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Latest from Logan Booker

    Georgia’s Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and current Major League Baseball stars teamed up last Saturday in Athens to raise money for perhaps Athens’ most-favorite charity, Extra Special People.  ATLANTA, GA— (February 11, 2019) On Feb. 9, Georgia’s Lt. Governor, Geoff Duncan, and several other MLB players were guest judges for Extra Special People (ESP) Big Hearts at Bat. The line-up included Duncan, who played for the Florida Marlins early in his career before being elected as Georgia’s Lt. Governor. Kyle Farmer of the Cincinnati Reds, Gordon Beckham formerly with the Atlanta Braves and now with the Detroit Tigers, Brooks Brown formerly with the Colorado Rockies, and Trevor Holder of the San Diego Padres were also guest judges. “ESP is making dreams come true for kids with special needs, and I was honored to be a part of the inspirational night,” Farmer, who also played in two World Series’ for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said. “I’m excited to see kids of every ability have the chance to step up to the plate and play the sport I love.” “One of the best parts about being lieutenant governor is having the opportunity to find out about organizations like ESP and the huge impact they have on a community and the joys they bring to people’s lives,” Duncan said. In its 12th year, ESP’s Big Hearts pageant showcases kids of all abilities as they perform for thousands of guests in Athens, Ga. This year, money was raised to build a Miracle League baseball field and sports complex. Through generous donations at Big Hearts at Bat, ESP reached the $1.1 million mark of a $1.4 million campaign goal. The Miracle League sports complex will bring the magic of baseball to kids of all abilities in Northeast Georgia. Additionally, funds were raised at the pageant and silent auction to send hundreds of kids to summer camp. “Big Hearts at Bat was focused on bringing to life the dream of typical kids and those with special needs playing alongside one another, no longer benching those who have different abilities,” said Laura Whitaker, ESP Executive Director. “Our Miracle League sports complex will be for everyone—a fully-accessible baseball field, making it possible for every child to play America’s favorite pastime, as well as a playground and splash pad for everyone in the community.” ESP is committed to fostering genuine friendships and memorable moments between all citizens who want to play and aims to see the bases loaded at the newly-constructed complex by Spring of 2020. About Extra Special People Extra Special People, Inc., (ESP), a 501 (c)(3) is a nonprofit serving families and children with special needs in the 26-county area surrounding Watkinsville, Ga., since 1987. With ever-expanding after-school programs, weekend clubs, an eight-week long summer camp and family resources, ESP now reaches more than 425 children, with an ongoing dream of reaching every Northeast Georgia family that has a need and a desire to help their special child grow and thrive. Contributing to this dream was the addition of 70 acres in Jackson County in December 2014. Camp Hooray will one day continue the ESP mission by hosting overnight camps, weekend retreats and events for children and families of all abilities. About The Miracle League The Miracle League removes the barriers that keep children with mental and physical disabilities off the baseball field and lets them experience the joy of America’s favorite pastime. Miracle League teams play on a custom-designed, rubberized turf field that accommodates wheelchairs and other assistive devices while helping to prevent injuries. The first Miracle League field opened in Conyers, Ga., in April 2000. Now there are more than 300 Miracle League Organizations across the country including Puerto Rico and Canada, serving more than 250,000 children and adults. Miracle League is not only partnering with ESP for the first local field in the Athens area, but will also be a part of the expansion of Camp Hooray, an innovative, state-of-the-art camp for individuals with disabilities.
  • A Barrow County couple has been arrested after their baby was brought to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center with broken bones.  From the Barrow County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page: On February 6th, 2019, the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center (Barrow) in reference to a 3 week old infant with multiple broken bones. Upon their arrival the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division was contacted, arrived on scene, and took over the investigation. The investigation revealed the infant was being abused and had received numerous broken bones along with other injuries. The diligent work of the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office Investigators led to the arrest of Jarrett McCloud, 20, Winder and Megan Richmond, 22, Winder. Both McCloud and Richmond have been charged with Aggravated Battery and Cruelty to Children (1st Degree). In addition, McCloud has been charged with Reckless Conduct. The investigation is on-going and additional charges are likely. More information will be released as it becomes available.
