Posted: 10:00 am Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Ten@10: Reasons for freshman tight end’s departure a mystery 

By Chip Towers

Hunter Atkinson was a surprise signee for Georgia out of West Hall, and made a suprise departure out of Athens this past week. (Photo by 247Sports.com)

Hunter Atkinson was a surprise signee for Georgia out of West Hall, and made a suprise departure out of Athens this past week. (Photo by 247Sports.com)

THE TEN AT 10:

1. Georgia announced last week that tight end Hunter Atkinson, an incoming freshman from Oakwood, was quitting the team “to concentrate on opportunities associated with his long term career goals.” He’d been on campus barely two weeks.

I’ve tried to reach Atkinson or members of his family since that somewhat vague announcement in hopes of getting more details. But it appears they’re not interested elaborating, at least not at this point. I did get a chance to talk to Atkinson’s coach at West Hall High School, Tony Lotti, however.

Lotti informed me he had a brief visit with Atkinson last week, but that there is no change in the players’ status and he’s not sure if there will be anytime soon.

“There wasn’t any talking him out of it,” Lotti said. “It’s just not what he wants to do now.”

Lotti assures that Atkinson didn’t do anything wrong at Georgia, nor was he wronged. It’s apparently not as simple as that.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I really don’t know what happened,” Lotti said. “I’ve been consumed with it since the day it happened. I’ve been trying to work with Georgia’s staff, which I feel like I’ve got a very good relationship with and obviously want to keep, and (Atkinson) and his family. So I’m kind of in the middle. But the way I look at it is my job is to do everything I can to try to help provide opportunities for my players. That will go unchanged. But what they end up choosing to do with those opportunities, that’s up to them.”

2. Atkinson is a 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end. He caught 51 passes for 704 yards and 11 TDs to earn Class AAA all-state honors his senior season. He was lightly recruited by SEC standards, a Cincinnati commitment before Georgia gave him a scholarship offer the evening before national signing day this past February. According to Lotti, Atkinson had expressed nothing but excitement about his UGA opportunity from that day on.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Lotti said. “For whatever reason he decided that wasn’t for him. I don’t if it just wasn’t what he thought it would be or what.”

Atkinson’s only statement thus far is the one he issued through the school at the time of the announcement: “Georgia is a great school with both athletic and academic opportunities and I want to thank Coach Richt and the other coaches for their interest and all they have done for me over the past few months. I realized I have other career goals and want to pursue those interests.”

To this point, no one is sure what those interests are.

3. Georgia will recover. The Bulldogs also signed Jeb Blazevich, a 4-star prospect out of Charlotte, in the 2014 class, and have redshirt freshman Jordan Davis and converted fullback Quayvon Hicks to back up starter Jay Rome at tight end. But obviously the Bulldogs thought enough of Atkinson’s skills to offer him a scholarship.
In the meantime, Lotti said Atkinson and his family are encountering some backlash.

“It’s been a touchy situation for his family,” he said. “A lot of people are coming out with all kinds of stories. It’s unfortunate, the amount of backlash his family has endured from various sites and things like that. It’s hurtful. That’s unfortunate. But at the same time, I guess it comes down to a kid has a perception or a dream, but sometimes when that dream becomes reality it wasn’t really what he was expecting.”

4. Tray Matthews started school at Auburn this past week. As one might suspect, former Georgia assistant Rodney Garner was a big reason the safety decided to transfer to The Plains. But Garner told Phillip Marshall of 247Sports.com that shouldn’t be translated as he or Auburn condones the type of behavior that got Matthews kicked off the team at UGA.

“When this came up and I talked to him, there wasn’t any recruiting,” Garner said. “It was me telling him, ‘that’s a bunch of BS, how you behaved.’ He made some poor choices. Rodney Garner made some poor choices, but we didn’t have social media then.”

Garner said he believes Matthews will make the best of his second chance at Auburn.

“I don’t have any interest in recruiting thugs and jerks to Auburn,” Garner said. “But I do believe some kids make mistakes, even though they are actually good kids. They make poor decisions. They have to answer for it.”

Matthews must sit out next season per the NCAA’s transfer rule.

5. Condolences to Georgia football player Leonard Floyd. His grandmother, Sarah, died on Monday after a long illness.

“She really kind of held that family together,” said Rex Hodges, who coached Leonard and now his brother Devonta at Dodge County High School. “She was kind of the head of the household. She really did a lot with those boys.”

Floyd, a rising sophomore, is a starting outside linebacker for the Bulldogs. He led the team with 6.5 sacks and started eight games as a freshman last season.

