Georgia just felt like the spot for him to feel like he was with family."

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Another inroad in the recruiting of Trey Hill

Hill also knew former UGA All-American Roquan Smith. Those two even played together during Roquan's senior year and Trey's freshmen year before he moved to Houston County.

"He was like just go to the school that is best for you," Trey Hill said on his commitment day. "He wasn't forcing me or telling me to go to Georgia. All he said was Georgia is a great program and they will get you to where you want and need to be. I took that into consideration but that wasn't a big factor in my decision."

"In the end, I found other ways and I was just glad to be a Bulldog when I make my mind up."

Trey had a stuffed reb bulldog in his crib. He played with that plush toy until he was about two years old. He then began playing football at three years of age.

"I always knew he was my special kid," his mother Lillie Hill also said on the day he committed to Georgia. "I always knew. He was born with a special patch of white hair on his head. I always knew he was my special one. I just regard that as a sign that he is going to be something special."

So far, he's been up to the task.

Hill enrolled early in January of 2018. It gave him a jump on playing early during his true freshman season. He quickly flashed the skills that had him rated as the nation's No. 3 guard on the 247Sports Composite ratings for the 2018 cycle.

He played in every game last fall, including starting the last four at right guard. His biggest moment was when he was thrust into the game as the backup center. That was during a high-stakes on the road against a surging Kentucky team.

Hill stepped in for Lamont Gaillard that afternoon. It now serves as a precursor to his 2019 season. Gaillard had big shoes to fill. He wound up starting the final 42 games of his Georgia career.

While it may seem like the Georgia faithful is quick to pick the slightest of nits with the nation's No. 3 team, there is no outcry about a dropoff at that center spot.

That's a credit to Hill. He even had some advice for anyone else that becomes the big-time recruit.

"Don't believe the hype if it comes your way," Hill said back in December of. 2017. "That hype will work against you staying grounded. Stay grounded. Do what you do. Hype will get you mixed up from making the decision that should just be your decision at the end of the day."

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Homegrown: The next level for Trey Hill at UGA

Hill had a set of clear goals on the day he committed to Georgia.

"I look forward to coming in and working my tail off and starting as a freshman," he said. "Then I hope to keep spending three or four years at Georgia working my tail off and then going to the NFL. Those are my dreams as of right now."

"I've very excited about all of this. This is my next step forward."

Hill was weighing right at 360 pounds when he was at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio. That was his last stop before becoming a Bulldog.

He knew that wasn't going to fulfill that freshmen year goal. He had a clear target set in front of him to reduce that weight down to approximately 330 pounds in order to have a chance to play as a freshman.

Hill did. And then he did.

Smart recently shared his thoughts on what it will take for Hill to keep better at Georgia. He wants all of his players to focus on that "do more" mantra for 2019, but especially big trench guys like Jordan Davis and Hill.

He wants those guys to strain their considerable natural gifts on every rep.

"It means when you strain on a play and you block a guy, I want you to do it longer and harder," Smart said this fall. "So if you do it for four seconds, I want you to do it for five, for six. If you do it for seven, I want you to do it for eight, for nine. I want you to do it until the echo of the whistle. That's harder and longer. That's for every player on the team, not just Trey Hill. Jake Fromm, I want him to strain harder and longer to make it perfect."

Hill has also worked to improve on his snaps.

"He still has high ones in practice," Smart said. "He has thousands of snaps out there. I don't think you can be thousand-for-a thousand. So I think he has to continue to improve on his snaps and the pace of the snaps. But (knocking on wood) he's done a good job so far. And going into the environment he did at Kentucky I thought he did an incredible job. But he continues to grow and get better. He's a guy, he'll tell you, he needs fire and motivation under him because it's come easy to him. He's very talented, he's athletic. But his brother will tell you, both his brothers will tell you, his father will tell you, he needs a fire lit under him to motivate him sometimes. Because he's athletic."

Hill has shown himself more than willing and able to deal with those fires. That goes back to that high school game against Lee County.

