Archive for February, 2012

Ten@10: Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones named Collegiate Player of Year

Georgia's Jarvis Jones (29) was named the Collegiate Player of the Year by the Atlanta Sports Council on Monday. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's Jarvis Jones (29) was named the Collegiate Player of the Year by the Atlanta Sports Council on Monday. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE TEN AT 10

1. Months after the football season was completed, awards are still rolling in for Georgia’s Jarvis Jones. The latest honor for the Bulldogs’ star outside linebacker came Monday night during the Atlanta Sports Awards ceremony at the Fox Theatre as Jones was named Collegiate Athlete of the Year for the 2011 season. His was one of nine awards presented Monday night by the Atlanta Sports Council to athletes and sports personalities in Georgia.

In his first season with the Bulldogs, Jones led the SEC in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (19.5) and recording 70 tackles. The sophomore from Columbus also two forced fumbles, two pass breakups and 49 quarterback pressures. After the season, he was named first-team All-American and All-SEC and won the CFPA Elite Linebacker Trophy. He was also a Butkus Award finalist.

Jones is a …

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Bulldogs head into final week battling to stay out of SEC’s last place

Georgia and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) will face a tall task against Anthony Davis (23) and Kentucky on Thursday at Rupp Arena. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

Georgia and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) will face a tall task against Anthony Davis (23) and Kentucky on Thursday at Rupp Arena. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

ATHENS — To be clear, Georgia coach Mark Fox says he doesn’t care about Georgia’s eventual finish in the SEC regular-season standings or what seed it gets or which game it plays in next week’s SEC Tournament.

“We don’t ever worry about that,” Fox said Monday. “I think the only time you ever worry about a lot of that is if you’re in a position to get a bye and we’re not in that position. Our focus with this group all year, as young as we were, was just to try to win the next game and keep getting better. That’s how we’ll approach it this week as well.”

For those who do pay attention to record and seeding, this is a very big week for the Bulldogs (13-15, 4-10 SEC). Coming off an impressive 76-62 upset of No. 12 Florida this past Saturday, Georgia wraps up the regular season with a road game against No. 1-ranked Kentucky …

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Georgia scores impressive 76-62 upset of No. 12 Florida

ATHENS – Spotted two points before the opening tip, Georgia never relinquished that lead on the way to knocking off No. 12 Florida 76-62 Saturday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.

The Gators (22-7, 10-4 SEC) were assessed a technical foul because sophomore Casey Prather dunked the ball during pregame warmups. That’s considered an unsportsmanlike act, though it’s an infraction rarely enforced. Florida was also assessed a flagrant foul in the game’s final minute.

As it turned out, the Bulldogs (13-15, 4-10) could have given back all the freebies and still claimed victory as they played their best game of the season..

“It’s the first time I’ve seen it happen,” said freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who led the Bulldogs with 18 points and 4 steals. “That definitely gave us a good feeling. It put us ahead two points and we just kept it going ’til the end of the game.”

The win broke a three-game losing streak for Georgia, which notched it’s second victory over a ranked team this …

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Q&A: Mark Richt expects position changes, intense competition in spring

Q&A WITH GEORGIA COACH MARK RICHT

Georgia coach Mark Richt answered reporters’ questions for a half-hour on Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs are in the midst of their off-season conditioning program and preparing for the start of spring practice on March 19. Following is raw transcription covering most of what was discussed . . .

Q: There has been talk of rising sophomore Ray Drew moving from outside linebacker to defensive end in the spring. Is that true, and are there some other position changes afoot?

A: The thing about our defense is it’s very versatile. A guy who at one time might be standing up as a linebacker, the next play he’s got his hand on the ground rushing the passer. So the flexibility has been there since Todd came. The bottom line is we’re going to play everybody in any given game or in any given personnel grouping depending on what we’re trying to defend. The versatility of our defense allows that.

“People have also been talking about Malcolm Mitchell. Could …

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New contract for Mark Richt expected within 2 weeks (UPDATED)

UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM COACH MARK RICHT . . .

ATHENS — I’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately about Georgia coach Mark Richt and his contract extension. Or, more specifically, why isn’t it done yet?

There are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there who are convinced the negotiations have become contentious and/or there might be some sort of hangup. I talked to Athletic Director Greg McGarity Thursday morning and he assures me there’s nothing amiss.

“No,” he said emphatically. “I was gone for 10 days. I was out of the country. So it’s just been a timing thing. Mark was gone for a while, too. He’s had some stuff going on. It’s just been a matter of us not being here. It’ll speed up here over the next 10 or 14 days. But there’s nothing to be concerned about.”

