UGA’s Mark Richt sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to football recruit

You know you’ve made it as a big-time football prospect when a college head coach sings you “Happy Birthday.”

That’s what happened with Tray Matthews, a junior defensive back from Newnan High School who has already committed to UGA.

On Tuesday, Mathews turned 17 years old, and he was talking on the phone that night to UGA assistant John Lilly. We’ll let Matthews tell the rest about a birthday he’ll never forget:

Mark Richt sings "Happy Birthday" to recruit (AJC photo)

Mark Richt sings "Happy Birthday" to recruit (AJC photo)

“Coach Lilly said I’ve got somebody who wants to talk to you and it’s Mark Richt. As soon as Coach Richt got on the phone, without saying anything else, he started singing me ‘Happy Birthday.’ And he sung the whole song to the finish. I was shocked. It made my day. I’ve never had a coach sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ before. That was really cool.”

Matthews said both he and Richt had a good laugh about it, and then talked for a few more minutes. “He wanted to know how my season was going, and asked all kinds of personal questions. He asked ‘Where do you like to go out to eat? What kind of hamburgers do you like? How do you like them cooked?’ We talked about stuff other than football.”

Later that night, Matthews posted on Twitter that Richt sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Richt’s creativity brought out some jealousy and competiveness in other colleges who are trying to lure Matthews away from the Bulldogs. Not surprising in the ultra-competitive world of recruiting.

“I guess the word got out because the Florida coach told me he would bake me a cake for my birthday with ‘Florida’ written all over it,” Matthews said with a laugh. “Then later on, the Florida coach said his cake was better than Mark Richt signing. It was all pretty funny.”

What’s the latest with Matthews’ early commitment to UGA? “I’m still solid with Georgia, but I’m still looking around,” he said. “I’m young, you know? LSU, Alabama and Florida have been sending me a lot of mail lately. I kind of want to get out of state, but I kind of want to go to Georgia, too. If I did change my mind, it would be one of those three schools – LSU, Alabama or Florida. But I’m still solid with Georgia.”

Matthews said he’s attended every UGA home game this season and will go to more next month. He hasn’t visited any other schools, although he may go to the Alabama-LSU showdown.

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What do we think? Props to Richt for his creativity in recruiting. Believe it or not, it’s the little things like this that stand out when everything else seems about the same. Prospects get super-tired of hearing the same sales pitch from every college. “Come here and play early, compete for championships, get a great education, and we’ll get you to the NFL.” College recruiters score points with creativity, when they do things to make them stand out from the rest of the pack.

Now it’s YOUR turn: What’s the most creative (and legal) recruiting tactic that you’ve seen or heard about by a college. Please share it below.

  • North Gwinnett High School defensive lineman Jordan Washington (6-3, 260) committed to Mississippi State over Ohio State on Thursday. “When I went on the visit, I just loved it. My mom and I loved the campus and the atmosphere, and the coaches showed a lot of love. I just felt at home and like that’s where I belong.”
  • Here’s video of a senior committed to UGA, AJC Super 11 DT Jonathan Taylor of Jenkins County High School …

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Note: Inappropriate BLOG comments and personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. We love the lively discussions but hate-filled, harassing and irresponsible comments are unacceptable.

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174 comments Add your comment

dirty727

October 21st, 2011
12:12 am

dirty727

October 21st, 2011
12:13 am

Hope he’s solid.

5150 UOAD

October 21st, 2011
12:37 am

14 months until he can sign is a long time. At his age he could have 4 to 7 different girlfriends during that same time period.
Hope he sticks, but never surprises me if they change their mind.

dbc

October 21st, 2011
1:35 am

Richt will be singing in the unemployment line by the time he signs.

dawgerbrown

October 21st, 2011
5:35 am

Going out of state sounds kind of cool, until you realize your family and friends won’t get to see you play. Hope the dogs keep winning and we can flip a few of these local kids that hace comitted to other schools like Bama, Fla., Miami, Auburn, etc.

