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Travel Headlines

    Alaska Airlines announced Thursday it is making policy changes for passengers who fly with emotional support and psychiatric service animals. Starting May 1, the airline will require passengers traveling with those type of animals to provide animal health and behavioral documents. The airline said a signed document from a medical doctor or mental health professional will also be needed. >> Read more trending news  All of the documents must be submitted at least 48 hours before flight departure, Alaska Airlines said. Ray Prentice, Alaska Airlines’ director of customer advocacy said, 'We are making these changes now based on a number of recent incidents where the inappropriate behavior of emotional support animals has impacted and even injured our employees, other guests and service animals.' The airline reported at least 150 emotional support and psychiatric service animals travel on its planes daily. The airline said passengers can obtain the necessary documents on alaskaair.com beginning April 30. The policy changes do not apply to traditional service animals, Alaska Airlines said. Learn more here.
  • What happens when the person steering a massive ship into port misjudges the space between the vessel and the dock? Now we know, because the whole thing was caught on video. The MSC Armonia was coming into port on the island of Roatan in Honduras, but the ship was bearing down on the pier, NPR reported. >> Read more trending news  The ship crashed into the dock and tore out a chunk of the pier before running aground on the nearby beach. The vessel was held for a few minutes before it was reversed back to the ocean, the Mirror reported. MSC Cruises, the company that owns the ship, emailed NPR a statement, “While maneuvering alongside, for reasons that are currently still being duly investigated, the ship deviated from her course and grazed the end of a pier.” The company said that guests and crew were not at risk and that the ship sustained minor damage, NPR reported. It was heading to the next port of call in Belize as it continues its 14-night Caribbean trip, the Mirror reported. The video of the crash can be viewed here, but warning, profanity can be heard from the onlookers.
  • It’s another good day to live in Austin, Texas.  >> Watch the news report here Last year, Austin knocked Denver from the No. 1 spot on U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Places to Live in the U.S.” And this year, it didn’t budge.  >> Florida beach named nation's best in TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards As in years past, the publication ranked the 125 largest cities in the country based on a variety of factors and data. Five indexes were used to compile the list: job market, value, quality of life, desirability and net migration. Cities were graded on each of these indexes on a 10-point scale, which were then averaged for an overall score.  Overall, Austin earned a 7.7 out of 10. Of the measurements, Austin scored highest in the net migration category with 9.4. Austin also scored high in the desirability index with an 8.9.  >> Read more trending news  The top 10 cities are: 1. Austin 2. Colorado Springs, Colorado 3. Denver 4. Des Moines, Iowa 5. Fayetteville, Arkansas 6. Portland, Oregon  7. Huntsville, Alabama 8. Washington, D.C.  9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota 10. Seattle >> See the full list here Austin Mayor Steve Adler took to Twitter to share the good news: It’s not all sunshine in the greatest place to live in the U.S., however. Or maybe it’s too much sunshine, in at least one category. U.S. News and World Report noted Austin’s higher-than-average housing costs, its notoriously bad traffic, issues with segregation and those hot, hot summers as negative factors. 
  • Update Apr 5, 2018 3:45 PM EDT: In addition to Delta Airlines, Sears Holdings announced that customer data from Sears and Kmart stores, including names, addresses and credit card numbers, may have been exposed during a security breach last fall. >> Read more trending news  Sears Holdings uses the same online chat service as Delta, [24]7.ai, and said in a statement posted on its website that it believes fewer than 100,000 customers were affected by the breach. “As soon as [24]7.ai informed us in mid-March 2018, we immediately notified the credit card companies to prevent potential fraud, and launched a thorough investigation with federal law enforcement authorities, our banking partners, and IT security firms,” company officials said. Sears Holdings said the credit card information of customers making purchases online between Sept. 27, 2017 and Oct. 12, 2017, may have been compromised, but that anyone using a Sears credit card was not affected. The company said there’s no evidence its stores were compromised or that Sears’ internal data bases were compromised. Sears Holdings is establishing a hotline for customers to find out more about the breach by Friday. (Previous story) Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is the latest victim of a cyber incident. >> Watch the news report here Delta announced Wednesday that a 'small subset' of customers may have had their payment information compromised online. '(I’m) a little uneasy. I think they'll take care of it, so it will be OK, but the first gut reaction is a little nerve-racking,' traveler Nicole Ladin told WSB-TV's Carl Willis at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta's main hub.  >> Visit WSBTV.com for the latest on this developing story According to Delta, [24]7.ai, an online chat service they use, was hacked from Sept. 26 to Oct. 12 of last year, and payment information may have been compromised. Delta said the airline was notified about the breach last Wednesday. 'It's just ... I think they have to make it 100 percent, to make it work 100 percent,' traveler Marquise Bishop said. Delta said the company will launch a special webpage at Delta.com/response at noon Thursday to address customer questions and concerns. >> Read more trending news  The airline also will start directly contacting customers who may have been impacted and ensure that customers are not responsible for any fraudulent payment card activity that may have happened. Ladin told Willis that her mind will still be on her wallet as she flies home. 'Especially when you're a frequent flier. It gets a little nervous that that information has been leaked,' Ladin said. Here's is Delta's full statement about the cyber incident:  'Last week, on March 28, Delta was notified by [24]7.ai, a company that provides online chat services for Delta and many other companies, that [24]7.ai had been involved in a cyber incident. It is our understanding that the incident occurred at [24]7.ai from Sept. 26 to Oct. 12, 2017, and that during this time certain customer payment information for [24]7.ai clients, including Delta, may have been accessed – but no other customer personal information, such as passport, government ID, security or SkyMiles information was impacted. 'Upon being notified of [24]7.ai's incident, Delta immediately began working with [24]7.ai to understand any potential impact the incident had on Delta customers, delta.com, or any Delta computer system. We also engaged federal law enforcement and forensic teams, and have confirmed that the incident was resolved by [24]7.ai last October. At this point, even though only a small subset of our customers would have been exposed, we cannot say definitively whether any of our customers' information was actually accessed or subsequently compromised. 'We appreciate and understand that this information is concerning to our customers. The security and confidentiality of our customers' information is of critical importance to us and a responsibility we take extremely seriously. Delta will launch delta.com/response, a dedicated website, noon ET April 5, which we will update regularly to address customer questions and concerns. We will also directly contact customers who may have been impacted by the [24]7.ai cyber incident. In the event any of our customers' payment cards were used fraudulently as a result of the [24]7.ai cyber incident, we will ensure our customers are not responsible for that activity.' >> Click here for more information from [24]7.ai
  • The Transportation Security Administration is not known for its sense of humor. “I was just joking” is probably the last words heard of many travelers before they are dragged into one of those private rooms at the airport. But it turns out the TSA makes an exception for its Instagram account (did you know the TSA has an Instagram account?). When a traveler at San Antonio International Airport tried to bring a highly questionable item in his carry-on baggage, the TSA had some fun with it. Yes, you can carry your sword in Texas — it’s still legal, believe it or not — but you can’t fly the friendly skies with it. In the post, TSA joked “We expected this would happen once they started offering direct flights from San Antonio to Gondor.” RELATED: Open carry for swords is a fortnight away — shop local and arm thyself Carrying on the “Lord of the Rings” reference, TSA continued: “Whether you’re a Ranger of the North, or a United States Marine, we know you need to travel with your sword. It’s fine, just place it in your checked baggage.” A traveler trying to take his sword on a plane (where it would be somewhat effective against hypothetical terrorists, but not so good for snakes and such) probably doesn’t happen often. The TSA couldn’t resist a final joke for King Arthur / Monty Python enthusiasts:  “Oh, on a slightly unrelated note, a farcical aquatic ceremony does not entitle you to carry your sword on the plane. Just in case you were wondering…” Sadly, there’s no word on the fate of the traveler or his sword. This isn’t the only time whoever mans the TSA Instagram account had a little fun. Take a look at some of the other tongue-in-cheek posts.
  • When you think of Tiki bars and exotic tropical drinks, you probably don’t think of Pittsburgh. But starting this spring, you’ll be able to cruise the three rivers – Tiki style. >> Read more trending news  Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh will offer two-hour sightseeing charters on the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers starting in May. Each 16-foot boat fits six people. They’re BYOB and children are allowed. According to a comment on its Facebook page, a two-hour tour will likely cost $400 or about $67 per person. That includes the cost of the boat, the captain and possibly a crew member. Cruisin' Tikis already operates service out of the following locations: Carolina Beach, North Carolina Exhuma, Bahamas Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Islamorada, Florida Key West, Florida Lake George, New York Madeira Beach, Florida North Miami, Florida Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida Tampa Bay, Florida Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina If you plan on riding the three rivers, you'll get some great views of the city skyline and stadiums. 