  • Former University of Georgia running back and now Super Bowl champion Sony Michel joined Jimmy Kimmel last night to talk about the big win in Atlanta.
  • Tickets are going fast, as few remain for the upcoming Big Hearts fundraiser benefiting Extra Special People More details:  Athens, GA -- Extra Special People (ESP) will be holding its 12th annual Big Hearts fundraiser at the Classic Center Theater on Feb. 9, 2019.   Big Hearts, voted Athens Best Fundraising Event 2 years in a row, is soon to come to bat. Through a performance, silent auction and banquet, the evening shines a light on children and young adults on The Classic Center stage as they leave their disabilities in the wings. The goal of the event is to fund summer camp, allowing every child of every ability and financial need the opportunity to experience the joys of camp.   “This night is simply spectacular,” said Executive Director, Laura Whitaker. “Not only do our individuals make you laugh and cry, but I love hearing from new people after their first Big Heart's experience. The joy of the event is palpable and contagious.”   The pageant portion of Big Hearts features dance numbers, skits and opportunities to highlight each of ESP’s 70 performers and contestants. Contestants will be escorted on stage by familiar faces including pageant queens and UGA football players. Between contestant groups, the ESP performers will take to the stage sharing a story in line with this year’s Big Hearts’ baseball theme. “Our fictional baseball team, the Hipsters, sets out to form a team unlike anything baseball has ever seen. There’s just one obstacle---some people believe baseball isn’t made for everyone,” says Program Coordinator, Kalon Carpenter.   After twelve years, the pageant remains a special night full of surprises for spectators. These include Fox Sports South host and Atlanta Braves field reporter Kelsey Wingert overseeing the pageant as one of the special emcees. A mystery emcee, one Georgia fans will be excited to welcome, promises to surprise pageant attendees. Another public figure, recently elected and still under wraps, will join the panel of Big Hearts judges.   Another unique aspect of this year’s Big Hearts is the theme: Big Hearts at Bat.   Whitaker shared, “This year, we are thrilled to share with the community our love for America's pastime and our dream for ESP’s future baseball complex.” The At Bat theme recognizes ESP’s ongoing relationship with the Miracle League, a national organization that brings accessible baseball and inclusive play to individuals of all abilities. ESP is in the process of bringing a Miracle League field to the Athens community. Several exciting Miracle League announcements including the proposed location will be made during the Pageant.   Big Hearts is an evening that brings friends and family together for a cause that’s close to the hearts of Athens’ natives. Attendance is open to the public on February 9 at the Classic Center Theater. Pageant tickets can be purchased through the Classic Center box office.    About ESP Extra Special People, Inc., (ESP), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving families and children with special needs in more than 30 counties surrounding Watkinsville, Ga., since 1986. With ever-expanding after-school programs, weekend clubs, an eight-week long summer camp and family resources, ESP now reaches more than 300 children, with an ongoing dream of reaching every Northeast Georgia family that has a need and a desire to help their special child grow and thrive.   Contributing to this dream was the addition of 70 acres in Jackson County in December 2014. Camp Hooray will one day continue the ESP mission by hosting overnight camps, weekend retreats, and events for children and families of all abilities.
