Hines Ward: State players needn’t go anywhere but UGA

Hines Ward laughs after Mike Bobo's chip shot rolls off the green during Monday's Stadion Classic Celebrity Pro-Am at UGA Golf Course. (Audrey Brees, Jackson-Spalding)

Hines Ward laughs at one of Mike Bobo's shots during Monday's Stadion Classic Celebrity Pro-Am at UGA Golf Course. (Audrey Brees, Jackson-Spalding)

ATHENS — When it comes to preparing yourself for the NFL, there’s no better place to learn the trade than at Georgia.

At least that’s the opinion of Hines Ward, a 14-year NFL veteran, former Super Bowl MVP and UGA grad. Ward was at the UGA Golf Course on Monday to participate in the Celebrity Pro-Am for the Stadion Classic at UGA Nationwide golf tournament.

It’s just one of several trips Ward has made to visit his alma mater since announcing his retirement from professional football in March.

“I always love coming back to Athens and I always want to help the University of Georgia any way I can,” said Ward, who was playing in a group with Mike Bobo and some UGA boosters. “It’s great to play golf here, especially after Bubba [Watson] won The Masters. It’s great to be able to play with guys you played with like Mike Bobo, and it’s always nice see old faces and old coaches and alumni. We’re all Bulldog family.”

Ward, who lives in Sandy Springs, spent a week in Athens this past month shadowing his old teammate Bobo during the Bulldogs’ spring practices. He wanted to see if coaching was something he might like to get into. Ward’s presence created quite a stir among the Bulldog Nation wondering if he was looking to join the staff.

But Ward said Monday he wasn’t looking to unseat any members of the current staff. He just wanted to get an idea of what the college job was like on a daily basis.

“It’s something I’m definitely thinking about,” Ward said of coaching. “I don’t know if I’d be able to make the time commitment, not right now anyway. But it’s definitely something I’d like to do and if was going to do it I’d want to do it at the University of Georgia.”

Ward said he’s recently had some detailed talks with several television networks about a career in broadcasting, which appears to be his most likely next step.

“I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” he said. “I’ve only been out of football a few months, so there’s plenty of time to figure it out. But I have a lot of options and that’s good.”

Ward credited UGA for setting him up for success. A star quarterback at Forest Park High, he chose Georgia over Nebraska and numerous other major offers, graduated in 3 1/2 years and set several UGA records, including becoming the rushing, passing and receiving for more than 1,000 yards each.

Ward said he saw that the Bulldogs had seven players selected in the NFL draft this past weekend. That’s 64 in the Mark Richt era, which actually raises Ward’s ire.

“It drives me crazy when I see some of the best players in Georgia leave the state to go to Alabama or some other place,” Ward said. “There’s just no need in it. I remember when I was in school and Jacquez Green and some other guys went to Florida and won a bunch of games down there. Georgia has been so close for so long and is going to win a championship soon if these guys just stay at home like I did.”

Ward said Georgia has a strong reputation in pro-football circles for producing NFL ready players. The Bulldogs’ 65 draft selections under Richt are the most of any other SEC program over that time period (2001-12).

“The list goes on and on of great players from Georgia who are still producing on a high level,” Ward said. “And there are a lot of up-and-coming players like A.J. Green and [Matthew] Stafford that are the future in our league. So there’s no question Georgia produces great pro football players helps prepare them to be able to go out there and do things on the next level.”

Helping communicate that message is one of the main reasons Ward said he would consider coaching with the Bulldogs. He has learned that NCAA rules prevent him being able to help them out on his own.

“I don’t really know the ins and outs of NCAA rules, but I know just being on the practice field I was a magnet for families and kids who were out there and wanted to come up and talk to me about it,” Ward said. “But I can’t really talk with them or have a conversation with them because of the rules. I’m a living example of what they want. I grew up  in a single-parent home with my mom with working three jobs, came to school here and had a productive career, graduated in 3 1/2 years and played in the NFL for 14 years for one team. But I can’t talk to them because of the rules. That’s crazy.”

