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CLAUDE FELTON TRIBUTE Pgs. 37-40<br />

GET BETTER<br />

2<br />

24<br />

SPRING<br />

“Being detailed in what we are attacking each day. Don’t go<br />

out there without a purpose. I try to have the coaches go in<br />

each day and give points of emphasis. If we are not careful<br />

right now, there are so many things to correct that you<br />

can’t see the forest from the trees. It can be overwhelming<br />

to a young player, so we try to narrow their focus on small<br />

things. We have 15 opportunities to get better.”<br />

G-DAY<br />

ISSUE


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G-DAY/SPRING<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED<br />

IN THIS ISSUE<br />

VOLUME 22 NO. 1<br />

BRETT THORSON CAPTIVATES WITH<br />

HIS FOOT AND PERSONALITY!<br />

PHOTO BY: TONY WALSH/UGAAA<br />

SPORTS<br />

GET BETTER, <strong>2024</strong> | 14<br />

SPRING ALL-LEADERSHIP TEAM | 16<br />

NEW FACES COACHING STAFF | 18<br />

10 PLAYERS MAKING WAVES THIS SPRING | 20<br />

SOCIAL<br />

GEORGIA GIRLS: JARRETT KEMP | 24<br />

ST. MARY’S FOUNDATION BENEFIT HONORING<br />

BARBARA DOOLEY | 26<br />

GEORGIA WOMEN GIVE | 27<br />

PROUST Q&A: BEN HARTMAN | 28<br />

RED & BLACK ROOKIE EVENT | 29<br />

ESP BIG HEARTS GALA | 30<br />

OUR TEAM<br />

EDITOR: Vance Leavy<br />

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Cheri Leavy<br />

MULTIMEDIA DIRECTOR: Greg Poole<br />

CHIEF SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: Jeff Dantzler<br />

ART DIRECTOR: Stacey Nichols<br />

SALES: Caroline Kinney<br />

SPORTS: Jeff Dantzler, Greg Poole, Murray Poole,<br />

Noah Carney, Will Hearn, Matthew Herren<br />

MULTIMEDIA SUPPORT: Hamilton Culpepper<br />

PHOTOGRAPHY: Greg Poole, Rob Saye,<br />

Blane Marable<br />

COVER: Greg Poole<br />

STUDENT SPORTS EDITOR: Hamilton Culpepper<br />

COLUMNISTS: Hamilton Culpepper, Loran Smith,<br />

Kevin Butler, Caroline Champion<br />

DELIVERY: John Cook, Wright Cook, Rob<br />

Freeman, Anna French, Scarlett French, Flynn<br />

Kelly, Caroline Kinney, John Kinney, Eleanor<br />

Morgan, Henry Morgan, James Morgan, Jack<br />

Sawyer, Cullen Sewell, Henry Stokes, Champ<br />

Vance<br />

ISSUE ONE: SPRING/G-DAY<br />

April 9, <strong>2024</strong><br />

GEORGIA - LSU GYM DAWGS MEET | 32<br />

ORANGE BOWL GAMEDAY PHOTOS | 34<br />

CLAUDE FELTON TRIBUTE<br />

CLAUDE FELTON SALUTE BY MURRAY POOLE | 37<br />

CLAUDE FELTON ALWAYS DELIVERED<br />

BY JEFF DANTZLER | 40<br />

MORE SPORTS<br />

A LOOK AT NIL & BEYOND BY GREG POOLE | 42<br />

A LOOK AT THE <strong>2024</strong> GEORGIA SIGNING CLASS | 44<br />

WHAT’S THE WORD: COACH WES JOHNSON | 46<br />

WINTER/SPRING SPORTS UPDATE | 47<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 6 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


FROM THE<br />

EDITOR<br />

VANCE LEAVY<br />

EDITOR IN CHIEF<br />

<strong>Get</strong> <strong>Better</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> – it’s happening every day on the campus of Georgia<br />

as Bulldog teams continue to work hard for wins and championships!<br />

It’s great to be back with our first issue of <strong>2024</strong>. Yes, like many<br />

of you, there is still a sour taste in Team BI’s mouth for how<br />

the 2023 season ended. Of course, I’m not talking about<br />

the 63-3 FSU shellacking in the Orange Bowl. Instead, it’s<br />

still hard to believe that the brain trusts with the College Fooball<br />

Playoff kept out the back-to-back national champions, who had<br />

just completed their third straight undefeated regular season.<br />

With those final words, we now turn the page towards the<br />

upcoming <strong>2024</strong> season.<br />

Our men in Red and Black have been practicing hard the<br />

last month during spring drills. Coach Smart always demands<br />

this out of his players. However, from his opening spring press<br />

conference, he has been consistent in reminding folks that this<br />

year’s team is full of youngsters. There are also new coaches that<br />

are onboarding to the program this spring.<br />

I’m relaying this message not as a cause for concern, but merely<br />

to reinforce Coach Smart being absolutely forthright when saying<br />

these 15 days of spring ball have been all about “getting better.”<br />

<strong>Get</strong> <strong>Better</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>!<br />

