THE TEN AT 10:
1. Georgia defensive back Damian Swann says he wants to play baseball. The rising sophomore cornerback was an all-star center fielder at Grady High School and played travel ball under his father all his life.
“I talked to Coach Eller about it,” said Swann, referring to baseball assistant coach Jason Eller. “Coach Eller recruited me in baseball the summer before I came [to UGA]. He liked what he saw. He told me if I wanted to play it’d be up to Coach Richt and I could come out and try.”
Swann has yet to have that conversation with the Bulldogs’ coach, and right now football is a high priority for him. The former AJC Super 11 selection played in 10 games as a true freshman and is being counted on to fill the void left by suspended starters Sanders Commings and Branden Smith. Swann said he wouldn’t consider taking on a second sport until next year and only then if he’s sure he can handle the workload.
“I know it’s very hard trying to keep up with academics and football with the workouts and going straight from football,” Swann said. “It’s a lot to do. But when the time comes I’ll talk to Coach and see what he says. If he’s not for it, then I’ll stick with football.”
2. It seems dual sports have become all the rage within the Georgia football team. Redshirt freshman tight end Jay Rome this past winter was able to help out the Bulldogs’ basketball team as a backup forward. This spring, wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley and defensive end Ray Drew have been doubling up as members of the UGA track team.
Drew, a discus thrower, got his first action this past weekend at the Georgia Relays and was pretty impressive. Showing up after the Bulldogs’ three-hour football practice, Drew unleashed a throw of 170 feet, 3 inches on his first attempt. His other five attempts, which included one foul, weren’t as good, but his first one was good enough for a second-place finish behind teammate Burke McCarty (180-10).
To put that into perspective, Drew’s throw ranks No. 5 in the SEC this year and 33rd nationally. Pretty good considering he’s doing it part-time as he has to split his NCAA limit of 20 hours between the two sports. Just 13 more feet and Drew will be among UGA’s top 10 of all time.
3. Scott-Wesley, a sprinter who was a multi-time Class AA state champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in high school, is trying to make his mark initially in the 4×100-meter relay. However, the logistics of getting from Georgia’s football practice to the meet didn’t work out on Saturday and he was unable to compete.
Scott-Wesley said he hopes to get some action eventually but, regardless, he feels like his time with the track team is beneficial to his football career.
“I think it helps a lot,” said Scott-Wesley, who is currently running second-team among the wideouts. “I think it helps my flexibility, keeps my legs strong and helps me stay in shape.”
Scott-Wesley set the Class AA state record in the 100 meters when he record a 10.35-second run as a junior in 2010. But competing with Georgia’s full-time sprinters such as NCAA champion Torrin Lawrence has been a has been a humbling experience.
“Those guys have been doing it four or five years,” Scott-Wesley said. “Those guys do it all year around. But it’s good to get out there to just see where I’m at and try to get faster.”
4. Obviously Scott-Wesley is among the fastest players on the Georgia football team, but football speed is a lot different than track speed. That’s the reason football players are judged on 40-yard sprints and 20-yard shuttles.
Scott-Wesley said he has yet to race freshman Keith Marshall, who famously defeated teammate Malcolm Mitchell in a best-of-three, 40-yard challenge earlier this year. The video of that competition, filmed by quarterback Aaron Murray, went viral on the Internet.
Scott-Wesley said he did race Mitchell a while back on UGA’s turf practice fields, but he disputes the outcome.
“He got me,” Scott-Wesley said of Mitchell. “We ran the 40 and he false-started. He’s not going to say he false-started but everybody knows he did.”
The bottom line is this — Georgia has some real speed on its football team this year.
5. Georgia coach Mark Richt always makes light of his football career. But the truth is he was a star quarterback at Boca Raton High who was good enough to earn a scholarship from nearby University of Miami and has gone on to an ultra-successful career as a college coach. This past weekend, Richt was recognized for all those achievements as he was inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame.
“I just loved my time at Boca High, all my teachers, the principals, all my classmates and our football team,” Richt said during his acceptance speech. “I just really loved the experience of being part of something special, and I definitely want to thank all those guys that really made that season a championship season.”
6. Georgia’s baseball team will attempt to get back on the winning track Tuesday night against Clemson. The Bulldogs had a forgettable weekend against Vanderbilt up in Nashville. After recording an impressive 1-0 win to open the series on Friday night, Georgia dropped the next two games, including blowing a lead with a bunch of ninth-inning walks on Saturday.
The losses dropped the Bulldogs (17-8, 3-3 SEC) from No. 18 to 25 in the Baseball America poll. The Tigers are 11-11 after getting swept at the hands of Virginia this past weekend.
“We both had disappointing weekends, so both teams are going to be hungry for a win,” coach David Perno told The Athens Banner-Herald. “Obviously, we’re fortunate it’s [home at Foley Field]. [David] Sosebee will start and hopefully we’ll get a lot of the same effort from him that we got against Georgia Tech last week.”
7. Georgia’s recent hiring of Penn State’s John Thomas as senior associate director of strength and conditioning and Sherman Armstrong as an associate strength and conditioning specialists represents a $140,000-a-year increase in its financial commitment to the strength program. According to personnel records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via open records, the athletic association is now paying $471,961 in salaries for its five full-time strength coaches.
The Bulldogs are paying Thomas $140,000 a year, which is $100,000 more than Thomas Brown was making before he left to join the coaching staff at UT-Chattanooga. Armstrong will earn an $85,000 salary. Keith Gray was making $45,121 before accepting a position on the Philadelphia Eagles’ staff.
8. Speaking of money, UGA’s expenses for the Outback Bowl were more than $1 million dollars, according to documents obtained by the AJC. The $1,313,283.31 the Bulldogs spent included a $273,385 outlay to absorb unsold tickets. The payout from the Outback Bowl for each team was $3.4 million. However, all proceeds go to the SEC, which redistributes profits from all its bowl participants to conference members at the spring meetings in Destin in May. I’ll have more on this later.
9. Registration has begun for the second annual NeverNX Lettermen/Alumni Golf Tournament, which will be held on June 16 at Durham Lakes Golf Club in Fairburn. Participants will have a chance to play with former Bulldogs Chad Kessler, Shandon Anderson, Willie Anderson, Rodney Hampton, Keith Henderson, Tim Worley, Coach Hugh Durham and others still to be determined. Details are available at www.nevernx.com.
10. THIS & THAT: Herschel Walker has made it to the finals of the “EA Sports NCAA Football 13 My Heisman” fan vote. Walker defeated Desmond Howard in the semifinals and will now face Barry Sanders in the final. You can vote for Walker on the EA Sports NCAA Football Facebook page. The overall winner of the fan vote will be on the cover of EA Sports NCAA Football 13 along with 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin, III. . . . Speaking of Walker, they are up to 2,361 members on “The Herschel Walker Statue Project” Facebook page. . . . Georgia’s gymnastics team was placed in the Auburn Regional after finishing third in SEC Championships in Duluth this past weekend. The No. 6-ranked Gym Dogs will compete with Oregon State, Auburn, Michigan, West Virginia and Michigan State. They beat Auburn and Michigan in head-to-head matchups earlier this season.