UGA IN NFL DRAFT
Year—Number— Highlight
2002—8—DE Charles Grant goes in 1st round with 25th pick
2003—7—DL Johnathan Sullivan and OL George Foster each go in 1st
2004—4—TE Ben Watson selected with last pick of 1st round
2005—6—FS Thomas Davis (14) and DE David Pollack (17) go in 1st
2006—7—CB Tim Jennings is first Bulldog selected in 2nd round
2007—5—Defensive ends Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson go in 3rd
2008—4—DE Marcus Howard drafted in 5th round
2009—6—QB Matthew Stafford first overall; TB Knowshon Moreno goes 12th
2010—5—LB Rennie Curran is first Bulldog selected in 3rd round
2011—6—WR A.J. Green is the No. 4 overall pick
2012—7—OL Cordy Glenn is selected early in the second round
Total—*65—Nine first-rounders

* Includes Paul Oliver, a supplemental draftee in 2007

280 comments Add your comment

uga student

April 30th, 2012
3:31 pm

Go dawgs!!! CAn’t wait til fall!

Cdpridg

April 30th, 2012
3:37 pm

Getem Hines! Getem Dawgs!!

fla dawg

April 30th, 2012
3:37 pm

UGA is a great place to get ready for the NFL. it is not a great place to come if you want to win a national championship. Kinda makes you wonder where the disconnect is. richt produces more NFL’ers than anyone else in the SEC but he cant produce the best team in the SEC.
Sorry….i forgot that us dawg fans shouldn’t criticize CMR because he is such a man of great honor.

Glenn

April 30th, 2012
3:39 pm

Or kicked out of school, or jail, or…

Damon

April 30th, 2012
3:40 pm

Be careful leaving Johnnie’s at 2am

Dawgdad (The Original)

April 30th, 2012
3:42 pm

Someone in Athens (McGarrity) needs to find a job for Hines ASAP, before he gets away.

piermontdawgny

April 30th, 2012
3:45 pm

the Dawg of all Dawgs!
love Hines Ward…he is the man!

DawginLex

April 30th, 2012
3:50 pm

The UGA players stay in the league longer and perform better too than other SEC schools.

Milledgeville DAWG

April 30th, 2012
3:53 pm

chilidawg

April 30th, 2012
4:00 pm

Hire the man.

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

April 30th, 2012
4:02 pm

It is interesting isn’t it…all these guys getting drafted but UGA can’t win the SEC or a bowl game.

909

April 30th, 2012
4:03 pm

Someone should tell Ward that neither AJ Green nor Stafford were from the state of Georgia.

GTBob

April 30th, 2012
4:05 pm

It drives me crazy when I see some of the best players in Georgia leave the state to go to Alabama or some other place

I understand Ward’s desires, but some recruits want to win championships and the odds of that happening are drastically higher at Alabama. You can’t blame kids for wanting to play for the top teams instead of just playing it safe and staying in state.

lanier

April 30th, 2012
4:07 pm

Hines has always been my 2nd favorite behind the Big Dawg Hershel

Old guy

April 30th, 2012
4:07 pm

Hines Ward is a great example for young athletes to follow. He raised himself to his present stature through hard work, great effort and opportunity. What he says is so true, if Georgia athletes would stay home, no telling how many MNC’s the University could win.
Thank you Hines for making us proud!

RHall55

April 30th, 2012
4:11 pm

Players should not leave the state: “Please tell that to Coach Rodney Garner who many an occasion has not offered, offered late or ignored some very good in-state talent!!” C’mon Man!! “Please tell that to OC Mike Bobo who many times under utilizes his offensive talent!!’ C’mon Man!! “Please tell that to Will Friend (Gomer) who has yet learned how to recruit OL in the SEC!!’ C’mon Man!! And on, and on………and on!! C’mon CMR, do your job and get your staff to do their job!!! Hines, you need to come on as a Grad Assistant (like your fellow pro in Alabama: Chris Samuel) and help your Dawgs!!!

