Bulldogs highlight annual ‘Pigskin Preview’ at Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

MACON – I’ve been down here at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in downtown Macon for the annual Pigskin Preview roundtable with all the football-playing schools in the state. This thing has really grown over the years. There are now 15 college football teams in the state, including Mercer, which won’t play until next year but is now fielding a team of 88 players.

The teams represented were Albany State, Clark Atlanta, Fort Valley State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Georgia Military College, LaGrange, Mercer, Morehouse, Savannah State, Shorter, Valdosta State, West Georgia and UGA.

I had to monitor all of them as the AJC’s only representative here but, for the purpose of this blog at least, I know it’s only Georgia you’re interested in hearing about. So here is a quick, raw rundown of what I saw and heard from the Bulldogs here today:

>>> Junior quarterback Aaron Murray and senior safety Shawn Williams were the player representatives for Georgia. Murray appears bigger to me than when I last interacted with him back in the spring. He and Williams looked sharp in their suits and ties and handled the media throng well. More from then in my full report later.

>>> Head coach Mark Richt was relaxed and upbeat, as usual. He’s coming off a busy week in which he, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and athletic director Greg McGarity all got contract extensions. Richt joked about buying breakfast for basketball coach Mark Fox on Monday at Waffle House, as per their agreement for when his contract negotiations were completed. He said Fox brought his whole staff with him.

“There must’ve been nine people there,” Richt quipped. “I thought the Waffle House was still an all-cash business and I only had like $60 with me, so I was worried there for a little while. I was happy to find out they took credit cards.”

>>> Georgia released its first depth chart since spring football. There were a lot of changes there but one interesting one was Merritt Hall, a 5-foot-11, 216-pound redshirt freshman walkon from Alpharetta was listed as the starting fullback. He was ahead of Richard Samuel — who is not listed among the tailbacks — and Zander Ogletree. It might be as much a message for incoming true freshman fullback Quayvon Hicks, who Richt raved about, as it was the guys already here.

>>> Also, Kolton Houston was listed as the starting right tackle. I didn’t see this as too much of a surprise as that’s where he ended in the spring and I believe overall he may be one of the Bulldogs’ top two or three offensive linemen.

>>> Cornerback Branden Smith, cornerback Sanders Commings, free safety Bacarri Rambo and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree all are listed as the starters at their respective positions despite looming suspensions.

>>> Smith, who was facing a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, was accepted into a pre-trial diversion program through the Henry County (Ala.) courts late last month. But Richt was still not ready to disclose his disciplinary plans for the senior star from Atlanta.

“We’re not ready to say anything publicly, so I guess that’s all I’ll say,” he said.

If all is as it appears and that’s the only issue facing Smith, he’ll face a 10 percent suspension of competition dates in the fall for a first offense of UGA’s bylaws regarding marijuana usage. That would translate into one game this fall, which would be the Bulldogs’ opener against Buffalo.

Commings is already suspended for the first two games of the season due to an off-season arrest. Richt still has not acknowledged there will be imminent suspensions for Ogletree and Rambo for alleged marijuana violations of the student-athlete conduct code.

>>> I talked briefly with Georgia Military College head coach Bert Williams and he said former Georgia cornerback Chris Sanders is doing very well in the junior college program. Sanders was dismissed from UGA by Richt back in January due to his involvement in a dormitory theft. Williams said Sanders is hopeful he will be allowed to return to Georgia and had already passed 17 of the 24 hours he would need to regain his FBS eligibility. So theoretically Sanders could come back as early as next January. However, Williams said his return would up at the discretion of the Bulldogs only and Sanders is actively being recruited by a number of major-college programs.

>>> Richt said, “I would think that would be a possibility” in answer to a question about whether the Bulldogs would consider scheduling Georgia State for some future games.

70 comments Add your comment

Saldiven

June 12th, 2012
2:10 pm

Shorter has a football team?

bardawg

June 12th, 2012
2:15 pm

bardawg

June 12th, 2012
2:16 pm

Dang, again!

Brian

June 12th, 2012
2:16 pm

Go Dawgs!!!!!!!

piermontdawgny

June 12th, 2012
2:27 pm

IT IS THE YEAR OF THE DAWG!
DAWGS BEAT TROJANS IN BCS…52-31

Holy Guacamole

June 12th, 2012
2:29 pm

Does Shorter get the shorter players?

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 12th, 2012
2:46 pm

Now that Sanders is at GMC can CMR let the public know if he is recruiting him? I am in favor of giving the young man a shot at redemption if he is doing the right things at GMC.

