Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …
Albert Brown writes: It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day” with UGA offensive line recruiting. Been that way since Jim Donnan. Bill, no one seems to care. Why does UGA struggle so badly every year? Frustrating. Everyone gets our linemen but UGA. To date we have no one committed and no one calling UGA their leader. Something is very wrong and has been wrong for a long time. When might things change? Problem needs to be addressed or even acknowledged.
Albert, you’re right that the offensive line has been a trouble spot for Richt teams ever since Donnan’s players graduated. Whether it’s a recruiting problem or a development problem is tough to say — probably a bit of both — but the Dogs never seem to have a dominating OL, even when it’s full of veterans. Looking ahead to next season, OL coach Will Friend has several players with experience — Mark Beard, Watts Dantzler, Brandon Kublanow and Kolton Houston — to work with in filling three spots opened up by the departure of Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee, plus a few others looking to earn playing time. And new signees Kendall Baker, Dyshon Sims, Jake Edwards and Isaiah Wynn may eventually get on the field this season, though none is expected to challenge for a starting spot just yet. David “Boss” Andrews is back at center and John Theus, a former five-star recruit, returns at tackle. The amount of experience is good, but, unless someone steps up their game (and Theus and Houston appear to have the most potential to do that), another middling, inconsistent OL is likely. As for next year’s recruiting class, it doesn’t appear to be quite as dire as you indicated. Georgia has a commitment from offensive tackle DeVondre Seymour of Hinds Community College in Mississippi, a former North Gwinnett player who’s the nephew/adopted son of former Bulldog/NFL great Richard Seymour. He’s rated a three- or four-star prospect. UGA’s top offensive line target so far is Chuma Edoga of McEachern, who may wind up as a five-star prospect. He’s currently listing Tennessee as his leader, with UGA and South Carolina second. Georgia also reportedly has made an offer to Matthew Burrell of Hylton, Va., and is going after Kaleb Kim of Mill Creek.
Jim P. writes: Bill, your column about the choice to blast or not to blast recorded music between plays is more of an indictment of how crappy music (?) is today. Is there not any decent rock or pop music that everybody can enjoy? The only choice that seemed to be given was recorded rap crap or the Redcoat Band. You can’t tell me students refuse to listen to any rock music. Or country music. Then again I haven’t heard any consistently good rock music in decades. Maybe there isn’t any today.
Jim, there’s plenty of good music today, but the article didn’t say that only rap should be played; it made the point that UGA is located in a hip-hop hotbed and that particular style of music is very popular with students and players. Rock and pop and country are also all popular with college students. But this is an opportunity for UGA to capitalize on the fact that Atlanta is a big deal in the hip-hop world and has some of the top talents, so why not incorporate that into the Georgia “brand”? As Greg McGarity said this week, there’s no way to please everyone with musical choices, but, as he also pointed out, they’re not pleasing everyone now.
Again, I don’t think playing music that students and recent grads like is going to lure them into attending cupcake games or make them want to show up for 12:30 games, but I do think that making the atmosphere inside the stadium more intimidating (as South Carolina has done) could well be helped by playing music that gets the younger patrons in the stadium excited. I also think continuing and improving the amplification of the Redcoats, which finally started later in the season last year, would be a plus. Given a choice between the Redcoats or recorded music, I think even a lot of students would choose the former. I also think the choice of music is more important than the volume, which is a complaint many have had at other stadiums and in the NFL. No matter what music is played, there’s no need to damage people’s hearing.
Brenda Davis writes: Bill, I noticed that on Coach Mark Richt’s spring UGA Day speaking tour put on by the alumni association, he’s going to cities in other states, like Greenville, Orlando and even Houston. Why the out-of-state visits? Does UGA have that many alumni in those cities?
Brenda, UGA does indeed have a lot of alums in those areas, but I think the main reason for the out-of-state visits is recruiting. Such appearances increase the profile of Richt and UGA in those areas and expand the school’s footprint. Mark Slonaker, head of the Bulldog Club, told the Macon Telegraph the decision to go to Houston was made in part because of the SEC’s new reach into that state via Texas A&M. Last year Georgia went to Dallas, where Matt Stafford had provided Georgia with a base of fans. “We’ve got a really good, strong alumni base [in the Houston area],” Slonaker said.
J. Dan Lott writes: Hello, Bill, lately we are reading a lot about the NFL combines and on-campus workouts by football players in preparation for the draft. Sports writers give the impression that the strength, speed, agility, etc. demonstrated by the players at those workouts play a large role in predicting how well they may perform at the pro level. Do Coach Richt and his staff have drills similar to those used at the NFL level when they have high school players on campus for camps and clinics? There seem to be a lot of high school players going under the radar, but excel at the college level.
Yes, Dan, UGA holds a series of Mark Richt summer camps for high school players, and campers are observed moving quickly from drill to drill, learning techniques from coaches along the way. Also, the coaching staff frequently identifies a prospect they want to pursue through those camps. In fact, the camps are seen as a key recruiting tool. Some players who previously haven’t been on UGA’s radar wind up getting recruited after making an impression at camp. All of this culminates with the Dawg Night Camp, for advanced players who intend on playing at the most competitive level of Division 1 football. Georgia usually picks up several commitments at Dawg Night, which also draws a lot of media coverage. This year’s camps will be held June 3-14.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg