THE TEN AT 10:
1. Believe it or not, there are only 81 days until Georgia kicks off the 2014 football season against the Clemson Tigers at Sanford Stadium. For the Bulldogs, preparations are already well under way.
Sixteen of Georgia’s 20 signees moved into the Oglethorpe House dormitory and enrolled in summer-school classes last week. That group will join the returning players for summer workouts and conditioning later this week.
So where are the four other signees, you might ask? Well, they’re either already in Athens, are on their way, or are not coming.
Quarterback Jacob Park enrolled in January and wide receiver Rico Johnson arrived last month for the “May-mester.” Meanwhile, as AJC recruiting reporter Michael Carvell reported last week, wide receiver Gilbert Johnson of Miami did not qualify for freshman admission and junior college defensive back Shattle Fenteng has some classwork to complete before he’ll be allowed to enroll.
Otherwise, the 16 other newbies are getting their first taste of major college football. And dorm life.
2. It might stress out some Georgia football fans to learn that Fenteng, one of the Bulldogs’ prized defensive back signees, has had his arrival in Athens delayed by academics. But Fenteng says to relax. He’ll be there before they know it.
One of the top-rated junior college cornerbacks in America, Fenteng remains in Kansas at Hutchinson Community College. But he says he simply has to complete an English composition course to satisfy his junior college degree requirements and he’ll be in Athens by the end of the month.
“I’m finishing am English Comp 2 course and I’ll be done by June 26th,” Fenteng said Monday. “So I’ll probably be in Athens around like June 29th, that weekend.”
Georgia had hoped to have Fenteng come in with the rest of the troops so he could cram for the Jeremy Pruitt defensive course he’ll have to pass in August. The Bulldogs, some may have noticed, have been decimated by attrition in the secondary. Three-quarters of the starters for the majority of games this past season – Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and Shaq Wiggins – have either been kicked off the team or quit. So the Bulldogs need all the help they can get to rebuild.
Fenteng is expected to be the most battle ready of the four DBs Georgia signed in February. The Bulldogs also inked 4-star prospect Malkom Parrish of Brooks County and 3-star DBs Dominick Sanders of Tucker and Shaquille Jones of Palm Bay, Fla.
“I’ve talked to Coach Pruitt and he told me to come ready and make sure I’m working hard and watching film,” said Fenteng, who works with a personal trainer five times a week to make sure he’s in good condition. “It kind of sucks that we lost talent because they definitely would have helped us. But things happen for a reason and now that gives a lot of the new guys a chance to come in and play. So we’ll see what happens.”
3. Speaking of losing talent, Georgia is about to lose one of its top athletic administrators to another job. Josh Brooks is leaving his post as UGA’s associate AD for internal operations to become athletic director at Millsaps College, a Division III school in Jackson, Miss.
Brooks has enjoyed a rapid rise at Georgia since joining the program as assistant director of football operations in 2008. He was an assistant AD just three years into his tenure and continuously took on more responsibility. While he handled a number of duties during his time with the Bulldogs, he’ll probably be best remembered for luring country music star Jason Aldean to Athens to play Sanford Stadium last summer and leading the organization of that event.
Best of luck running the whole show at Millsaps, Josh.
4. As for Georgia’s other administrative vacancy, the Bulldogs are not going to hire another on-campus recruiting director to replace Daryl Jones. Instead they’re redefining and expanding the role and calling it a “director of player personnel.”
According to the job listing on iPAWS, UGA’s employment website, the director of player personnel “will be responsible for the organization of the recruiting department and its day to day functions” and will “work to support the football recruiting coordinator.”
Georgia’s current recruiting coordinator is running backs coach Bryan McClendon, who was promoted to that position in February. Change has definitely been in the wind around the Butts-Mehre complex.
5. Junior tailback Todd Gurley, senior linebacker Ramik Wilson and sophomore outside linebacker Leonard Floyd were named to Phil Steele’s 2014 Preseason All-America Team. Gurley and Wilson were named to the first team, while Floyd landed on the third team.
Gurley led the Bulldogs in 2013 with 989 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in only 10 games, and he was third on the team in receiving with 37 catches for 441 yards and a team-best six touchdown catches. The Tarboro, N.C., native tied for the lead in the FBS for running backs with his six receiving touchdowns.