As you will read beginning in our Sports section (page 13),<br />

Kirby’s Dawgs are absolutely focused on getting better. Enjoy<br />

reading about the progress occurring in Athens. Like the Georgia<br />

team, our team here at Bulldawg Illustrated has many new faces.<br />

We welcome Noah Carney, Matthew Herring and Will Hearn.<br />

And we appreciate Hamilton Culpepper doing a great job as<br />

this semester’s Student Editor. Cheri and I are still in denial that<br />

Hammy graduates in May.<br />

Continuing on the sports front, don’t miss Greg Poole’s<br />

Exploring NIL and Beyond feature (pages 41, 42). While Greg<br />

doesn’t have a magic fix, his story sheds great insight on<br />

understanding where college football currently finds itself.<br />

As JD writes about on page 10, spring time in Athens certainly<br />

rivals fall on the gridiron. UGA sports on campus are virtually<br />

happening everyday. And like our football team, getting better<br />

has certainly occurred of late for the other Georgia teams. Be sure<br />

to get updated by reading our Winter/Spring sports story (page<br />

47). The Diamond Dawgs (and Softball team) are the hottest<br />

squads on campus this spring. Hamilton Culpepper’s interview<br />

(page 46) with new baseball skipper, Wes Johnson, is excellent.<br />

I love that Coach Johnson’s priorities (in order) are the Lord, his<br />

family and baseball. And we should all heed his advice and get<br />

out and see this current <strong>2024</strong> team because several of the players<br />

are sure to be Big Leaguers.<br />

Finally for our team sports related content, enjoy getting to<br />

know more about the players who signed with Georgia football<br />

on National Signing <strong>Day</strong> back in February (pages 44, 45).<br />

Now to the bittersweet portion of my note.<br />

Long time Georgia sports information director, Claude Felton,<br />

retired earlier this year. What a career Claude had and he did his<br />

job each and every day for the betterment of our University. Our<br />

tribute to Claude begins on page 37. As I’ve done a few times<br />

over the last few years, I brought BI’s longtime contributor, Murray<br />

Poole, out of retirement to write the main story for the tribute.<br />

This was a no-brainer because of the decades the two of them<br />

had working together (Claude with UGA and Murray with The<br />

Brunswick News and BI). Jeff Danzler’s closes out Claude’s tribute<br />

with a marvelous column that starts out, “Claude Felton is one<br />

of best men I have ever known.” Drop the mic! Thank you Claude<br />

Felton. Your service to Georgia is unmatched. And I personally<br />

thank you for all your support of Leavy publications.<br />

Our Social section begins on page 23 and I must say the BI<br />

camera has been quite active in the off-season. Enjoy seeing all<br />

those smiling Bulldog faces. And don’t miss our Georgia Girls<br />

feature with Jarrett Kemp (pages 24, 25) and Proust Q&A with<br />

Ben Hartman (page 28). Jarrett has done great things since taking<br />

over the ownership of the Athens institution Appointments at<br />

Five. And you are going to love Ben’s quote to live by. Great stuff<br />

from two great Dawgs.<br />

That’s going to do it for me. Please enjoy this Spring/G-<strong>Day</strong><br />

issue of BI. We will see you back with our Season Preview issue in<br />

late June. Finally, I encourage everyone to live life to your fullest.<br />

The Bulldog Nation lost Kevin “Catfish” Jackson in early April. He<br />

will be missed by so many, but from what I knew of him, his life<br />

was completely full with faith, family and friends. Rest in Peace,<br />

Catfish!<br />

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Soak up the joys of springtime in Athens, where so many Georgia sports<br />

are happening every day, which includes the annual G-<strong>Day</strong> game<br />

