Mark Richt’s Dream Team a major victory for UGA

John Jenkins will be a Dog! (File)

John Jenkins will be a Dog! (File)

It’s been a roller-coaster week in the Bulldog Nation.

From the still exhilarating high of Isaiah Crowell topping off a terrific National Signing Day for the Dogs (good work, Mike Bobo!), we dipped down with the unexpected departure of inside linebackers coach Warren Belin (apparently prompting a reshuffling of the defensive staff), plunged a bit with the quick death of another young mascot (R.I.P, Bruce) and then soared again today with the announcement from badly needed nose guard John Jenkins that he’s signing with UGA.

Jenkins may not be as highly rated in terms of stars by his name as some of his brethren in this Bulldogs recruiting class, but at 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds he looks to be one of the key pieces as the lack of a big nose guard who can command two blockers was the central weakness of Todd Grantham’s debut UGA defense.

Yes, it remains to be seen whether all these guys who signed on with the Dogs will pan out, but there’s no way to overemphasize how important this recruiting class was to the psyche of the Bulldog Nation.

It won’t count in the record book, but Wednesday saw the first victory of the season for UGA, and a mighty big one at that. Just a month ago things were looking pretty bleak, as the Dogs had turned in an excruciatingly bad bowl performance, whiffed on a couple of all star recruits and been dumped on verbally by a big-name football alum.

Then the Dream Team thing got back on track with Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell and picked up momentum with Ray Drew, and before you knew it the Dogs were a preseason ESPN Top 20 team and fans had something good to hold them over until the revamped team takes the field.

The offseason turnaround is a biggie for Mark Richt because after a losing season that ended in dismal fashion he was starting to lose even his dwindling hard-core supporters in the fan base. Richt and his staff still have to coach ’em up and somehow put an end to the off-field discipline troubles that have plagued the program, and his job likely still will be on the line this fall. But at least the fan base won’t have been damaged by eight months of nonstop moaning.

As the Sporting News’ Dave Curtis put it after Crowell’s signing, “Georgia enjoyed its best football day since its 2008 Sugar Bowl blitzing of Hawaii.”

The glass-half-empty crowd can note such a statement actually is a backhanded indictment of how bad things have been since that Sugar Bowl team finished No. 2 in the country and Georgia entered the next season atop the rankings, only to disappoint.

The rest of us will enjoy the good feeling engendered by the Dream Team and hope that Richt really does prove to be the next Comeback Kid.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

171 comments Add your comment

Fort Worth Dawg

February 7th, 2011
11:32 am

If Richt is in a win-or-get-fired year then there is no incentive to red-shirt anyone.

Tville Dawg

February 7th, 2011
12:43 pm

Greetings from Thomasville-home of the latest goodwill ambassador for the Dawgs-Mr. Ray Drew. I have met Mr. Drew and he is very impressive.

Apolgies to anyone who has already posted this idea, but why not trot out Uga IX at the dome against Boise. Don’t wait for the first home game. I have no problem installing Russ. Do away with this pure white bulldog business-heck all of us have a flea or two.

Coach ‘em up CMR-we’re behind you.

Hard Truth Soldier

February 7th, 2011
12:57 pm

Hard Truth Here, The watch list for the incoming freshmen will look like this; Chris Conley, Wesley Scott, Ray Drew, Isiah Crowell, Jay Rome, Malcolm Mitchell, and Sterling Bailey. These are freshmen who will make huge impacts right away

GDawg

February 7th, 2011
1:01 pm

Potential Lineup with alternates

Offense
QB 11 Aaron Murray 6-1 210 So. – Lemay, Mason
TB 3 Washaun Ealey 5-11 215 Jr. – Crowell, King? and Malcom
FB 89 Bruce Figgins 6-4 265 Sr.
WR 17 Rantavious Wooten 5-10 177 Jr. – Troupe, Wesley, Mitchell
WR 12 Tavarres King 6-2 190 Jr. – Brown, Bennett, Conley
TE 7 Orson Charles 6-3 240 Jr. – White, Rome, Lynch
OT 72 Kenarious Gates 6-5 310 So. – Long, Houston
OT 77 Trenton Sturdivant 6-5 312 Sr. – Harmon, Benedict
OG 71 Cordy Glenn 6-5 320 Sr. – Lee
OG 76 Ben Harden 6-3 310 Sr. – Parrish
C 61 Ben Jones 6-3 300 Sr. – Burnette