6. Georgia on Monday announced the hiring Ronnie Letson for its newly-minted position of director of player personnel for football. Letson fills a vacancy on UGA’s football support staff left after the resignation of former on-campus recruiting coordinator Darryl Jones. The Bulldogs are reconfiguring duties in that area of the football office and Letson comes with much college experience.

Letson is a Norcross native and played football there in high school. He was good enough to land a scholarship offer from Ole Miss, where he was a three-year letterman as a running back and wide receiver. After graduation, Letson returned to Ole Miss as the offensive coordinator for Jacksonville State in 2010 and played a major role in the Gamecocks’ upset of his alma mater. There was a nice write-up about it by Will Hammock in the Gwinnett Daily Post.

7. If all goes well as he wraps us his English composition course at Hutchinson Community College this week, Shattle Fenteng should be on campus with the rest of the Bulldogs by this weekend.

Last fall, Fenteng was the No. 1-rated cornerback in junior college. The Grayson High graduate is expected to contend for playing time at Georgia this season but his arrival was delayed when he had to re-take the English class. The semester is scheduled to end Thursday and Fenteng hopes to arrive in Athens by this weekend

In the meantime, Fenteng took to Twitter to show Georgia fans that he’ll show up in shape and ready to compete. …

8. Georgia moved up to 15th from 19th in the latest Learfield Director’s Cup standings. The Bulldogs were able to advance based on their fifth- and sixth-place finishes in women’s and men’s track, respectively.

However, the Bulldogs dropped from third to fourth among SEC teams. Texas A&M leapfrogged Georgia, moving from 20th to 11th by winning the women’s track national championship and finishing third in the men’s competition. Florida (2) and Kentucky (13) also finished ahead of the Bulldogs.

There is not expected to be much more movement in the standings as Virginia (8) and Vanderbilt (52) are the College World Series finalists and last college teams competing. Early calculations indicate Oregon will move ahead of Georgia to 15th and the Bulldogs will end up at 16th. It’s the stated goal of Athletic Director Greg McGarity for UGA to finish among the Top 10 every season.

The $12 million renovation of Foley Field will be completed before the 2015 baseball season begins. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

The $12 million renovation of Foley Field will be completed before the 2015 baseball season begins. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

9. I talked to Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin last week for a story I wrote about the impact of the draft on his team. The Bulldogs have lost four of the six players taken in this year’s draft but are holding out hope that the final two – junior third baseman Hunter Cole and freshman pitcher Bo Tucker – will remain amateurs.

Despite the losses, which included all-everything shortstop Nelson Ward, Stricklin expressed optimism about next season. If Cole comes back they will return every other position player and will have a pitching staff anchored by Freshman All-SEC right-hander Robert Tyler.

“We feel good,” Stricklin said. “We feel like we’ve made some progress. We feel like we’ll be a little more athletic next year. We have a lot of young guys. Freshmen become sophomores, and we feel like a lot of our freshmen can play right away. We need to take another step forward, and for us, forward means getting to a regional.”

Meanwhile, construction on the $12 million renovation of Foley Field is well underway. Access to roads on either side is blocked with cranes and construction equipment. When Stricklin and staff bring in recruits for visits, they have to view the facility from Kudzu Hill. The project is due to be completed by Jan. 31 of next year.

10. This & that: Once again this year, members of the Georgia football team will visit Camp Sunshine, a camp that provides normal activities for children with cancer. Two different groups of players will make the trip to Rutledge, the first this Wednesday and second on July 2. … Sentencing for Gregory Crabtree, the convicted conspirator in the Ponzi scheme that ensnared former Georgia coach Jim Donnan, is Tuesday in Athens. … Georgia volleyball coach Liz Stemke gave birth to her second child earlier this month. Edmond Gustav Stemke was born on June 3. He weighed 10 pounds, 12.8 ounces. Stemke and her husband Kevin Stemke also have a daughter, Kerrigan Jane, who is 3.

191 comments
MoistDawg
MoistDawg

it takes a special breed to join us and not everyone can handle it mabey he should go to tech or auburn where it is a little easyer

Dsyelxia
Dsyelxia

Have you seen the other schools that wanted Atkinson? 

Cincinnati, Appalachian State, Charlotte, Georgia State... He did UGA a favor.

THEBuckeyes1
THEBuckeyes1

SEC SUCKS!  Right hangonsloopy?  AKA TheBuckeye/Delusionaldog/I keep getting in trouble so I have to change my name monthly.


Was there any doubt as to which league would rank No. 1? The SEC had four teams in last year's final AP top 10, had the best nonconference record in the regular season (47-9) and also the best bowl record at 7-3 despite two BCS bowl losses. This year, the SEC has six teams that rank in my preseason top 20, led by Alabama, my No. 2 team. The SEC also has four teams in the top 11 of my plus/minus power ratings and nine teams in the top 22 of my Power Poll, which is a combination of all nine sets of my power ratings. For the ninth consecutive season, the SEC reigns supreme.