  • From the Sydney Opera House to Paris' Eiffel Tower, landmarks around the world went dark Saturday night for Earth Hour. >> Read more trending news  The 'symbolic lights-out event,' which began in Sydney in 2007, is designed to raise awareness about climate change, according to the World Wildlife Fund.  >> Click here or scroll down to see photos from the event
  • Delta Air Lines is coming under heat after accidentally flying a puppy to the wrong airport. >> United suspends pet cargo service in wake of mix-ups, dog death Josh Schlaich posted about the incident on Facebook over the weekend when he was trying to figure out where the 8-week-old puppy was. He was supposed to pick up the puppy at the airport in Boise, Idaho. But instead he got a message from a Delta rep at the Detroit airport saying the puppy would be sent to a boarding location because of a flight delay. >> Dog dies on United Airlines flight after being placed in overhead bin After misrouting and confusion, the puppy was eventually delivered safely and “seems happy and healthy,” Schlaich posted later in the weekend. But the incident has drawn national attention, in the wake of an incident in which a puppy died in an overhead bin on United Airlines. Delta issued a statement after the incident: “We know pets are important members of the family and apologize for the delayed shipment of a dog, which is now in the hands of its owner, after it was routed to the wrong destination. Delta teams worked quickly to reunite the dog and his owner, while remaining in constant contact with the customer throughout the process to update him on the status of his pet.” >> Read more trending news  The airline said it refunded the shipping costs and started a review of the incident.
  • United Airlines is under fire again after a family said the carrier accidentally sent their dog to Japan instead of Kansas City. >> RELATED STORY: Dog dies on United Airlines flight after being placed in overhead bin According to KCTV, Kara Swindle and her family, who are moving from Oregon to Kansas, took a United flight to Kansas City. Their dog, a 10-year-old German shepherd named Irgo, was supposed to be waiting in a United cargo facility when they arrived.  But that wasn't the case. When the Swindles went to pick up Irgo, they were greeted by a Great Dane instead, KCTV reported Wednesday. They soon learned that the airline had mixed up the two dogs and mistakenly flew Irgo to Japan, the Great Dane's intended destination. >> Read more trending news  In a statement, United told KCTV: 'An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations. We have notified our customers that their pets have arrived safely and will arrange to return the pets to them as soon as possible. We apologize for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened.' Irgo will be returned to the Swindles 'later this week,' KCTV reported. The news comes the same week another family's dog died on a United flight after a flight attendant reportedly said the pet had to travel in an overhead bin. Read more here.
  • A day on the water in Amelia Island, Florida, turned into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a group of fishermen. >> Click here to watch the news report Capt. Tony Peeples with Southern Style Charters said he and a group of four men were off the coast of Fernandina Beach north of the jetties when they came within feet of a 14-foot white shark. Peeples said he was leaning over the side of the boat with his hands in the water when one man said, 'I got a shark.' “I just got through bending over on that side of the boat releasing a fish,” Peeples said. “I kind of stood up and looked and said, ‘No it ain’t … Yeah it is.’” Peeples said the shark came out from under the boat and ate half of a 50-pound drum – in one bite. >> Read more trending news  He said the shark got hooked after it went around the back of the boat and ate the other half of the drum. “The guy that had him on the rod ... the look on his face when he seen a great white shark, it was just like awe,” Peeples said. “His eyes were all lit up.” Chris Fischer with OCEARCH told WJAX that white sharks commonly spend the winter months off the Florida coast and move north in April or May. Hilton, a 12 1/2-foot white shark tagged by OCEARCH, pinged off the coast of Ponte Vedra Beach on Thursday. Fischer said the sharks are good for the ocean because they strengthen fish populations by eating weak or dying fish. “Seeing a great white shark is a once-in-a-lifetime (event) for most,” Peebles said, adding that in his 30 years as a charter boat captain, he’s never seen a white shark so big. “It’s kind of a humbling experience when you look down and see something that big three feet from you,” he said. 

