Archive for April, 2010

Football Recruiting: Ridgeland WR/DB Devin Bowman commits to UGA

We got us a Bowman (AJC)

Richt: We got one of the Bowman Brothers (AJC)

A member of one of Georgia’s most famous football families will finally play for UGA.

Ridgeland two-way standout Devin Bowman committed to UGA on Saturday after introducing his mother to Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.  The 5-foot-11, 180-pound speedster will play cornerback or wide receiver in college.

“Devin was all excited, and his mom was all excited,” Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis told the AJC. “He had been (to Georgia) before and looked around. His mom hadn’t.

“It was one of those trips where the whole family wanted to get peace about the (decision), and make sure it was the right place to stay for the next 4-5 years. Devin called me after they talked to (Richt) to say ‘I’m a Bulldog.’”

Bowman picked UGA over Georgia Tech, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma State, among others. His oldest brother, Adarius Bowman, played wide receiver at Oklahoma State, and recently finished his second year in the CFL, catching 55 passes for 925 …

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AJC’s Mr. Basketball has Georgia Tech and UGA on list of finalists

Batter up, UGA’s Mark Fox.

He will be the first basketball coach to meet with the AJC’s Mr. Basketball during the NCAA’s contact period, which starts Friday (today) and ends on Wednesday.

Fox is scheduled to make an in-home visit with Westlake’s Marcus Thornton on Friday (today).

Will UGA’s Mark Fox being the first to make in-home visit with Westlake’s Marcus Thornton make a difference?

  • Yes, Fox will blow them away with first impression
  • No, wait until Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt gets his chance
  • Are you kidding me? The master of smooth talking, Kentucky’s John Calipari, is on his way. No one in the city of Atlanta is safe.
  • Never underestimate Clemson coach Brad Brownell, never!

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The 6-foot-7 Thornton is one of college basketball’s hottest free agents, and has been showered with scholarship offers over the past week.

On Friday, Thornton trimmed his list to eight schools, including Georgia Tech and UGA. The others are Alabama, …

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Football Recruiting: Celebrity coach says Colquitt County 6-foot-7 OL Xzavier Ward among the nation’s best

(BREAKING NEWS: Will AJC’s Mr. Basketball and Jelan Kendrick reunite at Memphis?)

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The Gentle Giant (No. 63) stands tall while adjusting his helmet (CCHS)

Rush Propst, who became one of the nation’s most famous high school football coaches after his appearance on the MTV series “Two-A-Days,” knows a celebrity when he sees one.

Propst says that Colquitt County’s Xzavier Ward, who is favoring UGA and reigning BCS champion Alabama, has “the chance to be the best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached.” That’s mighty praise from Propst, who has coached big-time programs in Alabama and Georgia for nearly 30 years. And he is giving out the props to a kid who still under the national recruiting radar.

Then again, that kid is a mountain of a man, standing 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. Ward is blessed with tremendous athleticism for his size, and has exceptionally quick feet from all his years of playing basketball. He also was gifted naturally with a long arm span to push away pass rushers …

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Will AJC’s Mr. Basketball and Jelan Kendrick be teammates again at Memphis?

Memphis has an outside shot at raiding Georgia for its top two senior basketball prospects.

Wheeler’s Jelan Kendrick, who was the state’s lone representative in the McDonald’s All-America game, has already signed with Memphis. Earlier this week, Memphis offered a scholarship to the AJC’s Mr. Basketball, Westlake’s Marcus Thornton.

Could Memphis raid Georgia for its top two senior basketball prospects? Yes, if Jelan Kendrick has his way (AJC photo)

Could Memphis raid Georgia for its top two senior basketball prospects? Yes, if Jelan Kendrick has his way (AJC photo)

Kendrick and Thornton have a history: They were teammates at Westlake two seasons ago, before Kendrick transferred to Wheeler for his senior year.

And guess who highly recommended Thornton to the Memphis coaches last weekend? Yes, it was Kendrick.