Richt reiterated that sentiment during a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon.

“It’s going to happen in due time,” Richt said. “I don’t have any anxiety about it at all. There’s some different …

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UGA places Commings on probation, orders community service, anger management

ATHENS — Sanders Commings has reached an “informal resolution” with the University of Georgia in the wake of his domestic violence arrest last month.

Kris Stevens, UGA’s director of Student Conduct, confirmed that his office “reached an agreement” with the Bulldogs’ senior cornerback to be on six months probation, do 25 hours of community service, attend an alcohol education class and an anger management class.

The school conducted its own independent investigation after Commings was arrested on Jan. 21 and charged with domestic violence/simple battery. Commings was determined to have “engaged in physical abuse, physical intimidation, coercion and/or other conduct that threatened or endangered the health or safety of another person,” according to the resolution agreement, signed by Commings this past Friday. That’s a violation Regulation 3 of the school’s conduct code.

A violation of Commings’ probation, which expires Aug. 17, “will likely result in suspension from the …

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Ten@10: Awards for Frank Sinkwich, Charley Trippi and Keith Marshall

They didn't come any tougher than "Flatfoot Frankie" Sinkwich, who played seven games of the 1941 season with a broken jaw. (UGA photo)

They didn't come any tougher than "Flatfoot Frankie" Sinkwich, who played seven games of the 1941 season with a broken jaw. (UGA photo)

THE TEN AT 10

1. Upon hearing Monday’s announcement that Georgia coach Mark Richt decided to create annual team awards named for Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi, I had two initial thoughts: One, good idea, Coach Richt; and, two, how did the Bulldogs not already have awards named for those guys?

Of course, they’re considered two of the greatest Bulldogs of all time. Sinkwich was the 1942 Heisman Trophy winner and was the star on the Bulldogs’ national championship team of that year. He is famous for playing most of the 1941 season with a broken jaw. And Trippi won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best back in 1946 and is generally considered one Georgia’s best overall athletes of all time. Appropriately, Richt announced that, starting with this coming season, the Sinkwich Award will be go to “Georgia’s toughest player” while the Trippi …

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UGA not only football program dealing with domestic violence issues

ATHENS – I was traveling yesterday when UGA announced it had decided on a two-game suspension for starting cornerback Sanders Commings at the start of next season.

Even though Georgia coach Mark Richt has avoided commenting on the subject so far, a spokesman told me Richt decided on the two games Wednesday after a series of meetings with Commings and conducting his own investigation into the matter. Commings, 21, was arrested by UGA police on Jan. 21 and charged with domestic violence/simple battery for allegedly hitting his former girlfriend.

Commings is scheduled for a March 22 arraignment before an Athens-Clarke County judge, so his legal case remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the incident is also being investigated by UGA as a possible violation of student conduct code. That review is ongoing, though I’ve reported on some of the interviews that were already available through the Freedom of Information Act. Those documents lead one to believe it the case might not be as …

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Georgia CB Sanders Commings gets 2-game suspension

Georgia starting cornerback Sanders Commings has been suspended from the first two games of the 2012 season by coach Mark Richt as a result of Commings’ arrest last month.

Commings, a rising senior, will miss the Sept. 1 season opener against Buffalo in Athens and the Sept. 8 SEC opener at Missouri, UGA announced Wednesday.

Commings was arrested by UGA Police on Jan. 21 on a charge of domestic violence/simple battery. He allegedly struck his girlfriend during a late-night argument in downtown Athens, police said at the time.

Commings has a March 22 arraignment scheduled in Athens-Clarke County state court. The incident also has been under investigation by UGA’s Office of Student Conduct since Jan. 23.

Commings, who is from Augusta, has played in all but one game the past three seasons. He started all 14 games last season, when he led the team in pass breakups (12) and tied for fourth on the team in tackles (55).

Richt announced Commings’ suspension via a news release from UGA …

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UPDATED: Thomas Brown leaves Georgia to coach running backs at UTC

ATHENS — Thomas Brown has left Georgia to accept a coaching position at Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Brown, a strength and conditioning assistant with the Bulldogs, will coach running backs for the Mocs, an FCS (formerly I-AA) program. The official announcement was made Wednesday by UTC head coach Russ Huesman.