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Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense

Georgia's Homegrown Talent: The DawgNation series

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Local News

  • NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who was involved in a horrific crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500, was hospitalized after Monday’s race. Update 2:03 p.m. EST Feb. 19: According to Roush Fenway Racing, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was released from a Daytona Beach hospital Wednesday afternoon, two days after he was involved in a scary crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Roush tweeted a photograph of Newman leaving Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, holding the hands of his two daughters. “Ryan Newman has been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center,” the racing team tweeted. Update 12:25 p.m. EST Feb. 19: Ryan Newman continued to show “great improvement” as he recovered from injuries he suffered Monday night in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 race, his racing team said. Roush Fenway Racing tweeted a statement that said Newman was “fully alert” and walking around Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. The racing team also tweeted a photo of a smiling Newman with his children. Update 4:47 p.m. EST Feb. 18: In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Roush Fenway Racing tweeted that Ryan Newman was “awake and speaking” with family members and doctors. Newman, who was seriously injured in a final-lap wreck during Monday’s Daytona 500 race, remains at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Update 10:13 p.m. EST Feb. 17: In a statement Monday night, NASCAR officials said Newman, 42, was in serious condition, “but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.” Original report: Newman, 42, has 18 Cup wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400. He was battling for the lead with Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the 2.5-mile track at Daytona International Speedway when he crashed. Newman was in the lead coming into the final turn with Blaney and eventual winner Hamlin in close pursuit, NASCAR.com reported. Closing in on the finish line, Newman attempted to block Blaney, who was in second place. The impact of the cars touching sent Newman’s car airborne and into the wall. Newman’s car flipped several times and was hit head-on by Corey LaJoie, who sent Newman skidding across the track upside down Newman’s No. 6 Ford crossed the finish line engulfed in flames, ESPN reported. An ambulance departed Daytona International Speedway’s front stretch at 8:10 p.m. Newman was taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown. 'I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are, and No. 1, we are praying for Ryan,'' Hamlin said. “I hope he’s all right,” Blaney told reporters. “I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is all right.” “I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him,” Lajoie said. “I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay. It was some scary stuff.” Newman, who led 15 laps, was credited with a ninth-place finish. “We ask that out of respect for privacy that you please do not speculate on Ryan Newman’s condition until an official statement has been issued,” Roush Yates Engines tweeted. Kelley Earnhardt, the daughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr., tweeted, “Please let @RyanJNewman be ok!” Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Newman, born Dec. 8, 1977, in South Bend, Indiana, was named Winston Cup rookie of the year in 2002, beating Jimmie Johnson, according to his NASCAR biography. Nicknamed “Rocket Man,” Newman graduated with honors from South Bend La-Salle High School in 1996. He studied engineering at Purdue University but at the same time, continued to race. Newman was a champion midget racer when he was 17, ran USAC sprint cars and won that division’s Silver Crown championship in 1999.
  • A mistrial has been declared by Athens Judge David Sweat in the courthouse hacking case involving a Gwinnett County judge. Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas said Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader walked out of court without comment as she remains suspended from the bench on charges that she hired three men to hack into the county computer system amid fears the district attorney’s office was spying on her. After the mistrial, the jury foreperson, Rachel Steahr, told Thomas she was frustrated because basically the evidence didn’t provide any clear answers to what happened. “There was a lot of evidence and it was really good, but either side it wasn't strong enough. They needed more since they didn’t come to a conclusion of how this happened,” Steahr said. She said a majority of jurors thought Schrader was not guilty on count one of computer trespassing, were split on the second charge and wanted to convict on the third charge. Prosecutors said they are now trying to figure out if they want to retry this case. “We are going to continue to reevaluate the case. We are going to be in discussion with the executive director and make a decision,” prosecutor John Regan said. Schrader’s attorney maintains her client is innocent. “I'm always relieved when it's clear our message was heard. She is not guilty,” said defense attorney BJ Bernstein. Prosecutors said it remains unclear when they may retry the case, but they are hoping to make it happen sooner rather than later.
