Monday, June 27, 2011

Eligibility Questions Arise

A recent Columbus Ledger-Enquirer article stated that the investigation into the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department had revealed information concerning Jarvis Jones and basketball signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Greenville, Georgia.

UGA released the following statement today.

The University of Georgia Athletic Association is aware of the recent matters involving football player Jarvis Jones and basketball signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.

McGarity said his staff has contacted both the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA. The UGAAA and the student-athletes will work cooperatively with both entities as the process continues.

No further comments will be available until the matter is resolved.

No mention was made of any other athletes involved with the Georgia Blazers or where any other funds in the hidden account may have been spent.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Benedict Leaves Football Program


DSC_8274Redshirt freshman offensive linemen Brent Benedict has left the football team according to an email from coach Mark Richt.

Benedict severely injured his knee while still in high school and has struggled to regain the form that made him one of the top recruits in the country coming out of the Bolles School in Jacksonville.

Benedict participated in spring practice and finished as the number two right guard.

The announcement did not indicate if he intended to give up football entirely.

The loss of Benedict will likely elevate redshirt sophomore Dallas Lee to the backup spot on the roster or backup right tackle Austin Long could shift over if true freshman Watts Dantzler shows in fall practice that he is ready to play at right tackle.

Friday, June 24, 2011

More Pre-Season Honors


Georgia football continued to garner more preseason honors as the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) and the Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook released their preseasons teams and watch lists.

Seniors Brandon Boykin, Blair Walsh and Drew Butler have all been named to individual 2011 watch lists for the CFPA. Former Dawg Justin Houston was named the CFPA’s Linebacker of the Year following the 2010 season.

Blue Ribbon Yearbook has also placed five Dawgs on its preseason All-Southeastern Conference Team. Junior tight end Orson Charles, redshirt sophomore Aaron Murray and senior offensive tackle Cordy Glenn were included for the Offense while Walsh and Butler were two of the four Specialists.

Also of note, Blue Ribbon named freshman running back Isaiah Crowell the Newcomer of the Year for 2011.

DSC_6269Boykin, (right) a native of Fayetteville, is one of 38 players on the Kickoff Returner Watch List. UGA’s leader in career kickoff return yards with 1,813, Boykin is the only player in SEC history to have three 100-yard plays of any kind.

Walsh, a native of Boca Raton, Fla., was the 2009 winner of the Place-Kicker Trophy and has returned to the 2011 Watch List. A semifinalist in 2010 and a finalist in 2009 for the Lou Groza Award, which is given to the nation’s top place-kicker, Walsh ranks fourth in UGA history with 303 point scored and had eight field goals over 50 yards in his career.

Butler, a native of Duluth, also won the 2009 Punter Trophy as well as the 2009 Ray Guy Award, which is given to the nation’s top punter, and is on the 2011 Watch List. Joining Walsh on UGA’s Team of the Decade, Butler was named a CoSIDA ESPN Academic All-American last year making him only the seventh player in Georgia history to be named an All-American both academically and athletically.

DSC_8280Charles, a native of Tampa, Fla., hauled in 26 catches for 422 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2010 after starting in 12 of 13 games. Charles has already been named the nation’s fifth-best tight end by Lindy’s earlier this preseason.

Murray, also a native of Tampa, Fla., and a graduate of Plant High School, was tabbed a Freshman All-American following last season when he set a UGA freshman record with 3,049 passing yards, which ranks second in SEC history for freshmen. Murray’s passing efficiency of 154.48 was also the best in the country among all freshmen quarterbacks and second best in school history among all quarterbacks.

Glenn, a native of Riverdale, has started every game for the Dawgs the last two seasons and was named to the Pro Football Weekly All-America Team in 2010. He also joins senior teammate Ben Jones as one of the tandems named to the 2011 Pony Express Award Watch List.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Clippers Claim Dawgs


University of Georgia basketball alumni Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie were both selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey, late Thursday night.

Thompkins, Trey1Thompkins was taken by the Clippers as the 37th overall selection. Twenty minutes later they took Leslie as the 47th overall pick of the draft.

Thompkins, a 6-10 forward from Lithonia, Georgia, earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors the past two years. He has led the Dawgs in scoring and rebounding each of his those years and will finish his UGA career with 1,396 points and 693 rebounds. Those figures rank 13th and 10th, respectively, on the school's career charts.

Leslie, TravisMugLeslie, a 6-4 guard from Decatur, was a second-team All-SEC pick by the league's head coaches this past season. He averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in 2011, second on the team behind Thompkins in both categories, and he also handed out 97 assists. Like Thompkins, he surpassed the 1,000-point mark in 2011 and finished the season with 1,099 points, which ranks 30th on the UGA career scoring chart.

This year marks the first NBA Draftee from Georgia since Jarvis Hayes was the 10th pick of the 2003 draft, taken by the Washington Wizards.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gilbert Named Assistant S&C Coach


Gilbert1Former All-SEC linebacker, 3-year University of Georgia letterman and NFL veteran Tony Gilbert has been named Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at UGA, according to an announcement today by coach Mark Richt.

Gilbert, a native of Macon, was the defensive captain of the Dawgs' 2002 SEC championship team, which finished 13-1 overall, won the Sugar Bowl and finished the season ranked third in the national polls. He had 114 tackles that season, including 2.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for lost yardage, and earned 2nd team All-SEC honors that season. Gilbert currently ranks 10th on Georgia¹s all-time list of career tacklers with 328.

"I'm thrilled to have Tony as part of our strength staff and program," said Richt. "His experience as a member of a UGA SEC championship team and an NFL player is a perfect combination for us. Our players will benefit greatly from his knowledge."

As a professional, Gilbert was drafted in 2003 by the Arizona Cardinals and eventually saw action for two teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons.

"I'm very excited and thankful for the opportunity to come back and be a member of the staff here at Georgia," Gilbert said. "This is where I played, went to school and graduated, so I consider it an honor to contribute once again to the program and to have an impact on young men's lives. I'm really looking forward to it."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cone Signs With Rangers


Georgia junior outfielder Johnathan Taylor will return to the University of Georgia while outfielder Zach Cone has signed with the Texas Rangers, it was announced Saturday.

Taylor and Cone were among the Texas Rangers draft selections that participated in a press conference prior to the Rangers-Atlanta Braves game Saturday at Turner Field. Several members of Texas’ front office staff took part in the media session including director of amateur scouting Kipp Fagg, Rangers Georgia area scout Ryan Coe along with UGA head baseball coach David Perno.

It was announced that Taylor would continue his rehabilitation and studies at Georgia and not sign with the Rangers. Also, the Rangers had made a contribution to the Johnathan Taylor Fund, according to Texas senior director of player personnel A.J. Preller. Meanwhile, Cone and first round pick Kevin Matthews had signed professional contracts. On Monday, Cone will report to the Rangers short-season Class A affiliate in Spokane, Washington.