  • A University of Georgia student was killed overnight while driving his car on I-20 just west of Atlanta. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as 20-year-old William Whitaker, of Carrollton. Whitaker was driving in the westbound lanes on I-20 when a tractor trailer crashed with two cars in the eastbound lanes. Debris from the wreck was sent into the westbound lanes, striking two vehicles, including the car driven by Whitaker,  who died on the scene.  The driver of the truck has been identified as Mario Polier, 53, of Hialeah, FL. He now faces numerous misdemeanor charges including second degree homicide by vehicle  
  • The Athens-Clarke County Police has named a new Chief.  Cleveland Lee Spruill, Sr. will begin his duties as of February 4, 2019. From the ACCPD: Manager Blaine Williams has appointed Cleveland Lee Spruill, Sr. as the Chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. He will begin his duties as of February 4, 2019.  “After careful consideration and based on extensive feedback from the citizens and officers about what they want to see in our new Police Chief, I believe that Chief Spruill will be an exceptional fit for Athens-Clarke County,” says Williams. “He stood out among an extremely well-qualified group of candidates as the right person to lead our Police Department, uphold our community-oriented policing philosophy, and serve as an ambassador to the community.” Chief Spruill had served as the Huntersville, North Carolina Chief of Police from May 2014 until January 2019. In his position, he led the 111 member (102 sworn and 9 civilian) Huntersville Police Department in a town with a population of 60,000 and an annual police budget exceeding $12.8 million. “It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as the next chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department,” said Spruill. “I look forward to leading the talented and capable men and women of the department and pledge my best effort to train them and enrich their careers. Together, we will strive to build on organizational successes and enhance trust and relationships with the community to make Athens-Clarke County among the safest places in Georgia to live, learn, work and visit.” Prior to his time in Huntersville, Spruill served the Alexandria, Virginia Police Department for nearly 27 years. This included more than 17 years of command level experience with assignments in each of the major bureaus. In his final assignment with the Alexandria Police, Spruill served as the Executive Deputy Chief, managing more than 320 sworn and 105 civilian employees, with an annual police budget that exceeded $57 million and serving a population of more than 150,000. Spruill retired from the Alexandria Police Department in 2014 to become the Chief in Huntersville.  “Throughout his 31-year police career, Chief Spruill has established a reputation as a reformer and change agent,” notes Williams. “He has shown that he can support his officers effectively in reducing crime and enhancing the quality of life, while at the same time building trust and strengthening community relationships with law enforcement.”  As part of the process of selecting a new Police Chief, Williams collected public input from residents, as well as current and past police officers. Residents submitted over 150 online form submissions and voicemails, while a panel of Police Department Command Staff also provided feedback and recommendations.  “Chief Spruill embodies the characteristics that both the community and the government are seeking,” said Williams. “I believe he can connect well with the community - including underserved populations, will support the officers, will communicate in a transparent fashion, is fair and builds trust, will emphasize training and 21st Century Policing principles, and has demonstrated an experienced career leading community policing.” Spruill was born in Queens, New York, in 1964 and relocated with his family to Richmond, Virginia in 1978. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he was assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Battalion at Ft. Myer, Virginia. He was honorably discharged in 1986 and joined the Alexandria Police Department the following year.  Chief Spruill is a graduate of the 217th Session of the FBI National Academy in 2004 and completed the Police Executive Research Forum Senior Management Institute for Police in 2012. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s degree, both in Business Management, from Johns Hopkins University.  Spruill is a member of the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police. Chief Spruill has three adult children and two grandchildren. During his spare time, he enjoys participating in church youth mentoring programs and coaching youth football. “Interim Chief Mike Hunsinger has done a commendable job of managing
