Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Georgia Football Great Andy Johnson Dies

UGA Sports Communications

Former University of Georgia football great Andy Johnson died in Athens early Wednesday morning following a long illness.

Born Oct. 18, 1952, in Athens Johnson was an All-American quarterback on an Athens High team that was state-champions in class AAA. He also was All-Region in basketball, baseball, and a sprinter on the track team. Johnson was drafted by the Atlanta Braves as a shortstop but decided to continue his education at the University of Georgia on a football scholarship.

Johnson was the starting quarterback on the Dawg's freshman squad in 1970, setting the total offense record of 1,078 yards in five games.

In 1972, his sophomore season, Johnson became the varsity’s starting signal caller and led the Dawgs to an 11-1 campaign which included a 7-3 victory over North Carolina in the Gator Bowl. During that season, Johnson set the SEC sophomore rushing record and was second in the conference in rushing. He set the SEC record for touchdowns scored rushing by a sophomore with 13. Football News named him the nation’s most outstanding sophomore player and the Jacksonville Journal awarded him the SEC’s outstanding sophomore player trophy.

Johnson was plagued by injuries throughout his junior season but still managed to be the Dawgs third leading rusher and second leading passer in the 7-4 season.

In his senior season, Johnson was second on the team in rushing, led the team in passing, and commanded the Dawgs to a 7-4-1 record with a 17-16 victory over Maryland in the Peach Bowl. After his three year tenure was complete, Johnson captured the SEC record for the most yards rushing by a quarterback with 1,799.

While at Georgia, Johnson also competed on the Dawg's baseball team for three years, compiling a .281 career average.

Johnson was drafted in the fifth round by the New England Patriots of the NFL. Johnson played for the Patriots for nine seasons before signing with the Boston Breakers of the USFL in 1983. He was inducted into the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

He is survived by his wife Charlotte (Chot) and children, Kristy, Brent and Brooke.

Visitation is scheduled for Saturday, May 19, from 3-5 p.m. at Bernstein Funeral Home in Athens. A graveside service will be held Sunday, May 20, at 3:30 p.m. at the Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Diamond Dawgs Own Tech

UGA Sports Communications

In the 16th annual Farmview Spring Classic, a benefit for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the 15th-ranked Georgia baseball team defeated Georgia Tech 3-1 to sweep the season series Tuesday evening in front of a crowd of 17,741 at SunTrust Park.

Georgia (34-14) extends its win streak against Tech to six games – the longest streak since the Dawgs won six straight in the series from 1985-87. Georgia has won nine of the last 10 meetings between the two schools. In the Spring Classic, which began at Turner Field, Georgia holds the advantage at 11-5.

A 3-run fourth inning featuring an Aaron Schunk home run and a two-run double by Mason Meadows provided enough support for Georgia freshman starter C.J. Smith (1-0) to secure his first-career win. In the lefthander’s third-career start, Smith pitched five innings of one-run ball, while striking out two batters and yielding two hits. The bullpen combination of Tony Locey, Ryan Webb, and Zac Kristofak kept Smith’s win intact, tossing three scoreless innings with eight strikeouts.

Georgia Tech’s Tristin English (2-2) surrendered three runs on eight hits and a walk over five innings to endure the loss. The Yellow Jackets dropped to 27-22 on the season.

The first three innings of the game consisted of scoreless, one-hit frames from each team’s starter, until the Dawgs put across the first runs of the game in the fourth.

On the first pitch of the inning, Schunk went opposite field for a solo home run over the left-center field fence. Later in the inning, Meadows doubled in Cam Shepherd and Michael Curry who both reached on singles, giving Georgia the 3-0 lead.

The Yellow Jackets answered with one run in the next inning. A one-out double by Georgia Tech’s Austin Wilhite put two runners into scoring position in the top of the fifth. Smith limited the damage by yielding one run on a groundout, and then ended the threat with another groundout.

Locey replaced Smith to start the sixth and promptly gave up two singles and a sacrifice bunt, putting two Yellow Jackets into scoring position again. However, Locey got English to strike out looking, and Georgia tapped into the bullpen seeking the third out. Webb entered and walked the first batter faced, but struck out the next, ending the Georgia Tech opportunity.

In the final two innings, Kristofak struck out five of the six batters he faced, clinching the sweep with his fourth save of the season.

