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College
Sam Pittman is the gift that keeps on giving for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs
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Sam Pittman is the gift that keeps on giving for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs

Sam Pittman is the gift that keeps on giving for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs

Sam Pittman is the gift that keeps on giving for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia football-Sam Pittman is gift that keeps on giving for Bulldogs-Georgia Bulldogs

ATHENS — When I think of Sam Pittman, I’m reminded of a little tiny Yorkshire terrier named Jax.

Not that Georgia’s beloved offensive line coach looks anything like a Yorkie. Hardly. If ever an individual personified the University of Georgia’s English bulldog mascot, it’d be the heavy-set, round-faced Pittman. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Jax is the family dog of Isaiah Wilson. I remember encountering the fiercely protective Jax on a visit with Wilson and his family two years ago for a Next Generation piece I was writing. Like a lot of terriers, Jax was cute as could be, but he bared teeth and came after folks who dared darken the door of the Wilson home on 99th Street in Brooklyn. To this I can personally attest.

Tate Ratledge-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting
Sam Pittman (R), here with Georgia signee Tate Ratledge on one of his UGA visits, is known for cutting up with recruits during their photo shoots. (Twitter.com)

But by the end of Wilson’s recruitment as the No. 5 offensive tackle in America in 2017, little ol’ Jax barely paid Pittman any attention when he came to the door. That’s what the Wilsons told me. Pittman had become so familiar from all the in-home visits, and was so attentive to Jax, that he just won over the furry fellow.

Surely we have all taken notice by now, Pittman has a way of winning over mean dogs. Tate Ratledge is the latest example.

Georgia landed Ratledge, a 6-foot-6, 311-pound tackle, on Monday when the 4-star prospect from The Darlington School in Rome gave the Bulldogs’ his verbal commitment. He joins 5-star tackle Broderick Jones and 4-star guard Akinola Ogunbiyi as commitments in UGA’s rapidly growing Class of 2020.

Pittman was the recruiter of record for all three players, as he is for all offensive linemen considering Georgia these days. And lately that tends to be the most elite of the elite.

Ratledge’s pledge is non-binding, of course, but assuming he follows through and signs with the Bulldogs as expected, he will become the 19th offensive lineman to decide to play for Pittman at Georgia. You can probably expect one or two more before the final signing day next February, Jeff Sentell tells us.

Now we all know that recruits sign with the school and not the position or head coach. But it’d be naive to say that’s not a factor, if not the most important one. Accordingly, to a man, these offensive linemen all cite playing for Pittman as pivotal to their decisions. That went for Ratledge as well.

“It was probably Coach Pittman, first and foremost,” he told reporters after his announcement Monday. “I’ve built a relationship with him over three years that just got better and better. That’s when I realized I would be most comfortable being around him and the people in his room.”

The “people in his room” means Georgia’s other offensive linemen.

Funny, but Wilson told me almost the exactly same thing sitting in his living room in Brooklyn nearly three years ago.

“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say playing time played a role in my decision,” Wilson said then. “But a lot of it had to with Coach Pittman. He coaches his players hard but does it in a loving way.”

That’s a common sentiment that one hears from Pittman’s charges. They love him and they’re fiercely loyal to him, but it’s not just because they have awesome cookouts at the pool behind his house (and they do, by the way).

Pittman also has the difficult task of managing egos and expectations. After all, when you’re recruiting 5- and 4-star recruits in significant number every year, it’s impossible for all of them to start and often quite of few of them don’t play at all.

By my count, Pittman has landed a total of 19 offensive linemen since arriving at Georgia. Fifteen of those — or nearly 80 percent — were 5- or 4-star prospects. Five were consensus 5-star rated via the 247Sports.com composite.

Only one of those offensive linemen is no longer with the program. Former 3-star signee Chris Barnes is now at UT-Chattanooga. Only one other of those signees is no longer playing offensive line. That’d be former 4-star prospect Netori Johnson, who was switched to defensive line late last fall.

Otherwise, they’re all still suiting up for the Bulldogs. And that offensive line is a big reason Georgia is carrying a Top 5 ranking into this coming season. All five of the starters coming out of spring practice were recruited to UGA by Pittman. Interestingly, only Wilson at right tackle was a 5-star. The others are right guard Ben Cleveland (2016 4-star), left guard Solomon Kindley (2016 3-star), left tackle Andrew Thomas (2017 4-star) and center Trey Hill (2018 4-star).

