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On The Beat: Kirby Smart recharging, older head coaches may consider retirement
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On The Beat: Kirby Smart recharging, older head coaches may consider retirement

On The Beat: Kirby Smart recharging, older head coaches may consider retirement

On The Beat: Kirby Smart recharging, older head coaches may consider retirement

ATHENS Each passing day without sports doesn't seem any closer to a new normal, or any sort of evolution or progression toward a greater good in athletics.

It's a harsh reality we are all dealing with amid the coronavirus outbreak and cascade of closings, cancellations and other unfortunate fallout.

Of the many consequences, it has taken football coaching workaholics off the so-called hamster wheel during a time of year where things typically get ratcheted up.

For a young coach like Kirby Smart 44 years old it's an opportunity to recharge and re-evaluate before continuing his quest for championships.

Anyone who has spent any time around Smart can sense the fire burning intently within him.

Fact is, it's the same for most coaches at the FBS level, all of whom have made countless sacrifices for years to reach their lofty positions.

Some coaches, however, are further along than others and tiring of what has been a rapidly expanding coaching calendar.

In fact, one possible consequence of this work stoppage could be the older and more wealthy coaches deciding they don't need the grind and retire before football is back underway.

It was one of many topics broached on this week's "On The Beat" Show sponsored by Ingles.

On The Beat

DawgNation coronavirus stories

Member of UGA sports staff tests positive for cornonavirus

3 takeaways on the immediate future of Georgia football with Greg McGarity

Georgia spring football, SEC seasons officially shutdown

NCAA to announce new recruiting restrictions, spring eligibility

3 most urgent NCAA sports issues facing SEC and UGA

Greg Sankey Q&A on coronavirus effect on SEC decisions

SEC basketball tournament canceled amid coronavirus outbreak

WATCH: Greg McGarity addresses coronavirus effect on UGA

SEC shuts down fan attendance: The new normal"

