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.

If you're a high school recruit, which is more impressive to you?

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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

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174 comments Add your comment


October 21st, 2011
3:17 pm

@TrailerLifeMagazine…. I don’t care who you are.. that’s funny

Richard Cranium

October 21st, 2011
3:23 pm

Soon, Richt is going to have to sing for his job…


October 21st, 2011
3:25 pm

Hey Gators,hows that Musschump hire going?


October 21st, 2011
3:34 pm

@ Gator Bob…

The reason that all of your points are invalid and could never be taken seriously:

You still use the term “at the end of the day,” and you even used it more than once.

Kiss The Ring

October 21st, 2011
3:36 pm

poor dawgs….like 40 year olf virgins…actually 31 year old ones. No idea what undefeated glory looks like.


October 21st, 2011
3:48 pm

Isn’t this a NCAA violation?

CMR Character Conflict

October 21st, 2011
3:56 pm

How low can you go – when you feel you have to sing to a recruit?? CMR is nuts – he has lost it and is showing his desperation. Problem is – when he gets to UGA will CMR wipe his bottom for him too?


October 21st, 2011
3:57 pm

Spike 80DF

October 21st, 2011
4:01 pm

What makes anyone think we’ll beat UF? We’re on a roll barely beating Ole Piss and Vandy while they’ve lost to Bama and LSU without their starting QB. Here comes another nightmare in Jacksonville…


October 21st, 2011
4:02 pm

Maybe, you people need to take a look in the mirror running someone down and think your any better seriously.


October 21st, 2011
4:15 pm

Singing to a recruit?? And we wonder what is wrong with college football???


October 21st, 2011
4:16 pm

Michael, Don’t you wish Coach Richt would sing you happy birthday?

Boobie Bowden

October 21st, 2011
4:18 pm

Son, you been at this job way too long….

Kiss The Ring

October 21st, 2011
4:24 pm

Maybe Coach Richt can recite a peom..

Rose are red
Violets are blue
UGA is all about mediocrity
so what say you?

BlakeB has no clue

October 21st, 2011
4:27 pm

BlakeB, you are right, I have not been recruited and I am sure coaches have to be creative.

Having a coach fly a helicopter to your HS football game to see you is cool and something you would brag about as a recruit.

Having a coach sing Happy Birthday to you is something that is so not cool for a 17 year old boy and that kid is never going to live that down now that it is national news…

Way to embarass yourself and this kid Richt – Now if he comes to UGA that will be his legacy, whereas if he goes elsewhere it will be forgotten as just another Richt Tricht.


October 21st, 2011
4:32 pm

Brent Calloway, Bama RB, busted for marajuana.

Gives new meaning to “Roll, Tide, Roll”


October 21st, 2011
4:35 pm

Don’t leave out

Lsu 45
The Barn 10


Bama 38
The Barn 14

So much for that.

Burma Shave

October 21st, 2011
5:01 pm

Richt tries to sing
And belt out a tune
But he’s really
Just a buffoon


All Saints

October 21st, 2011
5:16 pm

Just a reminder that we’ll be having our regular tribute and moment of silence on Saturday for Saint Jan Kemp, the courageous martyr who exposed UGA and Vince Dooley’s infamous “remedial studies” fraud.

Please approach this special moment with reverence as we honor her sacred name.

Vince Lombardi

October 21st, 2011
5:19 pm

Did he send him roses too? This whole story is creepy.


October 21st, 2011
5:24 pm

Maids are legends in FLA?????????


October 21st, 2011
5:28 pm

Just wondering if Richt remembers the lyrics to “Beating a team with a winning record”? Flip side: “Beating a team that finished in the top 25″.

Delbert D.

October 21st, 2011
5:31 pm

This stuff is would be too unbelievable for a soap opera.


October 21st, 2011
5:35 pm

This stuff is TOO funny! Does Coach Richt have anybody advising him on what to do, and maybe what NOT to do with these recruits???? The hits just keep on coming in Athens….

Silver britches

October 21st, 2011
7:07 pm

Another cmr gimick………………. Try coaching up coaches and players……………………

Chuck Allison

October 21st, 2011
7:27 pm

I have never heard Mark Richt sing. But, from hearing him talk, I would think that hearing him sing would not be very pleasant.


October 21st, 2011
7:49 pm

It’s funny how a UGA blog always brings out dunba** trolls.


October 21st, 2011
8:14 pm

no worries GATORS will make it 19 out of the last 22 years GATOR victories looking forward to the GATORS Kik’n the leg humping poodles azz


October 21st, 2011
8:20 pm

I know UGA has under performed the past 2 seasons. And all the dog nation wants CMR and his staff gone. But I’m telling you folks all that griping does the program NO GOOD. Many recruits will be told UGA will be going through a coaching change and telling them if they go to Ga, they will not know who they will be playing for. next season. I queston many things about the program. But its better to keep it to ourselves and not post it all over the Ga. blogs. The competition loves that B.S.