Local News

  • A firm from China says it will set up shop in Walton County, creating dozens of new payroll positions in a multi-million dollar investment. From the office of Ga Governor Nathan Deal...  Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Top Polymer Enterprise, a Chinese manufacturer of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), will create 70 jobs and invest $15 million in a facility in Social Circle. New jobs will include positions in manufacturing and production.   “Georgia’s manufacturing sector continues to drive statewide investment by attracting industry leaders from around the world,” said Deal. “As the No. 1 state for business, Georgia has the highly skilled workforce, logistics infrastructure and low cost of doing business necessary to provide a strong foundation for Top Polymer’s continued growth. These resources will strengthen the company’s competitive edge in the global market as Top Polymer expands both in the U.S. and abroad. We look forward to this partnership with Top Polymer as the company invests in Social Circle and creates employment opportunities for our citizens.”   The manufacturing plant in Walton County will be Top Polymer’s first facility in the U.S. The first phase of the facility will be approximately 60,000 square feet with three compounding lines.   “This is an exceptional time for Top Polymer Enterprise and we are extremely excited to be part of the Social Circle community,” said Marcus Tsong, president of Top Polymer Holding Company. “We see our Social Circle facility as being the first key step to becoming an internationally recognized manufacturer and supplier of premier TPE system.”   Top Polymer exports to more than 30 countries and regions. The company currently has two production bases in China, located in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province and Liyang City, Jiangsu Province.   Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Project Manager Nikki Yu represented the Global Commerce Division in partnership with GDEcD Director of China Initiatives Stella Xu, GDEcD Managing Director of Chinese Investment John Ling, Georgia Power, the Georgia Department of Labor and the Development Authority of Walton County.    “Walton County and the City of Social Circle are excited to welcome Top Polymer to our community and we are looking forward to a strong partnership with them,” said Shane Short, executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County. “This partnership could not happen without the great support from the team at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.”   “We are excited that Top Polymer chose Georgia for its first U.S. facility,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “This announcement is a testament to our partnership approach to economic development, and I want to congratulate everyone involved.”   About Top Polymer Top Polymer Enterprise Limited (Top Polymer Enterprise) is dedicated to developing and manufacturing thermoplastic elastomer, which are copolymers or a physical mix of polymers that consists of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. Top Polymer is committed to meeting customers' requirements by supplying the best TPE solutions to customers, offering infinite imagination for design objectives. Hiring and employment searches are being conducted by Human Resource Dimensions (www.hrdracc.com) and Global Recruiters of Wilmington (www.grnwilmington.com).
  • Faculty and staff at the University of Georgia will soon have a few extra dollars in their paychecks: UGA president Jere Morehead says merit-based salary increases will kick in after the first of the year.  From UGA president Jere Morehead... As the FY 2019 budget development process begins, we are pleased to announce a 2.0% merit-based salary increase pool for faculty and staff, with an effective date of January 1, 2019. While FY 2019 state appropriations for the University System of Georgia did not include funding for merit-based pay adjustments, we are able to fund a merit-based salary increase pool of up to 2% using internal resources.   The FY 2019 merit-based salary increases can be provided in the range of 0 to 4.0%. In addition, UGA is directing additional funds in its FY 2019 budget to increase its minimum hiring rate from $24,000 to $24,500 on July 1, 2018.    We are pleased to share this good news and appreciate your continued service to the University of Georgia.
  • An investigation continues in Gainesville, where a man working at the Chattahoochee Golf Course was killed in what appears to have been an accident: David Silcox was 69 years old. He was mowing grass when his riding lawn mower overturned, crushing him to death. It’s the second such accident in recent weeks in northeast Georgia: E.G. Higginbotham was 76 years old. Elberton Police say he was mowing grass at the Elberton County Club when his mower overturned into a pond on March 20, pinning him in the water.  A man was killed Thursday morning while working at the Chattahoochee 