Taylor will continue working on his recovery through the “Day Program” at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Following the press session, Taylor was recognized before the game and met several of the Rangers and Braves players on the field during batting practice.

“It was an exciting day all around,” said Taylor. “It felt great to be drafted, it was a dream come true. I’m thankful for everything the Texas Rangers have done and to be here with Zach, it’s special. Right now, my goal is to get better every day, I’m going to focus on my rehabilitation and school work, and Zach is going to get his pro career started. I am trying to get my legs back under me and start walking and running and get back on that field again.”

“I thought it was a cool thing to do when the Rangers were asking me how I felt about them drafting J.T. too, Cone added. “It was awesome, and it says a lot about the Texas Rangers organization and how they care about their players. After the accident, it’s been hard for both of us. I’m happy to be here with J.T., it’s like we’re teammates again.”

Matthews was the 33rd overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, Cone went 37th overall and Taylor was a 33rd round selection. On March 6th in Athens during a game against Florida State, Cone and Taylor collided in the outfield. Taylor sustained a serious neck injury that bruised his spinal cord. He has been at the Shepherd Center since mid-March and made progress, graduating from in-patient care to the day program. He will remain there for at least another month and then continue his studies and recovery work at UGA.

“J.T. talks about how his goal is to get better every single day, and that’s a goal we talk to our players about in our organization,” said Fagg.

Georgia advanced to the NCAA Corvallis (Ore.) Regional final and ended the year with a 33-32 record. It was the second consecutive season that the Dawgs lost a starter to a devastating injury (Chance Veazey in 2010). In 2011, the Dawgs navigated the nation’s toughest rated schedule (37 games against ranked teams) and finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference behind three teams in the league that advanced to the College World Series. It marked the sixth time in 10 seasons under Perno that the Dawgs made the NCAA Tournament.

“Our team battled all year long; they played inspired baseball for Chance and J.T.,” said Perno. “The Rangers are a class act. Today was a memorable day for J.T. and Zach. We’re proud of them and happy to see them together and smiling again too.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slonaker Named Director of Bulldog Club


SlonakerPicMark Slonaker, a Regional Director with the University of Georgia Central Development Team and four-year basketball letterman, has been named Executive Director of the UGA Bulldog Club according to an announcement Friday by Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.

Since July of 2008, Slonaker has served as a Regional Director for Principal & Major Gifts on the staff of the UGA Development Office. As part of the University’s Central Development Team, Slonaker has spent most of his time in the major cities on the west coast identifying, cultivating, and soliciting UGA alumni and friends for major gifts.

"I'm very excited and thankful for the opportunity that Greg has provided,” said Slonaker. “I'd also like to thank Vice President Tom Landrum and Greg Daniels from the UGA Division of External Affairs for a great experience representing the University in that capacity. I look forward to supporting the coaches, student-athletes and members of the Dawg Nation as we strive to make the Athletic Association the best in the country."

“We look forward to Mark’s leadership in this important Athletic Association role,” said McGarity. “I’m confident we will be very strong in our customer service efforts and I know our Bulldog Club members will enjoy working with Mark and his staff.”

“It’s been great having Mark as a part of the University’s Regional Development Team the past three years,” said Greg Daniels, Senior Director of Principal and Major Gifts at UGA. “While all of us will miss him, with Mark’s leadership, energy, and love of the University of Georgia and UGA athletics, I don’t know of a person better suited for this position.”

A native of Rahway, N.J., Slonaker lettered for the Dawgs (1976-79) and was co-captain of coach Hugh Durham’s first team at Georgia in ‘79. He went straight into the coaching profession upon graduation making stops at The Lovett School in Atlanta, six years as an assistant at Georgia State, six more under Durham at his alma mater and at Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College before being named head coach at Mercer University in 1997.

During Slonaker’s 11 years at Mercer (1998-2008), his 2003 team won 23 games and captured the school’s first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference championship. Slonaker was named National Coach of the Year by at the end of the season.

Slonaker, who has also served as color analyst on the Georgia Basketball Radio Network since 2009, earned his B.S. degree in Education from UGA in 1980 and his Master’s degree in Sport Administration from Georgia State in 1989. He and his wife Kathy have three grown children: Michael, Meaghan and Patrick.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Diamond Dawgs Turning Pro


Georgia outfielder Chase Davidson along with pitchers Cecil Tanner and Ben Cornwell have signed professional baseball contracts.

Davidson, a 41st round pick of the Houston Astros, hit .278 with seven home runs and 31 RBI in 2011. He made 38 starts and appeared in 51 games this past season in helping the Dawgs go 33-32. Tanner, who went 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in seven appearances, was a 23rd round pick of the Oakland A’s. Cornwell, who went 1-3 with a 5.68 ERA, signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Mariners. Cornwell made 13 appearances including seven starts this year.

Davidson played in 130 games in his Dawg career, making 92 starts and wound up hitting .241 with 11 home runs and 58 RBI. He hit .333 as a pinch-hitter this season, going 4-for-12 including a two-run home run in Georgia’s thrilling 14-11 comeback victory over Auburn. In his final collegiate at bat, he had a pinch-hit RBI-single against Oregon State in the NCAA Corvallis Regional Final. Incidentally, the Astros drafted Davidson following his senior year at Milton in 2008.

Tanner pitched just 3.2 innings this past season with three strikeouts and 10 walks. In his Dawgs career, he made 57 appearances with five starts, going 4-3 with a 7.31 ERA. He pitched 64 innings and had 72 strikeouts and 81 walks. Tanner signed with the Oakland A’s on Sunday and will report to their Arizona League affiliate in Phoenix this week. In 2008, Tanner was drafted by Atlanta after his senior year at Ware County.

Cornwell spent two seasons with the Dawgs after transferring from Georgia Perimeter following his first year at Virginia Tech. He made 28 career appearances for the Dawgs with seven starts, going 2-4 with an 8.54 ERA in 45.1 innings. Cornwell’s final appearance as a Dawg was a memorable one as he helped Georgia advance to the NCAA Corvallis Regional final. He started an elimination game against No. 25 Creighton and matched his career-high by pitching five innings. The Dawgs won the contest 5-4 in 11 innings. Cornwell has signed with the Seattle Mariners and been assigned to the Pulaski (Va.) Mariners of the Appalachian League where he will report to later this week.

“Chase, Ben and Cecil have decided to start their professional baseball career, and we wish them all the best,” said coach David Perno. “Chase and Cecil had a chance to turn pro coming out of high school, and they opted to come to school and have been a part of the Dawg program for the past three years. Ben was with us for a couple of seasons, earned a degree in sport management and now is looking forward to playing pro ball.”

In last week’s 2011 MLB draft, Georgia had seven current players and 11 signees selected. To date, left-handed pitcher Matthew Taylor is the only Dawg signee to turn professional after going in the fifth round to the Baltimore Orioles. The signing deadline for MLB draftees is Aug. 15.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dawgs Double Up


Jenkins county has seen a steady flow of college coaches driving through for months as they attempt to convince Jonathan Taylor and his defensive teammate James Deloach to spend their college careers in their particular uniform.