The Most Interesting Man Alive

April 30th, 2012
4:13 pm

To play in the NFL probably; but to win a National Championship choose Bama, LSU or UF.

Buckeye

April 30th, 2012
4:13 pm

Only if they prep at GAC. Did wonders for your dog Caleb.

Buckeye

April 30th, 2012
4:14 pm

I am, by the way, a big Hines fan as a Steeler, not a dog.

The Most Interesting Man Alive

April 30th, 2012
4:15 pm

Buckeye your boys get the crap beat out of them when they play SEC teams and get on probation with their behavior off the field.

DIT

April 30th, 2012
4:23 pm

I get where Hines is coming from. If the top recruits went to UGA, UGA would be in the position that Bama is in now which is set up for the next couple of years.
Hines is just trying to plug his University. He knows UGA is struggling keeping the best in state. I applaud him for his effort and hope it does some good.
Dawgs need to find away to add this man to the coaching staff.

DIT

April 30th, 2012
4:25 pm

side note: Little close to the gator colors there Hines!

Home of Champions

April 30th, 2012
4:26 pm

Roger Goodell said it four times Thursday night during the first round of the NFL draft.

Trent Richardson at No. 3 to Cleveland.

Mark Barron at No. 7 to Tampa Bay.

Dre Kirkpatrick at No. 17 to Cincinnati.

Dont’a Hightower at No. 25 to New England.

What do they all have in common? They all played their college ball at, say it with me, Alabama.

That’s not a foreign word to the NFL commissioner. He uttered it four times during the first round of the 2011 NFL draft with Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones, James Carpenter and Mark Ingram.

Saban seems to be the master of the moment. His players are lauded as NFL-ready when they leave cam­pus, and that’s a selling point for high school kids with wanderlust.

Even some players for whom draft night is in the distant future said the Tide’s consistent success in the NFL Draft has them seriously considering committing to Alabama.

Browncoat

April 30th, 2012
4:27 pm

Unless they want an education, LOL

Grantham's the man

April 30th, 2012
4:29 pm

Glad to hear a great former play like Heinz Ward talking up the Dawgs! I wish UGA would hire him for the open S&C job, and then find out where he would fit in best after he’s already on board.

As far as those who question why no Mythical Championship. Alabama has averaged signing six more players every year since Saban’s been at Alabama. That amounts to a complete extra class every four years.

Alabama, Auburn, LSU and SC have all been oversigning, while Richt and Ga don’t.

Who doubts that Richt would already have a MNC had he brought in 48 extra players over the last eight years?

SC has been on the move, and they oversign.

LSU, Alabama and Auburn have all won MNC’s, and they have all averaged signing about 30 more players over the last five years. Anybody see a pettern here………

Richt will get a National Championship, and when he does, it will be something that the entire Dawg nation can be proud of. I’m glad Richt doesn’t over sign players, and let them just run wild with no discipline like they do at SC, Auburn. and Alabama.

Richt will get it done, and he will do it the right way, with class and dignity. Go dawgs!!!

Bean Counter

April 30th, 2012
4:31 pm

Hines’ attitude is what we need in recruiting. Hire him immediately!

Larry

April 30th, 2012
4:32 pm

I agree with Ward.

Our Georgia kids and their parents need to first look at their home state and start exemplifying some loyalty and appreciation for the Georgia teachers, neighbors, coaches, classmates and, just as importantly, the Georgia taxpayers that funded their education for at least 12 years.

If Georgia doesn’t pursue or offer them, they can’t qualify, or they are genuinely in pursuit of a degree not offered, that’s a different story. Otherwise, perhaps the out of state school and/or state should reimburse the Georgia taxpayers in some way.

Regardless of the above, I for one consider the student and their parents selfish and ungrateful if you do not genuinely want to help your Georgia Universities to repressent us in the highest possible way, be it athletics, acedemics, or hopefully both.

I know it works both ways and many great players we have recruited out of state; however they to should look home first and with the great in-state talent we produce every year we’d be just fine without them.