“I just said Marcus was a great player,” Kendrick told the AJC, “and that we played together in high school. I let them know that we played very good off each other, and complimented each other’s game. I told my coaches (at Memphis) we could continue that in college, too.”

Thornton, who has …

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Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith says mock drafts “may have it right” with team’s first rounder at No. 19

Smith (left) says mock drafts "may have it right" ... but which one? (AJC)

Smith (right) says mock drafts "may have it right" at No. 19 … but which one? (AJC photo)

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith will take a break from NFL Draft preparations on Friday night when he and his staff  host a coaching clinic for around 700 of the state’s high school football coaches at Flowery Branch.

And what about the NFL Draft? Smith told the AJC on Thursday that the mock drafts “may have it right” when predicting which player the team will select at No. 19 of the first round.

The only problem is this: There are a gazillion mock drafts. Which one is on target with the Falcons?

Looks like we’ll have to wait until the big day to find that one out. Smith chuckled when asked about the topic of mock drafts on Thursday.

“I really believe this, at the top of the draft board, the mock drafts are probably a lot more accurate,” Smith told the AJC. “When I say accurate, I’m talking about the first 5-6 slots. On any given year, they are pretty accurate. I just think when you …

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Football recruiting: Georgia’s “fastest football player” lists UGA as No. 1, Georgia Tech falls out of Top 5

The reputed “fastest football player in Georgia” says UGA is his No. 1 choice.

Mitchell County wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley told the AJC that the Bulldogs are his leader, ahead of Louisville, Wake Forest, South Carolina and Michigan (in that particular order). All but Michigan have offered the 6-foot, 190-pound speedster. He has nine total offers.

“Yes, sir, Georgia is my No. 1,” he said. “With me being from (the state), Georgia Bulldogs football has always been a big thing around where I live. I really like the coaches at Georgia. They are going to be low in numbers with wide receivers, so it’s a good place to come in and play early. Plus, Georgia said they will allow me to run track.”

What about Georgia Tech? Scott-Wesley committed to Stanford last fall, but it was a February offer from Georgia Tech that caused him to de-commit and open up recruiting again. Scott-Wesley is an Honor Student with a 3.5 GPA.

“They didn’t make my top five,” he said. “The offense really …

Continue reading Football recruiting: Georgia’s “fastest football player” lists UGA as No. 1, Georgia Tech falls out of Top 5 »

Dalton High promotes longtime ‘community coach’ to head football coach

Dalton High School’s new football coach is more than just one of the town’s top financial planners.

Matt Land, 40, has strong connections to Dalton’s football program. He is a former player at the school, and has spent the last 17 years as an assistant on the football staff at his alma mater. Land was a “community coach,” while also working in private business.

“The reason we hired (Land) was because of his integrity and class,” Dalton athletics director Ronnie McClurg told the AJC. “That is kind of what Dalton High School has built its history on, and Matt certainly (represents) that.”

Land will replace Adam Winegarden, who resigned in February “under pressure from boosters after his name became public as a finalist for the head coach’s job at Perry High School,” according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Back to Land: McClurg said — with Land’s hiring — the rest of Dalton’s coaching staff will not change. Beginning next year, Land will become a full-time staff member at Dalton …

Continue reading Dalton High promotes longtime ‘community coach’ to head football coach »

Florida’s Heisman Trophy-winning QB to speak at Atlanta sports banquet

Before Tebow. Danny Wuerffel was the Hiesman Trophy-toting QB from Florida (AJC file)

Before Tebow, Danny Wuerffel was the Heisman Trophy-toting QB from Florida (AJC file)

Before there was “Tebow,” there was “Danny.”

Danny Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy as Florida’s quarterback in 1996, has been announced as the guest speaker for the Sports Champions of Greater Atlanta banquet on April 15 at the Cobb Galleria. The banquet honors high schools athletes who combine sports, scholastics and character.

Back to Wuerrfel: He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1997 draft by New Orleans Saints, and played parts of five NFL seasons before retiring.

