Daily Archives: February 3, 2022

Coaching news

You may have forgotten in the wake of the Bobo and McClendon news that Smart still has one staff position to fill.  It appears he’s found his man.

Deets about Uzo-Diribe:

Almost eight weeks after the departure of Dan Lanning to become the head coach at Oregon, Kirby Smart has zeroed in on its top target for his replacement. Dawgs247 has confirmed that TCU defensive line coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe is the top target to join Georgia’s staff as outside linebackers coach and, at this time, is likely to accept the position. On3’s Matt Zenitz was the first to report the news.

Uzo-Diribe followed Sonny Dykes from SMU to TCU last November. Before that, he spent two seasons as the outside linebackers coach at Kansas. Uzo-Diribe was promoted to outside linebackers coach by Jayhawks head coach Les Miles in January 2020, after serving as quality control working with the Kansas defense during the 2019 season. Prior to joining the KU staff, Uzo-Diribe spent three years as a defensive graduate assistant working with the outside linebackers and defensive line from 2016-18 at the University of Colorado.

The Long Beach, Calif. native was a four-year letterman at defensive end for the Buffaloes, and graduated from Colorado in December 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. During his career he made 20 sacks, 31 tackles for loss, and 10 forced fumbles.

Of course, since this is a Kirby Smart hire, what you really want to know is this:

Uzo-Diribe was the main recruiter for KU signees D’Marion Alexander(Texas native), Andrew Simpson (California native) and Trey Staley (Georgia native). He also played a sizable role in KU signing three-star 2020 signees Clinton Anokwuru (Texas native) and Alonso Person (California native). He’s the lead recruiter on 2022 commit Caldra Williford(California native). A self-described “chameleon” on the recruiting trail, Uzo-Diribe said he has the ability to recruit all over.

“I call myself a chameleon,” Uzo-Diribe told Phog.net back at National Signing Day 2020. “I feel comfortable almost anywhere. California, where I have strong ties, I’m definitely going to be out that way. St. Louis, Kansas City, Texas, wherever talent it and guys are, I’m going to find myself there.”

A member of the 247Sports 30-Under-30 list in 2020, 247Sports wrote of Uzo-Diribe:

“Uzo-Diribe impressed Les Miles enough in one season as a quality control coach that Miles elevated him to a full-time assistant this offseason,” 247Sports’ Chris Hummer wrote. “That move is already paying dividends as Uzo-Diribe has emerged as an impact recruiter, landing players from California, Texas and Georgia, including two of the eight-highest ranked recruits in the Jayhawks’ 2021 class.

If you can talk a kid from Brookwood into playing at Kansas, I’d say you can recruit a little.

**************************************************************************

UPDATE:  And, for what it’s worth…

9 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in stick to sports

Here’s the text of the resolution:

Congratulating the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team for winning the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association College Football Playoff National Championship.

Whereas the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team (referred to in this preamble as the “Georgia Bulldogs”) went 14–1 during the 2021 college football season and won the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association College Football Playoff National Championship (referred to in this preamble as the “2022 National Championship”), defeating the University of Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 33 to 18 at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on January 10, 2022;

Whereas this victory marks the first college football national championship for the University of Georgia since the 1980 college football season and its third national championship overall;

Whereas the 2022 National Championship was the 59th football bowl appearance and the 34th football bowl victory for the University of Georgia;

Whereas the 2021–2022 Georgia Bulldogs achieved a 14–1 overall record for the season, the most single-season wins in the history of the University of Georgia football program;

Whereas the 2021–2022 defensive unit for the Georgia Bulldogs allowed on average only 10.2 points and 153 opposing yards per game, making it one of the most dominant defensive units in the history of college football;

Whereas the 2021–2022 Georgia Bulldogs overcame a loss in the Southeastern Conference Championship to the University of Alabama on December 4, 2021, achieving a historic victory over the University of Alabama in the 2022 National Championship;

Whereas Georgia Bulldogs quarterback and Blackshear, Georgia, native Stetson Bennett IV, a former walk-on player and junior college transfer, demonstrated tremendous leadership and skill throughout the 2021 college football season, and was named the 2022 National Championship Offensive Player of the Game;

Whereas Georgia Bulldogs defensive back, Lewis Cine, was named the 2022 National Championship Defensive Player of the Game;

Whereas the University of Georgia head football coach, Kirby Smart, a University of Georgia alumnus and former Georgia Bulldogs defensive back, has now led his team to 5 consecutive Associated Press Top 10 finishes and the first national championship since the end of the 1980 college football season;

