THE TEN AT 10
1. ESPN.com came up with a True Freshman All-American team, but some might question its validity.
It doesn’t include Georgia’s Nick Chubb.
It does, however, include Bulldogs outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, which is interesting considering Carter’s contributions pale in comparison to Chubb. But Chubb was edged out by Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine and Oregon’s Royce Freeman for the two running back spots.
Hard to argue with Perine’s selection. The 5-foot-11, 243-pound athlete set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game (427 vs. Kansas), had three games of 200 or more yards and finished the season with 1,579 rushing yards and 21 TDs.
Freeman benefited from being on a higher-profile team and starting the entire season. He rushed for 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns. But his longest run of the season was 38 yards and he averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
Chubb was much more productive. While did not start until the sixth game of the season when Todd Gurley was suspended, Chubb never rushed for fewer than 113 yards in the seven games since. He finished with 1,281 yards and 12 TDs and a per-carry average of 6.9.
As for Carter, he was one of three linebackers on the team. Like Chubb, the former 5-star prospect from Norcross did not start until later in the season. But he made quite a splash in his first one, recording 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and nine overall stops in the Bulldogs’ Nov. 8 win over Kentucky to earn SEC defensive player of the week honors. He went on to start the final four games and tied for seventh on the team with 33 tackles, 15 quarterback hurries, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
Click HERE to review the whole team
2. In case you missed it, Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham took questions from reporters yesterday during a teleconference call on Monday. Grantham will, of course, be going against his former team and defensive players when the Cardinals face Georgia in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 30.
Louisville’s defense had a great season under the first year of Grantham’s direction, finishing sixth in NCAA in total defense (293.3), third against the run (93.7) and fourth in third downs (.282).
Grantham said he hasn’t had a chance to take a close look at Georgia’s defense under his replacement, Jeremy Pruitt.
“I didn’t have a chance to watch them during the year,” Grantham said. “We were usually playing on Saturdays. During the off weeks, my kids had volleyball games and football games and that kind of took up my time.”
But Grantham acknowledged he has kept up with his former charges and how they’re doing under Pruitt.
“I know Jeremy through working for Nick Saban and his one year at Florida State,” Grantham said. “He’s done a very good job. He’s a very good coach with what he’s trying to do. But I haven’t really had a chance to watch them on tape and see what they’re doing. But I know that staff is doing a really good job and I’m sure they’re looking forward to playing the game also.”
3. The Cardinals also tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions with 25. And there’s one big reason why – Gerod Holliman.
The redshirt sophomore safety tied the NCAA single-season record with 14 picks this season. He grabbed at least one interception in nine of Louisville’s 12 games and accumulated 245 in return yards with one touchdown.
Not surprisingly, Holliman was named an All-American and won the Thorpe Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive back this past weekend in Orlando.
“I’m really proud of Gerod,” Grantham said. “Spring practice is a time of evaluation and he probably did the best job of anyone taking the things we asked him to improve upon to heart and became a really good player for us. … He really prepares and studies.”
Of course, Holliman could establish a new NCAA single-season mark with an interception against Georgia. In the meantime, he announced this past Sunday that he intends to enter the NFL draft after this season.
4. Georgia senior offensive lineman Kolton Houston was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA this past Friday, UGA confirmed. That’s particularly good news for the Bulldogs’ offense, which will now return four starters for next season.
The 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle from Buford was ineligible for the first three years of his career after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid as an early enrollee in 2010. Houston appealed that ruling on the basis of his claim that a doctor administered an injection into fatty tissue following should surgery when he was in high school and the steroid would not dissipate.
But the NCAA did not relent until Houston finally had his eligibility restored shortly before the 2013 season. That was only because the steroid had finally reduced to what the NCAA deemed was an acceptable threshold.
Houston started all 12 games at right tackle for the Bulldogs this season. He will graduate on Friday with a degree in management.
He could have moved on and given the NFL a shot. But he has said all along he wanted another season with the Bulldogs if the NCAA would grant it.
“I’m extremely blessed to wear this jersey for one more year,” Houston said from his Twitter account.
