Ten@10: SEC football is right around corner

Football season for those of us who cover the SEC begins in two weeks in Birmingham at SEC Football Media Days. (Photo by AL.com)

Football season for those of us who cover the SEC begins in two weeks in Birmingham at SEC Football Media Days. (Photo by AL.com)

THE TEN AT 10:

1. We’re less than two weeks from college football.

OK, the actual practices won’t begin until Aug. 1. But we all know that the season actually begins when everybody starts talking football at SEC Football Media Days in Birmingham. This year that starts earlier than ever – July 13.

As per usual, you’ll have to wait a while before hearing from coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs. They’re not due up until the final day on Thursday, July 16, and then will be the next-to-the-last of the 14 teams on the podium.

Here’s what the itinerary looks like: July 13 — Commissioner Greg Sankey, Auburn – Gus Malzahn, Florida – Jim McElwain, Vanderbilt – Derek Mason; July 14 — SEC Coordinator of Football Officials – Steve Shaw, South Carolina – Steve Spurrier, Texas A&M – Kevin Sumlin, Miss. State – Dan Mullen, Tennessee – Butch Jones; July 15 — Alabama – Nick Saban, Kentucky – Mark Stoops, Arkansas – Bret Bielema, Missouri – Gary Pinkel; July 16 — LSU – Les Miles, Richt, Ole Miss – Hugh Freeze.

Nick Chubb breaks loose for yet another score against Louisville in the Belk Bowl last December. Turns out he knows what to do with a basketball as well. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

Nick Chubb breaks loose for yet another score against Louisville in the Belk Bowl last December. Turns out he knows what to do with a basketball as well. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

2. Hope you got to catch Seth Emerson’s coverage of the Bulldogs’ visit to “Camp Sunshine” last week. It was Georgia’s second trip down to Rutledge and Camp Twin Lakes to spend the afternoon playing with seriously-ill children.

But what seems to have captivated the attention of the Bulldog Nation is another one of Nick Chubb’s athletic feats. The star tailback, generously listed at 5-foot-10 in the media guide, was captured dunking the basketball during playtime in the gymnasium there. Naturally, a vine of that dunk has gone viral online.

The legend grows.

3. I was really surprised to hear Monday that the contract of track coach Wayne Norton was not being renewed. I just profiled Norton for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution back in March as he had the women’s team on the brink of a possible national championship. As it was, the Lady Bulldogs finished fifth for the second straight year, while the men slipped to 15th.

As it is, Athletic Director Greg McGarity intimated that Georgia would not be long in appointing a successor. In the meantime, the school currently employs two of the most successful assistant coaches in the game in associate head coach Petros Kyprianou (multis, jumps) and throws coach Don Babbitt. Both have been tabbed the national track assistant of the year. Both will be considered as successor.

 4. Bubba Watson won $1.15 million and Brian Harman won a chance to play in the British Open as Georgia once again was well represented at a PGA Tour event this past weekend.

Seven Bulldogs teed it up in the Traveler’s Championship in Cromwell, Conn. Watson made an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to outlast Paul Casey to win this event a second time. He shot 67 in the final round for a 16-under total for the tournament.

Brian Harman (l) and Bubba Watson did not play together at Georgia, but they played together the last two days of the Traveler's Championship in Connecticut this past weekend. And they'll both be at the British Open. (AP photo)

Brian Harman (l) and Bubba Watson did not play together at Georgia, but they played together the last two days of the Traveler’s Championship in Connecticut this past weekend. And they’ll both be at the British Open. (AP photo)

Watson had a chance to win in regulation but bogeyed the 17th hole while Casey had wiped out Watson’s three-stroke lead with five holes to play.

“I hung on, and that’s what you have to do sometimes to win,” Watson said. “It’s just about staying calm. That’s what you have to do, you just breathe and walk slower, take some deep breaths and focus on the fact that no matter what you still come in second place.

Harman birdied his last two holes to finish third, one stroke out of the playoff at 15-under. The finish assured him of a spot in the British Open.

“I’ve been thinking about that tournament for a long time and really trying to look at a way to get in there,” Harman said. “This one burns a little bit, but that definitely helps the sting.”

Brendon Todd was 15th at 9-under and Harris English was 25th at 7-under. Rising senior Lee McCoy, Hudson Swafford and Erik Compton missed the cut.

5. Speaking of the British Open, UGA will be well represented there as well. Six Bulldogs are scheduled to tee it up at St. Andrews: Harman, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Todd and Watson. The Bulldogs had eight in the U.S. Open, but only Kirk and Kisner made the cut.