Whereas this victory extends the record of Coach Smart to 66 wins and 15 losses during his tenure as the 26th Football Head Coach at the University of Georgia, his first stint as a head coach;

Whereas members of the 2021–2022 Georgia Bulldogs have been honored by various awards throughout the 2021 college football season and during the post-season, including the 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award and Outland Trophy winner, Jordan Davis, and the 37th Dick Butkus Award winner, Nakobe Dean;

Whereas President Jere Morehead, Athletic Director Josh Brooks, and Coach Kirby Smart have emphasized the importance of academic success to the Georgia Bulldogs and all student-athletes at the University of Georgia; and

Whereas the 2021–2022 Georgia Bulldogs have brought great pride and honor to the University of Georgia, loyal fans of the Georgia Bulldogs, and the entire State of Georgia: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) congratulates the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team for a great season and winning the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association College Football Playoff National Championship game;

Nicely done, Senators.  Certainly beats Corrine Brown’s work.

95 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Political Wankery

2022 signing classes, SEC edition

To call what just wrapped up for the conference as a whole dominant might be doing the word a disservice.  Per the 247Sports Composite, the SEC had the top three schools, seven of the top sixteen and nine of the top twenty.  The lowest ranked team, Vanderbilt, finished 31st.  (For context, Georgia Tech, the eighth-best ranked team in the ACC, finished 53rd overall.)

When Vandy recruits better than 100 other D-1 teams, that, my friends, is a crazy reflection on the SEC’s recruiting success — particularly when you consider how much shade was being thrown in certain directions, like Auburn’s and Florida’s, about how weak their classes were shaping up to be.

By the way, speaking of Florida’s class, you may prefer ESPN’s recruiting rankings for some reason:

Like I said, for some reason.  But I digress.

If the trees story is the conference’s dominance, the forest story may be how the intraconference rankings shook out this year, compared to years past.  It’s pretty interesting, as this series of tweets shows.

Missouri wound up 14th, but you get the drift.

Kentucky finished 13th, but the same drift is there, too.

Not everyone can be a winner, though.

The Gators slipping is understandable.  So is LSU’s drop.  Tennessee, on the other hand, not so much.  And what has to be troubling for all three is how their key rivals didn’t slip at all.  In fact, in the East, if what UK and Mizzou pulled off is the start of a new trend line for both, that’s really not good news for Florida or the Vols.  (Not to mention what might become of Vandy, if top-35 rankings are consistently in its future.)

One other story in the West, and probably a good reason why it’s a tough neighborhood outside of Alabama, is the consistency being shown by the division’s lower half.

Sure, you don’t want to read too much into one class, but it’s worth keeping an eye on whether the 2022 results are a harbinger of something new.

By the way, say what you will about Jimbo’s retro offense or his handling of quarterbacks, if there’s one thing a Georgia fan should appreciate, it’s that recruiting like a sumbitch eventually pays off.  If TAMU can recreate the same level of success in 2023, look out.

Your thoughts?

23 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

Georgia’s NSD

Some random observations:

  • In retrospect, perhaps the most remarkable thing about yesterday was how unremarkable it turned out to be.  As ESPN put it, Georgia started the day with the No. 3 class and only a few spots remaining to finish out the cycle and finished out the day with the No. 3 class.  The consistency of Smart’s recruiting — and when a top three class turns out to be almost a ho hum moment for the program, that’s consistency — should be recognized as astounding.
  • It wasn’t really just another top three class, though.  As Seth Emerson pointed out ($$), “the score for Georgia’s class on the 247Sports Composite was 316.72, which is actually better than the score for Georgia’s No. 1-ranked class in 2020, the No. 2 class in 2019, and behind only the No. 1 class it had in 2018.”
  • Like that 2019 group, the strength of this one lies on the defensive side, per Seth:  “Eight players in Georgia’s class rank in the top 50 overall nationally. Seven of them are on defense.”
  • This is the first class where NIL was a big factor.  Just ask Mr. Smart“You used to sell championships and facilities and certainly development, but now development has taken a step back, which it shouldn’t,” Smart said. “Academics and what we can do for you in life after football are on the back burner to the NIL for a lot of people. You explain to kids that we can’t set up NIL deals and can’t promise that, but what people are doing is validating their NIL by showing what their current roster makes.”  When NIL has a bigger impact on recruits than does winning a national championship, you know you’re in a different era.  And yet, it didn’t slow Smart down.  That, too, is impressive.
  • One other thing Smart said about NIL stuck with me:  “… I am not of the opinion that kids should be making decisions based on that. You’re probably recruiting the wrong guy if that is all they are making their decision based on. So, I think a lot of colleges are having to look inside out at who they recruit and why they recruit them. Ten percent of these kids we are all going to recruit. It’s the next group that you better be careful who you are recruiting because they are going to make up the majority of your roster.”  When it comes to the level of players just below the elite, he’s not just evaluating talent; he’s judging whether they have the makeup to stick.  That’s more complicated than you might think.  Sure, Smart has the luxury of bringing in a high level of talent with each signing class, but it does add another element to roster management in that he’s no longer just looking at the NFL draft as a financial alternative for his best players.  Now his next level talent may have a financial opportunity to move on that didn’t exist a couple of years ago.
  • Finally, there is an outside possibility that the 2022 class isn’t quite finished yet.