Which is not to say that Georgia is not getting what it expected out of its 5-star acquisitions. Sophomore Cade Mays has started and everybody expects Jamaree Salyer — currently the Bulldogs’ sixth man — will eventually.

This is nothing new, mind you. I first learned of the legend of Sam Pittman when I traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C., in the spring of 2016. That’s before any of us knew all that much about Kirby Smart or this staff he was assembling in Athens. But in interviewing those fine folks up in Tar Heel country, I’d found out that they were still talking about  last offensive line he assembled at UNC. Six of them — not just the starting five — wound up on NFL rosters.

Remember how mad Bret Bielema was when Smart plucked away Pittman from his staff at Arkansas that first year? Well, there was a reason for that. Pittman was bringing the same pedigree of offensive linemen to Fayetteville, such as Frank Ragnow, drafted in the first round by the Detroit Lions in 2018.

The difference now at Georgia is the number of elite linemen Pittman is bringing in at a time. That’s why Pittman always ends up with the titles of assistant or associate head coach wherever he coaches. Smart made him associate head coach of the Bulldogs after last season and gave him a raise and salary to match.

Now Georgia really has something going with this former O-lineman from tiny Pittsburg State in Kansas. Georgia fans nowadays can’t wait to see Pittman’s signature “Yessir!” videos go up on social media soon after the latest blue-chip offensive lineman announces his plans to become a bulldog.

Right on cue, Pittman posted one on Monday, just a few minutes after Ratledge made his announcement public. That sent the Dawgs everywhere a-barking again, maybe even a little Yorkie up in Brooklyn.