Spanky

June 12th, 2012
3:00 pm

Yeah, I say again…it was a stoke of genius moving that S. Carolina game to mid-season!! Also, I wonder if Hall did such a good job at FB to earn it, or Samuels and Ogletree haven’t done so hot…I guess we’ll see!! Go Dawgs!!

Spanky

June 12th, 2012
3:02 pm

…I meant “stroke of genius”…so..rrray!

UGA Insider

June 12th, 2012
3:02 pm

Sanders needs UGA and UGA needs Sanders next season. Look for Sanders to be back at UGA in 2012 unless there is more trouble. This will be announced once the 24 hours of school have been passed. Same with the kid from Wilcox I am told.

UGA Insider

June 12th, 2012
3:05 pm

Also, i don’t know what’s going on with the FB situation. I hope the kid from Pierce is ready but very seldom can freshman come in and play that position in the SEC. I personally think Samuels is frustrated and losing interest. I hope I am wrong because he can be a player at FB.

AltamahaDawg

June 12th, 2012
3:08 pm

You meant he stoked the committee, to get it moved. It was genius.

Spanky

June 12th, 2012
3:10 pm

Insider, have you heard anything of him going back to LB, or is he wanting to stay in the stable? I also wonder if CMR is doing this to send a message…hmmm..

AltamahaDawg

June 12th, 2012
3:16 pm

LaGrange what?

JB

June 12th, 2012
3:23 pm

10 people at the waffle house for 60 bucks. Close. Who wouldn’t be shocked to walk in a waffle house and see Richt eating…..But if I’m in Macon, I’m eating at Fresh Air BBQ. Worth the drive from anywhere.

GSUStud

June 12th, 2012
3:25 pm

Tech has a football team?

JB

June 12th, 2012
3:29 pm

Tech football player arrested in……………………ATHENS…..partying…….case closed.

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

June 12th, 2012
3:29 pm

Since AM looked so good in a coat and tie…UGA Has to be pre-season # 1 …again.

UGA Dawg91

June 12th, 2012
4:15 pm

I would love to see Sanders and Marshall get an opportunity to come back to Athens. Kids make mistakes and hopefully they have learned a valuable lesson and earn an opportunity to make it at UGA.

italian_29

June 12th, 2012
4:16 pm

I see that the AJC finally printed the story about Tech’s LB getting arrested, three days after the fact. I am sure that if a UGA player forgot to wipe his butt, it would be printed within seconds and on the front page. Way to keep it impartial AJC.

italian_29

June 12th, 2012
4:19 pm

@ UGA Dawg91, I am not sure that I agree, it is ok to have a second chance, but stealing from your teammates is something that could affect the locker room chemistry. I know that both of these guys were considered to be BIGTIME talent, but is it worth the risk to have trouble in the locker room?

italian_29

June 12th, 2012
4:21 pm

I think they deserve a second chance, but I am just note sure that it should be with the DAWGS.

italian_29

June 12th, 2012
4:21 pm

not intead of note.

Crap

June 12th, 2012
4:22 pm

Yeah, JB. Let’s see what kind of cpj punishment he gets for the physical and verbal hassle he gave the cops. I guess it can happen to anyone in Athens – not just UGA players, and regardless of how smart they are purported to be.

Joey

June 12th, 2012
4:25 pm

I’m with you UGA Dawg91. I believe in second chances – I wish Mett would have gotten one with UGA.

Crap

June 12th, 2012
4:25 pm

I think that if Sanders and Marshall express their desire to rejoin and are truly apologetic (which I’m sure they already have been), then the team would welcome them back as full teammates. Hard to imagine the same thing would happen again.

@Bzzzzz

June 12th, 2012
4:25 pm

Someone please tell “A person smart enough to know” and all the other nerds who insist on blasting UGA players for mis-behaving in Athens, this proves it’s not the UGA players, it’s the Athens police, lol

http://www.ajc.com/sports/georgia-tech/tech-linebacker-arrested-in-1456669.html

italian_29

June 12th, 2012
4:28 pm

@Crap, yep in Athens, the cops don’t look the other way like some places and there a BUNCH of cops for the size of the town. It will be interesting to see what kind of punishment CPJ will impose on this player, because according to all the Tech fans(both of them) He is a STRICT coach, which is why they don’t have any issues.

Crap

June 12th, 2012
4:29 pm

The techie spin is coming: He was just a walk-on, so it doesn’t count; he is smart, so it doesn’t count; he is white, so it doesn’t count; his hair is long, but is isn’t dreds, so it doesn’t count….

