1. I enjoyed hanging out for a while Saturday with my 7-year-old son at the annual UGA Countdown to Kickoff extravaganza. The charitable event, featuring current and former Georgia football players, moved to Sanford Stadium this year and that appeared to be a hit for the hundreds of Bulldogs fans that turned out despite morning rains.
I know it was for my son. Hardcore fans like getting the autographs of and pictures with current and former Georgia football stars. As for my son, he was totally jacked about being able to run barefooted from goal line to goal line on the Sanford Stadium grass. And to jump on “the bouncies,” of course.
A few things I learned while milling around on the field and up on Reed Plaza:
(a) Don’t expect A.J. Turman to be much of a factor in the tailback competition. That’s not a statement on the abilities of the redshirt freshman from Orlando or the Bulldogs’ depth at the position, which is considerable. The fact is, Turman’s troublesome right foot remains in a walking boot. Turman didn’t provide any details about the injury – he was sidelined with a foot and ankle issue in the spring – but said the he won’t be full speed when camp opens in 11 days. In the meantime, Georgia will just have to try to get by with Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Brendan Douglas, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Kyle Karempelis.
(b) John Theus cut his hair. On both his head and his face. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a major development in the Bulldogs’ locker room and for his smooth-pated position coach, Will Friend. Theus’ hair, now above his ears and off his neck, had grown past the point of him resembling a red-headed Jesus to him looking like the lead guitarist in a heavy-metal band. But he said the decision had nothing to do with grooming preferences. “I just got tired of it,” the starting left tackle said. “Everybody kept asking when I was going to cut it off, so I just decided to go ahead and do it.” Besides, he said, preseason camp’s about to start, and “it’s going to be hot.”.
(c) Of course, a big part of “Countdown” is the former players, and I enjoyed talking to Garrison Hearst, Dennis Roland, Sean Jones and Greg Blue, among others. Blue (2002-05), known as one of Georgia’s hardest-hitting safeties of all time, was hilarious in discussing the new targeting rule that is impacting college and pro football. Asked how the rule might have affected his career while he was playing, “I would’ve been a cheerleader or giving out water or something,” Blue said with a laugh. “I probably would’ve been banned from football.”
2. The college football season unofficially got started this past week with SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Georgia coach Mark Richt and three players spent about four hours talking to reporters about the upcoming season.
It’s always funny hearing some of the really bad questions that get tossed around at these types of events. For instance, Richt was asked whether the Bulldogs were considering moving Malcolm Mitchell back to defensive back to shore up the secondary.
“We won’t do that,” Richt said. “We tried that before. I think it stunted Malcolm’s growth to a certain degree as a receiver. Malcolm is a very explosive athlete, a very talented guy, but the art of running routes and all that kind of thing, he missed time. He missed the whole spring being able to get better at those kinds of things. He’s at the point in his career right now we want him to be the greatest receiver he can possibly be.”
To that end, Richt added that Mitchell looks fantastic in off-season workouts and conditioning and he anticipates him being a full go when practice begins Aug. 1.
The junior from Valdosta missed the entire season after suffering an ACL injury on Georgia’s first offensive drive of the season.
Richt was not quite as optimistic with regard to fellow wideout Justin Scott-Wesley, who’s also recovering from major knee surgery.
“That’s a good question,” he said when asked when Scott-Wesley might be ready to compete. “I think he might be available to play Day 1, but I don’t know if he’ll be playing at a tempo where we’re feeling like he’s ready to do it at the highest level. There’s a lot of competition at that position. So I’m not 100 percent sure how long it’ll be before he’s ready to go in there full speed.”
3. Nice to see Janet Harris finally get her due. It was announced over the weekend that the former standout power forward is going to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. She’ll join three other Lady Bulldogs already in the Hall: Katrina McClain (2006), coach Andy Landers (2007) and Teresa Edwards (2008).
It has been a long time coming for Harris. Not that she was looking for it. One of the cool things about Harris is she moved on with her life, working without fanfare for FedEx for the last 15 years. But she was admittedly surprised and relieved when informed of her induction.
“When they sent me my bio to look over, it sort of blew me away,” Harris said. “I’m not someone who thinks about the accomplishments in my career. When you actually see it all, I was like, ‘Wow.’ It took me back.”
Said Landers: “Janet Harris was our first great player and she made it cool for other great players to come to Georgia. People in Chicago who followed women’s basketball and have followed basketball – the old coaches and the media – will still tell you that Janet Harris was the best player to ever play in Chicago. When Janet got to Georgia, Janet was better than our basketball team.”
Harris will be inducted on June 13 in Knoxville along with five other nominees.