Archive for October, 2009

Former GT player Luginbill takes winding road to ESPN

Remarkably, Tom Luginbill was ACC Rookie of the Year on a 1-10 team.

Remarkably, Tom Luginbill was ACC Rookie of the Year on a 1-10 team.

If Tom Luginbill has proven one thing in his lifetime it’s that he is not afraid to try new things.

He moved around a lot as a college football player. He transferred to Georgia Tech as a junior college quarterback in 1994 only to leave a year later and conclude his career at Eastern Kentucky.  He also got around as professional football player and coach. He played and coached for six different teams in four different leagues — none of them the NFL — over eight seasons.

Now 35, Luginbill feels like he has finally found his niche. Today he is national recruiting director for ESPN.com. As such, as chief analyst for ESPNU’s high school football telecasts and an in-studio college football analyst. This week the Charlotte resident will be at James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston to cover the M.L. King-Stephenson game.

Luginbill

Luginbill

Luginbill started working for ESPN five years ago as an NFL scouting expert five …

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‘World Wide Leader’ converges on DeKalb’s Hallford Stadium

There have been over the years some really big games played at DeKalb County’s little James R. Hallford Stadium (formerly known as Memorial Stadium).  But that concrete valley between Memorial Drive and North Indian Creek has never seen the likes of what is about to roll into town this Friday night.

OntheAir(clipart)“The World Wide Leader in Sports,” also known as ESPN, is bringing its high school football traveling road show to Clarkston this week to broadcast to a national television audience the Martin Luther King-vs.-Stephenson game (ESPNU, Friday, 6 p.m). Anybody who doesn’t think that’s a big deal is not considering that the “The U”, as ESPN likes to refer to its little brother network, is now being carried in about 50 million homes across America. And a growing portion of those households are actually flipping on the channel.

The game itself would have been colossal whether ESPN brought in its cameras or not. Both teams are undefeated at 6-0, ranked within one spot of each other(7th …

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Kiffin strikes again as 2011 LB Johnson commits to Vols

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin just won another battle in the recruiting war he declared on Georgia. And this time the Vols’ victory came less than an hour from Athens.

A.J. Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior linebacker from Gainesville, committed to the Vols on Wednesday, shortly after completing a practice attended by UT assistant coach Ed Orgeron. He attended the Tennessee-Georgia game in Knoxville as an unofficial visitor on Saturday.

Tennessee was the first school to offer the swift-footed junior last December. He said he grew up a Georgia Bulldogs’ fan and camped there this past summer but the Bulldogs never offered.

“I’m guessing they were just waiting,” said Johnson, who has 80 tackles so far this season. “They didn’t come after me like Tennessee did. If Georgia had offered me I probably would have committed right there.”

Johnson, who had at least 12 offers, also attended camps at  Florida, Clemson and Auburn. He can’t sign an actual scholarship until February of …

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Loganville’s Bailey hopes to blast off at Georgia Tech

Loganville's Morgan Bailey grew up a Georgia Bulldogs fan but hasn't looked back since committing to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in late June. (Photo by Chip Towers)

Loganville's Morgan Bailey grew up a Georgia Bulldogs fan but hasn't looked back since committing to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in late June. (Photo by Chip Towers)

Some recruits shy away from Georgia Tech because they’re intimidated by the school’s rigorous math and science curriculum. And those that do decide to become Yellow Jackets often do so under the pretense of  tip-toeing around and side-stepping every class they can that has “engineering” or “calculus” in the name.

Not Morgan Bailey.

I visited with Bailey, a Georgia Tech commitment since June, over at Loganville High School recently and I asked him what his academic plans were for The Institute.

“I’m going to major in physics,” he stated flatly. “I want to be a rocket scientist.”

Nope, there’s not a lot of tiptoe in this 6-foot-5, 285-pound senior offensive tackle. But there’s clearly a whole lot of aptitude. Bailey has a 3.8 grade-point average as an honors student at Loganville.

Coach Eric Godfree laughed out …

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Talent should be least of problems for Georgia’s defense

Based on the recruiting rankings of the players playing defense for Georgia, talent should be the least of the problems for the Bulldogs.

As we all know, Georgia is experiencing serious defensive issues this season. The fact is, just looking at bottom-line numbers, the Bulldogs have been trending downward on that side of the ball for the past five years. Scoring since 2005 has gone from 14.6 points per game to 17.1, 21.0, 25.6 and now 27.8. Average yards allowed over the same period: 298, 264, 325, 318 and 358. After giving up 30 or more points to opponents only three times under head coach Mark Richt from 2001-06, Georgia has let it happen 11 times in the three seasons since, including 37 or more points eight times in the last season and a half.

So that got me wondering — is Georgia just missing out on good defensive talent?