  • The Athens-Clarke County police responded to an in-progress aggravated assault on Lexington Road this week.  From the ACCPD:  On January 6th at 2:34 am, ACCPD responded to an Aggravated Assault in progress at a residence on Lexington Road. Upon arrival, ACCPD could hear a struggle inside the residence. ACCPD dispatchers advised our officers that the victim, a 46-year-old female from Athens, reported that she was being attacked. Dispatchers relayed to our officers that she said, “He’s got a baseball bat.” Due to the exigent circumstances, ACCPD forced entry into the residence, locating the suspect and victim. The suspect was detained and ACCPD began providing aid to the victim. To provide quicker access for an EMS crew, an ACCPD officer forced the back door of the residence open. EMS entered through this door and began providing aid. The EMS crew determined that the victim needed immediate transport and the ACCPD officer helped move and load the stretcher into ambulance. Noting the victim’s condition and need for immediate care, the ACCPD officer drove the ambulance while the EMS crew provided life-saving care. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment. After an ACCPD investigation, the suspect, 51-year-old Christopher Warden of Athens, was arrested for Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery
  • A pair of armed robberies occurred yesterday on Athens’ east side, which police believe were conducted by the same people.  From ACCPD:  On January 8th , ACCPD responded to two Armed Robberies which appear to have been committed by the same suspects. The incident at Golden Pantry on Barnett Shoals Rd. took place at approximately 1:24 am and the incident at Choo Choo on 1065 Gaines School Road occurred at approximately 1:36 am. In both incidents, the suspects were armed with handguns and entered the businesses and demanded cash from the employees. The suspects had bandanas or coverings over their faces. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash from both locations, the suspects fled. In the Choo Choo incident, witnesses stated the suspects fled in a grey Toyota Corolla, which investigators later determined had been stolen from Cambridge Apartments off Barnett Shoals Rd. An image of the vehicle is shown above. Video of the Golden Pantry incident is available upon request. Detectives investigating the cases ask anyone with information about the incidents to contact Det. Black – Scott.Black@accgov.com or 706-613-3330 ext. 798 or Det. McCauley –Michael.McCauley@accgov.com or 706-613-3330, ext. 312. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identities of the suspects. The Crime Stoppers tip line is 706-705-4775. 
  • The Athens-Clarke County Police is looking for suspects after an armed robbery was committed at a local Food Mart.  From the ACCPD: On December 26, at approximately 8:45 pm, ACCPD was dispatched to an Armed Robbery that had just occurred at the Food Mart on Ila Road. According to the victim, two subjects entered the convenience store. One of the subjects brandished a firearm. The victim gave the suspects an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspects left the area in a white sedan. The incident is under investigation and the ACCPD asks that anyone with information contact Det. McCauley @ Michael.McCauley@accgov.com or 706-613-3330, ext. 312.   
  • Reports of multiple drive by shootings in Athens on Christmas Eve earlier this week. No injuries were reported in either case.  From the ACCPD: Two Drive-by Shootings took place on December 24th – the first at 1:26 am on Spring Valley Road and the second at 10:35 pm on Highland Park Drive. At 1:26 am, ACCPD responded to a report of Fireworks waking up a resident on Spring Valley Rd. Upon arrival, ACCPD spoke to the resident who said she thought she heard fireworks. However, after looking around her residence, she found what she believed to be gunshot entry holes. ACCPD investigated and located several entry holes in the rear of the residence. There were no injuries. In the second incident, ACCPD responded to a report of Gunshots from a resident on Highland Park Dr. at 10:35 pm. The resident stated that she heard three shots coming from the street. ACCPD investigated and found that one of the shots entered through a bedroom window and struck the wall above a bed. There were no injuries reported.
  • Logan Booker

    Logan Booker is the producer for Classic City Today on 98.7FM and AM 1340 WGAU from 6am-10am weekdays, and occasionally contributes on-air with Tim Bryant. Logan also covers the midday news on WGAU Monday-Friday. On occasion, he fills as a co-host of The Morning Show on 960 The Ref. 

    Logan has covered UGA sports since 2012, previously with Bulldawg Illustrated. 

    He is a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where he earned a degree in magazine journalism in addition to a Grady Sports Media certificate. He was born and raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and in addition to his current home in Bethlehem, Georgia, he spends lots of time with his dog and his boat in Lincoln County, Georgia. 