  • The Georgia Bulldogs spring football game, G-Day (4 p.m. Saturday at Sanford Stadium), will offer the first look at the 2018 Georgia Bulldogs.  Here are five Bulldogs to keep a particularly close eye on Saturday:  Elijah Holyfield, RB— Holyfield has been a name on a lot of lips this spring and not just because of his massive guns. Head coach Kirby Smart recently called Holyfield one of his “favorite competitors out there.” With D’Andre Swift (groin) expected to be limited, if he plays at all, expect Holyfield to get plenty of carries and turn a few heads.  Brenton Cox, OLB/DE— Cox, an early enrollee, is a player too talented and versatile to not play as a freshman, whether that be at defensive end or outside linebacker. Smart noted recently that Cox has been getting some work with the first team, so he should get plenty of minutes at both positions at G-Day.  Richard LeCounte, DB— LeCounte, a rising sophomore, was considered by many a shoo-in for the starting safety spot vacated by Dominick Sanders. But Smart has been critical of LeCounte this spring, calling his performance “up and down.” J.J. Holloman, WR— Although Smart has expressed concerns about many positions this spring, he’s been pretty upbeat about the receivers. He singled out Holloman and early enrollee Kearis Jackson — another player to watch — as second-team guys who are “challenging the guys in front of them.” Justin Fields, QB— There is no player whose performance will be more scrutinized and overanalyzed than Fields. He’s one of the highest-rated players the program has ever signed and plays at the most high-profile position on the field. A lot of fans have speculated he could see the field as a change of pace behind center — a la Tim Tebow in his freshman year at Florida — or even beat Jake Fromm outright. While the latter seems highly unlikely, the former is well within the realm of possibility. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Coach Kirby Smart is doing his best to make sure that Georgia’s best and brightest players will all be available to play in the G-Day Game. But there is increasing evidence some key players may have to sit out Saturday’s heavily-promoted intrasquad game at Sanford Stadium. As of Thursday evening, Smart was holding out hope that offensive stars Terry Godwin and D’Andre Swift will be available. Godwin practiced in a limited capacity Thursday but looked a bit gimpy while doing so with groin and knee injuries. Swift was also going through position drills but hasn’t been participating in full-contact work the last week. “Terry’s been banged up a little bit but we expect him to be able to go and to play,” Smart said. “He’s pushing through. He’s been really tough about it. He has some groin soreness and a slight MCL knee (injury). He’s been able to go.” As for Swift, Smart said: “We’ll see how he does. He’s been able to do some things but hasn’t been able to do everything. He hasn’t been live tackling. He’s getting a lot of mental reps and things like that. He’s still kind of a game-time decision.” One player who definitely won’t play Saturday is cornerback Mark Webb. The converted receiver suffered torn cartilage)in his right knee in practice on Tuesday and underwent arthroscopic surgery on Thursday. However, he should be available to compete in preseason camp in August, or earlier. “Mark had a torn meniscus and he won’t be able to play in the spring game,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ 14th practice. … We’re expecting a full recovery. He should be back.” Webb had been moving up the ranks in the secondary and appeared poised to contend for a starting position at cornerback. Instead, the Bulldogs are down to just 10 defensive backs overall. Georgia is also going to be without freshman early enrollee Divaad Wilson, who suffered an ACL tear the first week of spring practice, and safety Jarvis Wilson, who has a sprained foot. Sophomore William Poole may have to switch back-and-forth between the Red and Black squads on Saturday in order to preserve competitive balance. Godwin is the leading returning receiver from last year. He had 639 yards and scored six touchdowns, including one via a fairly miraculous catch at Notre Dame Stadium. Swift averaged 7.6 yards a carry and scored three touchdowns while playing behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as a freshman last season. He finished with 618 yards and was also the Bulldogs’ leading receiver out of the backfield with 17 catches for 153 yards and one score. The post Some key Georgia players may be missing for G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — New Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean has finally pulled the trigger on naming a second assistant basketball coach. Joe Scott, most recently an assistant coach at Holy Cross, sports 16 seasons of head coaching experience at three Division I schools. He joins Chad Dollar on the Bulldogs’ staff. “I’m excited to welcome Joe, Leah, Ben and Jack to our Georgia Basketball family and the entire UGA community,” Crean said in a statement released by the school. “Joe is known nationally as someone who excels at coaching, teaching and competing. He has tremendous respect of his peers who have gone against him and those who have worked along side him. He will bring many different elements to our program, but overall and he will help our young men get better every day.” Said Scott, also in a statement: “My family and I are extremely excited to be joining the Georgia family. The University of Georgia is a special place. This is a tremendous opportunity to help Coach Crean implement his vision and make Georgia Basketball special. I cannot wait to get started coaching our players to develop and get better every day.” Scott was tabbed one of the nation’s top-20 “Xs & Os” coaches in a survey of his peers by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman in 2013. He was head coach at Air Force for four seasons, Princeton