A native of Tampa, Fla., Wilson led the SEC with 133 tackles last season. His best career performance came against Auburn when he registered 18 stops, including a sack and two tackles for loss. Wilson became the third player in Georgia history to lead the league in tackles.
Floyd, a native of Eastman, led the Bulldogs with 6.5 sacks in 2013. He finished the season with 55 tackles and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Gurley, Wilson and Floyd were also among 12 Bulldogs named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-SEC Team. They are joined on the first team by junior placekicker Marshall Morgan. Second-team selections include junior flanker Malcolm Mitchell, junior outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins and senior cornerback Damian Swann.
Senior flanker Chris Conley, senior center David Andrews, senior defensive end Ray Drew, senior inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera and junior punter Collin Barber were named to the preseason All-SEC third team.
6. The impact of losing Gilbert Johnson to academics (he’s expected to return after he gets his grades in order) was lessened by the recent news that Charlie Hegedus is transferring to UGA from N.C. State. I happened to catch a few of Hegedus’ games when he was playing for Lassiter and they had a senior quarterback named Hutson Mason running the show. He was extremely impressive then, then he had some great showings in recruiting combines before his senior season in high school.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hegedus hasn’t exactly torn it up with the Wolfpack — he caught just 10 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown in two seasons — but based on what I’ve seen and know about him, I can’t see how he couldn’t help the Bulldogs in the near future. Hegedus is coming in as a walkon and will be immediate eligible as he was granted a hardship waiver from the NCAA. He said he hopes to earn a scholarship.
7. The Major League Baseball first-year player draft already has impacted Georgia’s 2014 class. Spencer Adams, a right-handed pitcher the Bulldogs signed out of White County, will ink a $1.28 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. The White Sox selected Adams in the second round with the 44th pick overall. Adams was one of three UGA signees who were drafted and six Bulldogs overall this past weekend. Michael Gettys, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound outfielder from Gainesville, also was selected in the second round by the Padres. Left-handed pitcher Bo Tucker was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 38th round.
Gettys likely will go pro and Tucker will likely report to Georgia. But some current Bulldogs will have more difficult decisions to make. Junior shortstop Nelson Ward, one of Georgia’s best players and a team captain, was picked in the 12th-round by the Seattle Mariners. Ward started all 56 games this past season and hit .306 with a team-high 34 RBI. Also, third baseman Hunter Cole went in the 26th round to the San Francisco Giants. During an injury-marred junior campaign, Cole hit a team-best .319 with three home runs and 31 RBI in 53 games. Both players would be cornerstones for coach Scott Stricklin’s second Georgia team if they return.
Jarrett Brown, a junior left-hander, was a 22nd-round selection of the Mariners. He made 19 appearances and went 1-1 with a 6.67 ERA in 27 innings pitched.
The signing deadline for underclassmen and high school seniors selected is July 18. It’s the 42nd consecutive season the Bulldogs have had at least one player signing a professional contract.
8. Georgia has been busy with football camps lately, holding a prospect camp last week and the Mark Richt Camp for kids earlier this week. And now the Bulldogs are taking it even a step further.
Thomas Settles, the team chaplain, has combined forces with the Downtown Academy of Athens, to help organize a Georgia football camp for underprivileged kids to attend. It will be held Wednesday night at the Butts-Mehre football complex and Settles expects most of the Bulldogs to be in attendance.
9. Georgia appears to be in the running for Charles Mitchell, a 6-foot-7 forward who is leaving Maryland and will be immediately eligible the next season. Mitchell, who is from Marietta, was the Terrapins’ leading rebounder this past season. Maryland recently accepted the transfer of Robert Carter from Georgia Tech, another target of the Bulldogs.
10. This & that: The UGA track and field teams sent 22 members to Eugene, Ore., on Sunday for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. They represent Georgia’s last team competing during the 2013-14 school year. The men’s team is ranked 7th nationally. . . . Georgia will serve as one of the 15 host sites of an Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Kickoff Weekend next January. It will be held Jan. 24-25 at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility. The Bulldogs, who ended the 2014 season ranked fourth nationally, were selected to host by virtue of their Top 15 finish this year. Filling out the field are No. 27 Auburn, No. 61 Wake Forest and No. 65 Samford. … Jasmine Arnold, a native Murfreesboro, Tenn., has enrolled at the University of Georgia and will compete for the Gym Dogs, according to an announcement by head coach Danna Durante.