     

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Local News

  • From the Athens-Clarke County Police Dept... After more than two months following the disappearance of Derrick Ruff and Joshua Jackson, ACCPD reminds the public that we need their help to locate the missing men. ACCPD continues to investigate the case as a Missing Persons incident. ACCPD has investigated hundreds of leads and last week, ACCPD detectives spoke to multiple persons of interest. Today, ACCPD is releasing a photo of a vehicle of interest in the case. This surveillance photograph, taken on the night that Derrick and Joshua are believed to have gone missing, was obtained from a Lawrenceville area shopping center and shows an early 2000’s grey Jeep. Detectives ask anyone with information about this vehicle or the whereabouts of Jackson and Ruff to contact Lt. Derek Scott at 706-613-3888, ext. 329 or Derek.Scott@accgov.com . A Crime Stoppers reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the location of Joshua and Derrick. The Crime Stoppers Tip Line is 706-705-4775.
  • Joni Taylor coached the Lady Dogs to an 22-point win over Ole Miss last night. She gave birth this morning. Drew is 6 lbs 8 ounces and 20 inches long and Taylor tot No. 2. From UGA Sports Communications... Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball head coach Joni Taylor and her husband Darius welcomed their second child — Drew Simone Taylor — at 7:29 a.m. Tuesday in Athens.    Drew is 20 inches long and weighs 6 pounds, 8 ounces and both she and Joni are resting well. She is the Taylor’s second daughter. Jacie Elise Taylor was born on Nov. 3, 2016.    “Darius and I feel so blessed to be the parents of such a sweet little girl, and I know Jacie is thrilled to be a big sister,” Taylor said. “I can’t express how much joy Drew has already brought to our family. We want to thank everyone in the Georgia community for your prayers and encouragement during this happy season of our lives. I am thrilled that Drew will be surrounded by so many special people, and that she will be a part of the Bulldog family.”    Coach Taylor led Georgia to a 78-56 win against Ole Miss Monday evening, less than 12 hours before giving birth. Plans for her return to the Georgia bench will be announced at a later date.     Associate head coach Karen Lange will assume head coaching duties during Taylor’s absence. 
  • Labs and research support spaces across campus will be getting an upgrade, thanks to a $1.5 million presidential initiative that seeks to build on the university’s dramatic growth in research activity.   Presidential renovation funds have been distributed to nine schools and colleges and will be used to upgrade labs and replace core equipment that enables faculty members to conduct research and be more competitive in seeking grant funding. Proposals were solicited from deans and chosen based on links to college and university strategic priorities, as well as implications for faculty recruitment efforts and grant funding opportunities.   “To advance the research mission of the university and attract and retain outstanding faculty, we must support state-of-the-art facilities that assist the faculty with their groundbreaking work,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am pleased the institution has been able to help several faculty with critical needs, thanks to this initiative.”   In the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, an upgrade to an insectary that will be used to rear mosquitoes will enable Regents’ Professor and National Academy of Sciences member Michael Strand and several of his colleagues in the department of entomology to expand their research on infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. “We’re going to be able to do a whole series of experiments that we currently can’t do,” Strand said, adding that the upgraded facility opens up new opportunities for grants.   Upgrades to the Sensory Evaluation and Product Development Lab in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences will enable assistant professor Ginnefer Cox to develop and evaluate new food product formulations more efficiently while also giving students hands-on experiences and facilitating industry partnerships. “This new space is going to have equipment that helps train students to be the next product developers,” Cox said. “The upgrades also create more opportunities to collaborate in research with food companies, which opens up opportunities for students to interact with them and obtain internships and permanent employment.”   In the department of physics and astronomy, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, renovation funds will aid in faculty recruitment by modernizing an outdated laboratory. “We’re really excited to have received this funding,” said department head Phillip Stancil. “The space has been unused for the last several years, and with this renovation it’ll be ready for a new experimentalist to move in.”   Other schools and colleges that have received funding through presidential renovation funds are the College of Engineering, College of Environment and Design, Odum School of Ecology, College of Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.   Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Libby V. Morris noted that the lab renovation funds come at a time when sponsored research awards have increased by 34 percent over the past five years. It also coincides with recruitment initiatives that will bring up to 25 new faculty members to campus.   “Research activity at the University of Georgia has grown significantly in recent years, with strategic investments in faculty and facilities enabling discoveries that point the way to a healthier and more promising future,” Morris said
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet tonight: it’s a 6 o’clock agenda setting session at City Hall in downtown Athens. Appointments to the Athens-Clarke County Community Tree Council are up for discussion.  As this year’s session of the Georgia legislature nears the halfway mark, there is an afternoon meeting of the Clarke County School Board’s Government Relations Committee: it starts at 4:30 at the HT Edwards Building on Dearing Extension in Athens.  There is an evening meeting of the Board of Directors for the Morton Theatre Corporation: it’s a 6:30 session at the Morton on Washington Street in downtown Athens.  Oconee County Commissioners hold a town hall meeting tonight: it is set for 6 o’clock in the Community Center at Oconee Veterans Park.  Madison County’s Planning and Zoning Board meets at 6:30 this evening in Danielsville.  This afternoon’s Gainesville City Council session is underway at 5:30 at the Public Safety Complex in Gainesville: Phase II of the city’s downtown utilities improvement project headlines the Council’s business agenda.