GATOR CHOMP

October 21st, 2011
5:37 am

Wow did Saint Richt tuck him in and sing The Jail House Rock also?The official fight song of the Georgia Bulldogs.What a complete joke of a coach.Im willing to bet anyone of you losers that this kid never signs with UGA.Come be a Gator son where legends are maid.Saint Richt has been coaching at UGA for over a decade and have’nt won sh!t yet.GO GATORS!!!!!

Palm City Dawg

October 21st, 2011
5:55 am

He IS a JUNKYARD DAWG!!!

Palm City Dawg

October 21st, 2011
6:00 am

WOW!!! Chomp and low class…move on little girls…Gators are done…bees are done…Muschump is done by year’s end.

Dewnsav

October 21st, 2011
6:00 am

@GATOR CHUMP…”been coaching at UGA for over a decade and have’nt won sh!t yet”…2 SEC championships ring a bell ?? Worry about your Gators, “where legends are maid”…

GATOR CHOMP = low budget

October 21st, 2011
6:02 am

“Come be a Gator[,] son [,] where legends [but not prior to the last 20 years] are ma[de]. Saint Richt has been coaching at UGA for over a decade and ha[sn't] won” . . . plus, you’ll get to play in front of jorts wearing, mullet sporting class acts like me in gorgeous Gainesville, FL . . . who wouldn’t want that?

Abbey an

October 21st, 2011
6:37 am

Solid as jello

JB

October 21st, 2011
6:37 am

I hope Dewnsav @6:00 knows the difference between “maid” & “made”, but being A Gator, you never know.

Destin Dawg

October 21st, 2011
6:42 am

Techies and Gators are hilarious…. Muschamp is in his 1st head coaching job… and he acts totally insane…. he goes down like Zook… Nerds will lose 3…. Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami this weekend !! weak defense with Gran Pa Groh… Dawgs win out.. good close games vs. Fla. and Auburn.. fun to watch Junk Yard Dawgs,,, beat Fla.. !!!

Gt yellow streak locked in my room

October 21st, 2011
6:48 am

hey we might beat Duke ??? too many muggings down town at night… scared

Dewnsav

October 21st, 2011
6:56 am

what’s your point JB ?? was paraphrasing another poster…I’m a Dawg, not a Gator

benedawg

October 21st, 2011
7:06 am

Gator Chomp…..Maid in your sentence is M A D E stupid as well as ignorant.

Dawg daze

October 21st, 2011
7:13 am

Fun watching Muschamp The Maniac. Just another Zook. He will not last.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2011
7:46 am

Gator Chump – when you get perfect you can criticize others but until then (which will be never) we don’t need your opinion because you are a waste of time. I will be at the Georgia/Florida game in the GATOR Bowl next weekend and look forward to Will MusChump whining and going crazy on the sidelines as his Gators go down for the count.

King Gator

October 21st, 2011
7:58 am

Zook 2
Georgia 1

ROCK STEADY FREDDY

October 21st, 2011
8:08 am

Dawgs 47 lizards 40 oops, DAWGS 48 lizards 40 after this year.

islander

October 21st, 2011
8:09 am

wow , the people who always talk about the mullet hair cuts are the people that live in the arm pit of the south. ga is a joke. lets see, kid can come to fla with a higher rated school. the girls are better lookin. weather is better. better athletic dept. hmmm , no i would rather stay up in the arm pit of the south with all the other rednecks. see ya next weekend at the leghumpers yearly tail between the legs game.

trackdawg

October 21st, 2011
8:11 am

@ dbc

That was a funny line. But somehow I think Richt will be here for a long time. Who else has done more for georgia football than him. 3 sec appearances 2 wins and this year could be his 4th appearance with over a 100 wins. Who has done more? Maybe you like Ray Goff or Jim donnan better. Before Richt know expectation after Richt we must have an undefeated team.
I’m just sayin.

King Gator

October 21st, 2011
8:12 am

18-3, what will you have once it’s 48-47?

Foothills

October 21st, 2011
8:27 am

Just called my only Dawg friend @ he admitted after he read this he spit his coffee. Wonder if Richt will dress as Santa and visit his commits this holiday season.

Dr. Phil

October 21st, 2011
8:34 am

Richt is the “Fred Rogers” of college football.

