Posted: 10:02 am Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
By Chip Towers
THE TEN AT 10
1. I talked to quarterback Aaron Murray on Monday about his big debut as a professional in UGA’s Pro Day on Wednesday morning. Here’s a link to the story that will run in Wednesday’s newspaper.
Murray has already turned some heads with his recovery from last November’s knee surgery. Just 4 1/2 months since having ACL reconstruction surgery, Murray says he is fully recovered and will prove it to NFL executives and scouts Wednesday morning.
I talked to several people about Murray’s pro prospects and right now I’m having a hard time finding a dissenting opinion. Where or when he’ll get drafted, nobody knows, but everybody seems to agree he’ll be on an NFL roster for a while.
“I think Aaron Murray is a great player,” Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan told the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter. “They would kind of knock him because he never won big games and I thought that was crazy because he won a ton of big games. When you play in the SEC, every week is a big game. So, I think he’s battled tested, he’s accurate, he’s tough, he’s a competitor and he’s also been a guy who’s made some huge plays late in game to push them to wins. Even look at last year, his junior year in the SEC championship game and the way he competed and played in that game was really impressive. I think he’ll do great. I think he’ll transition very well into the NFL.”
Of course, Murray isn’t the only Bulldog who showing his wares to NFL scouts. In fact, virtually every senior on last year’s roster will be working out, according to UGA’s Dave Van Halanger, who coordinates the event for Georgia. Among them will be tight end Arthur Lynch; offensive linemen Chris Burnette, Dallas Lee and Kenarious Gates; receivers Rhett McGowan and Rantavious Wooten; defensive linemen Garrison Smith and T.J. Stripling; and special teams stalwart Blake Sailors.
2. There was only one thing that was settled when it came to Georgia’s G-Day Game this past Saturday — nothing is settled.
Nowhere was that more evident than the offensive line, where virtually nothing came off the way it had appeared it was going in practices. John Theus started at right tackle rather than left tackle, Kolton Houston started at left guard rather than right tackle, and Mark Beard started at left tackle rather than left guard. The only constants were David Andrews at center and Greg Pyke at right guard.
The problem seems to be the Bulldogs finding what they’re looking for at left guard. Beard began the spring there, moving in from left tackle where he’d played the last two seasons. But Beard didn’t like it and asked to move back out to tackle. So Brandon Kublanow and Zach DeBell got looks at left guard, but coach Will Friend obviously didn’t see what he hoped for with those guys.
“That’s part of it,” coach Mark Richt told reporters. “Pyke has been pretty solid at the right guard to this point. David obviously has been the center and done a good job. Kolton looks to be in the top five. Theus is in the top five. The question is going to be: Is Kublanow going to be the left guard and Theus left tackle or is Kolton going to go to left guard and Theus go to right (tackle), which puts Mark Beard at the left (tackle)? We’re just going to have to wait and see.”
Georgia was also having to go without Watts Dantzler (concussion), who figures to be in the mix when he’s well. But here’s another explanation for the jumble: It’s spring and the Bulldogs didn’t want Clemson to have any idea what they might look like when they meet in the season opener on Aug. 30 at Sanford Stadium.
3. Georgia has a little more time to work on it. The Bulldogs have two more practices this week complete their NCAA allotment of 15 spring practices. I’ll talk to defensive coaches after this afternoon practices, and Coach Richt and offensive coaches will be available following the last practice on Thursday.
4. Speaking of coaches, the Bulldogs about to launch their annual “UGA Days” speaking tour. Richt and basketball coach Mark Fox will be the featured speakers when the tour opens up in the first of 12 stops Wednesday evening at the TD Convention Center in Greenville, S.C. There will be two more stops next week on Tuesday at the Gainesville Civic Center and April 24 at the Northwest Trade and Convention Center in Dalton. As always, the tour will wrap up in mid-July at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth.
Richt will subbed for twice on the tour, by offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on May 14 in Tifton and by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt on May 21 in Columbus. Registration for the banquet-style event is $30 on site or $20 on the UGA Days website.
5. On Wednesday, Fox’s basketball Bulldogs are expected to sign two recent commitments: Yante Maten, a 6-foot-7 forward from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Fred Iduwe, a 6-11 center from near Milwaukee.
All in all, it looks like a pretty good haul. The Bulldogs needed size and originally were going to sign just one recruit before John Cannon abruptly quit the team at the end of this past season. Georgia beat out Michigan State and some other Midwest basketball powers for Maten, a 3-star prospect.
AJC recruiting reporter Michael Carvell talked to Fox recently about his recruiting reputation and the Bulldogs’ problems landing some of the top prospects out of Atlanta. Fox told him he thinks Georgia has made “progress” in Atlanta and overall does a better job in that department than people think.
6. Didn’t take long for somebody to capitalize on Bubba Watson’s post-Masters victory celebration at the Waffle House on Sunday night. For $21.99, you can order a “Bubba Waffles: Masters of Golf” t-shirt from skreened.com.
Don’t look now, but there could be another golfing great come out of the Watson family. Check out THIS VIDEO of Bubba’s 2-year-old son Caleb, taken on Monday.
7. Watson, of course, played golf for Georgia from 2000-01. He was one of four Bulldogs in the Masters field this year. Russell Henley (2007-11) and Chris Kirk (2003-07) also made the cut, while Harris English (2007-11) came up two strokes short.
As for the current team, they’re pretty good, too. Coach Chris Haack’s Bulldogs moved up to No. 2 in the latest Golfweek rankings. They will compete this Saturday in the College Match-Play Championship at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course on April 19. Joining the Bulldogs in the competition are No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 24 Auburn and No. 25 Florida State. The matches are structured similar to those at the NCAA Championship in that the teams’ No. 5 players will face off, followed by the No. 4 players, No. 3 players and so on, with each individual match counting one point toward the team score.
8. Fresh off its third SEC series victory over Tennessee in Athens, the Georgia baseball team will begin an eight-game road trip at Georgia Tech on Tuesday night in Atlanta. After taking on the 25th-ranked Yellow Jackets (23-14), the Bulldogs (21-14-1, 7-7-1 SEC) will resume SEC play Friday at SEC Eastern Division-leading Florida (23-13, 9-6 SEC).
Georgia took two of three from the No. 23 Vols this past weekend, dropping the opener 5-3 on Thursday before bouncing back with 4-1 and 7-4 victories. The Bulldogs beat No. 14 Clemson earlier in the week.
9. The SEC dominance of Georgia’s men’s tennis team is fairly incredible. After an extremely slow start to the season, the Bulldogs (16-6, 11-1 SEC) clinched yet another regular-season SEC title outright with 4-0 win at Auburn.
Georgia has now won a league-leading 37 SEC championships, including 28 regular-season crowns. It is the 24th SEC title in 26 seasons for coach Manuel Diaz, who won his 600th career match on Friday against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs have won now won four straight matches by 4-0 scores as they head to Nashville as the No. 1 seed for the SEC Tournament this weekend. They’ll face the winner 8-9 seeds Vanderbilt-Auburn in the quarterfinals on Friday.
10. This & that: Chad Kelly, one of three players competing to be Clemson’s starting quarterback, was dismissed from the team. The circumstances that led to his dismissal are quite strange. … The 10-time national champion UGA gymnastics team will enter in the NCAA Championships in Birmingham on Friday as the No. 6 seed. The Gym Dogs will compete in the early session against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 LSU, No. 7 Michigan, No. 10 Stanford and No. 11 Illinois. The 8 p.m. second session includes No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Utah, No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 15 Penn State. The top three teams in each session will advance to Saturday’s “Super Six” finals. … Former UGA standout Courtney Kupets will be among six individuals who will be inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame on Aug. 22 in Pittsburgh.