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Chip TowersChip Towers

Ten@10: Murray vs. Mett, U.S. vs. Donnan and slow wheels of justice

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Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray competed as freshman quarterbacks at UGA. Both are expected to be drafted this week. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray competed as freshman quarterbacks at UGA. Both are expected to be drafted this week. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE TEN AT 10:

1.  An interesting question was posed Mike Mayock, a draft analyst for the NFL Network, on a recent teleconference call with reporters. Mayock was asked who he thought would have the better pro career, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray or LSU’s Zach Mettenberger.

“They’re complete opposites,” Mayock said. “It’s really intriguing. The common denominator is they’re both coming off ACL injuries late last season. Both had great pro day workouts. Mettenberger has as strong an arm as anybody in the draft. I’d be surprised if he didn’t go second round. Looked like he recovered from the ACL, which is amazing 13 or 14 weeks out. When you draw up a quarterback, physically I think he looks like what you want. I think he’s a little heavy-footed. I’d like to see him a little bit more athletic, but he has the hose that every team wants.

“Now Murray I thought probably knows how to play the position than any quarterback in the draft. He’s got anticipation and timing probably because he’s had to since he was a young kid because he was never that big, overpowering arm quarterback. They’re completely different.”

Of course, Mettenberger (6-foot-5, 224 pounds) and Murray (just shy of 6-1 and 207) once competed for the starting job at Georgia before Mettenberger was dismissed following an arrest and conviction for sexual battery in 2010. Murray started four years for the Bulldogs and became the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yardage and touchdowns. Mettenberger became a successful two-year starter for the Tigers after a brief stint in junior college. They’re both expected to be selected sometime during the three-day NFL draft, which begins Thursday.

“I think Mettenberger goes in the second; I think Murray probably goes in the third,” Mayock predicted. “Murray’s arm strength isn’t as good as you’d like it. But, man, accuracy, timing, anticipation, it’s what that position is all about. With the second- and third-rounders making it more recently, he’s in a lot of conversations with a lot of teams about the potential of a starting quarterback.”

Meanwhile, a new issue arose for Mettenberger recently. ESPN.com is reporting that the urine sample Mettenberger submitted at the NFL combine was diluted.

2. Georgia coach Mark Richt has said repeatedly he’s not ready to disclose what other discipline – if any – he intends to levy on his four players accused of theft by deception. James DeLoach, Uriah LeMay, Tray Matthews and Jonathan Taylor have been subjected to predawn wake-up calls and conditioning runs almost daily since their arrests back in March. Meanwhile, Richt has made no announcements about whether there will be any game suspensions. UGA conduct code leaves that up to the head coach’s discretion.

But there may be more to the hold-up than Richt looking for a strategic advantage against Clemson. The fact is, the players’ cases have yet to be adjudicated by the Athens-Clarke County court system. What happens there could have a bearing with what happens with football going forward.

Arraignments for the four players are expected to be set for the next session, June 3-5, according to Athens-Clarke County solicitor general C.R. Chisholm. The cases were originally scheduled to be heard April 17, but Chisholm said Monday he had to move them back simply because of the volume of documentation involved. He said investigators submitted a phone-book size file on the case. With all the other misdemeanor cases he has to prosecute, he simply hasn’t had time to review it all.

But Chisholm vows he’ll get to it soon. He also said he’ll handle it like any of the other hundreds of cases that come through his office. Even if the players are recommended for pretrial diversion, it will done in court, Chisholm said. The charges against the players are misdemeanors.

3. As has been well-publicized the last few days, former Georgia football coach Jim Donnan will stand trial this week in U.S. District court in Athens on multiple criminal counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. It is alleged that Donnan and another man ran a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of more than $22 million. Donnan’s alleged accomplice, Gregory L. Crabtree of Proctorville, Ohio, entered into a guilty plea last month. He will be sentenced June 24 in Athens.

What has been less publicized heading into this week’s trial is Donnan has fared pretty well in court rooms to this point. The longtime college coach has been buried in litigation since his dealings with Crabtree, GLC Limited and its investors began to crumble in December of 2010. But his legal team, including lead attorney Ed Tolley of Athens and Jerry Froelich of Atlanta,  has prevailed in at least three cases against him so far.

But those were mainly financial judgments . What Donnan is facing the next two or three weeks is much more serious. Crabtree’s guilty plea came to a single charge of conspiracy to commit fraud in the sale of a security. He could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Donnan is facing 41 charges in this trial. Jury selection begins Tuesday and the trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

4. Georgia’s non-conference basketball schedule for next season is rapidly approaching completion with the addition of yet another competitive opponent. The Bulldogs and Mercer reached an agreement last week to play Dec. 27 at Stegeman Coliseum, according to documents obtained by the AJC this week. A contract signed by Athletic Director Greg McGarity on May 2 show the Bulldogs have agreed to pay the Macon-based university $90,000 to make the trip.

The Bears are coming off a 27-9 season that ended with a second-round loss to Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament. Georgia was 20-14 last season and played two rounds in the NIT. The teams have played 77 times, with the Bulldogs winning 54 of them.

Georgia’s non-conference slate that already includes an appearance in the Preseason NIT, home games against Colorado and Seton Hall and road games at Kansas State and Georgia Tech as well as playing in the preseason NIT.