While we’re on the topic, who do you think will get drafted higher — Tebow or Wuerffel? Who do you think will have longer NFL careers out of the two? Please post below.

Which Florida QB will have a longer NFL career?

  • Danny boy
  • Tebow

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Memphis is latest offer for AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball, while new Clemson coach awaits conversation

Brownell to Mr. AJC: You get really help me get off to a great start in my new job, pretty please. (AP)

Brownell to Mr. AJC: You could really help me get off to a great start in my new job, pretty please. (AP)

The AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball is taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Clemson’s new basketball coach.

Westake High’s Marcus Thornton has turned into one of nation’s hottest free agents in college basketball since being granted a release from his Clemson letter-of-intent after Oliver Purnell took the head coaching job at DePaul. On Tuesday, Clemson selected Wright State’s Brad Brownell to fill the vacancy.

Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips informed Thornton about the new coach. What does Thornton think of Brownell? Is he enough to convince Mr. Georgia Basketball to pick Clemson again?

“We’ve heard about Brad Brownell, and I’ve heard other people say that he’s a good coach,” Thornton’s father, Billy, told the AJC on Tuesday night. “We expect to talk with (Brownell) on Wednesday or Thursday. We look forward to talking with him. As far as anything else, I don’t …

Continue reading Memphis is latest offer for AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball, while new Clemson coach awaits conversation »

AJC’s Mr. Basketball gets offers from Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Auburn, Michigan, Georgia Tech, UGA, Alabama, more

Kentucky's John Calipari is charging fast and furiously after the AJC's Mr. Georgia Basketball (AP)

Kentucky's John Calipari is charging fast and furiously after the AJC's Mr. Georgia Basketball (AP)


*Memphis is latest to offer (click here)

In the short span of seven days, the AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball has turned into one of the hottest names in college basketball.

Georgia Tech, UGA, and Alabama have offered scholarships to Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton, who was officially granted a release from his letter-of-intent with Clemson last Friday.

Kentucky coach John Calipari has expressed heavy interest in Thornton, along with representatives from Texas and Florida. There is also speculation that Tennessee, Michigan, LSU and Auburn, among others, will also join the recruiting race. (Note: See Monday night’s updated list at the bottom).

“We’re very surprised by all the attention,” said Thornton’s father, Billy. “People told us to anticipate it, but you don’t really know what is going to happen. It has been very overwhelming, and we feel very blessed.”

The 6-foot-7 …

Continue reading AJC’s Mr. Basketball gets offers from Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Auburn, Michigan, Georgia Tech, UGA, Alabama, more »

Football recruiting: UGA commitments lobby other elite prospects to be Bulldogs at G-Day game

Mark Richt sprints between talking to each recruit at G-Day (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Mark Richt sprints between talking to each recruit at G-Day (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

If you’re an elite prospect, once you’ve committed early to a college, your next goal is lobby your colleagues to join you at the same school.

That was North Clayton High linebacker Amarlo Herrera, who pledged to UGA in February.

At Saturday’s G-Day game, Herrera went out of his way to make conversation with many of the top uncommitted prospects in attendance. Wesleyan offensive lineman David Andrews and Griffin safety Corey Moore, two other UGA commitments for 2011, were also preaching the Bulldogs.

“I’ve been recruiting for Georgia since I committed to Georgia,” Herrera told the AJC on Sunday.

“I think we have something very special going on at Georgia. We have new (assistants), we have a new defense, and there’s a new feeling about the program.

“If you come to Georgia, you can be part of it all. Big things are going to be happening.”

The G-Day game attracted many of the top prospects …

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NBA teams started detailed evaluations of Derrick Favors months ago, says high school coach

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Favors is only 18 years old, and technically could be a high school junior at South Atlanta. Yet he is an impending NBA lottery pick (AJC file)

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Favors is only 18 years old, and technically could be a high school junior at South Atlanta. Yet he is an impending NBA lottery pick (AJC file)

Derrick Favors‘ high school coach said NBA teams have been in regular contact since December in anticipation of the prodigy’s decision to turn professional.