Defense
DE 93 Abry Jones 6-3 297 Jr. – Smith, Morant
DE 94 DeAngelo Tyson 6-2 290 Sr. – Lott, Bailey
NT John Jenkins 6-4 340 – Anderson, Geathers
OLB 83 Cornelius Washington 6-4 260 Jr. or DE/OLB 47 Ray Drew 6-5 250
OLB 29 Jarvis Jones 6-3 234 Jr. – Longo, Faloughi, Ramik Wilson
ILB 45 Christian Robinson 6-2 230 Jr – Gilliard
ILB 22 Richard Samuel 6-2 234 Sr.- Herrera, Turne
CB 2 Brandon Boykin 5-10 183 Sr. – Love, Marshall
CB 1 Branden Smith 5-11 175 Jr. – Commings, Swann
SS 9 Alec Ogletree 6-3 224 So. – Williams, Moore
FS 18 Bacarri Rambo 6-0 211 Jr. – Hamiton, Deas

bigcalidawg

February 7th, 2011
2:44 pm

We truly reloaded at LB, while we lost 3, we gained Jarvis Jones, Richard Samuel, Turene (sp.), and Ray Drew. We also have monsters returning and T.J. was playin before he got hurt.

Moving DeAngelo to DE and cloggin the middle with Jenkins and the 2 shirts will prove significant.

I believe that Coach Lakatos knows this will be a “turnover-inducing” defense and this year his squad will get maybe 3+ per game.

Commings, B. Smith, Boykin, and the recruits. We are stacked at safety.

I don’t know about the “O”. But we might have the top producing Defense in the SEC next year.

Pacific Dawg

February 7th, 2011
4:20 pm

Enter your comments here

Pacific Dawg

February 7th, 2011
4:25 pm

I have just talked to Vasi “Tombstone” Papulu. Tombstone will enroll in summer classes at a JC. Hopefully, he will pull up his grades and be able to sign LOI next year and enroll for winter quarter in 2012. Tombstone’s final 5 are Georgia, UCLA, New Mexico, USC, and TCU.

Fire Mark Richt

February 7th, 2011
6:45 pm

“Folks Richt is the coach we have. Nothing is going to change that between now and the end of the 2011 season. So its time to quit the fussing and moaning and get behind the team and the coaches.”

Well said, UGADawg83

Naggercall

February 7th, 2011
8:56 pm

The Dream Team=Naggers in jail…lol

JW Bowman

February 7th, 2011
9:40 pm

The news on Vasi “Tombstone” Papulu is encouraging. Besides UGA being among his finalists, he’s reportedly up to 6′7 380 and runs the 40 in 5.2, which is staggering for a Samoan beast. Now that he has become a Methodist and is no longer a Mormon, there is no 2-year mission to delay his enrollment. Just needs an academic jumpstart. Plus, he already has a scooter license, though I suppose those are not transferable from Samoa to the state of Georgia.

Fire Mark Richt

February 7th, 2011
9:58 pm

I agree with Tville, let’s give Russ a try and get rid of the pure white bulldogs. Those animals don’t seem to healthy.

JRW7DAWG

February 7th, 2011
10:35 pm

DAWGS are on the RICHT track now!!!!

GA Shawty

February 7th, 2011
10:58 pm

Rumor coming straight from the players is that Washaun Ealey got the kicked off the team today and Caleb King may be transferring!

Dirty Dawg

February 7th, 2011
11:38 pm

Hey hard truth soldier…I’ve got a feeling that you should add the Moore kid from Griffin to your ‘watch list’. Anybody that’s been recruited by us and Florida, Auburn and Alabama has got something, plus I heard a radio interview on signing day where a rep from Rivals said he thought Moore would be one of our top three guys – now that was before we had heard definitely about Crowell and Jenkins, but he was impressed with the kids ability and savvy and talking him up like he was his agent or something.