Sunday evening the two decided that the colors that mattered the most were Red and Black. Taylor became the third Dawg commit just minutes before Deloach advised the UGA staff that he was number four since Friday.

Taylor, 6-4, 315 is rated by most as the number one player in the state of Georgia, the big defensive lineman will line up at a defensive tackle position for coach Rodney Garner.

Deloach, 6-3, 260 may eventually grow into a defensive end but will start out as an outside linebacker in coach Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Barber Commits On The Spot


Colin Barber attended the Mark Richt Camp today in Athens and had the opportunity to show the coaching staff what he could do as a punter.

After averaging over 49 yards per kick last year for Cartersville High School, it didn’t take long for coach Mark Richt to see he had found the successor to Drew Butler.

Barber immediately accepted the offer and became the eighth member of the class of 2012.

Barber (6-2, 185) also set a school record last year with a 54 yard field goal, he joins Marshall Morgan (6-3, 195) from Miami, Florida to form another potential All American kicking duo and continue the legacy of Dawg kicking greats.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hicks Is A Dawg


Quayvon Hicks became the seventh member of the Dawgs class of 2012 on Friday, he is in Athens for this weekend’s Mark Richt Camp.

The 6-2, 245 pound Pierce County High School standout from Blackshear, Georgia has been recruited as a linebacker by most schools but will line up at fullback for the Dawgs.

Hicks chose the Dawgs over offers from Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Duke.

For a complete list of 2012 commitments, click the recruiting page on the right.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dawgs On Pony Express Watch List


Both Georgia center Ben Jones and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn along with punter Drew Butler and place-kicker Blair Walsh have been included on the inaugural Pony Express Award Watch List.

The two Dawg combinations, which consist of four seniors, are among the 48 tandems included on the Watch List for the inaugural award. The award, started by SMU’s legendary Pony Express backfield of Craig James and Eric Dickerson, will look at two- and three-player tandems from across the nation, ultimately honoring the combination whose work ethic, desire, on- and off-field leadership and playmaking ability best fuel their team.

The award, voted on by a panel of experts who will form the award’s board of directors, will be announced at the conclusion of the 2011 regular season.

The four Georgia players are two of 12 different tandems or trios of SEC players on the Watch List.

DSC_7813Jones, a native of Centreville, Ala., and Glenn, a native of Riverdale, have combined for 71 starts during their three-year careers, including 10 starts during each of their freshman seasons in 2008. Jones, who has been named to UGA’s Team of the Decade, has been named to Phil Steele’s preseason All-SEC Second Team and the No. 7 center in the country by Lindy’s going into 2011.

DSC_0525                                                         Glenn, a preseason All-SEC First Team selection by Phil Steele and Lindy’s, was selected to the Pro Football Weekly All-America Team following the 2010 season. He has started every game the last two seasons for the Dawgs and is expected to man the left tackle spot in 2011.


DSC_0485Butler, a native of Duluth, and Walsh, a native of Boca Raton, Fla., have already been named either First Team or Second Team preseason All-Americans by Phil Steele and Lindy’s as the season approaches. Butler has twice been a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, which is given to the nation’s top punter, and won the award in 2009. The son of former NFL standout and Dawg All-American Kevin Butler is on pace to become the school record holder in career punting average with a 46.1 mark through three years.

DSC_0191Walsh, a finalist for the 2009 Lou Groza Award, which is given to the nation’s top kicker, is also on pace to be near the top of the UGA list in several categories. His current field goal percentage of 80.9 percent for a career, which is the best in the SEC for any active kicker, puts him No. 1 in the Dawg record books going into his senior campaign. Walsh is also third in school history for most points kicking (304) behind Billy Bennett’s SEC record mark of 409 and Kevin Butler’s 353.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dawg Draft Summary


The Dawgs had seven current players and 11 members of its incoming class selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft.

On Wednesday, four Dawgs and four signees were drafted bringing the final tally to 18 this year. Georgia saw 11 out of its 20 signees drafted this year. The 2011 draft wrapped up Wednesday with rounds 31 through 50. 

“This is a very busy time for us catching up with everybody, and we’re happy with the way everything went,” said coach David Perno. “It looks like we’ll have the nucleus of our team back including some great veterans like Levi Hyams and the guys that went today and hopefully a good portion of our high school signees too. I think we’ve got some momentum and I’m excited about what’s ahead.”

A memorable day began for the Dawgs in the 33rd round when the Texas Rangers selected junior outfielder Johnathan Taylor. Currently, Taylor is undergoing rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta after sustaining a broken neck in an outfield collision with teammate Zach Cone in a game earlier this season.

"We thought selecting Johnathan was the right thing to do,” said Rangers director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg. “We would have drafted him either way, regardless of any other circumstances involving his injury or Zach's draft status.  Our area scout in Georgia, Ryan Coe, has had a relationship with Johnathan since he was a high school player.  The club has always liked his passion and ability as a player. 

"A few weeks ago, myself and a couple other members of our department visited Zach Cone in Georgia in the course of normal pre-draft activity. We presented Zach with a Rangers jersey for Johnathan that had been signed by the entire club, and asked if Zach could deliver it to his teammate.

"As an organization, I think all of us are always trying to do the right thing in any situation.  Taking Johnathan in the draft today, it was something we felt was right."

In the 34th round, redshirt-sophomore pitcher Tyler Maloof was drafted by the Cleveland Indians. Junior outfielder Peter Verdin went in the 39th round to the Washington Nationals. Junior outfielder Chase Davidson was a 41st round pick of the Houston Astros.  Maloof ranks among the national leaders in saves with 18, going 2-2 with a 7.16 ERA in 28 relief appearances. Verdin batted .258-1-15 in 63 games including 52 starts while Davidson hit .278-7-31 in 51 games including 38 starts.

Verdin, a 6-0, 196-pound native of Alexandria, Va., said he was excited to learn of his selection by Washington.

“When I heard I’d been drafted by the Nationals I thought that was cool because that’s my hometown team,” said Verdin. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to get drafted and going in the 39th round, I’m not expecting too much so I’ll probably be coming back to school. I was really happy for J.T. (Johnathan Taylor), what the Rangers did to show that support.” 

In the later rounds Wednesday, Georgia signees Mike Mancuso, David Sosebee, Hunter Cole and Heath Holder were drafted. Right-hander Mancuso (Breksville, Ohio, Breckvsille HS) was a 46th round pick of the Chicago White Sox.  Right-hander Sosebee (Cleveland, Ga., White County HS) was drafted in the 48th round by Boston. Washington selected Cole, an outfielder (Moore, S.C., Dorman HS) in the 49th round while Holder (Loganville, Ga., Loganville HS), an outfielder/pitcher was drafted by Colorado in the 50th round.