Bronte
Bronte

auburn recruiting is easy---just wait for criminals to be kicked out of uga and sign them up if they are good!  get them in some mickey mouse classes to stay eligible somehow and win big!!!  congrats!

Hangonsloopy
Hangonsloopy

tom brown,


Quite a record for this vicinity. 

ThomasBrownUGA
ThomasBrownUGA

Excuse me ?


Mark Richt has Signed 118 Scholarship Football Recruits, with Redshirts, who could be playing # 2, # 4, # 5, # 8, # 7 in SEC CG, # 3 and # 1 in the play-offs; but instead has now only 80 remaining 67 percent - with not 1 early NFL Draft Pick missing of the 118.


Oh, well another 5 walk-ons who never play on Offense or Defense, just our # 100 Special Teams, soon will be announced as all of a sudden Scholarship, again...


...As our Attrition continues around here unabated...


...As does Mark Richt's 67 percent Win Percentage over latest 6 seasons too.


Once 81 % Win Percentage going into the 2005 season...


Once 2 SEC Championships


Instead, since Mark Richt has no SEC Championship


2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013.


Once 16-13 his 1st 29 games vs teams who were Top 25 those seasons

CMR 7-22 his next 29 games vs teams who were Top 25 these seasons.


And, as for his 81 % Win Percentage going into 2005 season...

67 percent Winning Percentage after 2007 season.


Oh yeah, nothing wrong with yet another ATTRITION.


Certainly nothing but more BAD PRESS.

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

I hope Atkinson recovers from this decision -- UGA will be fine but is this kid's life changing decision that is important for him

midtowncowboy
midtowncowboy

Tech fans consumed with UGA.  But not Tech.  Funny stuff.

midtowncowboy
midtowncowboy

But Garner told Phillip Marshall of 247Sports.com that shouldn’t be translated as he or Auburn condones the type of behavior that got Matthews kicked off the team at UGA.



Bawhahahahah.  Breath.  Bawahahahahahahah.  


Condone?  No.  Just don't care.  Yes.  Anything to win.  Yes.

BCB
BCB

Rodney Garner put his big foot in his mouth. Rodney, Actions speak louder than words.

UncleTom
UncleTom

So Auburn "doesn't have any interest in recruiting thugs and jerks?"  Then why do they continually do it?  They've become as bad as Miami was 20 years ago in that regard.  How do they look themselves in the mirror?  Oh yeah-----I think I know------the thugs and jerks they take from other programs are top notch talents.  


As long as they're going to play that game (Cam Newton, Nick Marshall and now Matthews----and I"m sure I'm missing some more)  why shouldn't UGA drop them from our permanent schedule?

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

RandyHall.....that was just plain stupid!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Best wishes to Hunter Atkinson. He, nor Georgia, did anything wrong. No hard feelings.

Clean slate.

RandyHall
RandyHall

Maybe Hunter Atkinson saw the ineptness of the OL Coach Will Friend...knowing that is the position that he would be eventually converted to...I heard Friend is the "F-Bomb Master" and to tolerate that behavior to an extreme while getting poor coaching (evidence of UGA not having one OL drafted this past year)....may have been the writing on the wall...just speculation??? TIME FOR CMR TO WIN A NC!!!     

keendaddy
keendaddy

My condolences to Leonard Floyd for his loss.

slydawg
slydawg

Dude was not homesick at all. He realized that football came first at this level and being a student is a distant second. It's somewhat the reverse in high school. Hunter played football for fun. D1 football is a professional minor league with no pay. How many middle income kids play D1 football? Maybe 25% of the total number. He rightfully saw he had other, safer options.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@doggoneit Why are you dawg fans always giving one of your biggest fans so much grief? He graduated from UGA with honors, no respect i tell ya, no respect.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@THEBuckeyes1 You mean you're just a leg humper like the rest of these blathering, slobbering, butt slapping homers? Change your name to Coattails. Oh, SEC,SEC,SEC

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@BoomTown Auburn offers the same classes as UGA? I did not know that.

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@ThomasBrown  I'm confused, I must have drunk some kool-aid...........I didn't understand one sliver of your post.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@midtowncowboy  Nothing funny about it.  It's sick.  And they don't understand it.  That is what is the sickest part.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@midtowncowboy Anything to win?  Seems to me Richt has no problems with what Auburn or Louisville are doing.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@BCB Was he doing all this cheating when he was at UGA? I guess not.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@UncleTom Didnt UGA recruit all 3 you listed and got 2 of them to come play for UGA?