for three campaigns and Denver for nine seasons. He also has served as an assistant coach at Monmouth, Princeton and Holy Cross. All told, Scott sports 27 years of collegiate coaching experience. Before breaking into the head coaching ranks, Scott was an assistant coach at Monmouth during the 1991-92 season and at Princeton from 1992-2000. While at Princeton, Scott helped the Tigers to five consecutive postseason appearances, with trips to the 1996, 1997 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments and the 1999 and 2000 NITs. The Tigers won three Ivy League titles from 1996-98, including perfect 14-0 records in the final two seasons. Princeton upset defending national champion UCLA in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and ranked as high as No. 7 nationally in 1998 en route to earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest ever for an Ivy League team. The post Georgia’s Tom Crean finally settles on a second assistant coach appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia held their final actual practice of the spring at the Woodruff Practice Complex on Thursday. Under clear skies and relatively cool temperatures, the Bulldogs were working out in shorts and helmets and were scheduled to for about two hours. The next time they get together and play as a team will be during G-Day Saturday at Sanford Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB). Actually, it will as two teams. UGA on Thursday released its split rosters for the Red and Black squads for Saturday’s intrasquad game. This year, Georgia’s No. 1 offense, led by quarterback Jake Fromm, will be the Red team. The Black Squad will be led by the Bulldogs’ No. 1 defensive unit — and freshman quarterback Justin Fields, of course. Fromm’s Red squad will be protected by the first-string offensive line — which included both Solomon Kindley and Kendall Baker to play left guard. It will also feature juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien at tailback and Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman at wideout and Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner at tight end. Fields’ No. 2 offensive unit will have walkons Prather Hudson and Ian Donald-McIntyre in the backfield and will feature a receiving corps of Ahkil Crumpton, J.J. Holloman, Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers and Tyler Simmons. Of course, the Black team will be hanging its hat on a defensive team led by Tyler Clark, DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, Jonathan Ledbetter, Julian Rochester and Malik Herring and inside linebackers Juwan Taylor, Tae Crowder and Nate McBride. D’Andre Walker, Robert Beal and Walter Grant will man the outside linebacker positions. The secondary for the Black squad has Deandre Baker and Tyrique McGhee at the corners, William Poole at star and J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte III at the safeties. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs appeared to be going through normal drill work and play-polish in the early portions of practice on Thursday. Following are a few observations: Senior Terry Godwin was going through regular drill work with the receivers but appeared to be a bit gimpy in doing so. He had a reinforced brace on one knee and a regular sleeve on the other. Cornerback Mark Webb was not practicing after suffering a knee injury of undisclosed severity on Tuesday. Indications are it’s not a “major” injury. D’Andre Swift was going through bag drills with the running backs and did not exhibit noticeable limitations. He is dealing with a groin injury, according to coach Kirby Smart. Defensive tackle Michael Barnett (knee) was not at practice again, assuring that he’ll miss G-Day. Justin Young, who missed practices last week due to a minor knee sprain, has been able to practice and might be able to play. One area lacking depth that has not been much discussed is deep snapper for special teams. The Bulldogs technically have just one on the roster in redshirt freshman Oren Morgan of Toombs County. But senior fullback Nick Moore also snaps to the kickers. Former tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were watching Thursday’s practice from the sideline and having a good time commenting on what they say. Asked which tailback they expected to be the leading rusher for the G-Day Game on Saturday, they simultaneously said “Prather Hudson.” Hudson is a redshirt sophomore walkon from Columbus. Recently-matriculated receiver Javon Wims was also at practice watching his position group. All of them plan to attend on Saturday, with Chubb conducting an autograph-signing at the bookstore.   The post Practice report: Jake Fromm to lead Red against Justin Field’s Black squad on G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to a feature on DawgNation, where our writers answer (or try to answer) the best questions submitted by Georgia fans. If you’d like to submit a question, please e-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday Dear DawgNation: What is up with Nate McBride? —  James McConnell, Chickamauga What’s up with Nate McBride, you ask? Lots of things are up with the linebacker from Vidalia. First off, he’s up in class. He’s a legitimate sophomore academically, even though he’s still in his first year at UGA. He’s also up in age and experience, as well as strength and size. And while he’s up, he’s also down. Not mentally, but physically. Lee Chomskis (pronounced HOM-skiss), his coach at