SEC releases official statement on coronavirus

Georgia beats Ole Miss amid coronavirus fears at tourney

Tom Crean reveals eye-opening' information on coronavirus

The post On The Beat: Kirby Smart recharging, older head coaches may consider retirement appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • The Georgia Supreme Court upholds the conviction and sentence for a Hall County woman found guilty on a 2013 murder charge: Amy McGarity was convicted and handed a life sentence in 2016. The Oakwood woman was the accused ringleader of a group of four people who killed 20 year-old Kayla Weil. Her remains were found wrapped in a blanket at a park on Lake Lanier in October of 2013. Investigators say she was strangled to death. 
  • Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, a Republican from Jefferson, confirms that one worker at the Plant Vogtle nuclear power facility in Burke County has tested positive for coronavirus. Echols says the Georgia Power Company is continue work on two new nuclear reactors, the first of which is scheduled to begin generating electricity in November of 2021.  Echols says on Twitter that “workers are staying safe and using extreme precautions. We need this carbon-free power by Nov 2021 and this and all of our power plants are critical infrastructure. “So far, only one positive test out of 9000 people. GP (Ga Power) is doing a good job at separating folks.”
  • Many Georgia football fans already had Nov. 14 circled on their calendars, and the date has now become even more alluring. The Masters, originally scheduled to start on Thursday, announced it intends to take place Nov. 12-15 this year. That means traditions will flow within the hallowed grounds of Augusta National on Saturday (Nov. 14) less than 100 miles away from the sacred hedges of Sanford Stadium.  The Bulldogs, a preseason favorite among championship contenders, will be tangling with their orange-clad rivals from the North on that same day in what's sure to be a nationally televised event.  'That makes for a great doubleheader, to have Augusta National followed up by a Georgia-Tennessee football game,' UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said. 'That's some high-quality TV right there.'  A look at the SEC schedule reveals the matchup between the Bulldogs and Vols to most likely be the league's feature matchup, setting up a battle under the lights.  The possibilities are endless. Might we see College GameDay, hosts clad in green jackets, broadcast from Augusta? Georgia football coach and golf fanatic Kirby Smart would be only a short helicopter ride away from an appearance on the show. It certainly makes for a historical afternoon and evening on Nov. 14 that will never and can't possibly ever be replicated. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered these unprecedented times. Precautionary measures such as social distancing and limited group gatherings are wreaking havoc on global activity. It has staggered economies while testing the willpower and patience of society.  Sports has certainly not been spared, fans now chomping at the bit to find a competitive entertainment fix. Spring and summer sports seasons have been canceled and/or postponed, and deadlines are fast approaching if fall athletes are to be properly prepared for their respective seasons.  Football is the cash king among U.S. sports, a vital revenue producer in the television advertising and stakes game. There's a priceless social value as well, particularly in the Southeastern Conference where football Saturdays are their own religion of sorts. The beliefs and practices have played out among generations of family, friends and business associates.  Thus, November 14 stands to represent a day of sports pageantry like no other before in Georgia. Some might point out that, traditionally, it would be Auburn facing the Bulldogs in that November game slot. The SEC office, however, swapped Tennessee and Auburn weekends on Georgia's schedule. It was a tradeoff that accomplished what Kirby Smart wanted, in avoiding consecutive road games with Georgia Tech and Auburn in the same month.  The Tigers, meanwhile, no longer have the prospect of facing Alabama and Georgia on the road in the same month. And for the Vols, it splits up their two key SEC East Division games. At times Florida and Georgia came back to back, a challenge Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer would rather do without.  But this year the scheduling repercussions go well beyond the gridiron. What's arguably the most lavish and sacred golf tournament in the world will intersect a key football weekend. It makes for a sports afternoon like no other.
  • Nancy Williams has been sewing since she was a little girl. That’s saying something, because she’s 96-years old. But what she’s making with a needle and thread today is protecting lives. “My daughter says it’s like a ‘war effort.’ It’s for the virus. And I hand them to anyone who wants one.” From her room at the Retreat at Loganville senior living community, Miss Nancy is sewing masks for the entire staff. “Her mother was a seamstress in Vienna, Georgia where mother grew up. Mother picked it up back then, because they made everything they wore,” Williams’ daughter Joan Ottinger said. Ottinger told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen her mom’s sewing machine has always been her sidekick. Back in the day, Miss Nancy even made clothes for Miss Georgia winners who went on to the Miss America pageant. But now she’s sewing for the healthcare professionals at her senior living center and her own grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the medical field. It all means very much to her family. “We’re very proud of her,' Ottinger said. Miss Nancy says she has made 150 masks so far. Her work has only just begun. “I hope I can make enough. 
  • Oconee County Commissioners schedule what they are calling a virtual town hall meeting, to be held one week from tonight, streaming live from the Oconee County courthouse in Watkinsville: Commissioners will talk about plans for a special purposes local option sales tax.  From the Oconee County government website…   The Oconee County Board of Commissioners will hold a Town Hall Meeting on April 14, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. in the Commission Chambers of the Oconee County Courthouse located at 23 North Main Street, Watkinsville, to discuss the 2021 Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Citizens will be given the opportunity to provide topics for discussion by submitting comments on the link below. The Town Hall Meeting will be live-streamed and can be accessed on the Oconee County website at:  https://www.oconeecounty.com/1156/Virtual-Town-Hall-Meeting-Info