Dawg Tracks

-Mason Meadows’ fourth-inning double extended his season-best hitting streak to nine games.

-Aaron Schunk’s fourth-inning home run extended his hitting streak to 16 games, tying a season-best mark he set previously this season.

-Georgia moves to 2-1 at SunTrust Park since it opened in 2017.

Coach's Corner

Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin

On the season sweep of Georgia Tech…

“It’s obviously a big rival for us and this game means everything to our players, our program, our fans; so to be able to not only win the series but sweep, it means a lot.”

On playing in a big ballpark…

“You don’t change anything. You just play baseball, only the dimensions are different, the feel is different, and seeing the ball off the bat is a little bit different. To be honest, we left a lot of runs on the board today. We didn’t play very good offensively. Luckily our pitching and our defense picked us up. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to win somehow, some way and it was the pitching and defense today.”

Player's Perspective

Freshman Pitcher #5 C.J. Smith

On the night…

“It was definitely a great experience. I enjoyed it a lot. I got to go out there and compete with the guys. I try not to think about it too much. I just go out there and throw strikes and let the defense work.”

On his consistency…

“It’s great to be consistent because I have a great defense behind me. I don’t strike out a lot of guys, I just let the defense work behind me.”

On the bullpen…

“I come out of the game, and I have confidence that we’re going to get the game over with. Coach Stricklin told me I was done, and I had faith in the next guy to clean up after us.”

Sophomore 3B #22 Aaron Schunk

On playing at SunTrust Park...

"We just try and do the same thing we've been doing. Coach said, if anything, make it more simple. If you get into a big park, you start thinking you have to do too much, but you really don't. You have to take the same approach, and good things happen."

On preparing for the Florida series this weekend...

"Every bit as we do every other game. We've been very focused on the first game ahead of us, whether that be today, whether that be Friday. Getting to go up against Florida is big for us because we know we can compete against them, and we're going to give them everything we've got."

Next Up

The Dawgs will pick back up on SEC play on the road in Gainesville, Florida against the top-ranked Florida Gators. First pitch of game one is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 pm.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Kirby Gets Paid

UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors Executive Committee Thursday approved a contract extension and new compensation package for head football coach Kirby Smart.

Terms of the new contract include seven years and a compensation package worth $49 million.

“Kirby has provided an incredible level of energy and excitement to our football program, and we look forward to his leadership for many years to come,” said J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.

“I’d like to first thank President Morehead and Greg McGarity for allowing me to lead this program,” said Smart. “I’m humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me and won’t ever take that for granted. I’d also like to thank our staff and our entire football family. Without their hard work and dedication we wouldn’t have been able to have the kind of success we’ve had in such a short period of time.

“As a young boy, I grew up in this great state dreaming of being a Dawg,” he continued. “To have been able to do that—first as a player, and now as the head football coach—is beyond anything I ever dreamed. I do not take lightly the awesome responsibility of leading this program, and while I’m pleased with where we are as a program, I couldn’t be more excited about where we’re going in the future. You can rest assured that we will continue to work tirelessly to make Georgia football the best it can possibly be.

“Last, but not least, I want to express my gratitude and love for all our fans and thank them and the wonderful people of the State of Georgia for their tremendous support.”

Smart led the Dawgs to a 13-2 record this past season along with an SEC championship, Rose Bowl title, and appearance in Georgia’s first College Football Playoff national championship game.

“In just two short years, Coach Smart has established a new level of excellence in UGA’s storied football program,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to his continued success and his strong support of this great university.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tye Fagan Signs With Dawgs

UGA Sports Communications

Tye Fagan, a two-time Georgia Class AAAA Player of the Year at Upson-Lee High School in Thomaston, has signed a letter-of-intent to play for the Dawgs, head coach Tom Crean announced on Wednesday.

Fagan, a 6-3, 170-pound, combo guard was named as the top player in Class AAAA in both 2017 and 2018 and first-team All-State by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after leading Upson-Lee’s Knights to back-to-back undefeated seasons and state championships. Upson-Lee finished the 2017-18 season riding a 63-game winning streak, the third-longest in state boys’ high school history.