Georgia Football has been the<br />

center of my universe for as long<br />

as I can remember. Outside of<br />

my parents, there’s nothing or<br />

no one - who is still around obviously - for<br />

as long. One of my first ever memories was<br />

the 1978 Tech game.<br />

The family was in Florida for<br />

Thanksgiving, and I remember watching<br />

with my dad, grandfather and uncle, as<br />

Georgia stormed back for a 29-28 victory<br />

over the Yellow Jackets. I was eight, nine,<br />

10 and 11 from 1980 through 1983,<br />

just when I was getting old enough to<br />

understand football, sports and what was<br />

going on. A lifelong love affair began.<br />

Talk about being spoiled. The 1980<br />

national championship, three straight<br />

Southeastern Conference championships,<br />

Herschel Walker’s Heisman Trophy, the<br />

43-4-1 record in that Early 80s Golden Era<br />

for the Red and Black. I didn’t know any<br />

different. It was natural to think, this is<br />

how it is, and how it always will be.<br />

Flash forward to the magnificent Kirby<br />

Smart dynasty, the 2021 and 2022<br />

national championships, seven straight<br />

top 10 national finishes and regular<br />

season records of 12-0 or 11-1 in six of<br />

those magnificent seven campaigns. So<br />

close so many times in between. So very<br />

sweet and joyful.<br />

No national championship has ever<br />

meant as much to a fanbase as that 2021<br />

crown did to Georgia, and those back-toback<br />

crowns - plus a sweet 13-1 Orange<br />

Bowl Championship season and No. 3<br />

national ranking, the seventh of those<br />

seven straight top 10 seasons - are being<br />

fully savored by the Sons and Daughters<br />

of the “Majority Party of the Empire State<br />

of the South” (Dan Magill magic).<br />

Saturday, April 13 is G-<strong>Day</strong>, and the first<br />

glimpse of the <strong>2024</strong> Georgia Football<br />

team for the Bulldog faithful.<br />

Coach King Kirby Smart - as he’s<br />

affectionately known to the legendary<br />

Hall of Famer Kevin Butler and his co-host<br />

on the Bulldog Network airwaves - is<br />

the country’s premier college football<br />

CEO and the Georgia Bulldogs, 42-2 over<br />

the last three years and winners of 46 of<br />

the last 48, are the sport’s current gold<br />

standard.<br />

Expectations and excitement are high. In<br />

the ever-changing, volatile landscape of<br />

collegiate athletics, Smart’s stability and<br />

consistent excellence are priceless.<br />

So as the Bulldog faithful gather<br />

Between the Hedges, enjoying a beautiful<br />

spring Saturday in America’s greatest<br />

college town, it is a grand time to<br />

celebrate all of Georgia’s grand gridiron<br />

accomplishments and confidently<br />

look ahead to the <strong>2024</strong> campaign. A<br />

season that, despite facing what will be<br />

America’s most daunting schedule, will<br />

likely begin with the Bulldogs sitting atop<br />

the preseason college football national<br />

rankings.<br />

There is nothing like a Georgia Football<br />

Saturday in Athens. Again, center of my<br />

universe for a long, long time.<br />

But this time of year is hard to beat.<br />

SPRING/G-DAY ISSUE<br />

There is a stretch in late February<br />

into early March where 14 different<br />

University of Georgia athletic teams are<br />

competing in-season. That’s both the<br />

men’s and women’s tennis, golf, track<br />

and field, swimming and diving and<br />

basketball teams. That’s baseball, softball,<br />

gymnastics and equestrian (see update<br />

on some these teams on page 44). It is a<br />

very busy and exciting time.<br />

Five Points and downtown restaurants<br />

and hopping, the hotels are bustling<br />

and there is a great energy in the<br />

Athens air with the onset of spring.<br />

Which is now officially here. Some of the<br />

aforementioned sports have concluded<br />

their seasons, but several are still going,<br />

and going strong.<br />

Springtime in Athens is hard to beat,<br />

especially when rejoicing glorious<br />

gridiron exploits.<br />

That includes the Georgia baseball<br />

team, under the direction of first year<br />

head coach Wes Johnson (see Hamilton<br />

Culpepper interview with the skipper<br />

on page 46), and led by All-American<br />

superman Charlie Condon.<br />

Some of my fondest memories are<br />

calling Georgia games at Foley Field from<br />

the Frank and Carol Beltran Radio Booth<br />

(where several distinguished members<br />

of my dynamic legal team are known to<br />

pop in), with my esteemed broadcast<br />

partner David Johnston, with baseball<br />

Sports Information Director Christopher<br />

Lakos one booth over. When baseball and<br />

tennis are simultaneously taking place,<br />

the energy is electric.<br />

One late May/early June stretch that<br />

will be hard to ever be surpassed came<br />

in 2001. Iconic Georgia tennis coach<br />

Manuel Diaz led Georgia to the national<br />