I’m going to qualify this finding by saying what I’ve done here is hardly scientific and probably could be explained away by Richt or anybody else who …

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JaWuan James hears Kiffin’s ‘Georgia speech’ firsthand

How did JaWuan James spend his time in Knoxville this past weekend? Limping around with one ankle taped underneath his socks and shoes.

JaWuanJamesThumbnail

JaWuan James

North Gwinnett’s much-sought-after offensive tackle sprained his ankle during last Friday’s win over Chattahoochee. Nonetheless, he made the trek up to Tennessee with his parents for his first official visit of the fall. As a result, he had an excellent view of the Vols’ 45-19 win over Georgia last Saturday. He was in their locker room after the game.

So James heard Kiffin say that Georgia was the most important game of all for Tennessee and that it would never lose as long as he was there.

“Yeah, I heard him say that,” said James, getting treatment on his ankle as he talked late Tuesday afternoon. “[Kiffin] was talking about how winning this game was big for them because Georgia has some of the best players in the South coming out every year. Florida does, too, but it’s a lot farther away. Georgia is only a few hours down the …

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New Georgia hoops coach Fox shoots for stars in recruiting

It has been a half-year since Georgia introduced Mark Fox as its new basketball coach. In that time he has completed his coaching staff, formed a team, introduced his methods and philosophy, marketed and promoted and, finally, recruited like mad.

“We’ve had a good first six months,” Fox told me. “Certainly you have to make progress every day. I feel like we’re doing that.”

By all accounts, recruiting is going well, though the Bulldogs have yet to have anything to show for it.

The Bulldogs currently have 12 players on scholarship, one below the NCAA limit. Three of those players are seniors and will graduate at the end of the season: Center Albert Jackson and former walkons Ricky McPhee and Tyler Whatley.

That means Georgia will have at least four scholarships to offer for next season. However, that does not necessarily mean they’ll sign four players.

Indications are that Fox is not going to dole out aid just because he has some available. If the Bulldogs don’t find the …

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Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin declares recruiting war on Georgia

As it turns out, erecting billboards in Atlanta was just Phase One of Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin's plans to lay seige to the city.

As it turns out, erecting billboards was just Phase One of Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin's plans to lay siege to Atlanta.

Here in Georgia, all the talk after this past Saturday’s 45-19 whipping at the hands of Tennessee centered around what’s wrong with the Bulldogs’ defense and whether a change of coordinators was the only way to fix it. But back up on Rocky Top the story of the game was what the Vols’ victory might do for their recruiting.

Tennessee, as most folks are aware, doesn’t produce much in the way of four- and five-star recruiting prospects. Georgia, as we all know, produces a lot. So shortly after Saturday’s game, the Vols’ brash young coach Lane Kiffin effectively declared our fair state a war zone.

“I know there are a lot of great teams in this conference,” Kiffin told reporters. “But I told [the team], to me, this is the biggest matchup, Georgia. Because of what we do recruiting, for this staff, this is the biggest matchup.”

That, my friends, is drawing a line in …

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Perkins, other Georgia Tech commitments looking good

It was a big weekend for Georgia Tech with its  first-ever win over Florida State in Tallahassee and it was a big weekend for future Yellow Jackets as several commitments had standout performances this past Friday night.

Collins Hill running back Charles Perkins kept his stranglehold on the Gwinnett County rushing lead with 130 yards and 3 TDs in a win over Duluth. Perkins, who was pulled from the game midway through the second quarter, has 1,133 yards and 12 TDs in six games this season.

Quarterback/defensive back Synjyn Days continues his good work for Hillgrove High as he rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and was 6-of-17 passing for 107 yards and 2 TDs. Days was at the controls of an offense that rolled up 456 yards.

Jefferson County’s B.J. Bostic is similar to Days in that he’s an athletic prospect that plays quarterback on offense and defensive back on defense. He scored touchdowns rushing, passing and on a kickoff return by halftime of a blowout win …

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Mack Brown promises M.L. King win over Stephenson

M.L. King's Mack Brown gets some help stretching from an M.L. King coach before playing Southwest DeKalb earlier this season. The state's top-rated tailback has battled hamstring injuries and had limited carries all season. (Photo by Chip Towers).

M.L. King's Mack Brown gets some help stretching from an coach before playing Southwest DeKalb earlier this season. The state's top-rated tailback has battled hamstring injuries and had limited carries all season. (Photo by Chip Towers).

Mack Brown has never been shy about making bold statements.

Georgia’s highest-rated running back  prospect — number 3 (ESPNU Rise), 4 (Scout.com) or  5 (Rivals.com) in the nation depending on the recruiting service to which one subscribes — publicly stated his personal goals this year are to rush for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and to win a state championship for M.L. King High.

Seven weeks into the season, the Florida Gators commitment is severely lagging on those statistical goals. But the Lions (6-0) remain undefeated heading into Friday night’s monumental matchup against region rival Stephenson. Ranked eighth and seventh, respectively, in Class AAAAA, the game is so big and so chocked full of college prospects that it’s going to be …

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