GTBob

April 30th, 2012
4:33 pm

Why should players in the state of Georgia stay in Georgia but it is ok for UGA’s starting QB to be from Florida and its backup to be from North Carolina? If UGA fans are going to cry every time a player leaves the state then I think UGA should make a statement by not playing any players that didn’t come from a Georgia high school.

home of tralier boys

April 30th, 2012
4:38 pm

Enter your comments here

DIT

April 30th, 2012
4:38 pm

Larry, I have to disagree with some of your post. I’m a UGA Alumnus and would love to see UGA get the best recruits. However, to say that they help out the state university before looking elsewhere would not be right. What if there is a ball player that say is a an engineering expert and to set himself up for the future wants to go to Sanford out in Ca. Can’t fault him for that. UGA has much to offer, but it would just depend on the students major.
That’s the great thing about the U.S. We still have freedom of choice!

7576DAWG

April 30th, 2012
4:39 pm

Whether Ward comes in as a graduate assistant ,coach or recruiter of some kind it would be one of my priorities to get him on the staff as soon as last week. McGarity you need to make room for him some how. He has the energy and want that Garner lost years ago. This would be the best addition to Richt’s staff, with the exclusion of Grantham, since he started coaching at Georgia.

DIT

April 30th, 2012
4:40 pm

Sorry, bad habit, I meant Stanford not Sanford…

Home of Champions

April 30th, 2012
4:42 pm

They won two national championship in the last three years,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “Nick [Saban] has done a great job in terms of recruiting and coaching these guys properly and motivating them properly.”

While some in the SEC country have questioned some of Saban’s recruiting tactics, his name is gold in NFL circles. His players are considered to have high football intelligence.

“For [Saban], it’s just tremendous recruiting and outstanding coaching,” Kiper said. “There are a lot of guys who are heavily recruited and don’t pan out. In Alabama, you don’t see many of these guys fall by the wayside. Most of these guys, Nick and his coaching staff, once they get their hands on them, they work with them. These guys turn out to be real good players.”

ole dawg

April 30th, 2012
4:43 pm

@ Home… but the article stated that UGA had more players drafted in the Mark Richt era than Bama. What’s your point?

Grantham's the man

April 30th, 2012
4:54 pm

@ AL, As if, having 48 extra players to choose from and to build depth with would not have helped?

Did you hear about the 19 year old Alabama receiver who got his clock cleaned outside a Tuscaloosa bar at 2:10 AM? It’s against the law for a 19 Year old to drink Alcohol in Alabama. Who expects Saban to discipline him in any way at all? Saban never does!

I don’t know what team you really pull for but it’s always easy to spot a TROLL. My guess is you live to the West.

I have no idea what ”You are Disney at its best” means, but back at you, maby it fits.

NFL Network analyst Chad Reuter published his list of the top five draft prospects at each position heading into next season

April 30th, 2012
4:54 pm

Reuter’s list includes three members of Alabama’s offensive line, including right tackle D.J. Fluker (listed as the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect), center Barrett Jones and right guard Chance Warmack (listed as the No. 1 and No. 3 interior linemen, respectively).

Meanwhile, the Tide defense is represented on the list as well with Jesse Williams listed as the No. 4 defensive tackle prospect and Robert Lester as the No. 3 safety prospect. Reuter’s also predicts that junior C.J. Mosley will be the first inside linebacker taken in next year’s draft.

“Nick Saban knows how to recruit linebackers — and fully utilize their talent,” Reuter writes. “Mosley was lost at times behind big names like Upshaw and Hightower, but he is a big hitter and quick closer.”

Gator

April 30th, 2012
4:56 pm

Home of Champions, Its good that Bama is resurgent, but Georgia has many more players in the NFL, its all cyclical Georgias time will come around again , and Bama will have a down cycle.
Bamas only one year removed from finishing 4th in the SEC west. Bama backed into this years MNC.