  • We are learning more about the three University of Georgia employees arrested last week on theft charges: Amy Stowers is from Gainesville and was manager of the University’s Vision Clinic. She’s facing felony charges, accused of masterminding a bribery scheme that netted a reported $2,500 from eyeglass vendors. Two other women are facing misdemeanor counts after taking gift cards from vendors, cards said to have been worth several hundred dollars.From Asia Simone Burns, AJC… Amy Stowers, Rita Melville and Jamie Fay Coley were each taken into custody in connection with the investigation.  Police said Stowers, who managed the University Health Center Vision Clinic, orchestrated the bribery scheme. According to the police report, she made a “prohibited” agreement with an optical vendor, who was not named. The vendor would give her gift cards, and in exchange she would lead the vendor to believe it would “influence the performance of her official duties,” the report said.                    Stowers received about $2,550 in gift cards from the vendor, police said.  As part of the same agreement, Melville and Coley, who were opticians in the clinic, received $348 and $404 in gift cards, respectively.  The funds stemmed from the sale of eyewear frames, the report said. The women were able to convert the proceeds for personal use.  Stowers is facing four counts of felony bribery, while Coley and Melville each face six counts of misdemeanor theft by conversion. Stowers was booked into the Clarke County Jail on Wednesday and released the following day on a $44,400 bond. Coley and Melville were both booked into the jail Friday morning and released the same day on $10,100 bonds.
  • The Newton County parents convicted of murder says there is no evidence they killed their 2-week-old daughter.  Both Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell have filed motions for new trials, according to documents filed in Newton Superior Clerk. Both were convicted of killing baby Caliyah in May 2019.  In his motion filed Monday, McNabb says prosecutors were unable to prove he killed baby Caliyah and that his prior attorney was ineffective during the trial.  “There was no physical or direct evidence produced that demonstrated that Mr. McNabb caused the child’s death. Nor was the State able to demonstrate what actually caused the child’s severe injuries,” McNabb’s motion states. “The thrust of the State’s case was that Mr. McNabb was a bad man that lived in a bad environment.” In her motion for a new trial, filed in late January, Bell also says prosecutors did not prove she was responsible for Caliyah’s death.  “The State did not prove that Ms. Bell caused Caliyah’s death, at best they attempted at trial to prove that she contributed to the circumstances that led to Caliyah’s death,” her motion states.  A jury deliberated about an hour before convicting both McNabb and Bell following a joint trial. McNabb was sentenced to life in prison without parole, Bell to 30 years with 15 to serve. But both parents were adamant they weren’t responsible for Caliyah’s death.  “I’m innocent. I didn’t do it,” McNabb told Judge John Ott before his sentencing. “If you ever find out who did it, they deserve to be under the jail.” In October 2017, Bell reported the baby missing from the family’s mobile home. That night, McNabb angrily demanded the child’s return in front of television cameras. It’s likely that Caliyah was already dead by the time McNabb pleaded for the community’s help in finding her, according to investigators. 
  • Athens Democrats hold a debate watch party tonight, as Democratic presidential candidates take the stage in Las Vegas in advance of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. Tonight’s local viewing is set for 8 o’clock at Little Italy on Lumpkin Street in downtown Athens. The debate—the first to include former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg--can be heard live on WGAU. It starts at 9 o’clock, with television on MSNBC. From Facebook… Join your fellow democratic socialists for some #yallidarity and FREE PIZZA! We'll gather in the back room of Little Italy downtown, and cheer Bernie on as he continues to rise above the fray of the party establishment. It's the first debate featuring American Oligarch and proud stop-and-frisk-er Michael Bloomberg, so it's a must-watch. Come have fun with like-minded folks, and learn more about how you can get involved with Athens Area DSA... we need your ideas and energy!