5. Houston and fellow offensive stars Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Hutson Mason will be among 33 student-athletes who will receive their undergraduate or graduate degrees from UGA on Friday during fall commencement at Stegeman Coliseum. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the graduate ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Among the Bulldogs receiving their diplomas are 12 representatives from football, six from both swimming & diving and track & field, four from equestrian, two from soccer, and one student-athlete each from baseball, men’s golf and women’s tennis.
Other football players earning their degrees Friday include offensive lineman Mark Beard, punter/kicker Adam Erickson, former linemen Austin Long and Seth Watts, fullback Taylor Maxey and noseguard Mike Thornton and Houston.
6. Speaking of seniors, the Bulldogs held their annual Senior Gala (or postseason awards banquet) this past Saturday at the Classic Center in downtown Athens. Center David Andrews, linebacker Amarlo Herrera, defensive back Damian Swann, linebacker Kosta Vavlas, Mason and took home the top awards.
Andrews was named the Vince Dooley Most Valuable Player, and was designated the team’s overall permanent captain for 2014. Mason was elected the team’s offensive captain; Herrera, Swann and Thornton were chosen as the defensive captains; Valvas was named the special teams captain. Mason was also named winner of the David Jacobs Award as the player who, by example, portrayed courage, spirit, character and determination.
Other players receiving awards included Gurley (most valuable offensive player), sophomore outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (most valuable defensive player), Vavlas (most valuable special teams player) and senior receiver Chris Conley (strength and conditioning).
Most improved awards went to sophomore guard Greg Pyke, senior defensive end Ray Drew, junior outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, sophomore inside linebacker Tim Kimbrough, senior free safety Lucas Redd, sophomore inside linebacker Ryne Rankin, and sophomore split end Kenneth Towns of Albany.
Newcomer of the year awards winners went to tight end Jeb Blazevich, defensive back Dominick Sanders, wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, Carter and Chubb. The Charley Trippi Most Versatile Awards were presented to junior fullback Quayvon Hicks and senior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson, while the Frank Sinkwich Toughness Awards were presented to Andrews and Thornton. Junior split end Malcolm Mitchell of Valdosta was named Comeback Player of the Year, and Vavlas was presented with the Senior Scholar Award.
7. James Eunice has listed on Georgia’s official roster in its media guide since 2011. And this past Saturday, he was honored just like the Bulldogs’ other 27 seniors.
Eunice, a wide receiver from Valdosta, was invited to walk on at UGA for the 2011 season. But he drowned in a boating accident before he had a chance to report to school with the rest of the incoming freshmen.
Nevertheless, Georgia coach Mark Richt directed that Eunice be listed on the official roster for the entire four years that he would have been at UGA and that his family be treated like other player families. That culminated this past Saturday at UGA’s Senior Gala.
After the Bulldogs’ 27 seniors were introduced and honored on stage at the Classic Center, the Eunice family was called up and presented with a plaque of all the seniors’ names – including Eunice’s – and a framed No. 23 jersey.
8. The NCAA will finally hand down a ruling in its case against UGA and swimming and diving coach Jack Bauerle. The news is scheduled to be released during a news conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
Bauerle, who has coached the Bulldogs to six national championships over 35 seasons, is alleged to have committed a Level I breach of coaching conduct by providing an extra benefit of an academic nature to a star swimmer. Bauerle remains Georgia’s coach but has been suspended indefinitely by UGA since it began its investigation in January.
9. Georgia hired a new chief financial officer on Dec. 3. Andy Platt, previously of Rice University, was named senior associate athletic director. He replaces Frank Crumley, who resigned in September after his affair with a subordinate was exposed.
10. This & that: Former Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor is reportedly being recruited by Alabama, among other SEC schools. The 6-foot-4, 336-pound sophomore was dismissed by the Bulldogs this past summer after his arrest on felony domestic violence charges. That case has yet to be adjudicated. … Georgia also got a commitment recently from an All-American kicker. However, Sprayberry’s Rodrigo Blakenship reportedly will start at UGA as an invited walkon before moving onto scholarship following Marshall Morgan’s graduation after next season.