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@UncleTom Thus the old saying, "If you can't beat em, don't play em"

RandyHall
RandyHall

@Quackmeyer  Your rebuttals are worthless...carry no merit...no facts behind it...your words are just plain stupid...TIME WILL TELL QUACK; TIME FOR CMR TO WIN A NC!!! 

Dawgilama
Dawgilama

@RandyHall Will friend is a n excellent o line  coach. R hall as usual is  clueless

ScoreCheck
ScoreCheck

@RandyHall


No facts to back up your speculations makes you come across as ridiculous and bitter. 

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@RED DOG 77 @ThomasBrown 


That is the status quo for  those bother to read Thoma$$es contributions!!!!!!!!!!!!


Once one has bothered to read his BS one needs not read  A N Y  

  S U B S E Q U E N T    Thoma$$ p0sts   because they are    A L L   95%  the same jibberish!!!

ThomasBrownUGA
ThomasBrownUGA

@DawginCO @midtowncowboy 


Well, let's be realistic about the 2 most-outspoken Georgie tek fans on this blog, ok ?  Neither one can read or write, and neither has ever said they ever stepped foot into a class at that joke by Coke.  As for whether or not they are funny, or what they write here about that school, or our school by comparison, I can certainly offer-up having engaged them in conversation on this topic, here, that well they both are idiots.


I also find it funny.


Why ?


I mean here they are consumed with UGA like that fight song they have over there on the flats about To Hell with Georgia like my Daddy used to do.


My Daddy certainly never said To Hell with Georgia, and neither POAD2014's nor GTcaryd's Daddy did either.


Results ?


Georgie tek has lost 7 games in a row on their own field to us.

Georgie tek has lost 11 of 12 games on their own field to us back to 1991.

Georgie tek has lost to our coach 12 of 13 seasons, overall.

Georgie tek is on NCAA Probation in Football all of 2014.


How can that not be funny then that they offer-up every few minutes some inane comment, as if they wish to be associated with this - while everyone actually ever students there, cringe at their every word.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@gtcaryd  Was he poaching players from other schools while at Georgia?  The evidence speaks very loudly.  If you are poor and suddenly you are driving high end sports cars, it looks pretty suspicious, doesn't it?  If you struggle all semester in the classroom and suddenly you get a 95+ on your exam, it looks pretty suspicious doesn't it?  So when you are a recruiting coordinator and your performance is lackluster and you change schools and suddenly you are bringing in big time recruits left and right,  doesn't that seem kind of suspicious?

I know it is hard for you haters to think straight but even a blind man can connect those dots.

loran-whatayagot
loran-whatayagot

@FlatTire @UncleTom Cam Newton was signed originally by the Florida Gaytors. But they all gravitate eventually to the Awbarn Tigers/Plainsman/ War Eagles/ Oak Trees at Toomers. Oh yeah, scratch that last one.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@ThomasBrown @DawginCO @midtowncowboy Georgie Tek isn't missing 33% of their team ThomAss, at least going by your numbers you posted. Of course we know that has just become a UGA tradition. Here is a inane comment for you Tommy boy, enjoy another mediocre season with a mediocre team. Heck you trash the dawgs more than i ever thought about.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@DawginCO Guess you don't think maybe he was mad because ole Beaver Cleaver was making the big bucks and he started sand bagging. And what poor kid is driving a new car? And as far as monkeying with grades you need not look further than your own campus.

ThomasBrownUGA
ThomasBrownUGA

@loran-whatayagot @FlatTire @UncleTom 


No, sir.  Mark Richt recruited Cam Newton to UGA as a Tight End.  Flat Tire on I-95 is 100 percent absolutely correct, again.  Mark Richt recruited all 3 here, and 2 signed with him.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@gtcaryd  It's called examples of suspicious turn arounds.  I wasn't being literal.  And even if it is a matter of Garner tanking it because his poor little feelings got hurt, it is still unethical behavior.  But his performance before Grantham showed up wasn't close to what it is now.  The turn around is suspicious.  And it seems that more than a few people not affiliated with Georgia football think that the upturn is due large chunks of cash.  It also seems that they don't care what a player is like as long as he can play football.  The proof is in the pudding.

crockadoodle6
crockadoodle6

@DawginCO @AlternativeDawg The overt cheating was known as far back as James Brooks who went to Auburn from Warner Robbins. In fact, Auburn has most likely been cheating in FB  since the 1800's. I just know for a fact that Brooks was given a new Chevy when he committed to Auburn. He still can't read or write according to published reports, but that is an Auburn education, right? Auburn has consistently cheated over the last half century...they have just become better at it. But it's only a game, right?  They will have one predictable response......every time.....'prove it'. Well if the NCAA could issue subpoenas and incarcerate the perjurers maybe it could be proven.