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia basketball had the sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum rocking on Wednesday night, upsetting No. 13-ranked Auburn 65-55. Freshman Anthony Edwards had 18 points and six rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, who snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory. Georgia (13-13, 3-10 SEC) had lost three of the previous four games after leading by double-digits, but not this time against the Tigers (22-4, 9-4). The Bulldogs went up 10 points on a Sahvir Wheeler free throw that made it 37-27 with 14:55 left. Auburn couldn't get closer than three rest of the game. Wheeler had 13 points and four assists, controlling the ball and the tempo against Bruce Pearl's trapping Tigers with the seventh sellout crowd of the season urging him on. Freshman Toumani Camara took care a lot of the tough work in the paint with 12 points and eight rebounds. Camara sealed the win down the stretch, 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 22 seconds. It's UGA's second win over a ranked opponent this season. Georgia beat then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4 in Memphis Auburn won the teams' first meeting by an 82-60 count on Jan. 11 in Auburn. But Georgia served notice of just how good it can be when Rayshaun Hammonds (13 points, eight rebounds) is playing well in the first half, leading 31-25 at the break. The Bulldogs had led by as many as nine before intermission, a Hammonds' fast break layup giving UGA a 21-12 lead at the 9:31 mark. Hammonds scored all 10 of his first-half points the first 11 minutes of the game, also pulling down six rebounds. Edwards, meanwhile, didn't score the first eight minutes of the game. But Edwards third bucket of the game was a big one, as it ended a 9-0 Auburn run and put the Bulldogs back on top 25-23 with 3:55 left in the half. It was a lead Georgia would never relinquish. The Bulldogs return to action at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Vanderbilt in Nashville (TV: SEC Network). DawgNation Georgia basketball Georgia basketball drops close one at Texas A&M, Anthony Edwards ill Alabama topples Georgia in overtime Georgia suffers deflating defeat at Florida UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri Column: Anthony Edwards needs to get back to having fun Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post Georgia basketball upsets Auburn before sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The NCAA Transfer Working Group looks to open the door for for football transfers to gain immediately eligibility. 'The current system is unsustainable, (and) working group members believe it's time to bring our transfer rules more in line with today's college landscape,' Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, the chair of the working group, said in an NCAA article. 'This concept provides a uniform approach that is understandable, predictable and objective. Most importantly, it benefits students.' Per the proposal: The working group concept would change waiver criteria to allow approvals for first-time four-year transfers in all sports to compete immediately if they: Receive a transfer release from their previous school. Leave their previous school academically eligible. Maintain their academic progress at the new school. Leave under no disciplinary suspension. The proposal could be in place by the 2020-21 academic year. Of course, it's all too late for former Georgia tight end Luke Ford. RELATED: Ford transfer tied to being closer to agi ng grandfather Ford, who spent the 2018 season with the Bulldogs, lost his bid for a waiver last summer that would have allowed him to play for Illinois during the 2019 season. My Grandpa just passed on to a better place in heaven. Love you Papa! I'm sorry you didn't get to see me play in person, my heart is devastated Rest in Paradise L U K E F O R D (@lukeredx97) February 19, 2020 Ford lost his appeal following the 2018 season despite being represented by high-profile attorney Thomas Mars. Mars, of course, keyed Justin Fields' successful bid for immediate eligibility at Ohio State last season after he transferred from Georgia. The NCAA Transfer Working Group's proposal for football, basketball, baseball and hockey would be the same as the transfer legislation already in existence for other sports. The Division I Council appointed the council last fall, well aware that there could be unintended consequences. 'We know that challenges will exist with this concept, particularly as it relates to other coaches potentially tampering with currently enrolled student-athletes,' Steinbrecher s aid in the NCAA.org story. 'The working group will continue to examine this, as well as any potential financial aid and academic impacts, so the Council can make a fully informed decision.' ACC Network analyst and former Georgia football coach Mark Richt is among those who have concerns. I know, I have an idea. You recruit and develop players and when I think they're good enough I will poach them from your roster! Welcome to what the new normal will look like in college football! Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) February 18, 2020 ESPN analyst and Georgia football legend David Pollack expressed frustration with the inconsistency of the current policy. 'Fields versus Luke Ford, guys that were at Georgia, what determines who gets it (immediate eligibility)?' Pollack said to DawgNation last summer. 'Somebody's family is sick (Ford's grandfather), or somebody has a reason to go back home and they get a no,' and somebody else that doesn't really have a reason gets a yes.' That drives you nuts for the kids. 