Vidalia High, said McBride is down to about 218 pounds after playing last season at Georgia at 225 and his senior year at Vidalia at almost 230 pounds. That said, having had a year under his belt with strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair, he looks a bit different physically. Not necessarily thinner, but certainly more cut. But reading between the words of your brief, one-line question, I suppose that’s not exactly what you meant by, “what’s up with McBride?” You probably are wondering, like a few folks I’ve heard from, why we aren’t hearing more about him. Why isn’t he creating more buzz and why isn’t he a starting linebacker for Georgia already? That’s what people often wonder when a former blue-chip prospect of McBride’s ilk — he was the No. 2-rated inside linebacker in the country at one point — is not starring by his second year on campus. A couple of points here: McBride is not even all the way to his second year at Georgia yet; two, we don’t fully know exactly what McBride’s role is going to be on the defense in 2018. We do know that he is competing with Monty Rice, Juwan Taylor and Jaden Hunter for the Will linebacker position manned so well last season by Roquan Smith. Though early signs point to Rice leading that competition, nothing is written in stone — or even on paper — and there is a long way to go before that’s decided. We also know that McBride has the size and skills to earn playing time at the Mike, the other inside linebacker spot in Georgia’s defense, and that the Bulldogs desperately need help at both spots in 2018. Regardless of how those competitions turn out, you’re still bound to see a lot of McBride this season, just like we did last season. In fact, while playing on several of Georgia’s special teams units McBride was one of just six true freshmen to play in all 15 of the Bulldogs’ games. The others were Jake Fromm, Andrew Thomas, D’Andre Swift, Walter Grant and Malik Herring. Rice played in 14. So you can bet that the swift-footed McBride will be on the field at least for special teams, if not also in a defensive role. He has one of the traits that coach Kirby Smart covets most — speed — as his four Class AA sprint championships as a high school senior attest. To date, I haven’t had a chance to ask Smart about McBride. But I reached out to Chomkis, who communicates with him on a regular basis, for a little insight. “He played on a team that played for the national championship,” Chomkis said. “That means there’s a lot of talent there at Georgia. He could’ve gone to Vanderbilt or Missouri and started every game, but he wanted to play for championships. I think he’s running with the 2s or 3s right now during the spring, and that’s because he’s still learning the position and having to think a lot. “But I think he’s an outstanding kid and an outstanding football player and I think he’ll play a lot for Georgia before it’s over. He has good size and great speed and that’s why they recruited him, because he can run so well. He can flat fly, and I’m not sure that there’s many that can run with him.” That pretty much sums it up. As Smart and the Bulldogs like to say this year, he “ain’t going nowhere.” Have a question for beat writer Chip Towers? E-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com The post ‘What’s up’ with Georgia linebacker Nate McBride? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Really, we don’t know all that much about Georgia’s Monty Rice. But you have to like what the sophomore linebacker has to say about the enormous challenge that’s before him and the Bulldogs’ entire defense in succeeding Roquan Smith and that star-studded unit of a season ago. “We can’t live off what Roquan did, or Lorenzo [Carter] did, or Dom Sanders did,” said Rice, who is poised to follow Smith at the Will inside linebacker position. “What’s Juwan Taylor gonna do? What’s Nate McBride gonna do? What’s Monty Rice gonna do? We’ve got to live off what we’re going to do. We can’t dwell on last year’s success.” Monty Rice Truer words have not been spoken this spring about Georgia’s defense. The Bulldogs lost a boatload of exceptional football talent off last season’s 13-2, No. 2-ranked team. That fact will be underscored in the NFL draft next week. Most notable among those departures is Smith. The Butkus Award-winning linebacker is expected to be an early first-round draft choice. The battle to replace him is ongoing. But the odds-on favorite to handle that considerable task is Rice, who is really kind of a mystery man. If you don’t follow recruiting closely, you might need a refresher. Rice sort of just showed up at Georgia. Rivals and 247Sports pegged him as a 3-star recruit, but his offer list said otherwise. He had upwards of 20 offers, including pretty much the whole of the SEC. Rice actually committed to LSU (over Auburn and Georgia) in mid-December 2016. It’s something he now says was an act of confused desperation. But, as an early enrollee, he’d long been pursued by Mel Tucker, first at Alabama and then as defensive coordinator at Georgia. In the end, Rice pursued that relationship and simply enrolled at UGA without signing a letter of intent, according to his high school coach. “When he announced that day that he was going to go to LSU, me and everyone else going in thought it was going to be Georgia, just because of his relationship with Coach Tucker and Coach [Kirby] Smart,” said Wade Waldrop, Rice’s coach at James Clemens High School in Madison, Ala. “They already knew him, because he had visited Alabama a number of times throughout his sophomore and junior years, so they were familiar with him. “He came out right away and said, ‘I think I made a mistake.’ I said, ‘That’s all right. You haven’t signed a thing. As long as you let Coach [Dave] Aranda and Coach O [LSU coach Ed Oregeron] know, you do what’s best for you. You’ve got to wake up in that dorm room every day.’ ” Said Rice: “I just followed my heart.” Rice’s arrival in Athens in January 2017 has been a blessing both for the Bulldogs and for Rice. As a freshman last season he played in 14 of Georgia’s 15 games and even got a start against Missouri in the season’s seventh game. He finished with 22 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. The one start came at Mike linebacker alongside Smith after Natrez Patrick was suspended and Reggie Carter was injured. But he primarily as a Will — or weakside linebacker — which happened to be the position manned by Smith. So it was difficult to get on the field much with the defense. His work came mostly at “garbage time” and on special teams. But Rice said last season’s experience was invaluable to him, if for no other reason than getting to know Smith and watching how he worked. “Roquan is not a selfish person,” Rice said. “He was helping me out when I first got here, telling me what calls I had to make, telling me what to do or whatever. So he was real helpful. So was Lorenzo and Davin [Bellamy] and all of those guys.” As for motivation, Rice doesn’t need a lot of help in that department. This is a young man who has had his sights set not only on major college football but the NFL for a long time. That’s what distinguished Rice at James Clemens High. Originally from Huntsville, Ala., he actually lived with another family in Madison while playing there. The reason for that was two-fold. One, he wanted to play high school football at the highest level possible; and, two, he needed to escape the crime and poverty that ravaged the community in which he was raised. That ended up being a move made in heaven. Not only was Rice wildly successful as a player — he recorded 137 tackles, 4 interceptions and 4 touchdowns to lead the Jets to the Class 7A quarterfinals as a senior — but also as a student. “Monty Rice is a football player,” Waldrop said. “He came to school every day — and he had a 3.2, 3.1 GPA — and he did well in school because he wanted to play football. Everything he does is to play football. A lot of people, it’s the other way around. He did what he had to do on a daily basis to be a big-time football player. You didn’t have to hold things over his head to get him to do something. He loves playing football.” It’s not all about money and fame for Rice, either. He hopes football can give him a platform to call attention to a cause that is very personal to him: excessive force used by police, particularly against victims suffering from mental illness. You can read about it yourself from the pinned tweet at the top of Rice’s Twitter account, @RiceMonty. It takes you to a Facebook page dedicated to telling the story of Horaesheo Rice, a cousin eight years Rice’s senior who was killed by police gunfire on Sept. 20, 2017. That was the Wednesday before the Bulldogs would play Mississippi State in Sanford Stadium. Rice has his cousin’s name tattooed on his right forearm as a reminder of what he’s playing for. “I know he’s looking down and smiling about what I’m doing,” Rice said Thursday night after Georgia’s 13th practice of the spring. “We used to live together, so I was real close to him. I’m not a big social media guy, but I don’t want his name to ever be forgotten. I don’t want what happened to be, ah, this is just another killer. I want it to be known what happened to my cousin.” So, yes, Rice is supremely motivated. And apparently he’s a pretty good player, too. At this point there’s still no guarantees that Rice will be the undisputed starter and/or primary player at Georgia’s all-important Will linebacker spot. Among others, he’s competing with senior Juwan Taylor and fellow sophomore Nate McBride, not to mention two freshmen who will join the team in June. But indications are that No. 32 has been making a name for himself at that spot during spring practice. “He’s pretty difficult,” sophomore tackle Andrew Thomas said of trying to block Rice. “He has one speed. He’s, like, full-going all the time and he’s going to hit you. He doesn’t care if you’re bigger than him, he’s going to strike you and try to make a play. He’s making us all better.” That this one-time 3-star prospect is in position to become a full-time starter at a marquee position in his sophomore year may come as a surprise to a lot of people. But not to those in Madison and Huntsville who have known Rice for a while. “I’m absolutely not surprised, because he’s driven,” said Waldrop, who visited with Rice shortly before spring practice began. “He has a purpose. The purpose of just trying to start is probably big for him. He’s got NFL aspirations. He knows if he does the things that Coach Smart and Coach [Glenn] Schumann and those guys tell him to do and he buys into it, he knows he’ll have a shot to one day go get money.” And perhaps draw greater attention to a cause that is dear to him. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes on the football field, but for now we have an idea of what Monty Rice is all about. The post Georgia’s Monty Rice: Linebacker with a cause appeared first on DawgNation.