  • Forecasters say the rain that is expected to start falling this afternoon will usher in several days of wet weather for Athens and northeast Georgia, with the potential for serious flooding later in the week, most likely Wednesday night into Thursday.  Channel 2 Action News Meteorologist Brad Nitz says “I've revised the totals down slightly, but flooding remains a concern.” Athens could receive two to three inches of rain, while northwest Georgia is in line to receive between four and six inches. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS – Their average age is 40. Most of them played college football at places like Arkansas Tech and Texas Southern. Three of them didn’t play college ball at all. They are the 10 full-time coaches who will be assisting Georgia head coach Kirby Smart for what’s expected to be a championship run in the 2019 football season. It’s an interesting mix of youth and experience and it features a surprising lack of actual on-field, Division I playing experience. The makeup of the Bulldogs’ staff came more into focus after roles and salaries were revealed last Friday in response to open records requests from media outlets. Smart has yet to offer comment or answer questions about his new staff. Here’s some factoids to consider as we take a closer look at the group: Not that it matters, but two of Georgia’s three coordinators did not play college football themselves. Neither offensive coordinator James Coley nor co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann played ball beyond high school. Recently hired tight ends coach Todd Hartley also didn’t play college football. He was a student assistant coach while attending UGA as an undergrad. Only running backs coach Dell McGee played major college ball. He was a wide receiver and defensive back at Auburn from 1992-95 and played briefly in the NFL. New defensive backs coach Charlton Warren played as a defensive back at the Air Force Academy. The rest of the staff were small-college football players. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning played linebacker at tiny William Jewell College, an NAIA program at the time. Heralded offensive line coach – and newly-appointed associate head coach — Sam Pittman also played NAIA ball. He was an All-American lineman at Pittsburg State in Kansas. Special teams coordinator Scott Fountain played at Samford, receivers coach Cortez Hankton played at Texas Southern and defensive line coach Tray Scott played at Arkansas Tech Georgia’s staff also is not extremely deep on experience. Pittman, 57, and Fountain, 52, have been around the longest. They’ve logged 32 and 31 years, respectively, in the college game. Many people don’t realize that Pittman was once a head coach. He spent two seasons as head coach at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, three overall. Today he is considered one of the most successful recruiters of offensive linemen in the country. When broken down into experience as actual on-field, college assistant coaches, the average length of service for members of Smart’s staff is a relatively low 11.5 years. The 28-year-old Schumann has the least, entering his fourth year as inside linebackers coach for the Bulldogs. He was a volunteer analyst as an undergraduate student at Alabama, then a graduate assistant and, finally, a director of player development and personnel for two years before following Smart to UGA. Hartley (7), Hankton (7), Lanning (6), McGee (6) and Scott (6) all have less than eight years experience as well. Most of Georgia’s coaches spent a good bit of time coaching high school ball before moving into the college ranks. Fountain and McGee were high school head coaches before breaking into college as analysts. Pittman was also a high school head coach. Coley and Lanning each were high school assistant coaches before getting their breaks as analysts, or quality control specialists. Smart lost a combined 56 years of college and pro coaching experience off his staff when coordinators Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker left to accept new jobs after last season. Tucker became head coach at Colorado while Chaney accepted a $650,000-a-year raise to make a lateral move to Tennessee. That resulted in Smart paying $375,000-a-year less for his assistant coaches. Chaney’s addition along with the hiring of Derrick Ansley as defensive coordinator and Tee Martin as wide