The Most Interesting Man Alive

April 30th, 2012
5:00 pm

Bama is good as long as they can keep Satan, I mean Saban from jumping to the Cowboys.

Wes Mantooth

April 30th, 2012
5:03 pm

Can you name me a NFL player who played for Saban at Bama or LSU who is a pro bowler or who has already had a long career?

MT Cody had zero sacks in 2011

UGA has at least 20 guys right now who are long time NFL guys and/or are making pro bowls.

@Al

April 30th, 2012
5:06 pm

You say Richt will never win a NC at UGA. And you know this how? Richt has been at UGA 11 years. Here is a list of coaches that coached 15 years or more before winning the big one: Bear Bryant, John Wooden, Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Tom Osborne, Dean Smith, and others.

As for discipline, I would say the lack of suspensions at other schools indicates players getting off free. It is dealt with at UGA. Who knows how many failed drug tests occur at schools that don’t suspend for first failed test?

Hines Ward is nothing but an over-the-hill drunk

April 30th, 2012
5:08 pm

Hines Ward is a great role model. He hasn’t been arrested for anything in over two months, which is great for a habitual drunk driver.

Will UGA get Fulmer/Richt Cup points for Caleb King almost beating a man half his size to death?

Scott

April 30th, 2012
5:14 pm

GOT 14???? That is ALL that has to be said to ANYONE questioning Alabama and our pedigree!

General Mills

April 30th, 2012
5:17 pm

Heck with the NCAA
.

Fulmer Cup facts

April 30th, 2012
5:18 pm

Sorry to burst your bubble, but UGA has only one Fulmer Cup, and scored less points than Bama did in winning it in 2008, and did not come close to Auburn’s record-setting score in 2011.

In early April, TCU has opened up a huge lead, with the SEC being represented by USC (tied for 3rd) and Arkansas and Florida (tied for 7th). Dogs have not been able to crack top ten.

And schools do not get points for former players actions. You did not name your school, but if it is plays big boy football, you can rest assured the glass house and stones applies to you.

Second Time

April 30th, 2012
5:26 pm

Wes Mantooth,
Your remarks about no Saban players that are All Pro must indicate that you think
Saban is a much better coach than Richt. Because according to you he( Saban) has no players.
Also, Hines, A.G. Green and Mattew Stafford are not from Georgia. I guess you donot
think they should have stayed in their state.
To compare Alabama football and Georgia football as being equal just shows you how
dumb some fans are.

Larry

April 30th, 2012
5:27 pm

DIT,

Please re-read my 3rd paragraph, 1st sentence:

“…or they are genuinely in pursuit of a degree not offered, that’s a different story.”

Good news for Dog fans

April 30th, 2012
5:27 pm

May is shaping up to be a very good month for UGA commitments. While I like the top ten recruiting finishes, would like to challenge Saban for those 4 February NCs he has piled up at Bama. Think we will be top five for a change on signing day.

Dirtiest Player?

April 30th, 2012
5:28 pm

Hines Ward may be a great player, a good recruiter, and possibly a good coach (not known yet?). BUT he’s a lousy person and not a good role model. He’s gotten in to trouble with the law multiple times and has been voted the NFL’s dirtiest player on several occasions. From my point of view, UGA doesn’t need any more of that influence near their players.

DawgInaTruck

April 30th, 2012
5:29 pm

While TCU has amassed an impressive point total already this year you have to give Patterson credit. He heard about drug use among the team and had the entire team tested, knowing the results would likely be damaging. He dealt with it instead of pretending it didnt exist.

TCU is a perfect example of what discipline is all about. Yes, the players made serious mistakes in judgment and you wish they would (at all schools) avoid these kinds of things but having your poblems made public is evidence of a staff that takes such matters seriously. I suspect a Gary Patterson or a Mark Richt or a Will Muschamp or a Paul Johnson-just to name a few-will take the PR hit when necessary to deal with an issue head on.

That takes a lot more courage than looking the other way.

Larry

April 30th, 2012
5:29 pm

GTBob,

Please re-read my entire last paragraph.