Seven walk-ons awarded scholarships; two of them may start

ATHENS – Georgia coach Mark Richt on Sunday awarded scholarships to seven walk-on players.

Two of them — tailback Brandon Harton and defensive back Blake Sailors — are former walk-ons who were placed on scholarship last year and were renewed for the coming year. The other five are all getting aid at UGA for the first time, including fullback Merritt Hall and safety Connor Norman, who figure to start or play significant roles early in the season. The other recipients are cornerback Luis Capella, receiver Rhett McGowan and linebacker Kosta Vavlas.

Georgia, of course, is infamously low on its scholarship numbers for the coming. It had 72 before Sunday’s actions by Richt. As it is, the Bulldogs remain six below the NCAA maximum allotment of 85.

Here’s a look at the seven recipients:

CapellaDB Luis Capella, junior, Augusta: Capella (5-10, 176) is third-string cornerback and special teams player. He graduated from Richmond Academy and has made the AD’s honor roll and the SEC academic honor the past two seasons.

HallFB Merritt Hall, redshirt freshman, Alpharetta: Hall (5-11, 238)  earned the No. 1 spot on the depth chart during spring practice and was named “outstanding walk-on.” He remains Georgia’s starting fullback heading into the second week of preseason camp.

hartonTB Brandon Harton, junior, Reidsville: Harton (5-6, 174) earned a scholarship last season and played in five games. He led the Bulldogs in rushing against Kentucky with 101 yards on 23 carries.

McGowanSE Rhett McGowan, junior, Calhoun: An all-state player and team captain at Calhoun High, McGowan (6-0, 190) has played in nine games the last two seasons. He finished with 7 catches for 84 yards last year and caught a touchdown pass against New Mexico State.

NormanDB Connor Norman, redshirt sophomore, Duluth: Norman (5-10, 208), who attended Peachtree Ridge High, played in all 14 games for the Bulldogs last season, mainly on special teams, and recorded 13 tackles. He could start at free safety if Bacarri Rambo is sidelined as expected. Norman received a most improved award in 2011 and outstanding walk-on on defense this spring.

SailorsDB Blake Sailors, junior, Athens: Sailors (5-11, 186) is a cornerback and special teams stalwart who has played in every Georgia game the past two seasons. A 2009 graduate of Oconee High, this is the second year in a row Sailors earned a scholarship

VavlasLB Kosta Vavlas, redshirt sophomore, Tarpon Springs, Fla.: Vavlas (6-0, 219) is an inside linebacker who is currently listed as third-team “Mo” behind Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson. He played in all 14 games last season, finished with 19 tackles and received a most valuable special teams award.

220 comments Add your comment

Frank Lane

August 12th, 2012
10:55 pm

I think that Connor Norman may be better than Rambo. He always knows where the ball is and gets there.

Frank Lane

August 12th, 2012
10:56 pm

Jeez I was first. Never happened before.

WtfWruthnkn

August 12th, 2012
10:57 pm

Good for them

NC_Dawg

August 12th, 2012
11:02 pm

What a great reward for hard work and dedication. Congrats Frank, pistos!

Top Row Dawg

August 12th, 2012
11:05 pm

Wooo 7 scholarships, we are getting closer to 85 every day.

Goldenrod

August 12th, 2012
11:11 pm

Coach Paul Johnson would NEVER stopp so low as to have to award schollies to walk-on’s.

LOL at the Mutts and Coach Helen Hunt! Shows the shape of their program after booting all those thugs.

Red Stick

August 12th, 2012
11:11 pm

I know those boys and their loved ones are thrilled. Good for them!

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

The Factor

August 12th, 2012
11:18 pm

Blake Sailors is a stud on special teams. Never seen a white kid that fast (4.28). Should have him running back punts….

gadawg43

August 12th, 2012
11:19 pm

Its pretty bad when our walkons are better than Techs starters

Champion Dawg

August 12th, 2012
11:19 pm

Congratulations Men. Well deserved by all. GATA. Have a great year and careers. Bulldawg Nation loves and supports all the players, coaches, staff of the 2012 Georgia “G” Bulldawgs. Do us proud.

ConyersDawg

August 12th, 2012
11:20 pm

Tell ya what Goldenrod, let’s meet at the N Peachtree BP station at 8 AM Monday and I’ll knock your teeth so far down your throat you’ll have to drop your pants to chew your food!

Typical classless techie coming on the Big Brother’s blog to try to cut down Coach Mark Richt. Why don’t you wake up and realize one fact – WE RUN THIS STATE

Michael Collins

August 12th, 2012
11:25 pm

Hey Goldenrod, with your Reggie Ball degree from tech maybe you should learn to spell “STOOP”…

Meanwhile what is the standard deviation of 10 out of 11 wins by the Dawgs in the Richt era? That’s what I thought…crickets.