receivers coach and some other staff moves mean that Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is now paying his staff $800,000 more than Georgia is ($6.045 million). That’s primarily due to coordinator pay. Chaney ($1.6 million), Ansley ($1 million) and Chris Rumph ($805,000) all have multiyear contracts and make $3.4 million annually between them. Georgia’s three coordinators are due $2.25 million in the next year. It’s not yet known if they signed multiyear deals, but three-year deals are standard operating procedure in the business. What’s it all mean? Not much at the moment. Smart’s doing just fine, thank you very much. He is a combined 10-3 against Georgia’s four primary conference rivals of Auburn (3-1), Florida (2-1), South Carolina (3-0) and Tennesssee (2-1). He is, of course, 0-2 vs. Alabama. The post Georgia Bulldogs’ 2019 football staff is short on experience, long on potential appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia Athletic Association board members will be briefed on the progress of efforts to add a new football-dedicated building to the Butts-Mehre Athletic Complex when it holds its annual winter meeting on Wednesday. In a conference call with members of the board’s facilities and development committee Monday morning, Athletic Director Greg McGarity confirmed that a status report will be provided on the latest multi-million dollar project to come on line since Kirby Smart became the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2016. McGarity said Georgia is in the process of selecting engineers and architects for the project, which is expected to be erect a building in the space between the Spec Town Track & Field grandstands and the Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. As DawgNation reported six months ago, such a facility is expected to carry a price tag of more than $50 million. Fundraising efforts are already underway. Since Smart’s arrival on campus in January of 2016, Georgia has built and dedicated a $30 million indoor practice facility and $65 million locker room and recruiting area underneath the West grandstand at Sanford Stadium. Since the fall of 2015, members of Georgia’s relatively new Magill Society have pledged donations totaling nearly $100 million to cover the cost of those projects. Board members will also be briefed on an upcoming project to improve the lighting at Sanford Stadium, McGarity said. The majority of the focus on facilities updates on Wednesday will be on construction of a new grandstand for the Henry Feild Stadium courts at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, McGarity said. Cost for that project is now expected to exceed $8 million. The board will also be briefed on plans to erect a new six-court indoor tennis facility for the complex. “That will be the only action item on Wednesday,” McGarity said. To date, none of the monies raised from the Magill Society have gone toward tennis. That is the sport Magill oversaw for decades before his death in 2014 at the age of 93. Board members will also be briefed on an ongoing $3.1 million equestrian project that will include a 7,000-square foot clubhouse at the team’s facility in Bishop. The post Expansion of Georgia Bulldogs’ football complex to be discussed at UGA athletics board meeting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — As many as three outgoing Georgia football players have been projected as first-round NFL Draft picks by different analysts at different times. But there’s always one Bulldog on the first-round list — Deandre Baker. That didn’t change on Monday when the Georgia Thorpe Award winner surfaced as the No. 20 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Mel Kiper’s latest first-round mock draft on the ESPN Insider pay site. RELATED: Georgia opens with 10 on NFL Draft boards Kiper has Baker as his second-highest rated cornerback in the draft behind LSU’s Greedy Williams, who he forecasts will go to Denver at No. 10. Earlier this month, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter opened eyes when he projected both Baker and tailback Elijah Holyfield to be selected in the first round. Reuter, in a Feb. 5 three-round NFL mock draft, had four Bulldogs listed: Deandre Baker, No. 24 overall, Oakland Elijah Holyfield, No. 30 overall, Green Bay Riley Ridley, No. 35 overall, Oakland Isaac Nauta, No. 62 overall, New Orleans Ridley was at one point projected