Current Georgia Bulldogs In the 2011 MLB Draft

Zach Cone, OF, Texas, 1st Round Compensation, 37th overall

Cecil Tanner, RHP, Oakland, 23rd Round, 706th overall

Michael Palazzone, RHP, 24th Round, 731st overall

Johnathan Taylor, OF, Texas, 33rd Round, 1,014th overall

Tyler Maloof, RHP, Cleveland, 34th Round, 1,028th overall

Peter Verdin, OF, Washington, 39th Round, 1,177th overall

Chase Davidson, OF, Houston, 41st Round, 1,240th overall

2011 Bulldog Recruiting Class In the 2011 MLB Draft

Dante Bichette, Jr., INF, N.Y. Yankees, 1st Round Compensation, 51st overall

Tyler Palmer, INF, Florida, 4th Round, 133rd overall

Patrick Leonard, INF, Kansas City, 5th Round, 156th overall

Matthew Taylor, LHP, Baltimore, 5th Round, 155th overall

Nick Delmonico, C/INF, Baltimore, 6th Round, 185th overall

Tyler Greene, INF, Philadelphia, 11th Round, 361st overall

Jarrett Brown, LHP, Boston, 23rd Round, 712th overall

Mike Mancuso, RHP, Chicago White Sox, 46th Round, 1,401st overall

David Sosebee, RHP, Boston, 48th Round, 1,462nd overall

Hunter Cole, OF, Washington, 49th Round, 1,477th overall

Heath Holder, OF/RHP, Colorado, 50th Round, 1,518th overall

Johnathan Taylor Drafted By Texas Rangers


Georgia junior outfielder Johnathan Taylor has been selected by the Texas Rangers in the 33rd round of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday.

“This was truly a classy move and a great gesture on the part of the Texas Rangers organization,” said coach David Perno. “J.T. is definitely a player worthy of getting drafted. He’s been a big part of our program, and we are all very excited for him. When I talked to him after he got the call, he was in the middle of his rehabilitation work, laughing and having a good time and was thrilled to be drafted.”

Currently, the 5-8, 181-pound Taylor, is an outpatient at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta after suffering a broken neck in a March 6th outfield collision this year with teammate Zach Cone. The accident happened while the Dawgs were playing Florida State in Athens.

Taylor, a native of Acworth, Ga., is the son of Tandra and John Taylor. Johnathan has appeared in 117 games in his Dawg career including 91 starts. He owns a .312 career batting average. A Consumer Economics major, he was named to the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll in 2009 and the UGA Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in 2010.

“We’re all very proud of him,” said Tandra Taylor. “It’s just amazing, and when he got the call, his face lit up, and we were all very excited. It was awesome news.”

Cone was the 37th overall pick in the draft, going in the first round to Texas on Monday.

“I was pumped up when the Rangers told me they were thinking about drafting J.T., and then I got a call saying that they had drafted him," said Cone. "I was already planning on going over to see him and now we can talk about the Rangers. This made my day, it's just awesome, and I'm so happy for him."

Georgia honored its injured teammate (J.T.) during the 2011 season that ended Sunday in the NCAA Corvallis (Ore.) Regional Final. On March 7th, Taylor had neck surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens to stabilize his spine. On March 11th, he was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He graduated from in-patient care on May 24th and is in the “Day Program” there where he will continue rehabilitation for approximately 4-6 weeks. Since the accident, Taylor has been with his teammates in the dugout for two games this season. He was at Turner Field on April 25 when the Dawgs defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Then on May 28th, he traveled to the SEC Tournament and saw the Dawgs split two games with third-ranked Florida and qualify for an NCAA Regional bid. Georgia went 33-32.

To honor J.T., the team wore “JT-2” decals on the back of their batting helmets; “JT-2” was painted on the Foley Field wall in left center; they carried a framed picture of J.T. with them for their dugout; Cone, Levi Hyams and Peter Verdin have each worn Taylor’s #2 jersey in games during the season.

Fans can donate to the Johnathan Taylor Fund through the UGAA website,, An account has been set up at First American Bank and Trust (FAB). Donations can be mailed to the following account or dropped off at any FAB location.

First American Bank and Trust, c/o Johnathan Taylor Fund, P.O. Box 1688, Athens, Ga., 30603.

A website where individuals can send Johnathan messages and check for updates has been set up by the family. To send an online note to Johnathan and the family, please visit:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More Dawgs Drafted By MLB


Two current Dawgs and six members of Georgia’s incoming recruiting class were selected on day two of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft Tuesday.

Junior right-hander Michael Palazzone was selected in the 24th round by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 731st overall pick while in the 23rd round, junior right-hander Cecil Tanner was taken by the Oakland A’s with the 706th overall pick.

Palazzone was one of the top pitchers in the Southeastern Conference this past season, going 10-5 with a 3.15 ERA and three complete games. In 120.1 innings, the 6-2, 197-pound native of Marietta, Ga., had 78 strikeouts and just 11 walks. He was instrumental in getting Georgia to the postseason as he was named to the SEC All-Tournament team. The Dawgs advanced to the NCAA Corvallis Regional final and ended the year 33-32. For his career, he is 17-11 in 55 games including 29 starts. In 215 innings, he has 170 strikeouts and 51 walks. This is the third time in his career that Palazzone has been drafted. He was an 18th round pick of Atlanta in 2008 and a 32nd round pick by Cleveland last year. Palazzone, a finance major, is an excellent student and three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

“I was glad that I got drafted, and we’ll see how it goes, but I haven’t really talked with anybody from Milwaukee yet,” said Palazzone. “I’ll keeping working hard, and I think what we did this year will be a good confidence boost for next season. If you look at the way we started and how we played under pressure much of the year, what we were able to do there at the end was amazing playing against some of the top teams in the country. I’ll probably be heading back to school.”

Tanner made seven relief appearances for a total of 3.2 innings this year. He was 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA. A 6-6, 255-pound native of Waycross, Ga., Tanner was a 36th round pick of the Atlanta Braves following his senior year at Ware County High School. In his Dawg career, Tanner is 4-3 with a 7.31 ERA in 59 appearances including five starts. He has pitched 64 innings with 72 strikeouts and 81 walks.

Six members of Georgia’s incoming recruiting class were drafted Tuesday. In the fourth round, infielder Tyler Palmer (Wayne County HS, Odum, Ga.) was selected with the 133rd overall pick by the Florida Marlins.

The fifth round saw a pair of Dawg signees go in consecutive picks. Left-handed pitcher/outfielder Matt Taylor (Columbus, Ga.), currently playing at Middle Georgia Junior College, was the 155th overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles. Then, infielder Patrick Leonard (St. Thomas HS, Katy, Texas) was drafted by the Kansas City Royals with the 156th pick.

In the sixth round, the Orioles struck again, selecting catcher/infielder Nicky Delmonico (Farragut HS, Knoxville, Tenn.). Delmonico is ranked No. 88 on Baseball America’s Top 100 hitting prospects.