championship, with All-American<br />

Matias Boeker winning the triple crown.<br />

Georgia’s No. 1 player led the Bulldogs to<br />

the team crown, won the NCAA singles<br />

title and teamed with Travis Parrott to<br />

win the national doubles championship.<br />

Adjacent to the Dan Magill Tennis<br />

Complex at Foley Field, Jeff Keppinger<br />

was providing Hollywood Heroics for the<br />

Georgia baseball team.<br />

The All-American shortstop had a<br />

herculean performance to lead Georgia to<br />

the Regional Championship, going fivefor-five<br />

with three home runs, including a<br />

dramatic two out, two run round tripper<br />

(baseball’s Belue to Scott) in the top of<br />

the ninth (Georgia was the designated<br />

road team) that gave Georgia the lead<br />

and ultimate victory against Coastal<br />

Carolina. He hit for the cycle against<br />

Georgia Southern the night before.<br />

The next weekend, Georgia took two of<br />

three from Florida State to win the Super<br />

Regional and advance to the College<br />

World Series.<br />

Incredible.<br />

The scents and sights of Athens are so<br />

wonderful this time of year, so along<br />

with those unsurpassed annual Autumn<br />

weekends Between the Hedges, enjoying<br />

these majestic days of spring. You never<br />

know when something magical might<br />

happen.<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 10 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


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SPRING ALL-LEADERSHIP TEAM PG. 16 | NEW FACES COACHING STAFF PG. 18<br />

10 PLAYERS MAKING WAVES THIS SPRING PG. 20<br />

SPORTS<br />

CARSON BECK LEADS A YOUNG<br />

GEORGIA TEAM LOOKING TO GET<br />

BETTER EVERY DAY!<br />

PHOTO BY: TONY WALSH/UGA<br />

SPRING/G-DAY ISSUE<br />

PRACTICING<br />

BY:<br />

WITH<br />

PURPOSE<br />

AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL<br />

MATTHEW HERREN<br />

Following the 2023 season, Georgia fans were left with mixed<br />

emotions after dominating Florida State in the Orange Bowl for<br />

the Bulldogs’ fifth straight season with a New Year’s Six Bowl<br />

victory, but ultimately falling short of the standard that has<br />

been set, which is appearing in the College Football Playoff.<br />

Before the Bulldogs open the <strong>2024</strong> football season in Atlanta<br />

on August 31 against the Clemson Tigers, Coach Kirby Smart<br />

has implemented the “get better’ mindset into his team’s<br />

practices this spring to help keep his players focused on the<br />

small details ahead of the offseason that will help define the<br />

team’s identity.<br />

Smart, when asked about what the phrase means for his team,<br />

said “Being detailed in what we are attacking each day. Don’t<br />

go out there without a purpose. I try to have the coaches go in<br />

each day and give points of emphasis.” Purpose and attention<br />

to detail at this point in the offseason are two areas that the<br />

continued on page 14<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 13 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


DILLON BELL<br />

RECEIVER<br />

PHOTO BY: TONY WALSH/UGA<br />

PRACTICING WITH PURPOSE<br />

Bulldogs will have to focus on, as they won’t see any type<br />

of scrimmage aside from split quad games, including the G<br />

<strong>Day</strong> Game on April 13.<br />

Certain players have mentioned specific areas of their<br />

game that they want to improve before the coming season.<br />

Junior defensive back Mykel Williams discussed his areas<br />

of improvement this offseason: “I’m trying to improve my<br />

hand, my hand speed, my pad level, my get off and really<br />

just certain things that I’ll need to be successful at this<br />

position.”<br />

Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Carson Beck also<br />

mentioned a few of his areas with needed improvement,<br />

saying “I think the biggest thing for me is just continuously<br />

building my confidence level, and then, working through<br />

reads faster knowing when I can take the big shot and then<br />

when I need to check it down and play it safe.” While it will<br />

be important during offseason practices for the team to<br />

bond and build an identity as a whole, players will have to<br />

take accountability and improve their own traits ahead of<br />

the regular season.<br />

Georgia’s multi-versatile receiver/running back Dillon Bell<br />

is capitalizing greatly this spring in getting better, which<br />

will only help the wide receiver unit.<br />

“He’s continued to develop and continues to get better.<br />

He’s still a work in progress,” Smart said. “He played high<br />

school running back. He played 25 percent running back<br />

last year. The kid has worked his tail off at receiver to get<br />

better, but there’s a lot of route running things he can get<br />

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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 14 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL<br />

