Archive for February, 2012

Johnathan McCrary: 4-star QB spurns UGA and Alabama for Vanderbilt

(AJC)

Two Cedar Grove football stars are leaving the state to play college football. Senior OL Brandon Greene (left) signed with Alabama over UGA earlier this month, while junior QB Johnathan McCrary committed to Vanderbilt over UGA and Alabama (AJC)

One of the state’s top quarterbacks turned down UGA and Alabama to commit to Vanderbilt on Thursday night.

It was a surprising turn of events for Johnathan McCrary, the junior quarterback from Cedar Grove High School. He’s the son of former Atlanta Falcons tight end Greg McCrary, who played eight years in the NFL.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound McCrary had been thinking seriously about Vanderbilt, and made the abrupt decision to go ahead and commit to the Commodores after his high school basketball game on Thursday night.

“I don’t know why he did it tonight,” the elder McCrary told the AJC. “We played [defending state champion] Columbia in basketball and it was an uphill battle. Johnathan thrives on competition. He knows Vanderbilt doesn’t …

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Marqui Hawkins: WR adds offer from Florida

[Note: Story updated at 5:08 p.m. Sunday]

One of the state’s top wide receivers was offered by Florida on Saturday morning.

Will Muschamp is No. 1 to offer WR Marqui Hawkins (AP)

Will Muschamp offers Carver-Columbus WR-DB Marqui Hawkins (AP)

Florida coach Will Muschamp offered Marqui Hawkins, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior from Carver-Columbus High School who projects to play wide receiver or defensive back in college.

“When I woke up this morning, I had a text message from my high school coach to call Coach Muschamp,” Hawkins told the AJC. “I called and Coach Muschamp said he woke up early this morning to look at my film. He liked the way I could judge the ball, said I had decent speed, and that I can move body well to adjust to the ball. He likes that I can play both sides of the ball, so he offered me a scholarship.”

Hawkins attends the alma mater of UGA RB Isaiah Crowell. The Bulldogs are interested in Hawkins, along Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi State and and Auburn.

What would be his dream offer? “Alabama. I love Nick Saban, …

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Will UGA and Georgia Tech sign a few more football recruits for 2012?

Georgia Tech and UGA haven’t ruled out adding players to this year’s recruiting classes, although it seems more likely of a possibility with the Bulldogs.

Georgia Tech has a 17-member class after adding LB Beau Hankins on signing day. The Yellow Jackets also had a pair of longtime commitments switch to other schools a few days before signing day, leaving at least one scholarship available if the Yellow Jackets decide to make a late addition.

“We don’t have any plans to sign anyone else right now,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson told the AJC on Wednesday. “That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t take a transfer if it would fit. Now some of that would happen after spring practice, I think. But we don’t have any set plans to sign anybody else.”

UGA and Georgia Tech haven't ruled out adding another signee for 2012 (AJC photo)

UGA and Georgia Tech haven't ruled out adding another signee for 2012 (AJC photo)

UGA has a 19-member class and expected to sign more, but missed on a few high-profile targets on signing day. Within the last week, the Bulldogs have evaluated OL …

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UGA’s Mark Richt has never been a part of this controversy

There’s a little ACC-SEC stare down that is generating some national interest.

Maryland granted the release of three football players, including former Norcross offensive tackle Max Garcia, who generated immediate interest from UGA, Florida and Auburn, among others. (You can read more about that here)

In 11 years as UGA's coach, Mark Richt has never (AJC)

In 11 years as UGA's coach, Mark Richt has never put a stipulation on a player transfer. Why? "I think life is too short." (AJC)

Maryland granted the releases with the stipulation that the three players couldn’t transfer to another ACC school or one of the Maryland’s future non-conference opponents, such as West Virginia and Tulane. That’s a common stipulation. After all, you don’t want your former players coming back to beat your brains out and put your job in jeopardy, right?

Here’s where the Maryland situation takes a strange twist: According to The Washington Post, there’s also a stipulation preventing the three players transferring to … Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt? Yes, …

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Derek Dooley blasts SEC’s new over-signing rules

Derek Dooley does not like the SEC’s new “roster management” rules to address over-signing, and the Tennessee coach is not afraid to let everybody know it. Over-signing is when a school signs too many players than they have scholarships available.

Dooley, the son of UGA coaching legend Vince Dooley, spoke out strongly against the new rules this week to the AJC after wrapping up Tennessee’s 2012 class of 20 signees, which included five players from Georgia. Over-signing and related issues are one of recruiting’s hottest topics after Alabama coach Nick Saban told a couple of longtime commitments at the last minute that they couldn’t sign with the Crimson Tide this year. One of those was North Atlanta RB Justin Taylor, who was committed to Alabama for around a year and had plenty to say about the Crimson Tide’s tactics after he signed with Kentucky [Click on story link].