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS The University of Georgia athletics department could withstand the financial blow should the college football season be canceled on account of the coronavirus pandemic with more than $100 million available in reserve funds. UGA athletics director Greg McGarity never dreamed the Bulldogs' reserve fund could be tested to this extent and it still might not, with the world's finest scientists working to save lives and restore order. RELATED: Georgia football and The Masters doubleheader possible on Nov. 14 There are 330,891 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including 7,558 in Georgia and 72 in UGA's home of Clarke County per the latest update on AJC.com at the time of this publication (April 7). The financial impact associated with medical costs, lost wages and social distancing provisions continues to skyrocket. Football season represents a deadline of sorts for a collegiate sports revenue model the relies heavily upon the sport. Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer famously said that, 'Football is the engine that drives the revenue train.' At Georgia, the annual football revenue is approximately $70 million between ticket sales, seat donations and other peripheral income, not including Magill Society donations. And yet, should this season be derailed, UGA's 'Rainy Day Fund' has the means to withstand the equivalent of a financial hurricane. 'We are in a position to whether the storm for a period of time due to the conservative approach that's been a part of Georgia athletics dating back to the days of Joel Eaves,' said McGarity, who assumed his role in September of 2010. The same can't be said for the majority of other programs in the FBS ranks. Just 41 percent of Power 5 schools and 26 percent of Group of 5 schools have a reserve fund, according to data obtained from a recent Learfield/IMG Sport release. 'We're really in healthy shape, and we're one of the few that are,' McGarity said. 'You can only imagine the angst with institutions that don't have the financial reserves that we have.' What is the reserve fund? 'We see it as our rainy day fund,' McGarity told DawgNation. 'It's there to meet certain expectations and obligations that we have.' The fund is made up of money accrued from donations, unused revenue from previous years and investment income. Per the winter UGA board meeting, Georgia has a projected $17,879,325 remaining from the (fiscal year) 2020 reserves, along with $48,561,020 from long-term investments of reserves a total of $66,440,345. UGA deputy athletic director of finance Stephanie Ransom a former Bulldogs' All-American soccer player and marketing major said there's an additional $36,500,000 in general endowment money. That makes the total money available in reserve fund $102,940,345. McGarity explained that 'our best business practices recommends we have at least three months of operating expenses on hand' and in the reserve fund at all times. For example, Georgia has a $153 million annual athletic budget. Three months of that budget equals $38.25 million. So even setting aside that prescribed (not mandated) $38.25 million, along with the debt services of approximately $13 million UGA would still have $64,690,345 at its disposal. UGA legend Vince Dooley, the Bulldogs' head football coach (1964-1988) and athletic director (1979-2004), served in a more conservative era, athletic budgets nowhere near today's skyrocketing numbers. Dooley indicated last Sunday that Georgia, even then, factored worst-case scenarios into its financial planning. '. I n case the worst possible thing could happen,' Dooley told AJC.com columnist Mark Bradley on Sunday. 'I'm sure that (current UGA administrators) are doing the same thing. You've got to have that kind of reserve in case you get into a catastrophe, and this could be a catastrophe Magill Society Magic Georgia had approximately $97.7 million in the reserve fund in June of 2011, the fiscal year McGarity took office. And yet, athletics has invested more than $200 million in facilities in the past decade while still increasing the reserves. 'The difference maker has been the Magill Society,' McGarity said. 'If we didn't have those resources coming in from those 1,200 (1m198) donors things would be drastically different.' The Magill Society was founded in Sept. of 2015. At the end of that fiscal year, the reserve fund number had dipped to $74.5 million, because UGA had more than $20 million of work occurring at various facilities, including the indoor football building. McGarity makes no qualms about it, the Magill Society has been a game-charger and is at the heart of the Bulldogs' ability to maintain a strong and now pivotal reserve fund. 'They have donated or pledged more than $145 million toward our facilities (dating back to Sept. 2015,' McGarity said. 