Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Signing Day Press Conference


Coach Mark Richt and assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner addressed the media on National Signing Day. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt:

Opening Statement

I'm just going to echo some of the things Rodney (Garner) already said. An awful lot of work did go into this class, and it takes a lot of great people. I think a lot of media will talk about the position coaches, the assistant coaches and the head coaches that are doing the recruiting, but there is so much more to it with our recruiting staff in general all of our secretaries, all the student help we have and we have professors all over this campus who have taken their time, either on game days or official visit weekends. Our academic people have been on board with us. Anytime a young man throughout the summer wants to come in, whether its during the week or on a Saturday or Sunday, someone from our academic staff is ready to standby and come in and talk about the University of Georgia - the university that we all love. There are so many people that have helped us, and I'm just so thankful for that.

We also have a very handsome young man over here, Jakar Hamilton, and his family is right here too. It's just wonderful to have him here. He'll be available for any comments too. He's one of two mid-year enrollees that are in town. Kolton Houston is actually at his high school kind of enjoying the recruiting day with some of his teammates from Buford High School, so Kolton is here on campus too. The rest are on the way, and as Coach Garner said, were very, very excited about these young men that have chosen Georgia.

On assistant coaches Scott Lakatos and Todd Grantham:

There really wasn't a lot of time left in the recruiting period when we brought Todd and Scott in. As soon as we could get them out on the road we got them out on the road. Coach Grantham did a great job of passing the test on the first time around. That NCAA test isn't an easy thing to pass, especially if you have been out of it for quite some time. When you're in it year after year after year it's not so bad, but to kind of jump in cold turkey, the first night he got in we had him taking the test. I want to thank (UGA Compliance Director) Eric Baumgartner for showing up not in the middle of the night, but at nighttime to administer the test and get Coach Grantham to the point where he could get on the road and do it. I'll say that one thing I really love about these two men is they really understand what they want and what they are looking for. They are tremendous evaluators and they are the right kind of people. That always has to be a big part of the hiring process. I have to feel comfortable that they are the right kind of men to guide these players of ours, so we are very excited about them being here. There's a great buzz and a great excitement around our Butts-Mehre building with our coaches, staff and players realizing there is going to be some change and everybody is excited about showing what they can do.

On the challenges of closing out the recruiting season following the coaching changes:

Recruiting is a lot about relationships. Anytime there is some kind of change on your staff for whatever reason, the relationships that have been built throughout this recruiting process were broken. I think the timing of the hire taking as long as it did, it did put a strain on these young men that we had committed. We know that some guys changed their mind. I think it drives the point home even moreso that it is very much about relationships. It does make a big difference to these young men who they've been talking with and getting to know. I know young men love Georgia and love other universities they go to, but it is a lot about people. That was a challenge and not everybody stuck to their commitment, but it was the fact that the relationships were different.

On an early signing period:

I would be for an early signing date if there was a stipulation that all of the early signees would not take official visits until after they signed with the school they knew they wanted to go to. If you had the early signing date somewhere in November as some people have suggested, then the whole recruiting calendar gets moved up. Before you know it every single weekend is a large recruiting weekend, official visit weekend. You are trying to coach a team and you are trying to recruit; its just very, very difficult to do. I think people would be pushing for legislation to have official visits in the summer. I really think we need to keep as much sanity in this thing as we can for the college coaches, the high school coaches and the players themselves and the families.

On how coaching changes impact players decisions:

Anything and everything that another school can use to create some doubt in a young mans mind, thats what they'll do. So, we were certainly dealing with that. Also, starting out in a 4-3 in the recruiting of this class and changing to a 3-4 [system]. When you hear 3-4 compared to 4-3, it causes some curiosity and maybe even some concern, but again I think most of that concern has a lot of to do with everybody trying to create doubt. We're very confident and trying to do the right thing. We're also confident in that a lot of NFL teams and college teams are moving toward this trend, so were moving to the front end of this trend.

On the issue of depth at the wide receiver position:

Depth is definitely an issue at receiver. I would say we don't have, at this moment, a good number that I feel comfortable having and that's always give or take one or two. One thing Im excited about and confident in is our tight end position. What you're looking for in offensive football is a chance to have some mismatches, whether it be at receiver, tight end, running back, whatever it may be. That's what you're always looking for were blessed with four outstanding tight ends. We certainly have playmakers and good solid depth with guys that can really play that position. I think that takes a little of the burden off the wide receiving corps. That's not to say we won't continue to play three-receiver sets. We're not going to quit doing that by any means. Usually during the season you're probably going to play around six or seven [receivers] and that's what we have right now, so everybody's going to get their share. We need to stay healthy at that position.

On the health of Kris Durham:

He will be [100-percent] by the time we're playing. I don't think he has any limitations right now he's doing his offseason program full speed, actually running routs and catching balls. He was doing that during the later end of the season and certainly at the bowl practice, so he'll have no limitations throughout spring ball.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dawgs Beat South Carolina


The Dawgs overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to take the lead with 1:09 to play, and held on for a 66-61 win over South Carolina Saturday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.