Buckeye

June 12th, 2012
4:30 pm

Win With and (I look like Beaver Cleaver) Grantham are evil 1%ers!

nomobama

June 12th, 2012
4:38 pm

Where is Sasha going to line up this fall? My guess is wide receiver.

KJ

June 12th, 2012
5:49 pm

nomo, you sure are overly concerned about what’s happening with Sasha. Did she not show up for your customary appointment this week?

BiggDawgK

June 12th, 2012
7:22 pm

Not only does the ajc refuse to report the story about [a Tech walkon] attacking cops in Athens, they also refuse to allow comments on the story. What a pathetic joke. The “reporters” at the ajc should be ashamed. What does ken get paid for if he ignores a major story about how tech’s program is out of control. Does he not understand that reporters are expected to REPORT the news?

Pantheralum

June 12th, 2012
8:02 pm

Would love to see the dawgs in the dome playing GSU.. Let’s make this happen!!!

GSU

June 12th, 2012
8:21 pm

GO PANTHERS!!! I would love to see us play UGA & hopfully beat them some day!!

Chip Towers

June 12th, 2012
9:44 pm

BigDawgK: We reported the Tech arrest when we found out about the Tech arrest. I check the Athens-Clarke jail log every day and I didn’t recognize the walkon’s name. Ken is on vacation so Joel Provano reported the story. . . . Please watch the name-calling and combative tone toward other readers.

WDE

June 13th, 2012
2:12 am

GSU you guys should pick on someone your own size before you pull the Big Dogs tail…I suggest play Tech a time or two..

Paddy

June 13th, 2012
6:44 am

BiggDawgK…..you must have more important things to do? That rant was really silly!

Go Dawgs

GSU

June 13th, 2012
6:58 am

Lol thanks for the advice WDE, i personally would much rather see us play GT before we play the dawgs. We have a long way to go before we are ready to step up against either, that being said id rather wait til we can make it a close game…a statment type game. Have you ever pulled a bulldogs tail? They usually chase it! Lol

GStateBen

June 13th, 2012
8:10 am

I cannot wait to play UGA. It is time for the Panther Nation to shine!!!

GStateBen

June 13th, 2012
8:16 am

Joey

June 13th, 2012
8:16 am

Athens PD should apologize to the Tech LB.

They obviously thought he was a UGA football player, and pounced . . .

GStateBen

June 13th, 2012
8:25 am

This state needs some new blood in football.

GStateBen

June 13th, 2012
8:32 am

#StateofShock coming!

AltamahaDawg

June 13th, 2012
8:32 am

I would be willing to bet that the Mettenberger family was in total agreement that the decision to remove him from that sitution and go get a clean start asap via JC was the best thing for him at the time AND the best way to assure he did get a second chance at having a good outcome in college. That was far more complicated than the Sanders deal.

DOGGIE IN NC

June 13th, 2012
8:41 am

I would think Richt would take a clubhouse vote from the players as part of the decision on bringing them back on the team. GO DOGGIES!

AltamahaDawg

June 13th, 2012
8:41 am

I’m not real convinced that Mett would have ever really benefited UGA in the past couple of year anyway. Except an upgrade of Mason at back-up.

Not to say that he could not have or would not have beat out Murray at some point. Buts that’s this year at the earliest, and I fully believe that a RS junior Aaron Murray is going to have an outstanding year, so thats at best, an even trade.

DOGGIE IN NC

June 13th, 2012
8:44 am

AltamahaDawg, hope we get to find out in the SEC Championship game! PS: catching any of those big flatheads in that river? Was raised in Waycross and fished it quite regularly.

AltamahaDawg

June 13th, 2012
9:10 am

I love the old man for a lot of reasons, but fishing is not really the top of them. But I have. That’s an anchored behind the shoal, all night long kind of fishing. More of a salt water guy when it comes to that, and the weather has that all messed up right now. I think the guys that target the flatheads can pretty much knock em in the head as low as it has been lately. I think a Jesup man broke the record, again, in the past year. That just keeps going up and up. (unfortunetely the panfish are just about decimated as a result). The fishermen that I have a lot of respect for are the B.A.S.S. guys here. Tough fishing that river, and they have it down to the exact shade of worm depending on the water color.

DOGGIE IN NC

June 13th, 2012
9:22 am

Same here on High Rock Lake – catfish eat all the big brim. Lots of crappie, but most of them are small too. If the SEC meeting occurs, I look forward to AM having the control game of his life and shutting up some of these whiners. With the running backs we will have available this year, he should really shine. And some linemen that can actually move to throw a good block – not some glancing blow. GO DOGGIES!