5. The Georgia men’s golf team on Monday was awarded the No. 1 seed for the NCAA’s San Antonio Regional at the Briggs Ranch Golf Club. Joining the No. 6-ranked Bulldogs in San Antonio will be No. 7 Central Florida, No. 18 UCLA, No. 19 Vanderbilt, South Florida, SMU, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, TCU, Northwestern, College of Charleston, Virginia Commonwealth and Columbia.

All six of the regionals will be held May 15-17. The top five teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championship May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.

“We all know what’s at stake in this tournament, so our complete focus the next few days will be working on the little things and making sure that we are completely prepared,” said coach Chris Haack, who has guided the Bulldogs to two national championships. “It’s a deep field, so we’ll have to really play well to be one of the five teams moving on.”

Georgia finished fourth in the SEC Championships at Sea Island April 25-27.

6. The Georgia women’s golf team also was invited to the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs will be among 24 teams competing in the NCAA East Regional Thursday at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee. The top eight teams and two individuals will advance to the NCAA championships.

Georgia has had success at SouthWood layout. Last season, the Bulldogs swept the team and individual titles at the FSU Match-Up Tournament at the course. Rocio Sanchez Lobato shared medalist honors after finishing at 2-under 214, while the Bulldogs earned a four-shot victory on the team leaderboard.

“We’re going to a golf course we already know,” Brewer said. “Three players (Rocio Sanchez Lobato, Amira Alexander and Manuela Carbajo Ré) are going back there. It’s a golf course we have a lot of confidence on. Hopefully, we can find that magic that happened last February.”

Georgia finished eighth at the SEC Championships last month. They’ll be joined in Tallahassee by No. 3 Duke is the top seed in the East Regional, one of nine top-25 teams that will be competing in Tallahassee by four other SEC teams. The field includes No. 3 Duke, No. 5 South Carolina, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Vanderbilt, No. 14 Pepperdine, No. 17 UCF, No. 20 Virginia, No. 24 Auburn, N.C. State, Florida State, Kentucky, Tulane, Louisville, Baylor, East Tennessee State, the Bulldogs, Campbell, East Carolina, Texas State, College of Charleston, Troy, Murray State, Seton Hall and Alabama State.

7. The Georgia women’s tennis team claimed the No. 1 spot in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) team rankings before the NCAA Championships begin this weekend. It marks the first time since March 2007 that the Bulldogs have claimed the top spot.

Before the rankings came out late last week, Georgia (21-4) already had earned the No. 1 seed for what will be their 28th consecutive appearance in the NCAA championships. The Lady Dogs will face Elon (15-8) in the first round on Friday at 4 p.m. The winners will play the Arizona State-FSU victor in the second round on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Georgia men’s tennis team jumped two spots to No. 8 Southern California continues to hold the top spot, followed by Oklahoma, Ohio State, Virginia, UCLA, Baylor, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs (16-7) open tournament play Saturday at 1 p.m. against Jacksonville State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens. The winner players the Oregon-N.C. winner on Sunday second round with a berth to the NCAA round of 16 on the line. Georgia is hosting the men’s and women’s championships May 15-26

8. Georgia sophomore Ryan Lawlor was named the SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week on Monday. The 6-foot, 176-pound native of Savannah pitched a complete game three-hitter in a 3-1 win No. 7 South Carolina this past Friday. He the Gamecocks for seven innings before allowing a leadoff home run in the eighth. It would be the only Gamecock to reach second base as he faced just 29 batters (two over the minimum).

It was Lawlor’s third complete game in his last four starts. He also went the distance against Tennessee and Florida. For the season, he is 4-4 with a 3.31 ERA in 12 starts.

The top 12 teams in the SEC based on winning percentage in league games advance to the SEC tournament in Hoover at the end of the season. The Bulldogs are currently in 12th with series remaining against Ole Miss this weekend in Oxford and Kentucky May 15-17 in Athens.

9. Sophomore softball player  Chelsea Wilkinson was named the SEC’s pitcher of the week on Monday. The right-hander went 2-0 with a with a pair of complete-game wins as Georgia swept No. 10 Kentucky in the final regular-season series this past weekend. She struck out 18 batters and walked just three batters in 14 innings to improve to 26-7 on the year. She now has 28 complete game performances this season and leads the SEC in strikeouts (234) and innings pitched (199.2).

The Bulldogs (42-12) received the fifth seed in the SEC tournament and will face fourth-seeded Florida (45-10, 15-9) on Thursday at 4 p.m. in Columbia, S.C.

10. This & that: Eighty-eight UGA student-athletes will graduate on Friday. Among them are 12 football players: Brandon Burrows, Marc Deas, Ty Frix, Kenarious Gates, Wright Gazaway, T.J. Stripling, Housing, Decatur; Mike Thornton, Kosta Vavlas, Seth Watts, English, Parker Welch, Shawn Williams and Hugh Williams. …
Get well wishes to UGA’s Hall of Fame sports communication director, Claude Felton, who expects to be back at work soon. … UGA is teaming with National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), the NCAA and the National Center for Sports Safety to host a “Best Practices for Intercollegiate Sports Medicine Managers” this week. Among the keynote speakers will be Georgia senior wide receiver Chris Conley, who serves on the NCAA Football issues committee. … The father of Florida football coach Will Muschamp passed away last week. Herbert Larry Muschamp, a longtime coach at East Rome High School and The Darlington School, was 79.

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