South Carolina had led by double digits, 52-42, with 9:12 to play in the second half before the Dawgs kicked off the comeback and relied on clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch to put away the Gamecocks. The win pushes the Dawgs to 11-12 (3-7 SEC) while USC falls to 14-10 (5-5). The Dawgs were also able to avenge a heartbreaking 778-77 loss to South Carolina on the road Jan. 30 as the series between the conference rivals is now even at 47 apiece.

The Dawgs saw a balanced offensive performance as Trey Thompkins led the way with 21 points and was followed by Jeremy Price’s 16 and Travis Leslie’s 15. Thompkins paired that with 10 boards for his sixth double-double effort of the season.

South Carolina’s Devan Downey and Brandis Raley-Ross each tallied 18 for the visitors.

“This is a terrific win for our players,” said head coach Mark Fox. “We beat a very good basketball team. We beat a team that is very well-coached and understands how to play together so we had to play our tails off to do that. I’m very pleased to leave here with a win.”

“What is pleasing to me is that deep down inside we still had some fight in us,” Fox said of the comeback. “We kept clawing away and had some shots go in and all of a sudden that determination deep inside started to show. When your team can respond to some adversity late in the game, in a game that wasn’t the prettiest, it pleases you. I was really proud of them for that.”

The Gamecocks’ largest lead in the first half had been seven, 17-10, with 11:39 on the clock. But the Dawgs took back the lead at 21-19 with 4:47 left, and extended their own first-half edge to as many as five in the opener before a three-pointer for Downey over two Dawg defenders knotted it at 31 at the buzzer.

Having stared down the 10-point South Carolina lead in the second, the Dawgs cut the deficit to four, 54-50, when Thompkins stepped up for a three from the top of the key with 4:56 to go.

A 7-0 run Dawg run over two minutes gave the Dawgs the one-point lead with 1:09 on the clock on a pair of Price free throws. Raley-Ross was off the mark on a three attempt at the other end and Thompkins corralled the rebound to give it back to the Dawgs

Raley-Ross was then whistled for a foul to send Leslie to the line with 34 ticks remaining and the sophomore hit both to extend the Dawgs lead to three. It would then turn into the fouling game, as the Gamecocks missed two more attempts from the beyond the arc on their next possessions and Thompkins was a perfect 4-of-4 from the line in the final 14 seconds to seal it for the Dawgs.

The Dawgs travel to meet Tennessee on Wed., Feb. 17 at 8 p.m..

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dawgs Hire Linebacker Coach


Warren Belin, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt, has been named a linebackers coach at the University of Georgia according to an announcement today by Dawg head coach Mark Richt.

Belin just completed his eighth season with the Commodores coaching linebackers. The 20-year veteran also just completed his second year as recruiting coordinator after having worked as special teams coordinator in 2006-07.

“I want to thank Coach (Bobby) Johnson and the Vandy staff for eight great years competing in the SEC and everything they have provided me and my family,” said Belin. “I’m looking forward to the next step in my career with Coach Richt and the opportunity to compete for SEC and national championships. I look forward to working with Coach Grantham, Coach Garner and Coach Lakatos in installing the new defensive package. My wife and family are excited about the opportunity to become part of the Athens community, Dawg Nation and the great tradition at UGA.”

“Warren has had some of the best linebackers and tacklers in the league for years,” said Richt. “I’ve always admired his work at Vandy and people have been talking to me about him for quite a while. When Todd (Grantham) and I interviewed him, we were very impressed with his knowledge of the game, schemes, and fundamentals. He’s going to be a perfect mentor for our players as well.”

During Belin's tenure at Vanderbilt, he developed numerous outstanding linebackers including second team All-SEC Patrick Benoist (2008) and Freshman All-SEC Chris Marve (2008), both of whom were among the SEC’s top tacklers; All-SEC Jonathan Goff (2006-07) and Marcus Buggs (2006-07), both of whom are in their second year in the NFL (Goff with the Giants and Buggs with the Bills); All-SEC Moses Osemwegie (2004-05); and All-SEC Hunter Hillenmeyer (2002) who earned the National Student-Athlete Award after leading the SEC in tackles.

Belin served in a similar role at Southern Methodist before coming to Vanderbilt. In five years at SMU, at least one of Belin's linebackers was named All-Western Athletic Conference each year of his service. Vic Viloria was named first team All-WAC as a junior. Another SMU pupil, Jason Simonton, was a two-time All-WAC selection. A third player, Chris Bordano, was WAC Western Division Defensive Player of the Year in 1997.

Prior to joining the SMU staff, Belin worked as an assistant coach at William & Mary, Cornell and East Tennessee State.

A native of Marshville, N.C., Belin was a three-year starter and four-year letterman at Wake Forest from 1987-90. He earned a B.S. in Health and Sports Science from Wake Forest, graduating cum laude. He was named to the ACC All-Academic Team in 1990 and was a two-time ACC Academic Honor Roll recipient.

Belin is married to the former Yolanda Taylor. They are the parents of three daughters: Camryn, 7; and 4-year-old twins Morgan and MacKenzi.