'Some people get waivers, some people don't, and it makes absolutely no sense.' Related: David Pollack goes off on NCAA transfer inconsistencies Current Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has been relatively liberal in his view of transfers and the invent of the NCAA transfer portal. Smart said his priority is that the NCAA do what's best for the student-athletes. 'Kids have always been able to go places, change and make decisions. Roster management hasn't changed from the standpoint of, we've been working off 85, working off medical (redshirts),' Smart said last year. 'There's been slight changes to the number of guys you can sign early, there's been a slight of increase of players who have come out early over time. 'As we continue to grow, it's something we'll deal with. I don't think there's a major concern there. You've got 85 scholarships, you operate at your 85. NFL teams do it with less than that so I'm not that concerned about roster management as I am making sure what's best for the student athlete is what we do.' The post NCAA group recommends immediate eligibility for transfers, too late for Luke Ford appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart is considered one of the top defensive minds in football, constantly studying trends and concepts at the NFL, collegiate and even high school level. It's a safe bet the Georgia football head coach is considering new wrinkles this offseason just like the rest of the coaches who attend and speak at the UGA Coaches Clinic March 26-28. Smart has landed a star-studded guest speaker lineup consisting of new Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel and new New York Giants coach Joe Judge. Middle school and high school coaches who want to attend the clinic can sign up through the school's website. Smart's staff will be involved coaches love to talk ball. But as much as anything, they will also be listening to one another. Especially when it's Leach's turn to speak. The Bulldogs are overhauling their offense. A dual-threat quarterback is set to be under center this season, with Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman the favorite entering spring drills. Smart says he's looking for the same things from his offense as before: efficiency, scoring and explosive plays. RELATED: Kirby Smart offers no grand speech' on future of Georgia football offense But Georgia has not locked into how it will go about it, even after the hiring of former NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken, whose 2018 Tampa Bay offense set franchise records. Monken and Leach will be quite a meeting of the offensive minds. Leach is known for building some of the nation's most potent and prolific spread offenses, those of the 'Air Raid' variety he helped develop with Hal Mumme at Valdosta State and Kentucky. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon had the second-highest passing yards in the FBS ranks last season (5,579) and the fourth-highest completion percentage (71.6) operating out of Leach's offense. RELATED: The Mike Leach coaching tree Vrabell, a former defensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, saw his team rank 12th in the NFL in total defense last season. The Titans, however, were tied for 10th in the NFL with 23 takeaways an area Smart has said UGA has room to improve. Judge is the Giants new coach in New York after an eight-year stint on Coach Bill Belichick's staff in New England. Judge worked with the Patriots' special teams throughout his tenure, adding the role of wide receivers coach last season. New England's special teams were among the best in the NFL throughout last season, per advanced metrics. They have traditionally been among the best in the NFL under Belichick, a characteristic Smart harps about wanting in his program. Each member of the Georgia football coaching staff will also participate in 'chalk talks' at the clinic. Bulldogs defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is fast becoming one of the hottest coaching commodities. His future in Georgia figures to be shorter rather than longer with programs recognizing his talents and head coach potential. Lanning's defense was tops in the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense, while finishing third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense. This, despite not having any defensive players selected first-team All-SEC by an Associated Press panel. RELATED: League-leading Georgia defense shut out of first-team All-SEC picks Georgia had 37 players on defense get more than 100 snaps last season. The post Georgia football sure to benefit from Air Raid' guru Mike Leach at coaching clinic appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Jake Fromm's arm strength holds the key to his NFL draft status, according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper jr. 'We know what he has: the smarts, we know he has the leadership, we know he's an accurate passer forget the numbers, he lost all his receivers going into this year so you know he can do all those things,' Kiper said on an ESPN teleconference on Wednesday. 'But is the arm good enough? (That's what) people are going to be really scrutinizing with Fromm going through this whole draft process leading up into late April, which will determine whether he's a second round pick, or whether he's a fourth- or fifth-round pick.' Kiper Jr. continues to maintain that Fromm reminds him of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. But, the long-time draft expert said, there is also a scenario where he projects more closely to former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Fromm's performance at the NFL combine next week in Indianapolis will obviously be important. 