The post Sam Pittman is the gift that keeps on giving for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • Better late than never. Cam Shepherd’s home run with two-out in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs a 2-0 walk-off win over Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. It was only the third hit game for Georgia, which had been no-hit through 7.1 innings by Aggies’ freshman starter Chris Weber. It was the seventh home run of the season for Shepherd. The junior shortstop had seen his average dip to .229 before hitting the ball over the left-field wall at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, just out of the reach of A&M’s leaping Cam Blake. Randon Jernigan broke up the no-hitter with a single to left in the seventh. Designated hitter John Cable got the Bulldogs’ only other hit with a single to left in the ninth. The victory was the first since 2011 for the Bulldogs (43-14), who had gone 0-8 since 2011. Zac Kristofak (5-0) got the win for Georgia. Texas A&M’s strong pitching came as no surprise to Georgia or anybody else. The Aggies came in as the only SEC team with a lower team ERA (3.10) than the Bulldogs (3.17). Weber came in 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA. Georgia countered with Tim Elliott, a junior right-hander who spent most of the season as a mid-week starter. He gave up just two hits but had three walks before being lifted with one out in the fifth. That’s when the Bulldogs made one of the most amazing double plays in a season full of them. With the bases loaded and one out, first baseman Patrick Sullivan stabbed a hard grounder down the line, came home for the force-out and then caught catcher Mason Meadows throw back to first behind the head of the ducking base-runner for a rare 3-2-3 double play. Other than that, there were a bunch of goose eggs put up by both teams. The post Cam Shepherd bottom-of-9th homer lifts No. 5 Georgia to SEC tourney victory appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Barrow County Sheriff said Wednesday that two grandparents found dead inside their Winder home were shot to death. Willard and Dorothy Hess were found dead Monday morning by their grandson inside their home on South Ridge Road.  Why deputies now think finding this 'car of interest' could be the key to solving the case, for Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. Barrow Sheriff says both victims in double homicide were shot to death. Willard and Dorothy Hess found Monday morning . @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/fWpgRIlFUu — Tony Thomas (@TonyThomasWSB) May 22, 2019 Channel 2's Tony Thomas has been following the case since the bodies were found.  So far, no one has been named a suspect.  TRENDING STORIES: Mile-wide asteroid with its own moon to pass Earth on Saturday Child rescued from car parked at Walmart on hottest day of year (Video) Massive American flag at RV dealership leads to fines, legal action Barrow Sheriff says no one ruled out as suspect in murders of Willard and Dorothy Hess. Both were shot to death. Sheriff believes key to case is finding the driver of this car. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/YumVktXP7r — Tony Thomas (@TonyThomasWSB) May 22, 2019 The Sheriff's Office released a picture of a car 'of interest' in the case Tuesday morning, which they believe could be a key to solving the case.  They said Wednesday they believe the car is a Hyundai Sonata. 
  • A man accused of stealing $80,000 from an Alpharetta woman he met on a dating website was arrested Tuesday in Tennessee. John Martin Hill, 34, allegedly told the woman he was a millionaire and convinced her they were in love. Within a week of meeting on Match.com, they agreed to marry, according to Gwinnett County police. The cash was intended to go toward the purchase of their first home. Once the money changed hands, the woman did not hear from him again, police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said.  RELATED: Man meets Alpharetta woman on dating site, defrauds her out of $80K, police say Police released a photo of Hill on Tuesday morning and asked for the public’s help to locate him. Before the day was out, he was behind bars in Franklin, Tenn., Pihera said.  Hill faces a charge of theft by deception in Gwinnett County. Since announcing the charge, Pihera said police have heard from a few other women who said they were in a relationship with Hill or knew another woman who was. Police are hoping the Alpharetta woman’s misfortune will be a cautionary tale for others who seek love online. “When meeting someone online, be very cautious sharing personal information, financial information, or cash with someone in the early stages of a relationship,” Pihera said Wednesday in a news release. “These types of con men are very good at manipulating their victims. They tend to say everything that a woman wants to hear.” According to investigators, the scheme started March 27. Hill and the Alpharetta woman exchanged messages on the dating site and arranged to meet in person later the same day. The proposal came next. “During their short romance, he convinced her that they were in love and wanted to buy a house together,” Pihera said. “They went house-hunting and selected a home they were interested in.” The woman thought her $80,000 contribution would help with a down payment on the home and buy the couple some furniture. She didn’t know Hill was already living in an apartment in Duluth with another woman and a child, according to police.  Investigators learned Hill has changed his name more than five times in the past three years and is accused of committing similar acts in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. They did not quantify the number of cases connected to Hill.  Gwinnett police confirmed Hill formerly was known by the name “Gregory Hill.” A search of that name leads to a slew of websites, news articles and a Facebook page claiming that Gregory Hill took money from young women after advertising a job on craigslist.com.  Some of the results, including one story about Gregory Hill’s arrest in New Jersey, are from as early as 2011.  According to police in Franklin, officers tracked Hill to a Marriott hotel Tuesday night acting on a tip. When they confronted him, Hill allegedly darted into a hotel conference room and hid under a table. He came out on officer’s orders and was arrested.  Hill, who also has a listed address in South Carolina, is being held in the Williamson County jail in Franklin in lieu of a $500,000 bond. He is expected to be extradited to Georgia, Franklin police said.  “By sharing this story, it is our hope that he is not able to victimize any other women using this scam,” Pihera said. Authorities are encouraging other women who think they are a victim of fraud to contact their local police department. 
  •   A Stephens County man is facing murder charges in Franklin County, charges stemming from the death of a toddler: Willie Spencer was already behind bars, facing child cruelty counts. Murder charges were filed in last year’s case of a 3 year-old who died after being taken to a hospital in Atlanta. Spencer is 48 years old, from Toccoa.  “The preliminary investigation determined that the toddler had injuries that were identified as physical child abuse,” says a statement from Franklin County Sheriff Steve Thomas.
  • Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Cleveland Spruill is the featured speaker in a breakfast session that is organized by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce: it’s underway at 8 o’clock this morning at the Downtown Holiday Inn on Broad Street in Athens. It’s part of the Chamber’s Pancakes and Policy series. From the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce…   Come join us for Pancakes & Policy in May! We are excited to have Athens Police Chief Cleveland Spruill as our keynote speaker for the event. He brings more than 27 years in law enforcement to his new role, including more than 17 years of command-level experience with assignments in each of the major bureaus. The cost will be $20 and a delicious breakfast buffet will be provided.