better at. The good thing is he’s got a quarterback the caliber of<br />

Carson to get him throws, get him 50/50 balls. I’m proud of the<br />

way he leads in practices. He’s taken on more of that Marcus<br />

Rosemy-Jacksaint, Ladd McConkey role of being the guy that’s<br />

the workhorse in that group, that never complains, is really<br />

physical, practices hard and sets the standard for the others. I<br />

think him, Rara, Arian and Dom have taken ownership in that.”<br />

When discussing his younger players, Smart said “It can be<br />

overwhelming to a young player, so we try to narrow their<br />

focus on small things.” Smart and his staff realize that for a<br />

program to be complete up and down the roster, he will need<br />

to prep his newcomers so that they are settled in by the time<br />

the regular season arrives.<br />

After the team’s first spring scrimmage, Smart said “We’ve got<br />

a lot to work on. We were very sloppy in terms of substitutions,<br />

getting guys on and off the field, communication, signals, just<br />

a lot of new people in the organization. It was not as clean<br />

as most of our first scrimmages. So, from scrimmage one to<br />

scrimmage two, starting really today, we’re moving towards<br />

how much can we improve from scrimmage one to scrimmage<br />

two.” He also highlighted the “15 opportunities” that his team<br />

gets this spring to practice before the summer, and said that<br />

he has “full expectations” that they will continue to have<br />

SPRING/G-DAY ISSUE<br />

“intentions of growing and getting better.” The upcoming<br />

G -<strong>Day</strong> Game will be the perfect opportunity for the Bulldogs to<br />

showcase not only their talented roster for their fans, but also<br />

to continue to develop the “get better” mindset into the team<br />

ahead of the much anticipated upcoming season.<br />

MYKEL WILLIAMS<br />

LINEBACKER<br />

PHOTO BY: TONY WALSH/UGA<br />

While celebrating another Spring/G-<strong>Day</strong><br />

in Athens, we also mourn the loss of<br />

Damn Good Dawg,<br />

Kevin “Catfish” Jackson<br />

He was a stellar family and business man,<br />

May he rest in peace - our thoughts<br />

and prayers are with his entire family!<br />

WWW.SANFORDUSA.COM<br />

478.471.4221<br />

WE ARE THE BEST at what we do!<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 15 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


