Archive for August, 2009

Picture this: Georgia State football, a work in progress

I’m going to take a page out of the Jeff Schultz Book of Blogging this afternoon and offer up a “Digi-Blog” on Georgia State football. He tells me that’s a copyrighted term and that I have to link any and all Digi-Blogs he has produced as payment, so I’m going to do that here. Happy Schultz?

Anyway, I thought this would be a good forum for illustrating the spartan environment Georgia State football is currently operating in. Right now the whole outfit is housed in a suite on the ninth floor of the Citizens Trust Bank Building in the Sweet Auburn Avenue area just off campus. But they will be moving the next month or so into some new digs currently under renovation in the Courtland Building adjacent to the GSU Sports Arena.

Practices begin Friday on a 100-yard field behind Martin Luther King Middle School on Hill Street and next door on a 70-yard artificial turf field belonging to the Boys & Girls Club. Eventually, of course, the Panthers will get their own place.  Initially …

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QB Drew Little gives Georgia State a good starting point

For starters, Henry County quarterback Drew Little, here being interviewed on reporting day at Georgia State, will be the face of Panthers' football. (Photo by Chip Towers)

For starters, Henry County quarterback Drew Little will be the face of Georgia State football. Here he is being interviewed by Fox 5 Sports' Buck Lanford on the first official day in Panthers' football history. (Photo by Chip Towers)

Drew Little had what many might consider bigger, better opportunities. He most definitely could have signed Division I. Boston College had him up for a visit. Florida State invited him to its camps. Kentucky, UConn, New Mexico, UAB and Middle Tennessee State all came calling.

Then Bill Curry got in his ear and, six months later, he finds himself as the centerpiece of Georgia State’s first football recruiting class. Little, 26 other signees and 44 walkons reported to campus Tuesday to form the Panthers’ first football team.

“It was Coach Curry and everything he brings to the table,” Little said. “I think he’s a good leader and somebody that can set us on the right path for the rest of our lives.”

It’s not at all what the 6-foot-5, 239-pound …

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Georgia State’s first football players arrive today

Georgia State coach Bill Curry gets to lose the tie and put a whistle back around his neck as the Panthers' first 70 football players report to campus this morning. (Photo courtesy of Georgia State Athletics)

Georgia State coach Bill Curry gets to lose the tie and put a whistle back around his neck as the Panthers' first 70 football players report to campus today. (Georgia State Athletics)

History will be made this morning.

Around 8 o’clock some 70 football wannabes will show up at Georgia State. And with their arrival the Panthers will, for the first time in the school’s history, have an actual football team on campus (sort of).

The players will spend the first few hours of Tuesday checking into the University Commons dormitories on Piedmont Road. About 11 a.m., Georgia State’s first coach, Bill Curry (you may have heard of him), will hold a brief news conference in the school’s football offices. A few of the 27 scholarship players signed so far will also be available for interviews. I’ll be there to check out the scene.

After three days of orientation — “We’re going to teach them our rules, our systems, what we expect on and off the field,” Curry said — Georgia State will hold …

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UGA commit Butler plans to ‘look around’ this fall

Georgia rather notably has seven Florida players currently committed to sign in its 2010 recruiting class. A great place to keep up with these prospects — and others from the Sunshine State — is the Orlando Sentinel’s new recruiting page.

Included in today’s issue is a nice piece on Georgia commitment B.J. Butler of Osceola. The Sentinel reports that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound, 4-star linebacker plans to “look around” with some official visits to some other schools this fall. He said he hopes to make trips to Auburn, Colorado State and perhaps Southern Cal. But Georgia fans need not fret, Butler insists. He still plans on becoming a Bulldog.

“Georgia is a beautiful situation,” Butler told the Sentinel. “The coaching staff, the fan base, facilities, academics, everything was beautiful. Academics are important for me and their engineering program is attractive to me. And the coaches are like my high school coaching staff. I really like those guys.”

Now on to some links:

  • I wrote …

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Not likely Dogs will get major contributions from Ealey

Take that with ya: We know Washaun Ealey has this part of the game of football down pat. It's the other parts that concern the Georgia Bulldogs. (AP Photo)

I’m going to go out on a limb and say don’t expect to see much out of Washaun Ealey this season. And that has nothing to do with the hyperextended elbow he suffered in practice recently.

This is no knock on Ealey, a Parade Magazine All-American and AJC Super 11 selection out of Emmanuel County Institute. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound tailback is an impressive athlete and looks spectacular when he runs down Georgia’s Woodruff Practice Fields with a football tucked under his thick arms. He’d be a shoo-in to play if that was all there is to it.