'Only thing (that's) gonna be on display there, he's going to have to show is the necessary arm strength, because that's going to determine, is he Aaron Murray or is he Andy Dalton?' Kiper Jr. said. 'That's what everybody is trying to figure out.' The NFL combine runs from Feb. 23 through March 2 with testing taking place in Lucas Oil Stadium. Quarterbacks and wideouts will workout on Feb. 27. 'If he's Andy Dalton, you're talking about a second round, early-second round type of quarterback. If you're Aaron Murray, you're a later-round quarterback who's now playing in the XFL.' Murray, currently with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Murray is the SEC's all-time leading passing yardage and passing touchdown leader, played for Mark Richt in Athens from 2010-2013. Kiper, however, has leaned more toward the Dalton comparison, which he first revealed last month during a podcast with fellow draft analyst Todd McShay. 'The easiest (comparison) in this draft is Jake Fromm to (Cincinnati Bengals quarterback) Andy Dalton,' Kiper said. 'From competitiveness, leadership, smarts, size ' Kiper, like Georgia coach Kirby Smart, qualified the drop-off in Fromm's numbers to the loss of UGA's top five pass catchers from the season before, along with other attrition. 'All of (Fromm's) touchdowns were gone,' he said. 'Think about (former UGA players) Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, Terry Godwin, Isaac Nauta. 'Then, he also lost Elijah Holyfield who was the No. 2 or 1-A running back with (D'Andre) Swift, who had a big year. And he lost his center as well. You can't take that away with anybody.' Fromm has been working out in Mobile, Ala., at 'QB Country' with his quarterback coach, David Morris, in preparation for the NFL combine. RELATED: AJC exclusive with Jake Fromm, what went into decision Fromm is one of 10 Georgia football players who received an invite to the all-important combine. Players will undergo thorough medical exams in addition to testing out in drill work and meeting with teams. RELATED: The 10 Georgia football players invited to 2020 NFL Combine DawgNation: Georgia in the NFL draft Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout ESPN labels Georgia a 'loser' in NFL early entry process Evaluating Andrew Thomas, why he's a first-round lock Eli Wolf, Charlie Woerner, Brian Herrien, Tyrique McGhee shine in all-star games Todd McShay projects Georgia QB Jake Fromm to have first-round talent Closer look at Jake Fromm's decision, factors and faith Mel Kiper Jr.'s mock: Andrew Thomas and D'Andre Swift future teammates The post Jake Fromm 2020 NFL Draft stock hinges on arm strength, per Mel Kiper Jr. appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean is referring to it as an 'opportunity' game when the Bulldogs take on SEC powerhouse Auburn. Bruce Pearl looks at it as a 'must-win' for his Tigers. Georgia (12-13, 2-10 SEC) plays against No. 13-ranked Auburn (22-3, 9-3) at 7 p.m. with a sold-out crowd awaiting the tip at Stegeman Coliseum (TV: ESPN2). ' We have tremendous opportunity tomorrow night with Auburn, and the way that they're playing,' Crean said. 'They pose numerous challenges as most everybody else in this league does but especially the way they're playing. 'The way they're getting fouled right now, the way their offensive rebounding the ball, extremely high levels, playing extremely fast, aggressive. They play with great confidence and are playing like a veteran team.' Auburn is coming off a shocking 85-73 road loss to Missouri, a defeat that could be attributed to a 1-of-17 shooting night beyond the 3-point arc. Bruce Pearl's team did, however, get to the free-throw line to attempt an eye-popping 46 free throws. 'I look at it this way: the Georgia game is a must-win if we're going to stay in this conference championship race,' Pearl said. Kentucky is a game up on Auburn with its Tuesday night win over LSU. '(Georgia is a) tough place to play, hard to win on the road, but if we're going to be in this conference championship race, we have to win the game,' Pearl said. 'Strong statement with seven games left, but I've always kept it real with my team.' Georgia expects to have a healthy Anthony Edwards primed for the meeting. Edwards, recently projected by ESPN to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has been battling flu-like symptoms during the Bulldogs' four-game losing streak. Crean stressed the importance of team focus for the upcoming game. Junior forward Rayshaun Hammonds has shown signs of returning to form after going through a self-admitted slump. Freshman point guard Sahvir Wheeler appears recovered from an ankle injury that slowed him during the team's four-game losing streak the second half of January. If the Bulldogs can get Edwards, Hammonds and Wheeler healthy and playing well at the same time, it would greatly improve the team's chances for a strong finish. 'We just need to focus on playing well,' Crean said. 'Like playing longer stretches together, talking through it, playing with confidence not, you know, not waiting for the bottom to fall out right and that's what happens sometimes with teams it's just keeps playing.' A loud home crowd could go a long way for the Bulldogs on Wednesday night with the team looking to snap out of a funk that's seen it lose eight of the last nine games. Auburn won the first meeting between the teams this season, 82-60, on Jan. 11 in Auburn. The post Georgia basketball braces for Auburn team bringing must-win' mentality to sold-out Stegeman Coliseum appeared first on DawgNation.