In the 11th round, infielder Tyler Greene (West Boca HS, Easton, Md.) was drafted with the 361st overall pick by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was ranked No. 83 on Baseball America’s Top 100 hitters in the draft.

In the 23rd round, left-handed pitcher Jarrett Brown (Salem HS, Conyers, Ga.) was taken by the Boston Red Sox with the 712th overall pick.

On Monday, Georgia junior outfielder Zach Cone was a first-round “sandwich” pick by the Texas Rangers as the 37th overall selection. Cone became the ninth first-round pick in school history, and the first since 2008 when the Dawgs had two in shortstop Gordon Beckham (8th overall) and pitcher Joshua Fields (20th overall). Georgia has a string of 38 straight seasons with at least one player signing a professional contract.

Also on Monday, Dawg signee Dante Bichette, Jr., was selected by the New York Yankees as a first round “sandwich” pick at No. 51 overall. A 6-1, 215-pound native of Orlando, Fla., he is the son of former Major Leaguer Dante Bichette. Sandwich picks are given to teams who lose a player to free agency or fail to sign a player in that round from last year’s draft.

Tuesday’s draft featured rounds two through 30. The draft concludes Wednesday with rounds 31 through 50. Selections resume at noon and can be followed at The last day for teams to sign 2011 First-Year Player draft selections is midnight August 15th.

Butler Makes Playboy AA Again


For the second consecutive season, Georgia punter Drew Butler has been named to Playboy’s Preseason All-America Team.

Butler was one of only five players from the Southeastern Conference selected to the 27-man 2011 team.

A senior from Duluth, Butler won the 2009 Ray Guy Award for being the nation’s top punter and was a finalist for the award last season. He became only the seventh Dawg in school history to be named an All-American both athletically and academically after being named a 2010 ESPN Academic All-American.

Butler is on pace to become the career leader at UGA for punting average with a 46.1 mark through three seasons. In 2010, Butler averaged 44.5 yards on 50 punts, 15 that went for 50-plus. The son of former NFL standout and Dawg All-American Kevin Butler, he helped put the Dawgs at second in the SEC and fourth in the nation in net punting with an average of 40.6 last year.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cone & Bichette Drafted


University of Georgia junior outfielder Zach Cone was selected by the Texas Rangers with the 37th overall pick of the Major League Baseball Draft Sunday.

“It was exciting to get the news on the plane, and it’s a great opportunity,” said Cone. “I’m sure I’ll be talking with them in the next couple of days.”

The Dawgs are en route back to Athens after reaching the NCAA Corvallis Regional final on the campus of Oregon State. Cone learned he had been drafted while on a plane in Des Moines, Iowa. The team left Eugene, Oregon Sunday afternoon and made a stop in Iowa before heading to Atlanta and ultimately returning to Athens.

Cone and his teammates were watching and listening to the draft as they boarded the charter plane. When the Rangers announced their selection on, everyone on the plane started clapping and cheering for Cone.

Cone, a 6-2, 202-pound native of Stone Mountain, Ga., was the fourth pick of the compensation round, also known as “sandwich picks” that follows each round as compensation for teams that lose players to free agency. The first round consists of 33 picks plus 27 compensation picks. Cone, who was a third round pick coming out of Parkview High School in 2009, is a three-year starter for the Dawgs. Cone hit .275 with four home runs and 35 RBI this season, starting 64 games and appearing in 65.

Cone was named to the SEC All-Defensive team, fielding a perfect 1.000 in 161 total chances including five assists.

Also, at No. 51 in the compensation round, Dawg signee Dante Bichette, Jr., was selected by the New York Yankees. A 6-1, 215-pound native of Orlando, Fla., was a standout at Orangewood Christian High School and son of former Major Leaguer Dante Bichette.

Monday’s draft schedule featured just the first round and compensation picks for a total of 60 picks. The draft continues through Wednesday and includes 50 rounds.

More Pre-Season Honors For Dawgs


Six Georgia players have been named to the First Team All-Southeastern Conference squad to highlight Lindy’s 2011 Southeastern Football magazine preseason all-star teams.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray (Tampa, Fla.), junior tight end Orson Charles (Tampa, Fla.), senior offensive tackle Cordy Glenn (Riverdale), senior kickoff returner/cornerback Brandon Boykin (Fayetteville), senior place-kicker Blair Walsh (Boca Raton, Fla.) and senior punter Drew Butler (Duluth) were all named First Team All-SEC.

Walsh, ranked as the nation’s top kicker by the publication, was also named a First Team All-American while Butler, who was named the nation’s second-best punter, was named a Second Team All-American.

Junior receiver Tavarres King (Mount Airy) was named Second Team All-SEC on offense by Lindy’s with redshirt sophomore nose guard Kwame Geathers (Georgetown, S.C.) and Boykin being Second Team selections on defense.

At individual positions, Lindy’s calls Boykin the nation’s third-best all-purpose player, Charles the fifth-best tight end, senior Ben Jones (Centreville, Ala.) the seventh-best center and Glenn the 10th-best offensive tackle.

The Dawgs start their 2011 campaign with a matchup versus Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome on September 3rd.

Lights Out For Diamond Dawgs


The 16th-ranked Oregon State Beavers posted a 6-4 win over Georgia Sunday to capture the NCAA Corvallis Regional in front of 3,032 at Goss Stadium.

The Dawgs saw their impressive post-season run end that included battling to the NCAA Regional final here after dropping their opening game. On Saturday, they beat Arkansas-Little Rock and on Sunday rallied past No. 25 Creighton 5-4 in 11 innings and then battled OSU. Also last week, they reached the SEC Tournament semifinal after losing their opening game in Hoover, Ala. They needed three straight wins to qualify for the postseason and knocked off Auburn, top-ranked South Carolina and third-ranked Florida. The Beavers improved to 41-17 and advance to an NCAA Super Regional where they will play second-ranked Vanderbilt in Nashville as the Commodores are a national seed.

Against the Beavers, Georgia (33-32) struck for a run in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Junior second baseman Levi Hyams, who was named to the NCAA All-Regional team, continued his torrid hitting with a single. After an 0-4 for start to the regional Friday, this latest base hit made him 7-for-his-last 10. A wild pitch by OSU left-hander Josh Osich moved him to second and a fly ball by Curt Powell allowed him to get to third. Then, sophomore shortstop Kyle Farmer notched his team-leading 56th RBI with a groundout to score Hyams. OSU answered with one out in the second when first baseman Parker Berberet connected for a home run off sophomore left-hander Blake Dieterich to tie it at 1-1.

In the bottom of the second following back-to-back walks to Brett DeLoach and Peter Verdin, the Beavers lifted Osich in favor of right-hander Scott Schultz. First baseman Jonathan Hester put down a sacrifice bunt, and then Schultz came back to retire Brandon Stephens and Conor Welton to keep it 1-1. In the third, Georgia went back on top 2-1 courtesy of an RBI-double by Farmer, who like Hyams, also was named to the NCAA All-Regional team.