08<br />

SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />

ALL-LEADERSHIP<br />

TEAM<br />

BY: GREG POOLE<br />

BRETT THORSON (PUNTER)<br />

UGA has been blessed with several punters who became team<br />

leaders over the years. Thorson has added his name to that<br />

leadership roster. In addition to his excellent punting, he is a<br />

consistent sideline asset. His approach is evident in the following<br />

quote when asked about the Ray Guy Award awarded annually<br />

to the nation’s top punter: “It’s not something I actively go out<br />

and look into. The season is five-six months away, definitely not<br />

thinking about that or individual accolades. I have to focus on<br />

spring ball. We have four more practices, a scrimmage, then G<br />

day.”<br />

CARSON BECK (QB)<br />

This one is easy. He is the offense’s leader and, in many ways,<br />

the face of the team. Kirby Smart said recently: “...he’s not a real<br />

emotional guy. He’s not a real fiery guy. He’s very laid back. He<br />

understands his job; he’s very intelligent. Every leader has their<br />

own way, and he certainly commands a room.”<br />

TATE RATLEDGE (OL)<br />

Carson Beck nor any other “skill players” will be successful without<br />

the offensive line’s protection, and Ratledge is a grizzled veteran<br />

of the trench wars. His decision to delay his pro career to finish<br />

the drill at UGA explains his mindset: “There was a bad taste in<br />

my mouth after last year, and of course, there’s things I want to<br />

accomplish by myself and that I want to see this team accomplish,<br />

so both of those things are a big part of the reason that I came<br />

back.”<br />

TREVOR ETIENNE (RB)<br />

It may seem odd to list an incoming transfer as a team leader,<br />

not to mention a transfer who collected traffic charges<br />

shortly after arriving in Athens. That incident could be the<br />

spark that ignites his quest to redeem himself. He has two<br />

years of starting experience in the SEC wars and will be<br />

a veteran in Georgia’s reconstituted running back room.<br />

Etienne found support from Coach Smart after his run-in<br />

with authorities. Smart said, “He is embarrassed, he is upset<br />

and knows he has made a mistake. It is a teaching moment,<br />

and we think he gets better from it.”<br />

JARED WILSON (CENTER)<br />

If quarterback is the most critical position on any offense, center<br />

follows closely. Wilson has the honor (and burden) of following<br />

Sedrick Van Pran’s 34 starts and consistent leadership of the<br />

offensive line. His experience playing in 21 games as a reserve<br />

and in practice behind Van Pran will have him ready for the SEC<br />

grind. And he has been described (by many) as having freakish<br />

all-around skills.<br />

Leadership is a skill. Some folks avoid acquiring it, while others<br />

embrace the opportunity to employ leadership skills to pursue team<br />

and personal goals. The ten players listed below have shown their<br />

ability to lead and will have the chance to guide UGA Football <strong>2024</strong><br />

using the example of past champions.<br />

9<br />

10<br />

WARREN<br />

BRINSON (DL)<br />

A player who opens the season with 50 games<br />

under his belt is a leader. Brinson will bring<br />

stability to a defensive line, helping integrate the<br />

youngsters as the season progresses. As a fifthyear<br />

player, the Dawgs’ horde of underclassmen<br />

will look to him (and fellow 5th year Nasir<br />

Stackhouse) for guidance, and they will find it in<br />

the articulate Brinson.<br />

CHAZ CHAMBLISS (LB)<br />

The last time Chambliss appeared for Georgia’s weekly<br />

press conference, a recent cut was visible on the<br />

bridge of his nose, and it seemed to belong there.<br />

Anyone thinking of seriously trying out for mixed<br />

martial arts is not going to be shy about sticking his<br />

nose into a tackle with extreme prejudice. His motto<br />

has to be, lead, follow or get out of my way.<br />

JALON WALKER (LB)<br />

Walker has played in 29 games during his two years<br />

at UGA. All of those reps were either on special<br />

teams or reserve linebacker, but this coach’s kid has<br />

leader written all over him. It may seem premature<br />

to consider him a leader going into 2023, but he<br />

is a special player whose star will shine brightly<br />

next season. He is cross-training at both inside<br />

and outside linebacker this spring. Chaz Chambliss<br />

noted his progress recently: “...it’s a different mindset<br />

between both of them. You know, he does a good<br />

job of keeping them separate in his mind; he’s grown<br />

and become a middle linebacker. He’s starting to<br />

become a leader in that room and also in our room<br />

when he comes over and pass rushes. He’s doing a<br />

great job with that.”<br />

MALAKI STARKS<br />

(SAFETY)<br />

Let’s see. In 2023, Starks’ accomplishments<br />

included being named All-America by AFCA, AP,<br />

CBS, ESPN, FWAA, Sports Illustrated, USA Today,<br />

and Walter Camp. He is personable, supremely<br />

athletic, intelligent, and exudes leadership. ESPN<br />

made him the highest-rated defensive back<br />

entering <strong>2024</strong>. Mr. Starks knows his stuff and<br />

has the interpersonal skills to lead the defensive<br />

backs and the team.<br />

SMAEL MONDON, JR. (LB)<br />

Georgia’s only senior inside linebacker must be included on<br />

this list of leaders. After making the Coach’s All-SEC team<br />

last season, Mondon is stepping into his own as a leader and<br />

signal caller for the defense. Naturally quiet, he has led by<br />

example but is not shy about his command responsibilities.<br />

Greg Poole is BI’s multimedia<br />

director and on-field<br />

photographer. He also maintains<br />

and moderates the fan thread on<br />

BI’s website.<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 16 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


New Faces<br />

<strong>2024</strong> Coaching Staff<br />

BY: WILL HEARN/BI<br />

A successful college football program is bound<br />

to lose coaches in the off-season. With a variety of<br />

former Georgia coaches accepting offers with new<br />

opportunities, there are plenty of new faces heading<br />

into the <strong>2024</strong> season. All have received nothing<br />

but praise from Georgia’s head coach. Kirby Smart<br />

emphasized the passion each of these coaches have<br />

and their ability to do great things as new coaches<br />

with the University.<br />

SPRING/G-DAY ISSUE<br />

Travaris Robinson<br />

(Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties)<br />

Travaris Robinson is one of the most well-connected coaches in the country.<br />