But there is so much more to being a running back for the Bulldogs. They run a pro-style offense and it’s pro-style in every sense of the word. Think about it for a minute: On any given play the tailback in Georgia’s system is either being handed the football, pitched the football, faked the …

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Monte Kiffin falls off fence, wins over Westlake’s Taylor

Monte Kiffin, in his younger fence-hopping days with the Tampa Bay Bucs. (AP Photo)

Monte Kiffin, in his younger fence-hopping days with the Tampa Bay Bucs. (AP Photo)

You never really know what it is that will win over a recruit. College coaches have been saying that for years.

But falling off a fence in the middle of a football practice? Now that’s breaking new ground.

Quite unintentionally, that’s what happened to Tennessee’s 69-year-old defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin while Atlanta-Westlake High’s Michael Taylor was there on an unofficial visit this past weekend. And it was was one of the reasons the 6-foot-1, 205-pound linebacker decided to commit to the Volunteers.

Taylor shared the story of the bizarre accident when I asked him for his impressions of the wizened elder Kiffin, considered one of the game’s brightest defensive minds.

“When I was there he tried to climb a fence and he fell,” Taylor said, trying to stifle a chuckle.

I had to ask: “First of all, what is a 69-year-old man doing climbing a fence?”

“I have no clue,” Taylor said, laughing …

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Taylor on Tennessee: ‘It’s not dead with cow pastures’

Tennessee was late to land on Michael Taylor’s radar. But once it did the Volunteers’ combination of location and adoration resulted in the linebacker’s sudden decision to commit to their 2010 class.

Taylor, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound rising senior at Atlanta’s Westlake High, committed to coach Lane Kiffin while on an impromptu unofficial visit to Knoxville this weekend.

“I went up there and that was the school I felt was the most excited about me,” said Taylor, an outspoken and confident young man who often refers to himself in the third person. “It was a great fit when I went there. I saw they needed some help at linebacker and I’m just the guy they need.”

Taylor, considered a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com, said he went to about a dozen schools on unofficial visits over the past several months, including Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida Atlantic, Central Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and, of course, Tennessee. He said all of them except Auburn …

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Dogs’ freshman QB Murray confident he can run offense

Kind of light on hard recruiting news front this afternoon so I’ll leave you with a short Q&A session I had with Georgia freshman quarterback Aaron Murray yesterday. Like I said before, I also talked to tailback Washaun Ealey, wideout Rantavious Wooten and tight end Arthur Lynch and I’ll get around to their stuff eventually. I’ll be checking in with some Georgia Tech freshmen next week and look in on the new gridders at Georgia State as well. Now on to Murray. . . .

Q: Looks like it was close to 100 degrees out there today. How’s the heat in Athens compare to Tampa?

A: “It’s pretty hot. I’d say it’s about the same, especially on that turf. It’s like 10 degrees hotter. It’s not as humid as Tampa but it’s still pretty hot. You’ve got guys like Arthur Lynch from Boston, you know it’s a lot hotter than it is up there.”

Q: Let’s talk about recruiting a little bit. What are some of the realities you’ve encountered that the coaches weren’t telling you about during the recruiting …

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Westlake’s Taylor decides to give Vols a look

There’s a new player in the sweepstakes for Westlake linebacker Michael Taylor. And he lives up on Rocky Top.

Just three weeks ago Taylor made no mention of Tennessee when naming off his top six for stanford.scout.com, which then was Georgia, Miami, Stanford, LSU, Virginia Tech and UCF. But the 6-1, 205-pound senior decided this week he wanted a closer look at the Vols. He’ll go to Knoxville for an unofficial visit Saturday.

Taylor told the AJC’s Ken Sugiura that Tennessee represents “a great chance to go in and play, and they were really excited about me when I expressed my interest in them.” He said he also likes the idea of playing for Volunteers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, father of head coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin was a longtime coordinator with the Tampa Bay Bucs and is considered one of the keenest defensive minds in the game.

Taylor said he has received close to 30 scholarship offers, including Georgia Tech, Michigan and Illinois. But he does not profess to …

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Brown not at Georgia just because of his grandmother

That's actually Georgia wide receiver Rantavious Wooten surrounded in a blue sea or needy press Thursday, the first day freshmen were available for interviews. (Nifty photo from my I-Phone)

Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten is actually in the center of this sea of blue-clad reporters on Thursday, the first day Georgia freshmen were available for interviews. (Nifty photo from my I-Phone)

Thursday was the first day Georgia’s true freshmen (those that play offense anyway) were available for interviews and that always makes for an interesting scene. The freshmen, who generally are already overwhelmed with everything they’re having to absorb, are bombarded with all sorts of questions from reporters that have been chomping at the bit to ask them.

I was one of those reporters and one of the first guys I wanted to talk to was Marlon Brown. The highly-touted wide receiver out of Memphis overcame an enormous amount of pressure from the locals to sign with Tennessee only to sign with the Bulldogs, who were famously favored by his grandmother. It was on national signing day that Vols coach Lane Kiffin offered his now infamous explanation why the Vols were unable to land the …

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