25 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Dreaming red and black

As much as I have disdain for those who obsess over every twist and turn in the recruiting process — gee, it’s hard to believe how some 17-year old high school athletes react to attention, ain’t it? — I do love a good story about an under the radar kid who suddenly emerges at just the right time.

Like Andrew Paul, for example.  Just ask his new head coach.

Andrew Paul is a guy we found out about and discovered. Dell [McGee] did a tremendous job covering the country, looking for the best backs we could possibly bring into the University of Georgia. Anytime you go across the state of Texas, there’s a ton of really good football players – there’s really good high school football in Texas. Dell reached out to me and sent me his Hudl link. I got to watch him and I really liked him. Dell knew the kid and the family. He’s a 210 pound back, and he’s got a great demeanor about him. He loves working out in the weight room, just tremendous background checks where he’s played, and the people he’s played for have a lot of amount of respect for him. Getting to see him play, spending time around him on the actual visit, it validated that. He comes from a military background family which fits a criteria for us in terms of discipline and being made of the right things. Once we checked out all that, it became “was he good enough?”. And we loved him. We think he’s a really good football player with great academics. He won a state championship in high school. If you look at these guys who joined us today, almost every one of them won a state championship in high school which is another indicator of success and winning coming from good teams which is great value for us.”

In this case, there’s a little more to the story, almost Dawg porny, according to The Athletic’s Ari Wasserman ($$).

Stars matter. If there were a manual to how college football works, that would be printed and underlined on the first page. The teams with the most talent win the most. Ask, well, Georgia.

But there is a macro vs. micro discussion. On a macro level, the programs that have accumulated the most blue-chip prospects are the teams who win national titles every year. But on a micro level, there are plenty of individual prospects who have more talent than their recruiting profiles indicate.

That’s what Paul is. He is rated the No. 534 overall player and the No. 42 running back in the 247Sports Composite. A month ago, his overall ranking was No. 1,211. But his recruitment, which ballooned with offers from more than 10 top-level programs in December and after the early signing period, is proof that he was a misevaluated asset.

Georgia didn’t offer until Jan. 23 but still got him. And that’s why the Bulldogs are one of the kings of recruiting.

Then again, it may just be a case of having Paul at the moment when Kirby said hello.

“It’s Georgia. It’s ‘RBU.’ Yes, Georgia came late in the game, but it has always been my dream school,” Paul said. “You want to be coached by the best and they have the best defense, you definitely want to be playing against the best. I like to work hard. I am going to be grinding throughout the offseason. I don’t want anything to be given to me. At Georgia, that’s the place I can go and work along some of the best players in the country. Spots opened up, God gave me the opportunity and I just took it.”

Paul had a life-sized Fathead of Todd Gurley III on his wall.

Gotta love it.

24 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Numbers game

I know you’ve got the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Nick, but this seems like an unnecessary backhand to the kid who just took the national title trophy out of your hands by outplaying said Heisman winner when it counted:

Then again, I’m good with ‘Bama having the stats in ’22 if everything else winds up in the same place when the dust settles at season’s end.

37 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football

Kirby and “fit”

Kirby addressed the return of Bobo and McClendon in yesterday’s presser.

On Brian McClendon’s return to Georgia…
“I have a tremendous amount of respect Brian and the job he’s done. I’ve always respected him on the road recruiting. Had a lot of years at Alabama where I recruited against him in the state of Georgia. Coached him as a player here. In terms of the ways he carried himself, he’s a special team, a leader. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s worked for people on our staff and he’s worked with people on our staff. I’m big on ‘fit’. Does someone fit the culture we are trying to create? We don’t look at a lot of things that people on the outside world look at. I look at, can the make our staff better, can they make our players better, do they fit our culture. He checked the box, was the best fit, and wants to be here. That’s important to me and what we create at Georgia.”