“Really, when I started last January, my original plan was just to work as hard as I could to help Georgia win games as a strength,” said Brown, who was busy packing and handling domestic affairs at his home in Buford Wednesday afternoon. “I wasn’t really thinking about anything beyond that other than to see how I fit into college coaching and learn as much as I could about the game.”

As it happened, Mocs offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield contacted Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo this past week to ask about Brown. Brown visited the Chattanooga campus this past weekend and agreed to take the job earlier this week.

“We ended up exchanging emails for a couple of …

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Ten@10: VanGorder, Martinez, UGA’s last two DCs, reunite at Auburn

Willie Martinez coached alongside Mark Richt at Georgia for nine years. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Willie Martinez coached alongside Mark Richt at Georgia for nine years. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE TEN AT 10

1. Looks like Willie Martinez is coming back to the SEC. The former Georgia defensive coordinator, so vilified his last couple of years in Athens, is joining new Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder as defensive backs coach for the Tigers. Nothing is official yet but there are multiple reports Martinez was in Auburn on Monday, including THIS ONE by Charles Goldberg of The Birmingham News. It will be the fifth time the two men have coached together, including hitches at Boca Raton (Fla.) High School, Central Michigan, Central Florida and Georgia.  Martinez, 48, resigned as defensive backs coach at Oklahoma in January. He was fired as Georgia’s defensive coordinator in December of 2009.

Of course, this means the Bulldogs’ last two D-coordinators will be conspiring against them in November (and on the recruiting trail well before then). That continues …

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Bulldogs pull out impressive 70-68 overtime win over No. 20 Miss. State

Pretty impressive win by Georgia on Saturday. The Bulldogs went to Starkville and took down No. 20 Mississippi State. The Maroon Dogs are, in my opinion, one of the best-built teams in the SEC south of Kentucky. So I certainly wasn’t expecting Georgia’s first SEC road win to come there.

In case you missed the telecast, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a late 3-pointer in overtime and finished with 20 points to lead the Bulldogs to the 70-68 victory. Gerald Robinson’s bucket sent the game into the extra period.

Following was the AP burst. Wanted to give folks a chance to comment. . . .

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points, including a crucial 3-pointer late in overtime, and Georgia beat No. 20 Mississippi State 70-68 on Saturday.

Georgia (12-12, 3-7) earned its first Southeastern Conference road win this season and only its second road victory overall. Gerald Robinson Jr. added 13 points, including eight in overtime. Dustin Ware had 11.

Mississippi State …

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Two hot topics from UGA Athletic Board meeting

If you missed it -– and if you did here’s the story -– there was a pretty interesting meeting of the UGA Athletic Association board of directors yesterday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

The board got another upbeat financial report and voted to spend almost $4 million on several facilities projects (details in story), but the two topics that might interest you the most pertained to Mark Richt’s contract extension and a college football playoff.

UGA President Michael Adams pronounced the parties “in 98 percent agreement” on Richt’s contract extension and said the remaining 2 percent “is just minor details.” Adams said the executive committee of the athletic board could reconvene by teleconference to approve the deal when it is done.

As for a playoff, Adams added to the recent indications that momentum is finally building toward one, telling the executive committee: “My best guess is we’re going to end up with either a four- or eight-team playoff by the time we get to ‘14.” That …

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Georgia finally puts it all together in win over Arkansas

With an 8:05 p.m. tip, Georgia’s basketball game against Arkansas Wednesday night was one of those slam-it-in-for-print kind of games. So following is a recast of my game story on the Bulldogs’ impressive 81-59 win updated with quotes from players and coaches, some minor tweeks and some addition quotes at the end.

ATHENS — Two teams on divergent paths met at Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday night. But it was the one supposedly heading downward that came out on top.

Georgia, which won one of its eight games during the first half of the SEC schedule, started the second by doubling its conference total with a 81-59 victory over Arkansas. The Razorbacks (16-8, 4-5 SEC) came in with wins over three ranked teams but searching for their first SEC road victory.

The Bulldogs (11-12, 2-7) got a career-high 27 points from senior guard Gerald Robinson — including 17 in the first half — along with five assists and SIX rebounds as the SEC’s worst offensive team trumped the league’s worst …

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Recent dismissals, arrest leave Georgia with secondary concerns

The dismissal last week of three Georgia football players coupled with the legal trouble facing Sanders Commings has left put the Bulldogs in a pinch in the secondary.