Robinson is responsible for bringing countless names to any team with which he<br />

has been involved. Robinson spent his past two seasons with the Tide. Kirby Smart<br />

spoke on Robinson’s knowledge of the “SEC Blueprint,” in terms of his knowledge<br />

and relationships. Dan Jackson harped on Robinson’s energy saying, “He’s been<br />

incredible. Coach T-Rob brings the juice every day.” Taking over for Will Muschamp<br />

seems to have been a smooth transition. DB JaCorey Thomas, from Florida, has<br />

known Robinson for a while due to his time coaching at Miami. Thomas told the<br />

media that Robinson and Muschamp are practically the same person.<br />

Donte Williams<br />

(Cornerbacks)<br />

Former defensive back coach Fran Brown left Donte Williams with a variety of<br />

talent and maintained connections. Once Brown headed to Syracuse, Georgia<br />

quickly found his replacement in Donte Williams, who was with USC at the time<br />

of Brown’s departure. Within just a few weeks of spring drills, various corners have<br />

already mentioned how much they love Williams’ coaching techniques. Kirby Smart<br />

referenced Williams’ on-the-field presence and how he participates in some of the<br />

drills with the players. Smart said, “Yeah, I noticed that [Coach Donte Williams with a<br />

helmet on during practice] too. I don’t know if that’s legal. I hope it is, since he’s got a<br />

helmet on out there like an extra player. He may need it for safety, because some of<br />

those corners may be coming after him.” According to Julian Humphrey, the players<br />

love this energy, and it helps the players on a very personal level.<br />

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Give our office a call today to schedule personalized time with one of our experienced professionals!<br />

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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 18 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


James Coley<br />

(Wide Receivers)<br />

James Coley is a familiar face to Georgia fans. In the past, Coley spent time as both<br />

Georgia’s receivers coach and offensive coordinator. Most notably in his time at<br />

Georgia, Coley flipped five-star wide receiver George Pickens, who went on to be a<br />

star for the Dawgs. Other big names recruited by Coley at the receiver position include<br />

players like Dominick Blaylock, Kearis Jackson, Jeremiah Holloman, Riley Ridley. Coley<br />

is elite on the trail; his history speaks for itself. Since 2019, Coley spent his time on the<br />

Texas A&M staff. He coached the Aggies’ wide receivers and tight ends. In February,<br />

Kirby Smart released an official statement on Coley’s reintroduction to the team. Smart<br />

stated, “He is a tremendous teacher and leader of young men. His previous experience<br />

on our staff will make this a seamless transition.” The transition seems to be going<br />

relatively smoothly. In a recent practice viewing period, Coley was vocal to the receivers<br />

throughout drills.<br />

Josh Crawford<br />

(Running Backs)<br />

Josh Crawford most recently spent time as Georgia Tech’s wide receivers coach, but<br />

he will take on a new role for the Bulldogs. Crawford is filling now Georgia State head<br />

coach Dell McGee’s former role. Taking over for the legendary Dell McGee is no easy<br />

task, but Crawford’s ties will put him in a prime position, especially on the recruiting<br />

trail. Crawford’s has connections all over the Peach state.<br />

He previously coached at: Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky, Colquitt County HS,<br />

Valdosta HS, Lee County HS, Jefferson County HS, Greater Atlanta Christian HS.<br />

Kirby Smart mentioned that Crawford initially interviewed for the receiver coaching<br />

position but believes that this job will suit him just as well. Smart said, “I don’t think you<br />

have to be any certain position if you’re a good football coach.” Smart has been nothing<br />

but pleased with Crawford’s coaching efforts. When talking about both Crawford and<br />

CB Coach Donte Williams, Smart said, “Everything that we heard about them and the<br />

things we wanted them to come into our program for, they’re here for. I’m really proud<br />

of both those guys and how they’ve transitioned thus far.”<br />

ATHENS ACADEMY<br />

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A Top-Tier Education from a Highly-Qualified Faculty<br />

STEM, Art, Music & PE Classes Beginning in Preschool<br />

Affordability with $1.6M in Need-Based Financial Aid<br />

A Beautiful 152-acre Campus & Small Class Sizes<br />

BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL<br />

& PRESCHOOL<br />

IN THE REGION<br />

SCHEDULE A TOUR TODAY<br />

www.athensacademy.org/visit<br />

admissions@athensacademy.org<br />

Go Dawgs!<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 19 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