“We are truly excited to be adding Tye Fagan and honored that he chose to be our first commitment as we embark on building our UGA basketball program,” Crean said. “Tye not only has numerous abilities to impact the game on both ends of the floor and the character and personality to make others around him better, but he also is a pure winner and achiever. He will help bring many, many qualities that we value at Georgia. Any time you can add a championship-winning player and person to your program, it’s great. But I can’t recall ever signing anyone that was 63-0. That’s unique.”

As a senior, Fagan averaged 25.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.5 assists for Upson-Lee, which finished 31-0. He scored in double figures in all 30 games played, with 25 20-point outings, six 30-point performances and nine double-doubles.

As a junior, Fagan averaged 21.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.5 steals per game while leading the Knights to a perfect 32-0 finish and the first state championship in school history. He posted double-digit scoring outputs in 28 of 29 games played, with 17 20-point and three 30-point tallies.

Last month, Fagan was named second-team All-Georgia by USA Today, the organization’s all-classification, all-state boys’ basketball team. He was ranked as the nation’s No. 18 combo guard by

Fagan is the third signee who will join the Dawgs as a freshman next season. During the NCAA’s early signing period last November, Georgia signed Amanze Ngumezi, a 6-9, 235-pound, power forward from Johnson High School in Savannah and JoJo Toppin, a 6-6, 175-pound small forward from Norcross High.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Indoor Athletic Facility Officially Named

UGA Sports Communications

Surrounded by friends, family, and a multitude of supporters, Billy Payne was front and center Monday night at the celebration naming event of Georgia’s indoor athletic facility which bears the name of him and his father, Porter.

The University System Board of Regents in February approved the official name of the facility as the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility in honor of former UGA all star football player Billy Payne and his father, the late Porter Payne, also a former Dawg letterman. The naming is the result of gifts totaling over $10 million secured from friends of Billy and Porter Payne.

Master of ceremonies for the program was Jim Nance of CBS who has anchored the network’s coverage of the Masters since 1989. Among those participating in the program were UGA President Jere W. Morehead, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity, Hall of Fame golfer Jack Nicklaus, former Atlanta Mayor and UN Ambassador Andrew Young, current Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley, UGA football coach Kirby Smart, and Vince Dooley, Billy Payne’s former coach.

“Countless individuals across our great state and indeed all over the nation and around the world have benefited from the vision and leadership of Billy Payne,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “We are proud to have his name and the name of his late father Porter Payne forever tied to our storied athletic program.”

Former CEO of the Atlanta Olympic Games and chairman of Augusta National, Payne graduated from UGA in 1969 with a degree in political science, and he earned his law degree from Georgia Law in 1973. Both he and his father lettered in football at UGA, Billy from 1966-68 and Porter from 1946-49.

“It is a great day for the University of Georgia to honor Billy Payne and his father, Porter,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “We are exceptionally proud to have the Payne family name honored by placement on one of our most significant athletic facilities.”

Payne launched a successful bid to bring the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta and was named president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games in 1991. He continued in his leadership role, and became the first person in modern history to land an Olympic bid and then to remain president and CEO during the games.

A founding member and chairman of Centennial Holding Company, a privately held real estate investment company in Atlanta, Payne became chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, in 2006. He retired from that position following the annual tournament in 2017.

Twice named Georgian of the Year, Payne was recognized in 1997 with the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the most prestigious honor given to an individual by the NCAA. The National Football Foundation named him as the 2009 recipient of the NFF Distinguished American Award, which is presented only on special occasions to honor an individual who has applied character-building attributes learned from amateur football in their business and personal life. He was inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor in 2012.

Porter Payne was an All-SEC offensive lineman in the late 1940’s and was elected as the team captain of the 1949 team. While at Georgia, the Dawgs won two SEC championships (1946 and ’48) and played in three bowl games—1947 Sugar Bowl, 1948 Gator Bowl, and 1949 Orange Bowl. He was a teammate of legendary Charley Trippi with whom he enjoyed a life-long friendship.

Following his college career, Porter Payne was selected to play in what was then the College All-Star Game featuring the college all-stars who had completed their eligibility against the NFL defending champion. Porter and the College All-Stars defeated the defending world champion Philadelphia Eagles, 17-7.

Payne was also an All-City, All-State, and team captain as a fullback at Boys High in Atlanta.