'Just think of our world if we didn't have the Magill Society step up. How would we pay for all of these new facilities.' Non-football projects, such as the soccer grandstand renovation (2018), the equestrian facility (2019) and the tennis facility renovation (Feb., 2020), continue to utilize reserve funds. Georgia football, meanwhile, has become competitive in the football facilities arms race with Magill Society funds, which have coincided with the immediate success football coach Kirby Smart. Kirby's impact Smart, much like the Magill Society, has been a game-changer in his own right. The athletics' budget game is the same, but with Smart leading the Bulldogs' program to elite status on an annual basis, the stakes are higher. RELATED: Kirby Smart more everywhere than ever before Staff and recruiting costs have increased since Smart was hired. Some $173 million has been spent on football facilities since the 2016 season, including $81 million going toward a new football building right now. It's a game of catch-up. According to one recent comparison, Georgia football facilities ranked just 8th in the SEC. McGarity, who has worked alongside Smart during the Bulldogs' current football boom, said if not for Magill donations, UGA would need to take more drastic measures to stay competitive in the football facilities arms race. 'We'd have had to do one of three things,' McGarity explained. 'One, we wouldn't have been able to build these sort of facilities, or two, we would have had to increase our ticket prices substantially. 'Or three, we would have had to drain the majority of our reserves.' But with Smart leading Georgia to three consecutive SEC Championship Games along with a Rose Bowl victory, a Sugar Bowl victory and a College Football Playoff Championship Game appearance in the past three years the funds have continued to roll in. Checks and balances Collegiate athletics financial portfolios are a complex web of funds chiefly generated from designated league money, donations, seat licenses and ticket revenue and endowments. There are checks and balances at each institutions, but they are often applied differently, unique to the respective schools' priorities and financial strategy. Georgia, over the years, has been criticized by many for not spending as aggressively as rival programs during the facilities arms race. Former UGA assistant and current Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt most notably called out the school for its lack of an indoor football facility at the end of Mark Richt's head coaching tenure. But Georgia, pre-Magill Society, simply didn't have the same revenue model in place to spend liberally while maintaining what many are now realizing is an integral reserve fund. McGarity, himself, took much of the blame for the school's conservative approach even though it pre-dated him back to Eaves and Dooley in the 1960s. 'What we do know is we've been fortunate to sleep at night throughout many years knowing we have the finical stability to whether a storm,' McGarity said. 'We just didn't know it could be a Category 5 Hurricane. 'We're cautiously optimistic that we won't have to utilize reserve funds or go down that path without football in the fall.' But should that day come, Georgia athletics is well-prepared to hunker down like few others. DawgNation Kirby Smart offseason stories Kirby Smart shares how coronavirus break has led to innovations College football stipulations in progress, per Kirby Smart Kirby Smart reveals 5 players who impressed in workouts 3 takeaways from Kirby Smart beat writer teleconference Kirby Smart predicts recruits will make decisions sooner than later Why Kirby Smart gave Scott Cochran opportunity Nick Saban wouldn't Smart boosts Dan Lanning over $1 million, new staff salary numbers Quarterbacks affected more than any position during stoppage, per Kirby Kirby Smart's sports stoppage message: Control what you can control The post Georgia athletics prepared for what if,' more than $100 million in reserve fund appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Many Georgia football fans already had Nov. 14 circled on their calendars, and the date has now become even more alluring. The Masters, originally scheduled to start on Thursday, announced it intends to take place Nov. 12-15 this year. That means traditions will flow within the hallowed grounds of Augusta National on Saturday (Nov. 14) less than 100 miles away from the sacred hedges of Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs, a preseason favorite among championship contenders, will be tangling with their orange-clad rivals from the North on that same day in what's sure to be a nationally televised event. 'That makes for a great doubleheader, to have Augusta National followed up by a Georgia-Tennessee football game,' UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said. 'That's some high-quality TV right there.' A look at the SEC schedule reveals the matchup between the Bulldogs and Vols to most likely be the league's feature matchup, setting up a battle under the lights. The possibilities are endless. Might we see College GameDay, hosts clad in green jackets, broadcast from Augusta? Georgia football coach and golf fanatic Kirby Smart would be only a short helicopter ride away from an appearance on the show. It certainly makes for a historical afternoon and evening on Nov. 14 that will never and can't possibly ever be replicated. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered these unprecedented times. Precautionary measures such as social distancing and limited group gatherings are wreaking havoc on global activity. It has staggered economies while testing the willpower and patience of society. Sports has certainly not been spared, fans now chomping at the bit to find a competitive entertainment fix. Spring and summer sports seasons have been canceled and/or postponed, and deadlines are fast approaching if fall athletes are to be properly prepared for their respective seasons. Football is the cash king among U.S. sports, a vital revenue producer in the television advertising and stakes game. There's a priceless social value as well, particularly in the Southeastern Conference where football Saturdays are their own religion of sorts. The beliefs and practices have played out among generations of family, friends and business associates. Thus, November 14 stands to represent a day of sports pageantry like no other before in Georgia. Some might point out that, traditionally, it would be Auburn facing the Bulldogs in that November game slot. RELATED: Details of 2020 schedule flop, why Kirby Smart approves of it The SEC office, however, swapped Tennessee and Auburn weekends on Georgia's schedule. It was a tradeoff that accomplished what Kirby Smart wanted, in avoiding consecutive road games with Georgia Tech and Auburn in the same month. The Tigers, meanwhile, no longer have the prospect of facing Alabama and Georgia on the road in the same month. And for the Vols, it splits up their two key SEC East Division games. At times Florida and Georgia came back to back, a challenge Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer would rather do without. But this year the scheduling repercussions go well beyond the gridiron. What's arguably the most lavish and sacred golf tournament in the world will intersect a key football weekend. It makes for a sports afternoon like no other. The post Georgia football and The Masters set for weekend unlike any other appeared first on DawgNation.
  • There may not be azaleas in bloom, but there may be a Masters after all. Augusta National Golf Club announced Monday that the intended dates for the 2020 Masters will be Nov. 9-15. The major golf tournament was scheduled for this week before it was postponed last month because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “While more details will be shared in the weeks and months to come, we, like all of you, will continue to focus on all mandated precautions and guidelines to fight against the coronavirus,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement. “Along the way, we hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport. “We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials. Provided that occurs and we can conduct the 2020 Masters, we intend to invite those professionals and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date and welcome all existing ticket holders to enjoy the excitement of Masters week.” The club also announced that the Augusta National Women’s Amateur was canceled. The inaugural event was held last year. Each player who accepted an invitation for the 2020 championship will be invited to compete in the 2021, the club announced. Those who purchased tickets to the women’s event will be issued a refund. The Masters new dates would run into college football. On Nov. 14, the Saturday of the third round, Georgia is scheduled to host Tennessee and Georgia Tech is scheduled to play Notre Dame at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • ATHENS What if someone told you the best player on the current Georgia football team has yet to take a game snap for the Bulldogs? That's exactly what the metrics wizards at Pro Football Focus (PFF) are suggesting in their most recent piece. RELATED: Why Jamie Newman expected to excel quickly 'Most don't recognize the magnitude of Newman opting to transfer from Wake Forest to Georgia, but it's massive,' author Anthony Treash penned. 'Newman is an athletic player who is known for his rushing ability, but his arm talent simply does not get enough credit.' Apparently neither does Newman's dancing, as the graduate transfer showcased during a recent Tik Tok video after making a trick shot with a football through a basketball hoop. Jamie Newman introducing himself to #Georgia fans with a throw, a song and a dance https://t.co/BbDqBljH92 MikeGriffith32 (@MikeGriffith32) April 5, 2020 In all seriousness, PFF has been all over the metrics that warrant their selection of Newman as Top Bulldog. The metrics indicate Newman had the second-best tight window throw rating and deep throwing rating last season, behind only departed LSU QB Joe Burrow. Indeed, Newman averaged more offensive yards per game last season than former UGA backup and current Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. RELATED: Comparing Jamie Newman 2019 to Justin Fields There are several ways to judge 'best player,' however, and the DawgNation team held a draft of current Georgia players with its four experts and safety Richard LeCounte was the No. 1 pick. Receiver George Pickens went No. 2, and then was the choice of the fans when asked who their number one pick would be off the Georgia football team. RELATED: The Pickens Plan, why George is key to Bulldogs 2020 offense Here's a look at the best players off other SEC teams, per PFF ratings: Alabama: WR DeVonta Smith Arkansas: WR Treylon Burks Auburn: CB Roger McCreary Florida: CB Kaiir Elam Kentucky: CB Brandin Echols LSU: CB Derek Stingley Jr. Mississippi State: QB K.J. Costello Missouri: LB Nick Bolton South Carolina: CB Isreal Mukuamu Tennessee: CB Shawn Shamburger Texas A&M QB: Kellen Mond Vanderbilt: CB Jaylen Mahoney DawgNation Player Discussion DawgNation Jamie Newman stories Jamie Newman among Top 5 Heisman Trophy favorites Jamie Newman offseason training includes hometown visit How Georgia will look a lot like home to Jamie Newman ACC star says Jamie Newman will bring UGA different dynamic Future Georgia players weigh in on addition of Jamie Newman Jamie Newman much more than just a dual-threat Wake Forest players swear by Jamie Newman at NFL combine QB trainer: Jamie Newman fits new direction of Georgia offense Numbers game: How Jamie Newman compared to Jake Fromm The post Best Georgia football player entering 2020 season, per advance metrics . appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry shares a conversation with a high school teammate of Mekhail Sherman from this year. Shermansigned as part of the 2020 recruiting classwhich again wound up as the nation's No. 1 class on the 247SportsTeamComposite rankings. Mekhail Sherman was rated as a 5-star recruit for almost his entire shelf life as a prospective college football recruit. The last 247Sports Composite ratings saw his rating dip to four stars. It meant he wound up as the nation's No. 32 overall prospect for the 2020 cycle. Sherman now holds the distinction on that scale as the highest-rated 4-star prospect in the 2020 class. That still slots him as the nation's no. 2 OLB prospect. His 2019 senior season contained great intrigue. Sherman suffered a season-ending knee injury early in his junior season. It was something to monitor. The beauty of his game was in the way he covered ground out on the edge and all over the field. Especially for a future college LB. His recovery and comeback proved to be fierce. But he spent his senior year playing defensive end for a powerful St. John's College program in the Washington D.C. metro area. The focus was on getting on the field first. Getting back to helping his team. But there was also the challenge of getting back to being the player he used to be. There were many times where Sherman looked like a one-man wrecking crew on his sophomore film. He had 18 tackles for losses and seven sacks among his 51-tackle year. Check it out below. That was the momentum season for his time as a recruit. The Bulldogs offered him on his birthday in February after that season. He qualified for The Opening. While he was there, his laser time in the 40 turned just about every head there given his size and position. Sherman was in the 220-pound range then. Clocking 4.5s in his laser 40. It meant he dashed alongside all the elite skill guys in the 'Fastest Man' Challenge. At this time a year ago, the 2020 Georgia signee was busy narrowing his decision down to Georgia and Ohio State. He visited Georgia for G-Day and committed to the Bulldogs less than three weeks after that trip . Sherman wound up being a one-man linebacker recruiting class for the program in 2020. 'MJ' can certainly plug-and-play at either LB spot for the Bulldogs. Sherman did see a lot of reps at ILB at the Under Armour All-American Game earlier this year. Sherman finished that contest with six tackles. That tied him for the second-best total from all the All-Americans in that game. He had five solo stops. It also proved for the second-highest game total in that category. The Baltimore native also tied for the game-high total with his two tackles for losses. He said after the game that he had something to prove that night. The future 'Wolfpack' member wanted to show everyone how he could still make plays for the LB spot. That said, his overall athleticism lends itself to being out on the edge as a 'Jack' in Georgia's odd front. Do you believe in stars? Or is the game film a better arbiter? Do the words of a teammate matter more while assessing what Sherman can be at the college level? If so, the scouting report for 2021 4-star recruit Taize Johnson provides an interesting view on Sherman. Mekhail Sherman: What Maryland commit Taize Johnson feels Georgia is getting What does Johnson feel Georgia is getting in Sherman? 'Definitely a natural leader,' Johnson said. 