On Mike Bobo’s return to Georgia…
“There is a lot of value in the experiences he’s had. He’s been a head coach. He’s been an offensive coordinator in our conference. He knows our conference. The five hour radius we recruit in, he’s extremely versed. He has a ton of relationship value. As far as his role, that’ll play out as we go along.

Always, always be recruiting.

Although I am a bit curious about that cryptic “that’ll play out as we go along” final note on Bobo…

12 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

A couple of notes from the Senior Bowl

Anthony Dasher shares a couple of good stories.  First, there’s one about Nakobe Dean, destroyer of offenses:

Although his Michigan team was on the wrong end of a 34-11 loss to Georgia in the Orange Bowl, Stueber was effusive in his praise of the Bulldog defense.

While he gave compliments to the entire group, one guy stood out: linebacker Nakobe Dean.

“Nakobe Dean is a great player,” Stueber said, unsolicited. “He’s one of the fastest linebackers I’ve ever seen on the field.

Stueber said Dean’s speed alone helped convince Wolverine offensive coaches one of their staple plays was not going to work, and they didn’t run it again after seeing the Bulldog junior completely blow it up early in the game.

“We always love the little quick, flick-pass out, just something to get the ball out, and I remember we tried that one time,” Stueber said. “I was blocking the run when we threw it outside and I just remember looking back and seeing the backside linebacker (Dean) flying by and making the tackle two yards up-field. I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever seen that play made. It was really impressive to see.”

You know you’re a game wrecker when they throw out the playbook because of you.

Almost as good is this one from former Dawg Jermaine Johnson, who apparently made his FSU teammates sick of hearing about his old team.

When asked about Georgia and it’s run to the national championship, Johnson beamed.

“I think they (his teammates at Florida State) were probably more annoyed with how much I talked about it,” Johnson said. “Like I said, I’ll always be a Bulldog and I’ll be forever grateful with what UGA did for me and blessed me with the opportunity to play.”

The Minnesota native, who is rooming at the Senior Bowl with Channing Tindall, said he spoke to his former teammates often throughout the course of the year.

“I talked to my brothers pretty much all the time this past season,” Johnson said. “I was part of them, so I know how they practiced, the intensity which everything is, the standard Coach Smart and the rest of the coaches hold everyone to.”

Johnson said he told his Seminole teammates he was not worried after the Bulldogs were beaten by Alabama in the SEC Championship.

“After that first loss, I knew they’d be just fine. I was telling everyone Georgia is going to win this next matchup, and they were like, alright,” Johnson said. “It was great to see them make that run, especially after a loss to come back and beat the same team that beat them. I’m not surprised that’s the kind of resilience they have. That’s the kind of resilience a program like Georgia instills in its players.”

You can take the Dawg out of Athens…

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Filed under Georgia Football

Best thing since sliced bread

Texas A&M finished off yesterday with not just the best signing class of 2022, but the best signing class of all time, according to the 247Sports Composite.  And, yet, Jimbo Fisher felt the need while taking a victory lap to rail against accusations that Texas A&M boosters have a $30 million fund for NIL deals once their signees enroll.

First, he goes all “email compliance@olemiss.edu” here:

He was just getting started, though.  At his presser, he called out some of his fellow coaches as clowns.

I presume this is one example (at least I hope it is):

Texas A&M, which added five-star defensive lineman Shemar Stewart out of Opa Locka, Florida, on Wednesday, ended an 11-year run of either Alabama or Georgia finishing with the No. 1 signing class. Saban’s Crimson Tide and Smart’s Bulldogs did finish second and third in this year’s cycle, and Saban was asked Wednesday about the NIL’s impact.

“I would hope we would come up with some system in the future where — I’m not accusing anybody of anything, but I don’t think the players should make decisions about where they go to school relative to how much money they’re going to make in name, image and likeness,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t get to the point where name, image and likeness deals are created for high school players to get them to go to a particular institution.

“Then you would open up a whole new can of worms when it comes to recruiting.”

I tell you what:  this year’s SEC Media Days are gonna be effing lit.  (I can already hear Junior now.)

Honestly, I don’t get it.  Were I Jimbo, I’d just own it.  Smirk a little, be enigmatic, and hint that there’s plenty more of that at TAMU to come for the classes of ’23, ’24, etc.  Instead, he comes off like the kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  I mean, whining about some anonymous dude on the Internet?  With NIL being legit, it kind of makes me wonder what else may be going on there.

71 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, SEC Football

Light on his feet

I see this got a mention in yesterday’s comments, but it’s too good not to make it into a post.

Shot.

Chaser.

If Dancing With The Stars doesn’t pick these two up for a season together, it’ll be missing a real opportunity.

27 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting, SEC Football