Plus, if there’s anything to the above post that says both Ealey and King are gone, I really hope we’ll give the Scott-Wesley kid a ‘look-see’ at running back. If he’s as fast, muscular, hard-running and elusive as I’ve read – somebody said he reminds them of Adrian Peterson – then we’d be crazy not to give him a try.

RMikel58

February 7th, 2011
11:46 pm

Double U G is right. If were gonna run a 3-4 defense you better have a great nose guard on D to stop the run up the middle. But even he can get tired if they double team him just like better teams did against Cody with Alabama. What Georgia did against Cody was just put our center on him and he killed us and i think really good OC’s saw this and decided to double team him.
By the 3rd Quarter Cody was done for and then they just let the center handle him. So i guess my worry is that if Jenkins turns out to be pretty good our opponents will double team him and wear him down.
Now im not as smart as some of you guys here and im far from having the knowledge that these defensive coaches have but i see that its a possibility.
Im sure Todd Grantham isnt gonna play him on every down but a big guy like that can get winded if played alot. You know having him sure doesnt hurt but it’ll take more than Jenkins to make a difference.

RMikel58

February 8th, 2011
12:17 am

Ga Shawty- If that is true about Ealy and Samuel im devastated. Truely. I was hoping that getting Crowell would generate better competition at RB and not hurt feelings or giving up. What are these guy’s thinking? I wouldnt think Mark Richt would tell Ealy and Samuel “well guys i finally got a true RB and you guys will have to go down to 2nd and 3rd string”.
Those guy’s better do some real soul searching. Ealy no doubt all georgia fans love you but you came in and underperformed cause we were hoping that you’d develope into a Knowshon Moreno type RB but some reason you seemed to slow down and not run as hard. I think if anything you should realize that nothing is a given. You must work harder in the off season, set goals, prove to yourself who you are and where you wanna go in life and decide from there.
Talent and abilities are just that if you dont use them my friend.
As far as Richard Samuel goes, i still think he can be a good RB and im sure he’s down but you cant blame CMR or the OC for your demise. You put yourself in that situation and only you can get out of it. Leaving the school or just giving up isnt the answer. Lots of players go to practice, dress out on saturday, and wait for their opportunity to play.
When called upon its your time in the lime light and you gotta deliver. I’d say this to anyone!
Richard Samuel full of talent and promise is his own worst enemy. Rise above it brother, play ,compete and make a difference.
Changing schools changes nothing. Your attitude follows you wherever you go. Remember that you get out of it what you put into it. I remember watching Herschel Walker all the way through college and i felt he was the best RB in college football history.
He had speed, elusiveness, running over people and breaking tackles. Then when he got to the NFL he was totally a different player. He was timid, slower, didnt break tackles and seemed to worry about getting injured too much. Wasnt the same.
When you go from Highschool to College remember that there are a group of very talented players from across the country and the competition is fierce. Cant out run alot of these guy’s, bust tackles and soforth. Well its the same way when you go to the NFL.
LB’s, CB’s are as fast as you are. Theres a dozen RB’s as good as you are. That what happened to Herschel Walker. Some people are great in highschool and some are great in college and then some get great in the NFL.
If you wanna be good at something practice when the others practice and play when the others play. But to be great at it you must practice at it everyday, sprints, working out, or things that you might be weak at make it better.
I just hope both you and Ealy do not just leave or quit because of things you hear or fear that might happen, rise above all this and prove to yourself that you can do it.
You have your life ahead of you thats full of promise and hope. People thats my age look back at our mistakes and only wish we were blessed to be in your position because once its gone, you can never get it back.

savannadawg

February 8th, 2011
6:45 am

So what! we STILL don’t have enough defensive inside guys to compete for a championship.

FanSince59

February 8th, 2011
6:49 am

Yeh. Richt and his staff still have to “coach’em up”. We’ll see how they do. A lot of hard core Richt fans may be real disappointed come the end of 2011.

Lagdawg

February 8th, 2011
6:50 am

Great recruiting class. Now lets coach’em up and win some games. This recruiting cycle is over and it’s time to work on the next class. Fla. St. already has seven commits for the 2012 class and Alabama has six. No time to celebrate, the beat goes on. Time to focus on what’s needed in the next class. Let’s get to work.