Well Said

October 21st, 2011
8:40 am

@Dr Phil, at least it’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood.

BurytheBone

October 21st, 2011
8:41 am

@King gator, looks like after getting your clock cleaned three weeks in a row. You would find something in the gainsville gazette to read about, like where is the running game? Or maybe what are we doing about a QB or even trying to find a doctor who can figure out how you grew those ears on that dick

Recruiting | MrSEC.com

October 21st, 2011
8:41 am

[...] Georgia have started to pursue 2013 offensive lineman Nhigel Phillips.5. Georgia coach Mark Richt sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Bulldogs commit Tray Matthews.6. Here’s a recruiting mailbag in the Gainesville Sun.7. [...]

Sports Round-Up : The Grady Journal

October 21st, 2011
8:41 am

[...] Mark Richt sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to football recruit Newnan High School’s Tray Matthews received a personalized birthday wish from UGA head coach M…. Matthews turned 17 Tuesday, reports The Atlanta [...]

bucket

October 21st, 2011
8:50 am

@ Gator Chomp – you may want to do some investigating into your own program and see why Florida has had so many arrests in the last few years. And that’s even with a Gainseville police department and University police department that’s run by the athletic department!!! (See Dominque Easley)

Paul N Destin

October 21st, 2011
8:53 am

Mark Richt is pitiful at best. The UGA admin is on the clock. Do you give him another years and save money by not buying him out now? How do you handle the PR when teams recruit against him with “Richt will not be with you much after 2012″. It is coming unless you extend his contract!! Tuff deal but somebody has to make the call in two months.

1eyedJack

October 21st, 2011
8:53 am

It is the absolute height of hypocisy for a Gator fan to come on a Georgia recruiting blog and talk about jail. You’ve had as many or more than us. All of ours get reported before they even happen. Half of yours get swept under the rug unless of course it’s for robbing a corpse of it’s credit cards.

And there are no more pretty girls in Gainsville than Athens. It’s just that you get to see more of them :) and year round.

Gator Bob

October 21st, 2011
8:55 am

Long time until signing day – who knows where all of these recruits will go to school.

Same applies to our early commits – we hope they stay committed – but they are young – have time on their side – and need to visit other schools. At the end of the day – the schools will round out their recruiting classes.

NOW – for the upcoming cocktail party:
Why the Gators will win:
1. We are the better team
– we have better athletes
– we have a better coaching staff – as time will prove.
2. UGA’s SEC 4 conference wins are against teams that collectively have 1 conference win….. and UGA has done their best to lose those games. If I am UGA – I am only mildly confident against teams with losing records.
3. UGA’s Offense:
– Oline is not good – they are too big – not quick, not fast – and lack depth. Matched against Florida’s speed and quick D-Line – this game will be similar to UGA’s offense as the Boise game.
– UGA struggles in the red zone to score TD’s – just does not click.
– MIke Bobo and play calling.
4. Special Teams
– UGA is a disaster – and you can count on them to screw something up everygame ( missed FG, kick off return, punt return, blocked punt) – count on it – something will go wrong against UGA.
Walsh will blow a 30 yard FG against Florida – and it will cost UGA – count on it. His issue is between his ears.
4. UGA’s defense has improved – but Vandy showed the REAL UGA – yes VANDY!!!!!
VANDY was able to run all over UGA – and UGA was fortunate win that game. VANDY!!!!
UGA’s stats are skewed due to playing the bottom SEC teams while Gators have played the better teams.
5. UGA puts too much pressure on themselves in JAX. That’s what 2 decades of total domination will do. UGA is tight – and will make mistakes – penalties, special teams, play calling – UGA chokes in this game!

At the end of the day – IF UGA and Florida’s SEC schedule this year – they would be 2-3 -and finishing the season 3-5 SEC record. And Richt would be toast.

So how will the SEC season play out?
– UGA will finish 5-3 – (losing to Florida and Auburn – but beating KY).
– S. Carolina will finish 5-3 (losing to ARK and Florida)
– FLORIDA will win the SEC EAST – finish 5-3 – and beat UGA and S.Carolina head to head.