The Beavers answered again in the top of the fourth. Catcher Andrew Susac had a leadoff triple off the wall in left field and then DIeterich hit Ryan Dunn on a 1-2 pitch. Berberet tied the game with a run-scoring single. Dieterich hit Carter Bell with a pitch to load the bases. Jake Rodriguez gave the Beavers a 3-2 lead with a sacrifice fly for the first out in the frame. On the play, Berberet moved to third. Dieterich struck out Garret Nash for the second out to bring up leadoff hitter Ryan Barnes who grounded out as the Dawgs avoided a big inning. Hyams got a one-out double in the fifth and then Schultz responded by striking out Powell and Farmer to maintain the lead.

With one out in the seventh, centerfielder Brian Stamps hit his second home run, a solo shot to make it 4-2. That would end Dieterich’s outing as Georgia turned to senior Eric Swegman. Dieterich allowed four runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings. In the bottom of the inning, Georgia closed the gap as Hester smashed a double to the gap in left center and Stamps misplay allowed him to get to third. The Dawgs sent up pinch-hitter Chase Davidson and he lined an RBI-single up the middle to score Hester to make it 4-3. The Beavers went to their bullpen as left-hander Matt Boyd came on for Schultz who struck out six in five innings of relief.

Freshman Conor Welton moved Davidson to second with a sacrifice bunt. A check-swing single by Hyams, his third hit of the contest and ninth in the regional, got Davidson to third to bring up Powell. He lined out to second for the second out and Farmer stepped to the plate. He tied the game with a run-scoring single to right as Hyams raced to third. OSU went back to its bullpen, lifting Todd and bringing in freshman Adam Duke to face Cone. He lined out to shortstop to send it to the eight at 4-all.

With one out in the eighth, the Beavers chased Swegman who hit a batter and gave up two straight singles to load the bases. Georgia brought in Bryan Benzor as OSU went to its bench in Jared Norris. After falling behind 0-2, Benzor worked the count back to full and Norris lifted a fly ball to center deep enough to score pinch-runner Michael Miller. On the play, OSU ran into the final out at third but it had reclaimed a 5-4 lead. In the ninth, Benzor issued a leadoff walk to Ryan Barnes. After a sacrifice bunt by Stamps, Kavin Keyes provided an insurance run with an RBI-double to make it 6-4. He tried to stretch it to a triple and was thrown out on a nice relay from Verdin-to-Hyams-to-Powell.

OSU closer Tony Bryant came on in the ninth and some more drama ensued. Georgia sent pinch-hitter Kevin Ruiz up and he lined a single off the 6-7, 210-pound sophomore right-hander. After a brief check to make sure he was all right, Hyams came up and then a bank of lights went out, causing a 15-minute delay. When play resumed, Hyams flew out to deep right. Powell drew a walk to bring up Farmer. He flew out to right and then it was all up to Cone, and he popped out to second. Georgia’s season came to an end.

Duke (1-0) notched the win, Taylor got his 12th save while Swegman got the loss to fall to 1-2.

“Oregon State had an answer every time we scored; we just didn’t have any shut down innings and that’s a credit to them,” said coach David Perno. “We had a few chances early but came up short a couple of key hits and were a little thin on relief pitching after our first game when 11 innings.”

“Overall, I’m really proud of how this team battled all season; it wasn’t easy for them and they overcame a lot to get this far,” Perno added.

Up next, the Dawgs will turn their attention to the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, which begins Monday in Secaucus, N.J. The draft can be followed online at The first round will be on Monday at 7 p.m. EDT. Rounds two through 30 will be on Tuesday and rounds 31-50 will be held on Wednesday. Georgia is expected to have a few players along with a handful of its signees get selected. The last day for teams to sign 2011 First-Year Player draft selections is midnight Aug. 15.

Dawgs One Win Short


The Georgia men’s golf team’s quest for a national title came up short on Sunday as Augusta State defeated the Dawgs 3-2 in the finals of the NCAA Championships at Karsten Creek Golf Course.

The Dawgs got victories from senior Russell Henley and sophomore Bryden Macpherson, each of whom went 3-0 in match play at the NCAAs, but were unable to garner a third decision.

“The guys fought hard and they never gave up,” coach Chris Haack said. “It was a pretty tight match all the way around. I’m proud of these guys. They represented us well. The represented the ‘G’ and everybody should be really proud of them.”

Macpherson got Georgia’s first point as he defeated Olle Bengtsson 6&4. After sophomore T.J. Mitchell fell to Carter Newman 7&5, Henley put Georgia back ahead with a 3&2 decision over Henrik Norlander. Senior Hudson Swafford dropped a 2&1 match to Mitchell Krywulycz, then senior Harris English fell to Patrick Reed 2&1, giving the Jaguars back-to-back NCAA titles.

“We hung in as best we could,” Henley said. “Augusta State is playing really good golf right now, and we knew we’d have to play really good golf against them. We gave it a run. I’m proud of what everybody did to get us here.”

Said Macpherson, “To come into the week without having really contended all year and to give it a run to the final is an effort to be proud of no matter what.”

Sunday’s round marked the final one for Georgia’s seniors, all of whom participated in graduation ceremonies last month in Athens.

“The last four years with these guys, you can’t replace it,” Swafford said. “It’s been a dream come true. A win today would have topped it off for sure, but being in position to win it was still awesome.”

“Our seniors were very important to the team,” Macpherson said. “They mean a lot to the team and the team means a lot to them. I know they’re disappointed and sad, but they can be proud of this week for sure.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Diamond Dawgs Win In 11


Georgia stormed back to eliminate 25th-ranked Creighton 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday to advance to the regional championship round of the NCAA Corvallis Regional at Goss Stadium.

Freshman Brandon Stephens’ RBI-single provided a walk-off victory as Peter Verdin scored from second after reaching on a two-out single and moved in to scoring position on a stolen base. Georgia (33-31) picked a nice time to win its first extra-inning game of the year in three attempts while the Bluejays (45-16) fell to 5-1 in extra innings. The Dawgs improved to 17-19 against ranked teams this year and staved off elimination once again. With their season on the line, Georgia is now 5-1, the lone defeat coming in the SEC Tournament semifinals.

“It means a lot to come through for the team and get that hit,” said Stephens. “Our pitchers have done a great job in this tournament and I’m glad we came through for them.”

Creighton went up 1-0 in the first on a couple of miscues by Georgia right-hander Ben Cornwell. After getting Alex Staehely to bounce in to a double play, Cornwell’s first pitch to Trever Adams hit him in the back. After moving to second on a stolen base, Georgia attempted a pickoff play at second and Cornwell’s throw went in to centerfield for an error as Adams raced to third. Shortstop Jimmy Swift made it 1-0 with an RBI-single. Georgia responded with a two-out rally of its own in the bottom of the inning.