The Competition

October 21st, 2011
8:23 pm


I got news for you. We already figured it out – whether you have or not.

bitter----thrown under the bus

October 21st, 2011
8:30 pm

singing to recruits—-fine example why coach’s get payed to much money——he has been paying for

—————-singing lessons—————-what a JOKE CMR IS.———-god please show richt the light

————————and THE F@#$ —DOOR—

—————————————————————-GRANTHAM RULES——————–

FOOTBALL is about as voilet as any legal thing to do in the USA——dont hire chruch boys

—————————————–TO DO A MANS JOB!!!!!!

bitter----thrown under the bus

October 21st, 2011
8:39 pm

@nobodyyouno———lesson michael adams needs to be silenced——-let dooly find a coach

at 49-19 coach donnan was a fine football coach——–before he tried to duplicate burrnie maydoff

———————–coach dooly will find a respectable hard working coach within the family

———————ok ray golf was a supposed to be dooly#2—–ray was a great uga QB

————he just lacked coaching ex per tice———————-change cant be stopped now


——————————————KNIFE IN THE BACK——————DONT LET THE F@#$ DOOR

bitter----thrown under the bus

October 21st, 2011
9:09 pm

its bad enough to have a bog pu$$_ as a head coach butt having gator fans pile on while

theres not one fla team in the top 25———–message to all gator nation punks

————you people have enough problems of your on—–clean your house before being a as____s

—————————to dawg fans————–sincerly———jim donnan—-available

Glass half full

October 21st, 2011
9:24 pm

Why so many negative UGA fans. We’re on a 5 game win streak, and host two of our last three SEC games. I understand the cockiness of all the Florida fans, because that’s how they always are. They could be 0-6 and still think they were gonna win the SEC championship just because they’re Florida, but I hate to tell you guys UGA has the better team this year. We’ve had some struggles with some youthful mistakes, but we’re about to be completely healthy and well rested going into the game next weekend. This defense is good, they lost their cool last weekend, but that hasn’t been the norm this year, they’ve played well in every game this year with the exception of the second half of the Boise State game going into las weekend. I’ll give them one mulligan. Bottom line, UGA has an easier road than both Florida and South Carolina.


October 21st, 2011
10:00 pm

Yea competition, I along with your smart azz figured it out to. Now go clean the toilet like you wife told you to do.


October 21st, 2011
10:02 pm

Ghost of Spurier has dogs talking silly after squeaking by Vandy and coach singing to recruits – confident?

oh brother!

October 21st, 2011
10:05 pm

Florida has Muschump! ROFL..might as well go get zooker back. Florida’s cycle of being good ended last year and they will now line up middle of the road at best for the foresable future. No one..i mean…NO ONE…cares about Florida football anymore. Great to be a has been gators.

oh brother!

October 21st, 2011
10:06 pm

oh yea…and nice jorts bunch of gator losers…lol.

Bubba Dawg

October 21st, 2011
10:07 pm

Really Sick!….so much for class and integrity.


October 21st, 2011
11:09 pm

where are all of you chest thumpers who love grantham’s antics? you were screaming about wussification then, what about this singing business? ugh

Vince Doodly

October 21st, 2011
11:12 pm

From Newnan its closer to Auburn than UGA. Much easier game drive as well. Plus Auburns team stays in La Grange on friday nights. Easier for parents to see their kid if needed or wanted.


October 21st, 2011
11:33 pm

Geez, I’m surprised the Gators are allowed out to play! GatorBob, u are correct about our special teams. We aren’t used to bad ST play in the past. I just heard u Gators never won an SEC crown till the 90’s. What were u folks doing for fun before then because it wasn’t watching your football teams play?

Stephen A. Smith Dawg: Sing Misty Blue, after the annual UF loss Richt.

October 22nd, 2011
1:18 am

If Richt calls one of his own players a derogatory name, I wonder what he calls his delusional, nut fringe, kool-aid drinking supporters ? Answer: DUMB-ASS REPROBATES !!! LOL !!


October 22nd, 2011
7:11 am

Richt really knows how to set the tone. No wonder when they show up they don’t take him seriously. I guess he hasn’t gotten that chapter, yet.


October 22nd, 2011
7:47 am

What is a Dewnsav ?


October 22nd, 2011
8:33 am

Can’t see Woody Hayes or Bo singing to a recruit. Do you think Frank Kush, Darryl Royal and Chuck Fairbanks would have done something that creepy?


October 22nd, 2011
8:34 am



October 22nd, 2011
9:04 am

Hey Bubba…..Muschamp has won just as many national championships as Richt. Maybe we should give both a little more time?

V.P. Joe Biden

October 22nd, 2011
9:42 am

The stimulus is working!

Beast from the East

October 22nd, 2011
10:02 am