Compton, Henley, Kisner, Swafford, Todd and Watson will all be in action this week in The Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, Michael Cromie had his best finish on the eGolf Gateway Tour as finished second in the Mimosa Hills Open in North Carolina. He has made cuts in four of his last five events.

Heath Holder shows off a keepsake from the no-hitter he pitched for the Lexington Blowfish last week in South Carolina. (Special photo)

Heath Holder shows off a keepsake from the no-hitter he pitched for the Lexington Blowfish last week in South Carolina. (Special photo)

6.  Georgia senior Heath Holder pitched a no-hitter for the Lexington County Blowfish during “Bark in the Park Night” last week.

Holder struck out seven and walked four in a 1-0 win over the Florence Red Wolves in front of 1,114 at Lexington County Baseball Stadium in South Carolina. It was the first no-hitter of the 2015 Coastal Plain Summer League season, and the first-ever at Lexington County Baseball Stadium. Here’s A LINK to a postgame interview.

Holder, a 6-4, 203-pound native of Loganville, Ga., missed the 2015 Bulldog season while recovering from elbow surgery. He will be a redshirt senior in 2016. This summer, he is 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA in five starts. In 27 innings, Holder has registered 25 strikeouts and 13 walks. The Blowfish improved to 13-12 while the Red Wolves dropped to 15-9. Holder’s no-hitter was just the second in Blowfish history.

7. The Next Generation series on incoming Georgia freshmen continued this past week with a look at defensive tackle Trent Thompson. The 6-4, 311-pound defensive tackle from Albany is expected to compete for playing time this fall.

Remember, there’s a main story, two sidebars, a photo gallery, a video and a blog for each of these Next Generation packages. So be sure to check out all of them.

Next in the series is a profile of defensive back Juwuan Briscoe of Waldorf, Md. Briscoe was named the defensive player of the year in Maryland this past season and will enter the Bulldogs’ competition at cornerback next month.

8. Georgia rising seniors Austin Smith and Ben Wagland will compete in the inaugural Oracle/ITA Masters this fall, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Monday.

The Oracle/ITA Masters is the first national collegiate championship of the 2015-16 season and will be held at the Malibu Club in Malibu, Calif., Sept. 18-20. It will feature 16 men’s and women’s singles players and eight doubles teams for each gender.

The ITA announced its selections for 14 singles spots and two doubles teams for each gender, with two wild card selections and six at-large doubles bids forthcoming. Singles champions will earn automatic bids to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship.

Smith and Wagland were selected along with Luca Corinteli and Ryan Shane of Virginia. The Bulldog tandem finished the 2014-15 season with an 18-4 record, including a 16-3 mark against ranked opponents.

UGA featured twirler Nicole Jensen has been rewarded for playing with fire. She was recently named Miss College Majorette of America. (Special photo)

UGA featured twirler Nicole Jensen has been rewarded for playing with fire. She was recently named Miss College Majorette of America. (Special photo)

9. Nicole Jensen, a senior marketing major from Iowa City, Iowa, and the UGA Redcoat Band’s featured twirler, recently won the national championship of twirling when she was named Miss College Majorette of America. Georgia’s featured twirler for the last four years, Jensen has been touring the country this summer and performing at events and competitions as the top collegiate twirler.

Jensen, who juggles four batons at a time and tosses flaming batons high in the air, has been twirling since she was 5 and has been competing nationally and internationally since she was a teen-ager. She was a silver medalist on the USA World Team and has won numerous awards and titles, including collegiate Women’s Solo National Champion in 2012.

Congratulations to Miss Jensen.

10. This & that: Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox reports that Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker are back in action after recovering from injuries and provides other updates after speaking with reporters on a teleconference call on Monday. … Georgia swimming will be represented this week by five women and men in the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, Korea. Rising senior Hali Flickinger, rising sophomore Jay Litherland and former swimmers Maddie Locus and Shannon Vreeland will compete for the United States, while associate head coach Harvey Humphries will serve as an assistant for the women’s squad. The swimming competition will begin on Friday at 6 a.m. EST (7 p.m. in Korea) and will run through July 9. Television coverage will be presented by ESPN3. A swimming recap will air July 16 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. … Georgia freshman Keturah Orji finished third in the triple jump at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., over the weekend.  Orji won the collegiate national championship earlier this month. … Six UGA volleyball matches will be televised this fall, according to an announcement by the SEC Network last week.


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