THE MONDAY MORNING REWIND:
Or in this case, what happened while I was away on vacation. . . .
Here’s one thing you can be assured of in this business: When you’re out on vacation, news will happen. Usually a lot of news.
So, of course, that was the case when I took off for the beach last week. I left immediately after the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla. I wrote that the SEC presidents went against the football coaches and voted to reduce the annual signee limit to 25, drove home, took my bags out of one car and put them in another and hit the road for the right coast early the next morning. So unplugged was I that it took me several days to realize that Mike Hamilton was out as AD at Tennessee.
I returned to civilization this past Saturday afternoon and I have gradually tried to get myself back up to speed on all things Georgia, etc. (nice to see the Braves get on a roll, huh?!) So please indulge me as I conduct a brief review of the UGA happenings while I was away and be sure to let me know if I’ve missed anything (as if you need prompting). And be sure to let me know some of the topics you’d like to see me cover in the coming days and weeks. As you know, there are only 82 days until the Bulldogs’ opening game against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.
Recruiting gets kick in pants
Georgia’s football recruiting got a badly needed kick in the pants over the weekend. The Bulldogs added four new commitments to their Class of 2012 from Friday until Sunday, including two from major in-state prospects. According to most analysts Jenkins County defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor is one of the best if not THE best prospect in the state. He committed on Sunday and, as they always promised, so did his outside linebacker teammate and best buddy James DeLoach.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s future for kicking specialists was solidified as punter Colin Barber of Cartersville committed. Place-kicker Marshall Morgan of Miami has long been on board, meaning that the Bulldogs have identified their replacements for Drew Butler and Blair Walsh, presently the most formidable kicking combination in America. Lest we forget, Georgia also just brought in on scholarship long snapper Nathan Theus, who will be set to succeed rising junior Ty Frix. So the Dogs’ commitment to special teams is clear. And these newbies can only hope to fare as well.
Personally, I believe the commitment of Pierce County’s Quayvon Hicks is very significant. Though most identified him as an elite defensive end prospect, UGA tabbed and recruited him purely as a fullback, which is a position it sorely needed to address. By all accounts this kid brings serious offensive skills and athleticism to the table and he has the size to match up with the league’s ever-troublesome OLBs and DEs. A really good get, IMHO.
The occasion of most of this recruiting activity was the result of the annual Mark Richt Camp held in Athens this past weekend. There has been considerable stress and paranoia expressed by the fan base over the lack of commitments beforehand. But the reality is this: This is expected to be a relatively small class for the Bulldogs; this is right about where they were last year; with rules and attitudes changing like have recently, recruiting is going to become much more deliberate, which has always been Georgia’s M.O.; and, like it or not, there is the tinge of uncertainty wavering over the program regarding the coaching staff, which will cause some of the most elite prospects to take a wait-and-see approach to UGA’s season.
If Georgia has a positive season — which many are starting to predict — expect a boffo recruiting class once again. Here’s the class as it stands so far:
GEORGIA 2011 COMMITMENTS
Men’s golf, baseball go down
It’s old news to most of you by now, but the baseball and men’s golf teams saw their season’s end in NCAA postseason tournaments.
Coach Chris Haack’s hackers fell to one of the most incredible and unlikely dominant teams of all time, Augusta State, 3-2 in the national championship match-play finals. But it was an incredible run for the Bulldogs, who had an impressive roster of its own but had failed to put it all together until Nationals. Now it will be rebuilding time for Haack as they bid farewell to four of their most accomplished seniors of all time: Rob Bennett, Harris English, Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford.
Coach David Perno’s Diamond Dogs finally went down to Oregon State in the championship game of the Corvallis Regional. As I’ve stated before, I believe Perno might have done his best work in getting Georgia back into the NCAA tournament. You have to look past the unspectacular final record of 33-32. Despite playing the nation’s toughest schedule and all the adversity they faced with the Johnathan Taylor injury, the Bulldogs managed to execute a 17-game improvement from the previous season. With a senior-laden squad coming back, look for even bigger things next year.
Henley = #winning
Speaking of Henley, he has continued his winning ways since his college career ended. The Monday following the national championship match, Henley managed to make it back to Ball Ground, Ga., and grab one of three spots for the U.S. Open qualifying at Hawks Ridge Golf Club. So he’ll be teeing it up with former Dogs Bubba Watson and Christo Greyling at Congressional Country Club this Thursday in Bethesda, Md. In the meantime, Henley this past weekend helped the the United States win the Palmer Cup up in Greenwich, Conn. Henley, of course, won a Nationwide Tour event as an amateur earlier this year. Before it’s over he may end up as UGA’s most decorated golfer ever.
JT gets ‘the call’
I’m hopeful you all got to see where the Texas Rangers absolutely buried the class meter by selecting Georgia’s Taylor in the Major League Baseball draft. There was plenty written about it here and elsewhere but there is a pretty cool video interview that UGA conducted that’s now posted on the school’s official website, georgiadogs.com. I highly recommend you check it out.
That’s all for now. Let me know what you think and what you want. I’m here to serve!