Kori4U

August 12th, 2012
11:29 pm

ConyersDawg u made me laugh so hard saying that! Damn

Commit to the G

August 12th, 2012
11:31 pm

Classy move by Coach Richt. SO proud to have him as the leader of this football team, these boys deserved the scholarships for their hard work on the practice field and on special teams.

It’s time to make it pay off on September 1st! Beat Buffalo!!!

Paul Johnson

August 12th, 2012
11:34 pm

If only my team was relevant on the national stage, I could get guys like this too.

Mr Tech

August 12th, 2012
11:37 pm

Class of '98

August 12th, 2012
11:37 pm

Congrats, fellas. GO DAWGS

North Georgia Dawg

August 12th, 2012
11:57 pm

Blake Sailors is a stud on special teams. Never seen a white kid that fast (4.28). Should have him running back punts….

Neither have I, Sailors is always one of the first players to the return man on special teams. He deserved to have it renewed.

North Georgia Dawg

August 12th, 2012
11:59 pm

Norman seems like a really hard worker and a guy who could contribute a little with Rambo out, though I don’t think he’ll start. Hopefully he’ll play great though. Hall obviously has played great to be ahead of Samuel on the depth chart. We’ll see if he stays ahead of Hicks at that position.

North Georgia Dawg

August 13th, 2012
12:02 am

Hahaha, please get a life! We were the SEC East champions and have beaten your team 10 of 11 against your program. Are you bitter?

Goldenrod

August 13th, 2012
12:13 am

You know how I got my name? I always get a chubby at the beginning of the UGA/GT game, but by the end I’ve pizzed myself :(

North Georgia Dawg

August 13th, 2012
12:14 am

ThreeDawgKnight

August 13th, 2012
12:21 am

Kosta Vavlas:
played extensively last yr on defense.
Grantham likes the kid.

Brandon Harton:
better than Carlton Thomas.
He would be a scholarship player to begin with
on most teams and would be in the playing rotation.

Vance Duly

August 13th, 2012
12:23 am

Honkies who can run a 4.28 forty are almost as rare as a Tech QB who can complete a pass more than 10 yards downfield (to one of his OWN players, that is)….. Run, Sailors, run……

Congrats to these players — they are the type of guys who deserve it. GO DAWGS!

7576DAWG

August 13th, 2012
12:31 am

With so many recruits playing games it is refreshing to know that these walk-on’s, could have gone to a lot of programs on scholarship but wanted to be Dawgs so bad they were willing to walk on without any guarantee of anything. These are true DGD’s and reading how much they have already contributed to our program, some with scholarships last year and others playing on their on dime, are well deserving the recognition.

RED DOG 77

August 13th, 2012
12:46 am

I am dlighted to read uplifting stories like this one…………especiially when I see that the game of football can be a vihicle of hope for some kids who might not otherwise get the chance at a college education………….And this story is about my beloved BULLDOGS, making it all the sweeter………………..GO DOGS……..we are just about there…………GATA…………RED

Randawg

August 13th, 2012
12:50 am

-Congrats to these guys for getting scholarships…good for them and I hope they succeed and help us out.However,we should NEVER be in a position when we only have 72 players under scholarship in the 1st place!!…Shows a lack of planning and poor recruiting!!

Smitty

August 13th, 2012
12:52 am

great news for these guys

ptmmac

August 13th, 2012
1:12 am

Go Blake! You are more fun to cheer for then most of the rest of the team combined. I might be a little bit biased, your cousin is a business partner of mine. Go Dawgs!!!

I am impressed with the quality of the players on this list. Just wish there was an Offensive Lineman here. UGA seems to be able to keep the top quality on the defensive line. The O line needs some love. Since the Stinchcomb brothers left we have not had as many standout talents here as we need to win championships. I wonder how many games we lost because we couldn’t convert 3 down with short running plays. I would bet the stats are really ugly here. I think this also contributes to some of the predictability of the offensive play calling. If one play is always working for 5 yards a pop, then almost anything else seems more surprising. We need some meat in this game.

nobody

August 13th, 2012
1:26 am

good for these young men…to earn a scholarship, you have to be better than a player already on scholarship … I would much rather have them than Derrick Yancey… frankly, I don’t care where Yancey goes….I want only those guys who want to play for us…who are totally “committed”…a term that all these prima donna “me guys” will never understand…

Paddy

August 13th, 2012
1:31 am

Norman & Sailors”s names will be called alot this fall. Congrats to all these players.

dbc

August 13th, 2012
1:57 am

Congrats to all. Proof that hard work does pay off.

Frank Lane

August 13th, 2012
2:27 am

Might as well be on probation. Total lack of roster management.

