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Chip Towers

Richt: ‘I’m as excited and energized as I’ve been in a long time’

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Mark Richt, Georgia Bulldogs, college football, signing day, 2014, Athens

Georgia head coach Mark Richt spoke to crowd gathered at Butts-Mehre Complex on the Athens campus as he introduced Georgia’s 2014 recruiting class.

ATHENS – Georgia coach Mark Richt and his entire coaching staff just got through addressing a crowd of a couple hundred Bulldogs’ fans at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Richt introduced his new assistants and answered some questions about the signees who had already been announced. But mainly he was asked about current members of the team.

Photos: Fans track recruiting class at Butts-Mehre

On the new coaches — defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker . . .

“I’m as excited and energized as I’ve been in a long time. Things have really worked out well. We’re thrilled about them and we have one more coach and that will happen relatively soon. We’ll let you know who it is when it’s time to announce that.”

Photos: Signing Day across Georgia.

Photos: Signing Day across Georgia.

On the recruiting class thus far. …

“The class is not finished, we’re very, very pleased. We feel like we do a very good job of evaluating and of getting after the ones we want. Obviously we won’t get them all, but nobody does. In this state, it’s a tremendous state. So when we go out of state we’re looking at some tremendous cats.”

On whether new coach will be a special teams coordinator …

“I’ll say this, when the dust settles, I think everybody will be excited about special teams at Georgia.”

New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was asked if he planned to return UGA to the glory days of the “Junkyard Dawgs defense.” …

“The product that will be put on the field, you guys will be proud to say this is Georgia’s defense. The first thing we have to do is teach them to play every down for four quarters. We started that in mat drills on Monday. We’ve got a ways to go but we’re heading in the right direction.”

Earlier Pruitt and offensive Mike Bobo addressed specific signees in interviews on georgiadogs.com, the school’s official website. We’ll get a chance to talk to all the coaches later.

Pruitt on Shaq Jones …

“Shaq’s a guy that’s kind of under the radar. He’s played two years of high school football. He’s 6-1, 175, 180 pounds. Got great ball skills. Can play man to man. He’s a really good tackler in space. I think his best football is way out in front of him.”

Pruitt on Dominick Sanders …

“Dominick is a guy that has got tremendous athletic ability when you watch his tape. He played a lot on offense. He’s a very skilled guy. I think he had eight interceptions this past year. He was one of the first guys I watched and I’m sitting here wondering how come nobody else is offering him. You know in the Southeastern Conference, I think the guy has a chance to be a tremendous player. He’s physical, he’s really good with the ball in his hands. He’s another guy that can play the ball in the deep part of the field and makes tackle in space. I think he’s a really good get for us.”

Pruitt on Keyon Brown ...

“Keyon is a guy who I think is a four for four guy. When you look at a 3-4 defense, he’s a guy that could play any of the four linebacker positions. When you watch his high school tape, he’s more of an end of the line guy who rushes the quarterback. He’s 6-2 ½, 6-3, 245 pounds. He’s a guy that his motor is always running. He’s an effort guy. I think he’s got tremendous upside.”

Pruitt on Detric Bing-Dukes …

“A really good player, he’s a thumper guy. A guy that could be your mike linebacker, a guy that really loves football. The thing that I like about Detric is when you watch his tape, he had three or four interceptions.”

Bobo on tailback Sony Michel …

“Definitely a priority for us, running back. Everybody knows how important it is in this league to have running backs. That was evident this year when we lost our two guys. Coach (Bryan) McClendon has done an outstanding job with Sony for the last almost three years we’ve been recruiting the guy. He’s a guy that we believe can come in and make an immediate impact on our football team. He’s got a big skill set. I don’t think he’s just a running back. I think he’s got great hands and will be able to do stuff out of the backfield.”

On WR Isaiah McKenzie …

Isaiah is a guy that is dynamic in the return game. Really anytime he has the ball in his hands. He’s a playmaker. When you’re looking for offensive skill players, you’re looking for guys that make plays. He’s a guy that can make plays. In the return game, it’s evident we need to address that need. Isaiah will be given every opportunity to be one of our return guys if not the return guy. We think he’s that special and that dynamic.”

On wide receiver Shakenneth Williams …

“He’s a big strong receiver. ….He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and he has speed and he has soft hands. You turn on his tape and you see he made play after play after play at a number of positions.”

On wide receiver Gilbert Johnson …

“Length, a lot of what coach (Tony) Ball likes. Those tall receiver who make a lot of plays.”

On Michel and Nick Chubb …

“I think they’re difference-makers. I think they’re elite backs that are going to be the difference in winning one or two ballgames. As early as next year possibly.”

On surprise signee Hunter Atkinson (6-6, 254) of West Hall …

“Hunter’s a guy that obviously we got on late so a lot of you guys may or may not have known about him, but he is a big, athletic kid. Daniel Inman, one of our giant GAs, is like 6-7, 315. Those guys were standing beside each other and they looked like clones. Obviously he doesn’t weigh as much as Dan, but he’s 6-6 around 250, 255 pounds. He’s a guy we started watching tape on in the middle of the season that did a little bit of everything. He lined up at receiver, he lined up at tight end, he lined up as a wildcat quarterback. He’s a big athlete. I really don’t know how big this guy’s going to become and what he’s going to become, Like I told him last night, we’re expecting you to come in and get ready to play. I believe he’s got a chance to do that, I believe he’s an SEC football player. With the way recruiting’s going now and early offers and early commitments, sometimes these late bloomers you sometimes miss out on him. Fortunate enough we were able to offer that guy and he’s part of the Bulldog family.”

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