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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Notes: Trial By Fire for New Coaches

Some notes from yesterday -- a few of which appeared in today's Telegraph, and a few more that didn't. I'll have more later today and tomorrow...


The build-up seemed interminable. The finish was frenetic. It was trial by fire to say the least for Georgia’s two new defensive coaches, and while the end results were mixed, Todd Grantham and Scott Lakatos chalked it up as a job well done.

“There really wasn’t a lot of time left in the recruiting period when we brought Todd and Scott in. As soon as we could get them out on the road we got them out on the road,” head coach Mark Richt said. “I’ll say that one thing I really love about these two men is they really understand what they want and what they are looking for. They are tremendous evaluators and they are the right kind of people.”

Although he had just a few weeks to try to close the deal with recruits and keep Georgia’s commitment prepared to sign on the dotted line Wednesday, Lakatos said the process went surprisingly smoothly.

“They were more than receptive, and they were very congratulatory for myself and Todd, and excited about the future,” Lakatos said. “People were very encouraged about Georgia.”

As excited as recruits may have been about the future, it was still hard to erase some of the doubts. It took six weeks for Richt to bring in Grantham following the firings of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and two other assistants, and the process took its toll on the recruiting class.

“Recruiting is a lot about relationships,” Richt said. “Anytime there is some kind of change on your staff for whatever reason, the relationships that have been built throughout this recruiting process were broken. I think the timing of the hire taking as long as it did, it did put a strain on these young men that we had committed. We know that some guys changed their mind.”

Those were the short-term costs of making changes on the staff. Grantham remains excited that the long-term benefits will more than outweight the price Georgia may have paid on signing day.

As his head coach noted, relationships are key on the recruiting trail. And as smoothly as Grantham’s transition may have been so far, it’s tough to build strong bonds in just a few weeks. But moving forward, he remains hopeful all that will change.

“It’s all about developing a relationship with players and coaches so they know if they send a young man to Georgia he’s going to get a quality education and he’s going to be developed as a player,” Grantham said. “I think as we move forward, it’s going to be nothing but a positive, because that comes from getting out there and getting to know the people in the state.”


Georgia landed a five-star linebacker on signing day, but it had nothing to do with this year’s recruiting class.

Richt announced Wednesday that rising junior Richard Samuel would switch from running back, where he had played in his first two seasons, to linebacker starting in spring practice.

“That’s a move we decided to make, and he was anxious to make that move,” Richt said. “So we’re going to see how that works out.”

Grantham, who will coach Georgia’s linebackers, said the decision for Samuel to move was actually made before he was hired, but after watching film, it was a decision he fully endorsed.

“I watched his tape and any time you have guys who are athletic, who are that size, that can run, you like to have those guys and we look forward to working with him in the spring and seeing how he fits into the plans,” Grantham said.

Samuel rushed for 395 yards and two touchdowns last season, but was relegated to third-string duty by season’s end.


While Samuel is shifting positions, the future for quarterback Logan Gray remains in limbo.

It was rumored that Gray, a rising junior, would swap positions to wide receiver or defensive back, after Georgia’s regular-season finale against Georgia Tech. Those rumors heated up when the Bulldogs suddenly offered a scholarship to quarterback Hutson Mason, who was one of Georgia’s 19 signees Wednesday. But as it stands, Richt said, little has changed for Gray.

“The last I’ve heard that’s exactly what he plans on doing,” Richt said. “I don’t know that he might not spend some time trying to do a couple of them.”


The star of Georgia’s signing class might be safety Jakar Hamilton, a junior college transfer who garnered the nickname, “The Hit Man” at Georgia Military College. But to ask Hamilton, he’s particularly impressed with the ferocity of another top Bulldogs’ signee – safety Alec Ogletree.

“He’s a hard-hitter,” Hamilton said. “I’ve seen his highlight film, and he’s got really good speed, and I feel if you’re in his area, he’s going to knock your head off. He’s an incredible player, and I can’t wait for him to get here so me and (Bacarri) Rambo get him ready and get him going.”


Georgia's 19th signee came as a bit of a surprise when Wilcox County wide receiver Lonnie Outlaw turned in his letter of intent Wednesday afternoon.

The 6-foot-5 receiver wasn't highly recruited, but his coach, Mark Ledford, said Georgia approached with an interest on Monday and made the offer Wednesday morning.

Outlaw is short on high school credits still, however, meaning he won't qualify for the 2010 class. Instead, Ledford said, Outlaw is expected to play the next two seasons at Georgia Military College and transfer to Georgia for the 2012 season.