Bulldog News

  • MACON — As the marquee outside the Hargray Capitol Theatre boldly stated to passers by on Second Street, it was the Kirby Smart and Tom Crean Show here on Monday. The Georgia Bulldogs Club’s annual Coaches Caravan made its first stop here in Central Georgia Monday night and it was a quick one. Smart spoke for 7½ minutes and Crean for about twice that before a gathering of a couple or few hundred fans. There was no question-and-answer opportunity for the fans, which typically produces the most entertaining exchanges. No salvos were sent back Florida’s way. Before the program, the coaches did give the local press and team beat writers about 10 minutes for a Q&A backstage. After that, the coaches and an entourage of officers from UGA’s development office led by director Matt Borman adjourned for a private dinner with donors. The group will repeat the process Tuesday night in Augusta. Then that will be it for a while. There was very little in the way of hard news that came out of the session. The most pertinent was that all Bulldogs, current and incoming, are expected to meet academic eligibility requirements. That’s particularly refreshing considering Georgia had “a number of guys” who were sweating out spring semester grades, according to Smart. Other nuggets to come out of the 90-minute affair: Smart said no players other than linebacker Jaden Hunter are currently in the transfer portal. “None that I can think of,” Smart said. Smart congratulated Vince Dooley and praised the university for naming the field after him. “Who better to do it for than for a man who gave his life to the university and did a great job,” Smart said. We’re probably not going to see a lot more of outside linebacker Walter Grant at running back. “A lot of it will depend on the freshmen coming in, Kenny (McIntosh), and other guys at the position and how we feel, and outside ‘backer depth, too,” Smart said. “It was an insurance policy at best. It was kind of a research project to see what he can do.” Crean said he remains in constant contact with sophomore Nicolas Claxton as he works out for NBA scouts and he attended all his events at the NBA combine last week. He interjected that Claxton “could be a lottery pick” if he returned. Crean also said that he expects to sign another player before next season. Headlines from Coaches Caravan QB Jake Fromm will have more ‘offensive input’ in 2019 Kirby Smart expects all players, incoming and otherwise, to be eligible RB Zamir White on pace to be cleared for preseason camp Georgia fans flock to Macon landmark to hear from Kirby Smart           The post VIDEO: Kirby Smart, Tom Crean update fans on Georgia Bulldogs during ‘Coaches Caravan’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Incoming Miami grad-transfer receiver Lawrence Cager had the unique experience of getting to know both Kirby Smart and Mark Richt as head coaches the past few years. Smart has elevated Georgia football into an annual national championship contender in his three years leading the program. RELATED: Kirby Smart ‘proud’ to have worked for Mark Richt The Bulldogs played in the College Football Playoff Championship Game after he 2017 season, and narrowly missed making the CFP last season in controversial fashion. Smart coached a season under Richt at Georgia in 2005 and inherited a program on solid footing in 2016. WATCH: Mark Richt praised by rivals Saban, Spurrier, Fulmer Richt was was 145-51 over his 15 seasons at Georgia, his .740 winning percentage second only to Smart’s .762 (32-10). The differences in the disposition of Richt and Smart, Cager indicted, are like fire and ice. “Kirby was an All-SEC performer, so he can relate to you and he’s a player’s coach, he’s a guy you want to play under,” Cager said. “He gets fired up, just like coach (James) Coley.” Coley is the offensive coordinator at Georgia under Smart. But on the front end of Cager’s career, he recruited against his current boss, back when Smart was the defensive coordinator at Alabama. Cager began his career at Miami in 2015 with Coley calling the plays under then-Hurricanes’ head coach Al Golden. But then Golden was fired midway through the season, and Richt took over the Miami after being let go from Georgia following he 2015 season and returned to his alma mater to coach the Hurricanes from 2016-2018. Cager said Richt was much more reserved than what he’s seen from Smart. “With Coach Richt it was like, ‘We’re here to do this and that and handle business,’ ” Cager said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Let’s turn it up!’ Kirby will say ‘Let’s turn it up on them!’ “Coach Richt was more like, ‘Look, we are coming here, it’s Florida State, we know what we have to do, we need to line up and beat them.” Cager said the 43-year-old Smart is personable and comes across as being more invested emotionally than the 59-year-old Richt, who delivered messages in businesslike, matter-of-fact tone. Miami hired Richt to replace Golden after Cager’s freshman season. Cager said most of the players on the Miami football team had a pretty good idea Richt would be the Hurricanes next head coach. “Once Georgia let go of Coach Richt, this is his alma mater and his name kept coming up so we all thought we will hire him,” Cager said. “Once we heard it was us or Virginia, we knew for sure.” Richt changed the culture immediately, Cager said. “Golden came in here from Temple, he was more laid back,” Cager said. “Richt changed everything. We used to wear anything we wanted to practice, but then Coach Richt came in and wanted everyone uniform. It was old school, everyone would look the same, no earrings, the little stuff. “It helped a lot of people in the end. He’s a great guy. We were focused on winning championships, but his mentality was we are here to bring the swag back and it’s all about business.” Now it’s Cager who is all about business. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound receiver is expected to challenge for a starting spot immediately in the Bulldogs’ young receiving corps. DawgNation in South Florida Kenny McIntosh draws comparisons to Sony Michel, Jordan Scarlett Lawrence Cager eager for Georgia touch down ’The Blueprint,’ championship plans for South Florida star The post Fire and ice: Incoming Miami transfer compares Kirby Smart to Mark Richt appeared first on DawgNation.
  • MACON — Jake Fromm grew up and played high school ball 19 miles from the famous Hargray Capitol Theatre in downtown Macon where Kirby Smart was Monday. Fromm’s mother, Lee, works as a nurse in the Coliseum Medical Center, just a mile away across the Ocmulgee River. The Fromm’s family hunting lease is just 19 miles the other side of the hospital over in Plum Creek. So Jake Fromm is a big deal around. Then again, Fromm is pretty much a big deal everywhere these days. So Smart, here to speak at a small gathering of Georgia fans and Georgia Bulldogs Club members, dutifully acknowledged his quarterback and the many other Central Georgia players who dot the Bulldogs’ roster. “We’ve gotten a lot good players from here,” Smart said at the opening of his brief remarks before a crowd of a few hundred. “The guy who takes a snap from center and the guy who snaps it.” Fromm, obviously, is the player who takes the snaps. Trey Hill, who was Fromm’s teammate at Houston County High in Warner Robins, is the center snapping the ball to him. Hill played left tackle most of the time in high school, but did have occasion to snap to Fromm every once in a while. But now he’s the one replacement on Georgia’s heralded offensive line. He must replace graduated senior and NFL draft pick Lamont Gaillard. About that, there’s some question. About Fromm, there is none. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior is considered a All-America candidate and Heisman Trophy as the Bulldogs head into their fourth season under Smart, once again as a Top 5 team. Fromm does so having played in every game, starting all but one and in position to set the school’s all-time record for completion percentage. This year, Fromm will be operating under a new offensive coordinator. James Coley succeeded Jim Chaney in the role after taking over as quarterbacks coach last year. Smart thinks that is a good thing. “I think we’ve got some more quarterback guys around him with Coley working with him and he’s excited about that,” Smart said. “For him, it’s been a transition through the coordinator position where he’s kind of a sponge, he’s got more of an opinion now. He understands what we’re trying to do offensively.” Fromm has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 5,364 yards with 54 touchdowns and 13 interceptions at this point. The thought is the Bulldogs will throw the ball more under Coley, who did that as coordinator at Miami and Florida State. Smart believes Fromm can handle whatever Coley can dish out, and will also have a say-so on what the Bulldogs do as well. “Any time you’ve got a three-year starter,he can give you input on things he likes about the offense, things he dislikes and things he thinks he can be successful,” Smart said. “That input is helpful, it’s always helpful.” The post Kirby Smart expects QB Jake Fromm to have more ‘offensive input’ in 2019 appeared first on DawgNation.
  • MACON —  The biggest applause Kirby Smart got during his 7½-minute speech to a couple of hundred Georgia fans on Monday was when he said that every player slated to return for the Bulldogs had retained their academic eligibility. Smart had said essentially the same thing backstage earlier with regard to the 10 signees in the Class of 2019 that have yet to report to campus. Specifically, there has been a lot of concern and chatter about 5-star wide receiver George Pickens. But while the Georgia coach didn’t address Pickens specifically, he did say he expected all who signed to show up and be eligible when they arrive this summer. Most are expected to arrive at the end of this month and enroll for summer semester, which begins in early June. “We’ve got full expectations that everybody will be there in the summer to practice, to compete,” Smart said. “All of those guys are finishing up, right now they’re in their finals depending on what state they’re in or where they are. I know they’re looking forward to getting into our place and start working.” As for the returning players, Smart acknowledged that the Bulldogs were sweating out the spring semester grades of a more than a few. But, again, he said, there were no academic casualties. “And that’s an accomplishment,” Smart said as applause nearly drowned out his remarks. “As everybody in this room knows, academically at Georgia, it’s an unbelievable place. It’s unbelievably competitive. When you look at the average student coming in with a 32 ACT, a 1,300 SAT, a 4.1 GPA, you know when you walk into the classroom you’ve got to be at the top of your game. And that goes for our players, too.”   The post Kirby Smart says all returning players, all incoming recruits have made the grades to play appeared first on DawgNation.