Initially thought to be a team strength heading into the 2012 season, Georgia’s defensive backfield is suddenly left precariously thin and extremely vulnerable after head coach Mark Richt booted off the team Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders. Including the departure of three other defensive backs since the start of last season — Jakar Hamilton, Derek Owens and Jordan Love all left, allegedly of their own volition — that leaves the Bulldogs with just nine scholarship defensive backs heading into spring practice next month.

Included in that number is senior and starting cornerback Sanders Commings. However, Commings is not expected to be available for at least the first couple of games next season due to his arrest on a domestic violence/simple battery charge last month. Unless those charges end up getting dropped, …

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Q&A: UGA freshman TB Keith Marshall says ‘competition is a good thing’

Georgia coach Mark Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner introduce the Bulldogs' early enrolles (L-R) Keith Marshall, Faton Bauta and Mark Beard. (AP photo)

Georgia coach Mark Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner introduce the Bulldogs' early enrolles (L-R) Keith Marshall, Faton Bauta and Mark Beard. (AP photo)

Q&A WITH KEITH MARSHALL

Lost in all the craziness of last week’s national signing day drama and shocking player dismissals was the introduction of Georgia’s three early enrollees. Quarterback Faton Bauta, offensive lineman Mark Beard and tailback Keith Marshall had been shielded from interviews by UGA since arriving in Athens to begin spring semester in early January. But the three players were made available on the afternoon of national signing day. I’ll be sharing a little about each of them in a story that will run in Tuesday’s printed edition. In the meantime, I don’t think there is any question that Marshall, the five-star tailback from Raleigh, N.C. , is one of the most anticipated addition of the early enrollees and really of the entire 2012 class. So here’s some of what I heard from him this past …

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3 players dismissed by Georgia for team rules violations

ATHENS — Three players have been kicked off the Georgia football team for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

UGA coach Mark Richt announced this morning that defensive back Nick Marshall, wide receiver Sanford Seay and  defensive back Chris Sanders have been dismissed from the team. All three are freshmen and were members of Georgia’s 2011 “Dream Team” recruiting class.

The school did not address what precipitated the dismissals.

“It’s a privilege to play college football and to be a part of this team and University,” Richt said in a statement. “Along with that privilege comes certain responsibilities. Mistakes were made, and part of our job is helping them learn from mistakes. Going forward, we are committed to assisting them find opportunities where they can continue their education.”

Marshall’s high school coach,  Mark Ledford, was reached by the AJC this morning.

“I don’t want to comment on what Nick did,” said Ledford, head football coach at Wilcox County High.  “All …

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UGA has to report NCAA secondary violation due to comments on Harvey-Clemons

ATHENS — Georgia will have to report an NCAA secondary violation regarding its recruitment of Josh Harvey-Clemons. But as far as secondary violations go, they don’t get much more secondary than this one.

Jim Booz, UGA’s senior associate athletic director for compliance, confirmed to The AJC Thursday that coach Mark Richt ran afoul of NCAA bylaws when he commented on Harvey-Clemons shortly after the highly-touted prospect announced on national television his decision to sign with the Bulldogs on Wednesday. Harvey-Clemons’ signing ceremony at Lowndes High School in Valdosta was televised live by ESPN and the sports network also had a reporter and camera crew with Georgia coaches in Athens.

Shortly after Harvey-Clemons made his announcement in Valdosta, ESPN reporter Cara Capuano asked Richt for his reaction and for his thoughts on prospect’s athletic abilities. Turns out that violates NCAA bylaw 13.10.2, which states that no one from a member institution can comment on a …

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Video: UGA recruiting class even more impressive with Harvey-Clemons secured

Videochat with CineSport about Georgia’s 2012 recruiting class . . .

Continue reading Video: UGA recruiting class even more impressive with Harvey-Clemons secured »

UPDATED: Harvey-Clemons never wavered on UGA, just had to convince granddad

ATHENS — Josh Harvey-Clemons said he never wavered on his decision to sign with Georgia. He just had to convince his grandfather that it was the best move.

“I just had to sit down with my family and get everybody on the same page,” said Harvey-Clemons, reached by phone Thursday morning in Valdosta. “He was looking at it as Florida was closer. I’ve got a cousin who still plays at Lowndes and my little brother is going to be in high school next year. Florida is only like an hour and 20 minutes away, so he was thinking about going to games on Friday and being able to drive down to Gainesville easy. That’s why he liked Florida.

“Georgia’s a little farther away but I told him that’s where I wanted to go.”

Harvey-Clemons said he sent over the letter-of-intent via fax Thursday morning at 8:05 a.m. He said Georgia’s coaching staff never panicked and helped him through the dilemma.