Junior Levi Hyams led off with a base hit and was then erased when freshman Conor Welton hit in to a double play. Shortstop Kyle Farmer laced a double to left and on a 1-2 pitch, left fielder Zach Cone blasted a home run to left to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage. It was the fourth home run for Cone, and the first one allowed by Bluejay left-hander Greg Hellhake this season, a span of 65.2 innings. The Bluejays tied it up in the second on two base hits, a sacrifice bunt and then a sacrifice fly by third baseman Chance Ross.

Cornwell provided the Dawgs with a solid start, going a career-long five innings and allowing just two runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. It was his first start since April 26th. Georgia turned to sophomore Bryan Benzor to start the sixth. Meanwhile, the Beavers went to their bullpen with one out in the seventh. Hellhake went 6.1 innings and allowed two runs on five hits with three walks. Right-hander Chase Webb came on with Dawg junior Jonathan Hester on after a leadoff single. He got Curt Powell to hit in to a double play. Georgia set a season-high by turning four double plays.

In the eighth, Benzor issued a leadoff walk to Chance Ross. The Bluejays moved him in to scoring position with a sacrifice bunt by Nick Judkins. Then, second baseman Alex Staehely provided an RBI-double to put Creighton in front 3-2. After an intentional walk to Adams, Georgia lifted Benzor in favor of sophomore closer Tyler Maloof. After retiring Swift, catcher Anthony Bemboom made it 4-2 with a run-scoring single.

In the eighth, Georgia rallied back to tie the contest with a one-out, two-run home run from Farmer. It came on a 1-2 count with Welton aboard and off of Bluejay reliever Mark Winkleman. Farmer was the first batter he faced, and it was his seventh home run of the year.

With one out in the 10th, Maloof hit back-to-back batters to put Adams and Swift aboard for Bemboom. He got him to bounce one to Farmer who flipped to Hyams and over to Hester to complete a season-high fourth double play on the day. In the 11th, pinch-hitter Scott Thornburg reached on a one-out single and the Bluejays sent in pinch-runner Joey Bowens. Georgia lifted Maloof in favor of sophomore right-hander Earl Daniels. Freshman Brandon Stephens threw out Bowens trying to steal second. Daniels retired Mike Gerber and struck out designated hitter Gabriel Thibodeaux to send it to the bottom of the 11th.

“What do you say about this team, they have battled all year and this game took a lot out of us but it’s time to get ready to play Oregon State,” said coach David Perno. “Today it started by getting a great start from Ben Cornwell and the bullpen did a nice job too. Kyle Farmer has done it all year for us at the plate, and it was a thrill to see Brandon Stephens get that big hit. We felt good with him up there, he’s been taking some good swings.”

Daniels picked up his first career win while Spomer dropped to 3-4 as Creighton saw its season end.

Up next, the Dawgs face No. 16 Oregon State Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT. Georgia will start sophomore left-hander Blake Dieterich (3-3, 3.44 ERA) while the Beavers counter with junior left-hander Josh Osich (6-4, 3.57 ERA). The Dawgs need to defeat the Beavers (40-17) twice to win the regional championship. Should Georgia win Sunday’s contest, the two teams would square off again for the title on Monday at 9 p.m. EDT.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dawgs Stay Alive


Alex Wood pitched eight strong innings and Levi Hyams went 4-for-5 to lead Georgia to a 7-3 win over Arkansas-Little Rock Saturday in an NCAA Regional elimination game at Goss Stadium.

Hyams set the tone for the Dawgs when he led off the game with a solo home run on a 3-2 pitch. It was his fifth blast of the season. Incidentally, it marked the first time a Dawg began a contest with a home run since Zach Cone did it in the 2009 NCAA Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional against Ohio State. The Dawgs eventually loaded the bases with two outs before right-hander Calvin Drinnen retired third baseman Curt Powell on a groundout. It was the first action for Powell who missed the last three games due to a cracked bone in his left hand. Powell was hit by a Matt Price (South Carolina) pitch in the SEC Tournament last Friday in Hoover, Alabama.

“I was just trying to square it up today and not do too much,” said Hyams. “It was kind of nice to do that (leadoff home run). I haven’t done that before, and it was good to get an early run on the board for us.”

The Trojans (24-34) threatened in the third on back-to-back base hits by Cameron Bentley and Greg Garcia. Wood fell behind Myles Parma 2-0 and then spun around and fired a strike to shortstop Kyle Farmer to pick off Bentley at second. It was a team-high sixth pickoff for Wood. He retired the next two hitters to keep it 1-0.

“Kyle and I have worked on that play a lot this year, and it’s worked for us a few times,” said Wood on the pickoff. “It’s a good way to cut down on the pressure in an inning.”

Georgia (32-31) gave itself some breathing room with a four-run outburst in the fifth. Hyams collected his third hit of the afternoon on a line drive that knocked the glove off of Drinnen and the ball came out. Hyams made it to third on a stolen base and a fielder’s choice and scored on a run-scoring single by Cone. With two on and one out, designated hitter Brett DeLoach launched a three-run home run to right to make it 5-0 Georgia. It was the fifth home run of the year for the sophomore.

The Trojans came right back in their half of the fifth. Four straight two-out hits plus a wild pitch resulted in three runs, highlighted by an RBI-single by Parma and a two-run single by Jason Houston. It trimmed their deficit to 5-3.

Georgia responded with a two-run rally of its own in the sixth. The Dawgs were aided by a two-out Trojan wild pitch and a failed pickoff attempt that scored the runs to push their lead to 7-3. In the frame, Hyams notched his fourth hit of the day, a bloop double that followed a leadoff double from Peter Verdin. Drinnen was lifted in the frame, allowing six runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. Georgia got a run off left-hander Ryan Jurris and then Nick Grimmett came on later in that inning and went the rest of the way.

In the eighth, Hyams’ shot at going 5-for-5 on the day ended on a diving catch by right fielder Hector Acosta. He was a triple shy of the cycle at that point too. Dawg junior left-hander Chase Hawkins pitched the ninth to preserve the victory as the game ended on a sterling defensive play by Powell at third. Wood improved to 6-7 on the year while Drinnen fell to 6-7.

“Alex was solid, very solid today, and Levi has been our go-to-guy to get us started, and he did that too,” said coach David Perno. “We played a complete game, and I was proud to see that. Arkansas-Little Rock made a run after we had our big inning, and we were able to get through that and now we look forward to playing again Sunday.”

Saturday’s victory was the 337th for Perno in his 10th season at the Georgia helm, as he moved in to second place in school history for career coaching wins, passing “Big” Jim Whatley (336-327-3). The only Dawg baseball coach with more wins is Steve Webber who amassed a record of 500-403-1 in 16 years.