Richt will survive this year.
UGA will actually be much better next year – as I predict FL and UGA are both cycling back up.

Go Gators!

1eyedJack

October 21st, 2011
8:55 am

BurytheBone, I like that growing ears thing. Can I use that? It could apply to the nerd herd as well.

Mark Taylor

October 21st, 2011
8:57 am

He sang happy birthday to a 17 year old male? Are you kidding me? Good lord.

B. Beaver

October 21st, 2011
9:01 am

Did richt croon like Marilyn Monroe? How stupid is he. As far as you stupes slamming gator fans, I would like to see blow hard grantham get in Muschamp’s face. You would see a Gator chomp.

1eyedJack

October 21st, 2011
9:02 am

Gator Bob
“UGA’s SEC 4 conference wins are against teams that collectively have 1 conference win.”

After next Saturday UGA will have 5 conference wins against teams that collectively have 3 conference wins.

And we will still get no respect as every troll will predict we get blown out by Auburn…and then Kentucky.

Lakedawg

October 21st, 2011
9:05 am

101–36 Who is the winningest coach in the SEC percentage wise, and 10th overall in country among active coaches?

Not Mile , not Sban, not Petrino

Half Century Dawg

October 21st, 2011
9:06 am

Gator Bob

October 21st, 2011
8:55 am

you are smokeing the good stuff early today

1eyedJack

October 21st, 2011
9:06 am

Grantham would wipe the field with Muschamp.

roughrider

October 21st, 2011
9:27 am

Matthews: Beware the to faced Mark Richt. He will sing happy birthday to you then call you a dumb a** when he thinks nobody is listening.

footballfan365

October 21st, 2011
9:37 am

Its funny to hear florida fans talk about players getting arrested. Muschamp hasnt coached at uf for one complete year and “7″ of his players have already been arrested. Cant say much about winning but he picked right up where urban m. left off with guys going to jail!

tide roll

October 21st, 2011
9:45 am

Richt and Booboo Birthday Song: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BAMA; HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CAROLINA; HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LSUUUUU, HERE ARE ALL OUR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN.

Dostoveyskiy

October 21st, 2011
9:55 am

Why all the hate for CMR? UGa football heads hate him, as well as Tech football heads. A football head is someone who has an air-filled football for a head. The SEC is overpopulated with football heads. UVa and UNC have fans who have a life outside of sports. Football heads eat each other and their children.

bucket

October 21st, 2011
9:57 am

Ok dude, so I rounded 3 weeks up to a month. Challenge the other details!

Jiggy Smaha

October 21st, 2011
10:01 am

As a long time Richt supporter–to the point of almost being an aplogist–I am done. His teams are not prepared and they are not disciplined. Now we learn that he calls his own player a dumbass to appease a hot-headed Vanderbilt coach and fails to have the back of his own DC for having the back of the player Richt disses. If Georgia doesn’t beat Florida the whole crew should be fired–period. Enough of backflips and birthday seranades. Let’s find someone who will coach football for a change.

Jiggy Smaha

October 21st, 2011
10:04 am

Oh….and the most creative recruiting tactic I ever saw was when UGA started a women’s track program for Veronica Walker. Worth every penny.

1970 Dawg

October 21st, 2011
10:04 am

What is the value of a birthday cake. In the idiotic world of the NCAA, Florida’s coach may have just committed a violation by offering gifts to a recruit.

Bryant

October 21st, 2011
10:11 am

Can not see Nick Saban singing to a kid. Just saying…

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

October 21st, 2011
10:14 am

These recruits’ heads are full of mush. A commitment means nothing to them but neither does the commitment of the coaching staff if something better comes along. For Coach Richt, though, nothing better is contemplated. If I was a betting mascot, I would bet that a young man who says, “I’m still solid with Georgia, but I’m still looking around, I’m young, you know? I kind of want to get out of state, but I kind of want to go to Georgia, too. If I did change my mind, it would be one of those three schools – LSU, Miami or Florida. But I’m still solid with Georgia,” . . . will never pass through the arch.