7576DAWG

August 13th, 2012
2:56 am

After having said what I said earlier I am glad for these kids to get rewarded but Georgia is only doing themselves a disservice when we come in so far below the total allowed scholarships of 85.
This is the third year in a row we have given a lot of scholarships to walk-on’s.It is okay to give 1 or even 2 scholarships to walk-on’s because of all the variables that have to come out perfect in order to not affect the total number allowed of 85 scholarships but to give 5 to 7 every year to walk on’s is a practice that I hope McGarity ends. I don’t care how good these kids are they are not better than most of the other Georgia boys that are going to other SEC team because we did not recruit them hard enough.

TY

August 13th, 2012
4:37 am

Gee, So we have these extra scholarships, They cannot do anything but collect dust until next year unless they are used somewhere. Why deny any kid who is busting his tail for the team a scholarship because they are a walkon and we have these left over scholarships. Some people just do not have a heart and all they ever will be is “MEAN”!

Skint

August 13th, 2012
5:16 am

I know these guys work hard just like the scholarship players. However, there is a reason most of these guys were not recruited. Our coverage teams were awful last year, and we have several of these guys on special teams. We should be OK against our non conference schedule, but will struggle against SEC teams.

Destin Dawg

August 13th, 2012
6:03 am

Good for them, could be playing on scholarship for other schools, but wanted to be Dawgs !!

Dawgie Poo

August 13th, 2012
6:06 am

Dawg fans keep telling yourself that these kids could have played at other schools but choose to be a Dawg. It’s nice you all think so highly of yourself. @ Dawg 43….keep believing that these guys are better than scholarship players at other schools. I doubt your the only nad licking redneck that believes this. This is a reality check as to how far your program has fallen. It is a feel good story though so congrats to these players.

Jim

August 13th, 2012
6:24 am

Nothing against theseyoung men; however, this is the second year in a row that Georgia has done this. You CAN NOT compete in the SEC with walk-ons.
An analysis earlier showed that over the last four years both Alabam and LSU had signed the equivalant of a one year recruiting class more than Georgia. Good thing we do not play then thia year. We will see the bif difference NEXT year with our inexperience and lack of depth.

Just the Facts

August 13th, 2012
6:27 am

nobody
August 13th, 2012
1:26 am

good for these young men…to earn a scholarship, you have to be better than a player already on scholarship …

==============

Some of these guys are third string backups and special team players only. They are not realty beating out other players or turning away scholarships from other schools.

That being said, they want to be at Georgia. They are the quintessential
student-athletes that probably truly value their education…and values what it will mean outside of football playing days. Congrats to all of them.

tenn.DAWG

August 13th, 2012
6:34 am

All DGD’s,now GATA !

Nahila

August 13th, 2012
6:42 am

I agree that UGA needs to sign a full class as possible every year but our walkon program is very important to our being able to attract possible overlooked players who bring other intangibles to the team such as work ethics, time management and quality grades, role models to our scholarship players to witness those players going thru the same drills as they are and doing it for the love of the game. That speaks mountains of respect and makes the scholarship players not only appreciate their good fortune but also strive to improve their abilities as well. Last count there were 35-40 walkons on the team that mostly compose the Scout teams which are very important to our success and the few that earn scholarships keep the dream alive for the others.

TDawg

August 13th, 2012
6:51 am

Some of these guys are better than our recruits. Sailors is an outstanding ST guy and he does have to beat out scholarship guys to be on special teams. Same with Vavlas and Norman. Q Harrow was good on special teams but since these guys got the job done in the classroom they start on ST and get his scholarship that he apparently didn’t care enough about to do the work. Congrats to some DGD’s and in 19 days lets GATA

These kids earned it!

August 13th, 2012
7:03 am

Love this story. I, too, was a walk-on in baseball Division I. Got cut by UGA’s Steve Webber and I told him that I wasn’t through with baseball. Played at Mercer U, Division I, and then was signed to play baseball later with the NY Yankees.

So, all of these 5 Star studs who pan out at UGA should take a hard look at the will and determination of players like the aforementioned.

vince

August 13th, 2012
7:08 am

I saw enough of these guys chasing the Honey Badger last year. What a joke.

Game Changer

August 13th, 2012
7:10 am

One to three walk on given scholarship for the year: A REWARD

At these numbers the last few years: MISMANAGEMENT WITH NO LEADERSHIP OR ACCOUNTABILITY

SSI

August 13th, 2012
7:12 am

Congratulations to all these young men. Hard work does pay!

My family is looking forward to another successful season for the Dawgs!!

Rick

August 13th, 2012
7:17 am

I was a walkon at UGA. It is a great tradition. The 1980 team had several walkons that earned scholarships. They provide a lot of leadership and play the game for the right reasons. Because we love the game and always wanted to be a DAWG. Congrats to these guys. Show those recruited players what it’s all about!

Burdell

August 13th, 2012
7:24 am

Goldenrod you are an idiot troll. Of course CPJ offers scholarships to walk ons…it happens every year. Former C Sean Beford was originally a walk-on. GO JACKETS!

KeepDreaming

August 13th, 2012
7:28 am

Congrats to these DGD!!!! Well deserved!!