'Leadership comes easily to him. Guys just gravitate towards him. He has real positive energy and a positive spirit all the time. This year, we had a rough patch. Losing four games straight. But he was always steadfast on us. Telling us this isn't our best football yet. This isn't the end for us. Always being positive. He's a very positive guy.' He felt some natural frustration during fall camp getting ready for his return to the field.Sherman had to wait 10 very long months for his clearance to return to the field from that knee injury. 'I was able to imagine how hard it was for him,' Johnson said. 'He was frustrated early on in camp. I can understand what it was like playing at such speed before the injury. But I felt like as the season progressed that speed just naturally came back. I saw the old Sherman. Just him being positive all the time.' DawgNation estimates that Sherman was probably at about 75-to-80 percent of his former self during Under Armour All-American week. He was on a practice field covered with elite talent and he only looked like one of many All-Americans out there at times. 'Sherm' spent some time trying to get his knee brace right. When he's all the way back, he will be hard to miss. Even on a field filled with elite talent. That estimate seems logical given the timelines it takes for an elite athlete to return from that type of knee injury. It falls in line with what Johnson saw, too. 'I honestly give him about 80 percent,' Johnson said of what he saw from Sherman in 2019. 'I feel like this off-season with him going into Georgia he will be back to top shape by next year.' That also might explain what the recruiting industry saw that week when they dropped him from his long-time standing among the nation's top 20 prospects to that No. 32 overall ranking. Sherman, even at less than his best, was still an elite high school football prospect. 'I feel he is going to make an impact early at Georgia. Even if he doesn't get as much playing time, I feel like his presence is going to be known,' Johnson said. 'From the time he steps on campus people are going to know who he is, know who he is about and they will know he is not about any games.' There was a game last fall with St. Joe's Prep that Johnson said he will always remember. That was the same St. Joe's Prep program that D'Andre Swift played for in high school. 'That was a game where anyone could see that our sideline was down,' Johnson said. 'He just said to forget what the coaches are saying. Forget the scoreboard. Forget about us not playing at home. Forget about everybody being hurt or banged up. It is just right now about us. He was just letting us know that we could do this and we were still in that game. He said for all of us to not worry about anyone else but to focus on ourselves and do our own job. He said that was how we were going to get back in that game.' 'He just really kept people on task when they were down.' You asked for it. We heard you. Our weekly live DawgNation 'Before the Hedges' recruiting show is now up on Apple podcasts. Check it out. Mekhail Sherman: His own words That knee injury happened, like most do, on a fluke. But this was a few first downs farther than just that.His knee joint was leg-whipped by his own teammate. He suffered a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament and partial lateral meniscus tear. 'The knee and what it will do to you really all that has done is given me more fuel to my fire,' Sherman said after G-Day a year ago. 'You can love the game so much but the game will cheat you. It cheated me. I got leg-whipped by my own teammate. My ACL was torn. But all that it did was I had to sit back.' 'Then I had to talk to God. I had to talk to family and realize why I do this. I had to revert back to why I do this. Now, this injury will not only touch you physically but also touch you mentally. All I have been doing is going through these trials and tribulations between physical, mental and spiritual ways to get stronger. So when I get back on that field there is no turning back.' 'MJ' gave one of the most unique answers imaginable when asked what was his 'why' for playing the game of football. His answer covered 700 words and was transcribed verbatim by DawgNation last spring. It should serve as the ultimate reference material as to why Georgia valued him so highly in the 2020 class. Sherman is going to be a great candidate to be a team captain at UGA during his time Athens. He proved to be a behind-the-scenes anchor for the 2020 recruiting class. He's just wired to lead. The future Bulldog has had great family support coming up. It has lead to a maturity that goes beyond his years on this Earth up to this point. As an Athlete, 1 out of the 3 will suffer: Social Life, Education, Your Athletic Career. Be Wise. Mekhail Sherman (@JuicedUpK9) January 25, 2019 Want to see for yourself what Sherman is all about? Check out his extended interview with DawgNation from the Under Armour All-American Game Media Day' session in late December below. The post Mekhail Sherman: Former teammate shares what UGA is getting in the elite 2020 signee appeared first on DawgNation.