as high as the first round — at No. 32 — by NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah. WATCH: Riley Ridley coached up by NFL legends Jeremiah and fellow NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein recently penned an article on which one player each team should keep an eye on. The Baltimore Ravens were advised to keep an eye on speedy Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman, as “the buzz is starting to build in personnel circles.” The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, should watch for Ridley, according to the story: “The Niners need another big target at wide receiver with size and toughness for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Ridley’s college production was just OK, but there were plenty of mouths to feed in the Georgia offense. Ridley might be a fit for San Francisco as a Day 2 option, provided he shows ball-tracking ability and some route acumen in Indianapolis.” Projections from one analyst to another vary, as they each do their own evaluations and rely on different NFL sources. Kiper, for example, doesn’t have Holyfield, Ridley or Nauta ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions in the upcoming draft. It’s all talk for now, and NFL Draft projections are sure to get a thorough shaking up after the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The combine testing runs from March 1-4. Georgia will have eight players at the combine, seven taking part in on-field testing. Outside linebacker D’Andre Walker had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 16 in Birmingham, Ala., and is rehabilitating. Walker hopes to be healthy enough to take part in the Bulldogs Pro Day for NFL scouts on March 20.     The post Georgia football favorites Elijah Holyfield, Mecole Hardman generating NFL Draft buzz appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Nicolas Claxton’s All-SEC campaign continued Saturday night against No. 19 LSU, the sophomore leading Georgia in scoring and assists. The Bulldogs played the Tigers tight in a hard-fought 83-79 defeat before the sold-out Stegeman Coliseum crowd, and Claxton had everything to do with it. RELATED: Georgia battles LSU in bitter 83-79 defeat “We had no answer for Claxton,” said LSU coach Will Wade, whose team has won 14 of its past 15 games. “He played great.” Indeed, Georgia out-scored the Tigers by nine points when Claxton was on the floor. Problem was, the six minutes the 6-foot-11 forward didn’t play, LSU outscored the Bulldogs by 13. Wade credited Georgia coach Tom Crean with creating match-up problems throughout the game with personnel substitutions. LSU struggled to get a handle on how to defend Claxton. “When he’s hitting those mid-range turnarounds, it’s very tough to guard him,” Wade said. “We put Skylar (Mays) on him, one of our guards, and they posted him, and we put our big guys on him, and they took him on the perimeter and he was driving and he was spinning. “We just didn’t have very good coverage on him. They exploited the mismatch.” Claxton converted a conventional three-point play despite being triple-teamed with 5:30 left, pulling Georgia within 71-70. But Claxton couldn’t get his shot to fall with the game on the line in the final seconds. Claxton’s layup was uncharacteristically off-target after Crean called time out to set up the play with the Bulldogs down 82-79 and 29.5 seconds left. “I was supposed to drive and make the layup,” Claxton said. “So, we executed the play right, I just came up short on the layup.” Claxton is one of only four players in the Division I ranks who leads his team in all five major categories: points (12.8 per game), rebounds (9.0 per game), assists (53), blocks (64) and steals (31). Claxton, the SEC’s overall leader in rebounding and blocked shots, just wants to get back in the win column. “I would say it’s progress, us just playing our hardest for the whole 40 minutes, not coming out in the second half and being in a drought,” Claxton said. “At the end of the day, we did not want a moral victory. We wanted to come out and get the win.” Georgia dropped to 10-15 and 1-11 in SEC with the loss. The Bulldogs play host to Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Georgia basketball players LSU coach Will Wade Georgia basketball boxscore   The post WATCH: LSU won, but ‘had no answer’ for Georgia basketball star Nicolas Claxton appeared first on DawgNation.