Lagdawg

February 8th, 2011
6:55 am

We need to bring in at least two more big NT and we still need bigger and better players on both lines. WRs need to be upgraded and we need to bring in two quality RBs in the 2012 class. I saw a different attitude in recruiting but let’s see if it will carry over onto the playing field. Still a little skeptical with Bobo still calling the plays. I really felt like we should have upgraded the coaching on the offensive side.

atl xmen

February 10th, 2011
11:43 pm

February 8, 2011

Winning isn’t everything
Randy Young
CNHI The Times Enterprise Tue Feb 08, 2011, 07:30 PM EST

I’ve been a football fan all my life and have called football games on the radio for the better part of 30 years. I know how important it is to win, especially in the Southeastern Conference, unquestionably the most dominant football league in the universe.

The Georgia Bulldogs’ most recent season wasn’t one most UGA fans will want to remember. The year ended with the first losing record of head coach Mark Richt’s career and, predictably, many Georgia fans were calling for him to be fired.

We’ve all seen coaches screaming at the top of their lungs at their players, many of them cursing with every other word. And, of course, some of them get away with it because they win on the field more than they lose, so their fans put their hands over their eyes and ears and say that it’s all OK.

A devout Christian, Richt has never been a screamer or a cusser. But some “experts” even criticized him for those aspects this year, saying that “top” coaches never bring their religion into play, that intensity and winning should be their primary focus. Basically, because he is a coach who prefers to let his actions speak louder than his words, he has been a target of criticism.

I want to share a little story with you that illustrates clearly there should be much more considered than whether or not he is winning more often than he is losing that measures the worth of a coach — and a man.

Three weeks ago, James Eunice of Valdosta went duck hunting on a big lake in Lowndes County called Ocean Pond. A 17-year old senior at Valdosta High School, Eunice was a talented baseball player who had already been accepted at the University of Georgia.

But as talented he was on the baseball diamond, Eunice was more passionate about football. He was an emotional leader on the most recent edition of Valdosta’s legendary Wildcats football team. And even though he wasn’t a star on the gridiron, his desire made him determined to be a part of the Bulldogs football team once he got to Athens.

So with that dream in his mind and burning in his heart, Eunice had written Richt a letter that spelled out his plan to walk on at UGA in the fall and be a Dawg.

At some point while on the before mentioned hunt, Eunice apparently fell out of his boat and drowned. His body was recovered on Jan. 31, and his funeral was held this past Saturday.

The Valdosta community was stunned. For a bright, young life so full of potential to be snuffed out so prematurely, lives across the board were shaken from their foundations.

For the last two years, Eunice’s Wildcats football teammate, Jay Rome, was one of the most highly recruited players in the nation. While all of the confusion and despair about Eunice was going on, Rome was one of the top players who committed to the University of Georgia. At the memorial service for his friend, Rome spoke. As part of his message, Rome read a personal letter written to the family from Richt.

Mind you, this was a letter written during perhaps the busiest period of the year for big-time college coaches — a time when they are crisscrossing the nation recruiting those players that will be the lifeblood of their programs for the coming years. For weeks at a time, they don’t see their own families while trying to convince top football players in every nook and cranny across America to come to their schools.

In the letter, the Bulldogs head coach opened up about his own heartbreak in learning of Eunice’s passing and also offered his most sincere prayers for the family. He also shared how he had been contacted by Eunice about his plans to walk on the Bulldogs football squad.

Richt stated that Eunice’s name had been added to the teams’ roster and he had officially “made the team.” The family was then presented an official UGA jersey emblazoned with “EUNICE” across the back, and “23” — the number Eunice wore at Valdosta.

Those gathered at the funeral for James Eunice stood, applauded — and cried.

I know if you are a head football coach at a major university you are supposedly paid to win. I understand that ultimately championships and such are your measuring stick, and that just goes with the territory.

But any human being who believes that any victory on the football field could be more important than what Richt just did for the family of a young man whose life ended much too soon needs to take a long look in a mirror.

Like football, life isn’t a game that should be solely measured by whether or not you lose or win. Rather, it should be measured by how you play the game and whether or not God’s rules are at the center of your performance, both on and off the field.

Coach, thank you for the reminder of that fact, one too many of us forget far too conveniently.