  • MACON — Georgia fans are thrilled with pretty much everything Georgia football is doing under coach Kirby Smart. There was more evidence to that end as Central Georgia fans of the Bulldogs were lined up down the aisles, out the door and down Second Street to get a “grip-and-grin” picture with the head coach. Basketball coach Tom Crean was also here for the latest stop on the annual and ever-shrinking Coaches Caravan. The Macon Touchdown Club was the lucky recipient to get one of this year’s stops, which last year took the Georgia coaches to Columbus and Savannah on the yearly speaking circuit. But, as always, it was the Georgia football coach that had the crowd abuzz. And he was treated with the same quality as they say The King himself received when he came here. That’d be Elvis Pressley. Smart’s just about as popular after leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back SEC Eastern Division titles, one SEC championship and one National Championship Game appearance in the last two years. And that’s great. But it was Clemson and Alabama, respectively, who have won the last two national championships, not Georgia. So Smart was asked in a 10-minute media briefing before his appearance when the Bulldogs needed to do to get over the hump and past those programs that have been finishing ahead of them. “I think anytime you talk about a hump you think about the little things that you can do better. The details,” Smart said as he stood in a small room behind a stage frequented by The Allman Brothers back in the day. “Whether it’s turnovers, create turnovers. There’s so many things, statistics that we can improve in. that it’s hard to pinpoint anything. I’m certainly excited about this team, I’m excited about the guys we’ve got coming back. I love their work ethic, I love the spring we had, I’m just excited to be able to coach them.” There’s much to be excited about. Georgia is showing up in the Top 5 of virtually every preseason prognostication that is out there (none of which matters), and generally in the top three. But in almost every case, the Bulldogs’ name is found behind the same teams that have been ahead of them in the final polls of the season — Clemson and Alabama. Smart has been outspoken and active about one way he believes Georgia can make up ground, and that’s facilities. Clemson and Alabama both have out-paced UGA in that regard to this point. Even South Carolina recently opened a gleaming $50 million football operations building. But the Bulldogs are closing the gap. Smart and his program have benefited from more than $100 million in improvements with Payne Indoor Athletic Center and the West End renovation at Sanford Stadium. And next up is for Georgia is a new football facility that may cost $80 million before its over. That project is expected to receive some level of approval at the UGA Athletic Association’s Board’s end-of-the-year meeting on St. Simons Island this Friday. Smart is obviously in the loop regarding all those details. But he wasn’t ready to share them on Monday, other than to confirm the plan is build on the current site of Woodruff Practice Fields and the Butts-Mehre Complex. “We’re looking at it on our home base,” he said. “We’re still in the early stages of it. We’re excited about the opportunity we’ve got. I think we’ve got a great location for it. We’re excited about the fundraising that’s going on for it. Matt Borman and the development staff have done a tremendous job raising money for it. That’s really all there is right now.” And that’s what these little tours really all about. Increasingly, UGA has closed them to the public and made them “donor-only” events. But this one was come-one, come-all. All one had to do was register through the Georgia Bulldogs Club. So many Maconites took advantage. This is, after all, an extremely fertile recruiting ground for the Bulldogs. It’s from here, near the state’s central-most city, where Georgia landed Jake Fromm, Malik Herring and Kearis Jackson, among many others. “We’ve got some good kids from this area, I’m excited about each one of those guys,” Smart said. “I know the programs that each one came from, I know what they stand for, the high school coaches in this area do a tremendous job. I got to go to almost every one of those kids’ high school games, whether it was their senior year, sophomore year, junior year. We had a lot of them in camp. They all come from great families, great programs, when you look across the state of Georgia the Middle Georgia area had a lot of state champions, a lot of in-state guys’ championship games. Each one of those kids is going to contribute for us next year. We’re going to continue to recruit this area as well.” And maybe soon, Smart will be able to bring a national championship trophy with him on one of these tours. The post Georgia fans flock to Macon landmark to hear from Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart appeared first on DawgNation.