“They were fine,” he said of the coaching staff. “They were just telling me to let them know what was …

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Despite Harvey-Clemons drama, Georgia brings in strong class

ATHENS — Greetings from Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Yeah, I’m still here.

Been an interesting day, as you may have noticed. It looked like it was going to be a nice smooth national signing day and a largely positive one for Georgia. The Bulldogs had gotten good news on two of their main targets early in the day, missed out on a couple of other targets later, and coach Mark Richt and Rodney Garner told us all about what was right about the 2012 recruiting class early in the afternoon.

The plan then was to breakdown the class, disseminate all the information, write it up for our readers and get home in time for a late supper.

But then that letter-of-intent for Josh Harvey-Clemons went AWOL. Apparently the young man’s grandfather and legal guardian did as well. And though we all watched the highly-touted outside linebacker from Valdosta tell a national television audience he intended to sign with Georgia, the Bulldogs’ couldn’t announce him as a signee and we haven’t been able to …

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Richt: O-line recruiting not an issue, happy with ‘guys we got’

Juggling a bunch of things at the moment so haven’t had much time to craft a comprehensive report for you. But in the meantime here’s is a raw transcription (please forgive typos) of some of the main points Mark Richt and his assistants made while briefing UGA fans in Heritage Hall a little while ago. About to have a session with richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner so I’ll have more information coming soon. . . .

Richt on how many Georgia might sign . . .

“I don’t know for certain because the day’s not over yet. I know I’, thrilled about the ones we’ve already signed on the dotted line. The biggest issue we thought we had was at the tackle position and I feel like we did a tremendous job there.”

Offensive line coach Will Friend on his newbies . . .

“We’re real excited about the guys we’ve got signed. Mark Beard is already on campus and we’re real excited about him. We thought we did a good job with guys that are athletic who will start out at tackle but could be …

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UPDATED: UGA’s class gets big boost by signing Lowndes OLB Josh Harvey-Clemons

ATHENS – Greetings from Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, or recruiting central here at UGA, where the Bulldogs just received their biggest news of the day.

Josh Harvey-Clemons, the athletic defensive end/outside linebacker from Lowndes County, announced during an awkward live telecast by ESPNU that he was signing with the Bulldogs. He chose UGA over Florida State, Florida and Miami.

This is a huge acquisition on a couple of fronts. Never mind that he is considered the No. 1 player in the state. The truth is, Georgia would have been fine without his addition as it is well stocked at the position. But it’s more important from the standpoint of the Bulldogs re-establishing themselves in the city of Valdosta and at Lowndes High in particular.

There has been a pipeline that has run between Valdosta and Tallahassee for a number of years now and still gets some pretty good use. But the Bulldogs have secured the best players out of that city the last couple of years, including Malcolm …

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Lots of recruiting drama on horizon as Georgia welcomes national signing day

ATHENS – Happy National Signing Day to you.

For college coaches and recruitniks everywhere, today is the big day. Today we find out who’s going where and, in many cases, if they’re going where they said they would. The latter may apply quite often today for Georgia. The Bulldogs have been working hard to try to flip a few elite prospects who are committed elsewhere, while also fighting to hold onto some of their own, of course.

I’ll be at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall following the drama all day long, and there figures to be plenty. For up-to-the-minute news on commitments, be sure to follow me on Twitter.com @ajcuga and get the news as soon as I do.

Here’s what we know:

  • Georgia has 17 commitments coming into national signing day.

By rule it could sign as many as 10 more but is not expected to do so. But ideally the Bulldogs would land five or six more than they currently have — assuming, of course, all the commitments remain committed.

  • It appears to be a solid class that …

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Georgia loses another member of football strength staff

ATHENS — Georgia is losing its second strength coach in a month.

Keith Gray, who has been an assistant on Georgia’s strength and conditioning staff for 13 seasons and worked under three different directors, is leaving to accept a similar job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“The guy called me on Friday and wanted to know if I was interested in the position,” Gray said Tuesday evening. “He said he wanted me up there but he needed to talk to the GM and the head coach first. He called me back on Monday and formally offered me the job.”

Gray said he accepted the position between “lifting groups” on Monday afternoon and immediately informed current program director Joe Tereshinski.

“He was genuinely happy for me,” said Gray, a former linebacker at Virginia Tech. “Everybody’s just been so great at Georgia. They’ve been happy for me and pulling for me. It’s just been an outpouring of affection people have shown me.”

Gray is the second member of the football team’s strength staff to step …

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