Tennessee's Derek Dooley (pictured): "I know Nick Saban feels the same way I feel. He may not tell you that. But a lot of us are at the mercy of our school presidents. Where we failed as coaches is we did not do a good job of communicating the positives of over-signing and being on the front end of the argument. So now we find ourselves in a real defensive posture." (AP photo)

Tennessee's Derek Dooley (pictured): "I know Nick Saban feels the same way I feel. He may not tell you that. …

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Maxi Garcia: UGA moves quickly on Maryland OL transfer

Maryland transfer Max Garcia said UGA’s Mark Richt, along with coaches from the Florida Gators and South Carolina, have contacted his high school coaches to express serious interest on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Garcia is an NFL prospect who started all 12 games at left offensive tackle for Maryland as a sophomore this past season. Garcia, who starred at Norcross High School, was granted a release by Maryland coach Randy Edsall on Monday because he wants to transfer to a school closer to home.

UGA has interest in former Norcross star OL Max Garcia (Photo courtesy of Maryland)

UGA has interest in former Norcross star OL Max Garcia (Photo courtesy of Maryland)

“I just think Coach Edsall understood my situation,” Garcia told the AJC. “I did my best to go along with everything at Maryland and do whatever the program asked of me. I just felt like it would be better for me and my family if I would be a little bit closer than 10 hours away from home. My friends and family can see me play, and enjoy these college years with me while they last.”

Under the terms …

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Robert Nkemdiche: UGA may be close to cracking Top 5 after visit

Robert Nkdemiche, the nation's No. 1-ranked overall prospect for 2013 (AJC photo)

Robert Nkdemiche, the nation's No. 1-ranked overall prospect for 2013 (AJC photo)

Robert Nkemdiche, ranked as the nation’s No.1 overall prospect for 2013, toured UGA’s campus for a few hours over the weekend.

Nkemdiche liked his visit to UGA. He didn’t like it enough yet to include the Bulldogs in his top five of Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Florida and Florida State. But it appeared that UGA gained some ground.

“It went good,” Nkemdiche told the AJC. “They showed me around campus, and I got to talk with Coach Grantham, Coach Richt and the running backs coach. They basically showed me that they have a good academic program to better me after college in case I don’t make it to the league, and they talked to me about coming in and playing as a freshman.”

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound DE from Grayson High School said the UGA coach Mark Richt made a favorable impression. “He’s a good guy, a Christian leader, and just an all-around good guy … Coach Richt and the other coaches, they said that …

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UCLA’s Jim Mora: Recruits remember I was coach when Falcons last won a playoff game

Former Falcons coach Jim Mora is the new coach at UCLA and loves Georgia talent (Photo courtesy of UCLA)

Former Falcons coach Jim Mora is the new coach at UCLA and loves Georgia football talent (Photo courtesy of UCLA)

After Jim Mora was hired as UCLA’s coach a couple of months ago, he immediately began targeting some of the elite football prospects in his old stomping grounds of the Atlanta area.

As the coach the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-2006, Mora has instant face and name recognition with many of Georgia’s top talent.

“When we recruit kids around there, people remember me as the coach that led the Falcons to the NFC championship game, and the coach who coached Mike Vick,” Mora told the AJC. “So I think things like that are very helpful when recruiting in that area.”

“The bottom line is this: The last time the Falcons won a playoff game, I was the head coach. Kids remember that game, the 47-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. A lot of kids around Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the Southeast follow the Falcons. They know that was the last time that the Falcons have won a …

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Vanderbilt coach elaborates on controversial comments … on recruit lost to UGA

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin touched on a hot-button issue of recruiting when he recently said that players that de-committed from his program were “not men of honor” and “not men of integrity.”

Franklin made the inflammatory comments in front of a group of Vanderbilt supporters — and some thought they were specifically directed at UGA signee Josh Dawson. The defensive end from Tucker High School flipped to Bulldogs on signing day after being committed to Vanderbilt since last summer.  Franklin told the AJC that his words were not directed at any one recruit (more on Dawson in a minute).

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin (AP photo)

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin (AP photo)

Some quick background: “De-committing” is when a prospect pledges to sign with one college and later switches to another school, an unpopular but common occurrence in recruiting. Georgia Tech was stunned to have a couple of prospects de-commit a few days before signing day after getting last-minute offers from competitors, while UGA had five …

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Shaq Wiggins: Top DB commits to UGA

DB Shaq Wiggins committed to UGA (Photo submitted by Shaq Wiggins)

DB Shaq Wiggins and his future college coach (Photo owned and submitted by the Wiggins family. Note: This photo was not arranged, publicized, owned or submitted by UGA)

Shaq Wiggins, who is a candidate to be the state’s No. 1 prospect at DB for 2013, committed to UGA on Friday.

The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder from Sandy Creek High School picked the Bulldogs among a dozen offers, including Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State, Wake Forest and Ole Miss.

“It felt right; it’s the place for me,” Wiggins told the AJC.

Wiggins is known for being an outstanding “cover corner” and was matched up every day in practice this past season at Sandy Creek against senior WR JaQuay Williams (signed with Auburn) and sophomore WR Demarre Kitt (early offer from UGA).

“Georgia is a getting a really good person, a real good kid – that’s the most important thing,” Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker told the AJC.  “Next they are getting a guy who will go up there and work hard to be successful.

“Shaq is a guy …

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