On Friday, Favors announced he was leaving Georgia Tech after one season to declare for the NBA draft.

“I’ve talked to around a half-dozen teams, and they want to find out about Derrick’s background and character, and know what type of kid he was growing up,” South Atlanta High coach Michael Reddick told the AJC on Friday.

It was a beneficial situation for Reddick, who is part of Favors’ inner circle. The coach had the opportunity to ask NBA teams for feedback about his prized player.

“I’ve had a few calls with (NBA people) saying he’s projected to go anywhere from No. 1 to 10,” Reddick said.

Wait a minute — did you say No. 1? “Even at 10, that’s still a …

Continue reading NBA teams started detailed evaluations of Derrick Favors months ago, says high school coach »

Football Recruiting: Tallahassee OL Trey Braun is commitment No. 4 for Georgia Tech

* BREAKING NEWS: AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball asks for Clemson release, expresses interest in UGA and Georgia Tech (click here)

One of Florida’s best wrestlers will join Georgia Tech’s football team.

Offensive guard Trey Braun of Tallahassee’s Leon High committed to Georgia Tech over South Florida, Illinois and Arkansas on Friday. He is the fourth early pledge for the team’s 2011 football recruiting class.

“He’s a bright kid, and really took time to evaluate all of his options,” Leon coach Bill Ragans said. “Trey took an (unofficial) visit up there and really liked it. He liked everything about Georgia Tech, especially the academic end of it.”

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Braun called Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson with the news on Friday morning. Braun has a 3.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and both of his parents are West Point graduates.

Which school has had the best start for its 2011 recruiting class?

  • Georgia Tech, home of the 2009 ACC champions
  • UGA
  • Georgia State, …

Continue reading Football Recruiting: Tallahassee OL Trey Braun is commitment No. 4 for Georgia Tech »

AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball granted Clemson release, interested in Georgia Tech and UGA (Updated at 9:30 p.m. Friday)

michael carvell

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UPDATED: Thornton processed the paperwork and was granted his release from Clemson on Friday.

Georgia Tech and UGA are among the schools at the top of the wishlist for the AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball, Westlake’s Marcus Thornton, who officially requested his release from his Clemson letter-of-intent on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thornton decided to re-open his recruiting after Clemson’s Oliver Purnell left to the take the head coaching job at DePaul, according to his father.

Would Thornton be interested in Georgia Tech and UGA? “Absolutely, and for all the obvious reasons,” Billy Thornton told the AJC.

“It’s really early because we haven’t had the chance to talk to either of them personally. Georgia Tech is here in the ACC, and they always seem to have a lot of talent there. Georgia is an up-and-coming program. They seem to have some (player) needs.”

Thornton projects to be one of the country’s hottest free agents after a monster senior season. He averaged 24 points …

Continue reading AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball granted Clemson release, interested in Georgia Tech and UGA (Updated at 9:30 p.m. Friday) »

Football Recruiting: South Carolina offensive lineman has Georgia Tech among his three favorites after unofficial visit

Paul Johnson to S.C. recruit: "Come play for me." (AJC Photo)

Paul Johnson to S.C. recruit: "Come play for me." (AJC Photo)

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson didn’t waste any words when talking with Ryan Norton, one of South Carolina’s top offensive linemen.

“(Johnson) was just telling me how much they need a center,” Norton told the AJC, “and that I could have a chance at coming in and not starting, but getting some good playing time as a freshman. He made it a point to say that I’m a good fit for their offense.”

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Norton has Clemson, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina as his favorites, and could decide as early as May. Norton is from Mauldin, S.C., the same hometown as the NBA’s Kevin Garnett.

Norton spent his spring break touring Clemson and Georgia Tech. He was surprised by his visit with the Yellow Jackets. “I was impressed. There were a few things I was questioning, like the campus. They showed me the campus, and I thought it was really nice. It was a college campus inside a big city, which is pretty cool.”

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