Last year, nine of Georgia’s 20 commitments ended up redshirting, and for a few, it probably wasn’t much of a surprise. But Richt insists that he doesn’t view any of his incoming freshmen as destined for a year of waiting and watching.

“All the guys we sign, we really do expect them to get ready to play,” Richt said. “We don’t tell anyone to redshirt. We don’t have that in our mind right now. We want them to decide who’s going to play. So it’s what they do from now until the end of the spring and then when they come in the summer working out with our strength staff and our players, and then we’ve got 29 practices when the fall starts and we’ve got three scrimmages. Usually by the second scrimmage we have a pretty good idea who’s ready to play. So we ask all those guys to expect to play, we expect them to play, and if they’re not ready, they’re not ready.”


Georgia’s top offensive line commitment, Brent Benedict, is poised to be a foundation of the Bulldogs’ future plans on the offensive line, but his present is all about recovering from a knee injury that cost him his senior season.

“I know he went and had an appointment with Dr. (James) Andrews (Tuesday) and he’s on track,” offensive line coach Stacy Searels said of Benedict’s recovery. “It’s just a matter of time.”

At 6-foot-6, 290 pounds, Benedict was one of the most prized offensive line recruits in the country, and Searels has no doubts as to why.

“Brent just started playing offensive tackle his junior year,” Searels said. “He’s a very explosive player, a very physical player and I’m excited to get him here at Georgia.”


While Da’Rick Rogers’ decision to pass on Georgia and head to Tennessee put a dent in Georgia’s depth chart at receiver, the Bulldogs also figure to get a boost this spring when senior Kris Durham expects to be fully recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him the entirety of the 2009 season.

“He will be (100 percent) by the time we’re playing,” Richt said. “I don’t think he has any limitations right now – he’s doing his offseason program full speed, actually running routs and catching balls. He was doing that during the later end of the season and certainly at the bowl practice, so he’ll have no limitations throughout spring ball.”


Benedict isn’t the only Georgia lineman healing from a knee injury. Left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, who has missed virtually all of the past two seasons following two separate ACL tears, is on the verge of a full recovery, too.

Sturdivant met with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham this week and also received a strong report from Georgia’s own trainer, Ron Courson, as he works his way back into playing condition.

“I think he’ll be ready to go this fall,” Searels said. “It’s just a matter of us making sure he’s back strong and healthy because on the field, he makes us a better football team.”


Spring practice will start for Georgia on March 4, according to a release by the school. That’s a tad early for the Bulldogs, but they’ll get a break pretty quickly. The team won’t practice again until March 16 – with spring break in between.

After that, Georgia is scheduled to practice once every two to three days leading up to the annual G-Day game on April 10.


The Georgia Athletic Association has approved a plan that will redesign and modernize Stegeman Coliseum as part of the school's ongoing efforts to revitalize its men's basketball program.

The overall project, which includes the Reed Alley area of campus as well will cost an estimated $21.3 million, but athletics director Damon Evans estimated the costs for the work on Stegeman to run about $11.8 million.

The renovation will involving expanding the concourses and upgrading the restrooms and concessions at Stegeman as well as remodeling the North and South facades with glass fronts, which Evans said will provide an additional 10,000 square feet of concourse space.

"It will give the appearance outside of a little different look, a little bit more modern, while at the same time maintain the credibility of this architecture," Evans said. "This project was mainly about our fans. I want to make sure we're providing fan-friendly amenities near the concessions, restrooms, points of sale."

Evans said the project is an integral part of a broad plan to overhaul the basketball program, which has languished at the bottom of the SEC in recent years -- both in the standings and in terms of overall fan interest.

Head coach Mark Fox has helped to rejuvenate the on-court product, helping Georgia to wins over top-25 opponents Georgia Tech and Tennessee already this season, but Evans said the onus for rekindling enthusiasm in the team can't stop there.

"It's a big part of our continuous goal of building Georgia basketball," Evans said. "But it helps out with the men and women and our gymnastics program as well. It's all part of that plan. I want to make sure we're doing the things that are necessary to show our fans and our student-athletes and all those that support us that we're committed to this program."


Anonymous said...

Did Corch say anything about Austin Long, Owens and Strickland?


Anonymous said...

you got a direct qt. from searels?

Anonymous said...

a source just told mark bradley that brad childress is leaving the minnesota vickings if farve retires to become uga'spresident of opperations

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