Georgia will play at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday against the loser of Saturday night’s winner’s bracket game featuring No. 1 seed Oregon State and No. 2 seed Creighton. If the Dawgs win Sunday, they would play another game at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday against tonight’s OSU-Creighton winner.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dawgs Drop Opener In NCAA’s


Jonas Dufek pitched a complete game five-hitter to lead No. 25 Creighton to a 2-1 victory over Georgia in the NCAA Corvallis Regional Friday at Goss Stadium.

Dufek (12-1) and Georgia junior right-hander Michael Palazzone carried a shutout through the first six frames, allowing just three hits apiece at that point. The Dawgs dodged a bullet following a miscue by freshman catcher Brandon Stephens that allowed the Bluejays to put a runner at third with out in the sixth.

In that inning, Creighton centerfielder Mike Gerber reached on a one-out single. Following a pitchout, Stephens’ pickoff attempt to first sailed into right field, allowing Gerber to advance to third on the error. Georgia coach David Perno came out for a mound visit with Palazzone, Stephens and the entire infield. Georgia opted to bring the infield in and Palazzzone struck out Chance Ross for the second out. First baseman Nick Judkins followed, and he was retired on a pop out to second baseman Levi Hyams.

In the seventh, Dawg designated hitter Chase Davidson beat out an infield single. First baseman Jonathan Hester snapped a 1-for-27 slump with an RBI-double over the head of Gerber for a 1-0 advantage. The Bluejays responded in the bottom of the inning.

After being held to just three hits to that point, Creighton collected four hits and grabbed the lead. Jimmy Swift reached on a leadoff single and right fielder Trevor Adams followed with a flare to center. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Alex Staehely, catcher Scott Thornburg tied the game with an RBI-single to right as Adams advanced to third. Left fielder Anthony Bemboom gave the Bluejays a 2-1 lead with a run-scoring single to centerfield. Palazzone retired the next two hitters on pop outs to send it to the eighth. Dufek took care of the Dawgs over the final two innings to go the distance.

The Bluejays improved to 45-14 while Georgia dropped to 31-31. Dufek ran his record to 12-1, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Palazzone fell to 10-5, surrendering two runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

“Creighton did a good job responding with two runs right after we scratched for one so you have to give them credit,” said coach David Perno. “Jonas Dufek did a nice job on the mound, and we didn’t hit enough balls on the ground. We had too many pop ups and punch outs. It was extremely disappointing that we couldn’t find a way to back up Michael who pitched a good game for us today.”

“He threw some off-speed stuff and just kept us off balance,” Hester said when asked about Dufek. “I don’t think we had a good approach at the plate consistently. We know what we have to do now. Our backs are against the wall, and we’ll have to come out Saturday and keep fighting.”

The Dawgs will now play an elimination game Saturday at 4 p.m. EDT against the loser of the Oregon State/Arkansas-Little Rock contest slated for late Friday.

SEC Meetings End


The SEC annual meeting in Destin, Florida ended today with the conference presidents voting to reduce the number of national letters of intent signed each year from 28 to 25. The coaches had voted unanimously earlier this week to keep the current rule in place. Each school has until August 1st each year to reach the NCAA maximum of 85 football scholarships.

The new rule still allows a school to go over the 25 limit if they signed less than 25 the year before. A school signing 22 one year, could sign 28 the next.

Does over-signing give a school a competitive advantage?

The argument is that over-signing allows a program to make more mistakes and correct them quicker when evaluating and signing high school talent.

Looking at the past five signing classes and the last four football seasons:

Georgia and Florida have signed the exact same number of recruits, 112.
Florida’s winning percentage is 79.6% (43-11) with one National Championship
Georgia’s winning percentage is 67.3% (35-17).

Kentucky has signed one more than LSU, 128 to 127.
LSU's winning percentage is 75.5% (40-13) with one National Championship
Kentucky's winning percentage is 53.8% (28-24).

Alabama and Mississippi State have signed the exact same number, 135.
Alabama's winning percentage is 77.6% (38-11) with one National Championship
Mississippi States' winning percentage is 52% (26-24).

Auburn has signed one more than Ole Miss, 143 to 142.
Auburn's winning percentage is 60.2% (36-16) with one National Championship
Ole Miss' winning percentage is 50% (25-25).

Not all of the recruits qualified and were admitted to their school of choice, it’s clear that the number of players signed in most cases is not as important as the quality of the player. Florida, Alabama and Auburn all had a Heisman winner.

Auburn had 31 more recruits than Georgia yet their overall record was only one game better and was much lower than Florida’s. What would their record have been without the additional 31? It’s impossible to know for sure but the consensus among the presidents was that the potential for abuse was too great to overlook. The new rule will force coaches to be more diligent before making an offer, they will be less likely to take a chance on a student that struggles academically. The number of misses will be limited to 15 in 4 years, add that to normal attrition and the margin of error is closer to zero.

The core issue of the over-signing debate is one of integrity, should a coach be allowed to cut a current team member to make room for an incoming freshman that he thinks is better? Is non-renewing a student’s scholarship based strictly on his performance morally wrong?

Alabama’s Nick Saban accused the media of harming the prospective student athletes by continuing the over-signing debate.

Why is Saban so upset with the media?

He over-signed by 12 this past February and is still needing to cut 8 players before the August 1st deadline. The media scrutiny is getting in his way, he is paid to win football games, not make friends or keep promises.

The changes will not stop the practice of over-signing entirely but will reduce the number of students exposed to it.

The SEC will request the NCAA adopt the limit on a national basis, the Big 10 has limited their member schools to only signing the number of available open scholarships for years, the NCAA will now open a discussion to determine which philosophy is in the best interest of the student athlete.

The presidents also voted and passed the following new rules:

  • SEC basketball will no longer be divisional, all 12 teams will play an 18 game SEC schedule and be seeded for the tournament.
  • All medical hardship cases will be overseen by the SEC, independent medical evaluations may be required for approval.
  • Grad student transfers with one year of eligibility remaining will be banned effective October 1st.
  • 7-on-7 events are banned from school campuses and coaches participation is limited.

Proposed legislation to count any student athlete that enrolls in June against the current years signing numbers was not approved but is being forwarded to the NCAA with a recommendation for national adoption.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kickoff Times Announced


Kickoff times for the Dawgs' games against Boise State, South Carolina and Florida were included on the list of televised football contests announced by the Southeastern Conference on Thursday afternoon.

As previously announced, the Dawgs will face Boise State on September 3rd at 8 p.m. on ESPN in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The following week, Georgia will appear on ESPN again when the Dawgs host South Carolina on September 10th at Sanford Stadium at 4:30 p.m.

Georgia's annual showdown with Florida in Jacksonville will be broadcast on CBS at 3:30 p.m. on October 29th. This will mark the ninth straight season – and 15th in the last 16 – that the Dawgs and Gators will air on CBS.

NOTE: Former Dawg running back Washaun Ealey has enrolled at Jacksonville State in Alabama, he will be eligible to play immediately there.