Ten@10: Dominick Sanders picks up dream where his brother left off

Dominick Sanders has picked up where his brother Chris left off as a defensive back at Georgia. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

Dominick Sanders has picked up where his brother Chris left off as a defensive back at Georgia. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

THE TEN AT 10:

1. It was nice to finally get to talk to Dominick Sanders after the Troy game. The freshman defensive back has been one of the better stories of the 2014 season. But even though he is set to start his fourth consecutive game at nickelback for the Bulldogs this Saturday, Sanders had not been made available for interviews by UGA.

They finally lifted the gag following Georgia’s 66-0 win. That made Sanders a major attraction for reporters in the Sanford Stadium locker room. Understandably, he seemed taken aback by the attention.

“I didn’t really expect this,” said the 6-foot, 187-pound athlete from Tucker. “I expected to come in and work hard. I really didn’t expect a starting position. I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about a starting position. I was going to come in and work hard and do what I have to do and God would have a plan.”

2. Sanders drew the attention of coaches and teammates not long after arriving on campus and participating in 7-on-7 drills in early summer. He began preseason camp working behind J.J. Green at the at the “star,” a hybrid linebacker/nickelback position, and moved into the starting job by about the third week. He has started all three of the Bulldogs’ games so far and has six tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure.

Sanders would also have an interception to his credit, but an offsides penalty negated his pick this past Saturday against Troy.

“He’s kind of wired 220,” defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said. “You don’t have to get him going; he’s going when he hits the field. Now is he always right? No. Should he be playing as a true freshman? Probably not. But right now he’s one of our better players and we’ve just got to keep coaching him up and he’s got to keep working hard every day to get better.”

3. Adding to the intrigue about Sanders is the fact that his older brother was actually dismissed from Georgia a few years ago. Chris Sanders was one of the players involved in the dorm room theft that also resulted in the ouster of Nick Marshall and Sanford Seay. After attending junior colleges in Georgia and Arizona, Chris Sanders now plays at Baylor. Dominick Sanders said his brother told him not to let his experience at Georgia influence him in making a recruiting decision.

“I didn’t let it reflect on me,” said Dominick, who did not consider playing at Baylor. “Once I got the offer I was coming here because this is where I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to let my brother’s situation stop me from committing.”

4. Georgia tailback Sony Michel was named the SEC’s freshman of the week on Monday following his performance against Troy this past weekend.

Michel

Michel

Michel, a native of Plantation, Fla., ran for a career-high 155 yards on 10 carries and scored three touchdowns against the Trojans.  His performance included a 75-yard run, a 5-yard reception and action on several of the Bulldogs’ special teams. Michel served as special teams captain for the game.

Michel is the third Bulldog to earn an SEC weekly award this season.  Senior inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera was named the defensive player of the week and junior tailback Todd Gurley co-offensive player of the week following the season-opening win over Clemson.

Best comment about Michel so far came from coach Mark Richt. Asked about the multiple ways in which the Bulldogs were utilizing the talented freshman, Richt grinned when he said, “We’re doing with Sony what we would’ve done with Knowshon Moreno had I not redshirted him.”

It's going to be at least one more week before Georgia gets back the speed of Justin Scott-Wesley at wide receiver. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

It’s going to be at least one more week before Georgia gets back the speed of Justin Scott-Wesley at wide receiver. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

5. Georgia will be three receivers short for a fourth consecutive week, Richt confirmed on his radio call-in show on Monday night. Richt told listeners he expected to without Malcolm Mitchell, Jonathon Rumph and Justin Scott-Wesley when the Bulldogs play host to Tennessee. He’s “hopeful” they’ll be back for the Vanderbilt game the following week.

Mitchell is still recovering from July 30 knee surgery and Rumph has a hamstring injury. Scott-Wesley is also recovering from ankle and knee injuries but also opened the season under disciplinary suspension for a violation of Georgia’s marijuana-use policy. UGA has never confirmed for how long.

Richt also labeled tailback Keith Marshall as “very doubtful” to play against the Vols. Marshall, who is coming off an ACL reconstruction in 2013, sprained both his right knee and ankle against Troy. The injury will not require surgery.

6. All the injuries to skill players are unfortunate for the Bulldogs, but they will get no sympathy from Tennessee. The Vols are dealing with their own issues. They already know they’ll be without receiver Von Pearson due to a high-ankle sprain. Fellow wideout Josh Smith has a similar injury, but coach Butch Jones said Smith’s status is uncertain heading into the practice week.

Both players are among the Vols’ top five receivers this season. Smith has 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. Pearson, a junior college transfer, had seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown before going down in the first half of Tennessee’s second game of the season.

The bad news for Georgia is the Vols have plenty of receivers where those came from. Marquez North is Tennessee’s leading receiver with 14 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns and had a TD catch last year in the Bulldogs’ 34-31 win in overtime. Flanker Pig Howard remains a versatile offensive threat. And word is they’re working on an expanded role for freshman Josh Malone, a 5-star signee who was vigorously pursued by Georgia and made an official visit to Athens. He has only five catches for 63 yards so far.

Also, two tight ends who missed Oklahoma game with injuries, Ethan Wolf and Daniel Helm, will be back for this game. Tennessee has six TD passes so far this season after having 12 all of last year.

7. One last thing on Tennessee: The Vols on Monday dismissed Treyvon Paulk, a running back from Alpharetta.

Jones said only it was due to a “personal conduct issue.” But later it was determined from police reports that they were called in over a domestic violence complaint in which Paulk allegedly struck his girlfriend. His girlfriend has declined to press charges.

Paulk hadn’t played for the Vols this season. He continues to recover from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of his senior season at Milton High and was expected to be redshirted.

Mark Richt and David Green were reunited in the film room this week. (UGA photo)

Mark Richt and David Green were reunited in the film room this week. (UGA photo)

8. Georgia will be the subject of some SEC Network programming this week.

Former Bulldogs star quarterback David Greene was in Athens on Monday to tape a segment with Richt for the new show his is doing for the network called “SEC Film Room.” Each week, the former Georgia captain sits down with SEC coaches and breaks down game video to show viewers what they were thinking on certain plays. Greene’s show with Richt will air Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.

“SEC Nation,” the SEC Network’s traveling pre-game show, will be in Athens on Saturday and broadcast from 10 a.m. to noon in the Myers Quad. The show features Joe Tessitore, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears, Paul Finebaum and Kaylee Hartung.

9. Georgia senior receiver Chris Conley has been selected as one of 30 candidates nationwide for the annual Senior CLASS Award.

CLASS is an acronym for “Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School,” and the award is designed to go to student-athletes who use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their community.   The candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists who will be placed on a ballot that will be distributed nationwide and voted on by media, coaches and fans.

Conley, a senior from Dallas, Ga., leads the Bulldogs in receiving yards with 121 on eight catches and has 1,402 yards and 12 TDs in his career. He’s a member of the SEC and NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committees, and the UGA Athletic Association’s board of directors.

10.  This & that: Georgia junior Lee McCoy claimed medalist honors in the DICK’S Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup last weekend at the Golf Club of Tennessee. McCoy fired a final-round 2-under 69 to wind up at 8-under 205 for the tournament. He edged South Carolina’s Will Starke by one shot. The win was the second in McCoy’s collegiate career. He also claimed medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur and had top-10 efforts in the Canadian Amateur, the Southern Amateur and the Northeast Amateur. … Ron Courson, the UGA’s director of sports medicine, recently received the Tim Kerin Award from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. The award is presented annually to an athletic trainer who is not only skilled at keeping athletes safe and at their best, but also exhibits integrity, character, devotion to their community.


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