10 PLAYERS<br />

MAKING WAVES<br />

THIS SPRING<br />

BY: NOAH CARNEY<br />

08<br />

These 10 players are definitely guys to look for at the G-<strong>Day</strong> game.<br />

Although most of them may get limited time in the fall, they are<br />

showing a glimpse at the future of Georgia football. The young guys<br />

on this list have been learning behind the veterans of the program for<br />

three months now, and the transfers on the list are showing why they<br />

were sought out by Kirby Smart and his staff in the offseason.<br />

GUNNER STOCKTON (QB)<br />

Although Stockton isn’t going to be coming after Carson Beck’s<br />

job, his spring progress and G-<strong>Day</strong> performance is important. This<br />

game is the time for him to prove to the staff and Georgia fans<br />

that he is already 10-steps ahead in the QB battle of 2025. Now<br />

that Beck has earned his leadership role this spring, Stockton<br />

needs to take full advantage of the veteran QB’s knowledge and<br />

experience.<br />

KJ BOLDEN (DB)<br />

Bolden came out of this year’s high school class as the No. 1<br />

safety for a reason. The 5-star out of Buford High School is<br />

simply a pure athlete. He has a quick twitch about him and a<br />

nose for the football. Bolden has been learning from Malaki<br />

Starks all spring, and will be implementing the knowledge he<br />

has gained come spring game.<br />

JUSTIN WILLIAMS (LB)<br />

The 5-star out of Texas is a beast at the linebacker position that<br />

UGA desperately needs. He has quick hands and great vision<br />

giving him the ability to apply a lot of pressure in opposing teams<br />

backfields, which is something that the UGA fanbase will be<br />

happy to see.<br />

ELLIS ROBINSON IV (CB)<br />

The No. 2 player in the country has it all. He is the epitome<br />

of a ball-hawk and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he gets at<br />

least one pick during the G-<strong>Day</strong> game. With the cornerback<br />

position partially up for grabs, a big spring game from him<br />

would go a long way.<br />

XZAVIER MCLEOD (DL)<br />

McLeod was a 4-star coming out of high school and was also<br />

a 4-star transfer prospect. He is coming from South Carolina<br />

hungry to be a part of the Dawgs’ defense. Although he is most<br />

likely going to be the backup for veteran senior Warren Brinson,<br />

McLeod will still have to prove himself coming in as one of the<br />

higher rated transfers.<br />

9<br />

10<br />

CHRIS COLE (LB)<br />

Like Justin Williams, Chris Cole is another beast<br />

coming in at the linebacker position. The 5-star out of<br />

Salem, Virginia has the perfect size, speed, and agility<br />

to be a great linebacker. Although the linebacker<br />

position is very deep with veteran players, his<br />

athleticism and build won’t be overlooked and will be<br />

on full display during the G-<strong>Day</strong> game.<br />

DANIEL<br />

CALHOUN (LG)<br />

Calhoun was the highest rated trench Dawg that<br />

UGA had coming in this offseason. His metrics<br />

are unreal, standing at 6’7, 365-pound. He is<br />

a force to be reckoned with and is one of the<br />

biggest recruits that UGA has seen. He has been<br />

learning behind some experienced lineman, but<br />

could definitely make a jump in the depth chart<br />

with a good spring game.<br />

LONDON<br />

HUMPHREYS (WR)<br />

Although he wasn’t a shining star coming out of<br />

high school, he is the highest rated transfer that UGA<br />

landed this offseason. The transfer from Vanderbilt<br />

was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after being<br />

the second leading receiver on his team. With the<br />

No. 1 QB in the nation, the sky is the limit for the new<br />

Dawg in Athens.<br />

DAYLEN EVERETTE (CB)<br />

Although he received a lot of criticism for<br />

performances last year, <strong>Day</strong>len is the guy the Dawgs<br />

want leading their secondary. His size and speed as<br />

a corner is unmatched and with a year under his belt<br />

he is ready to have a breakout year. The spring game<br />

will be a big litmus test for him, but he should be<br />

able to exceed the standards of the staff and the fans.<br />

COLBIE YOUNG (WR)<br />

The veteran wide receiver from Miami is ready to<br />

make his closeout season his best yet. Although<br />

the Dawgs have three of the five wideouts<br />

returning from last season, Young’s size is hard to<br />

look past. He is a 6’5” wideout who targets the ball<br />

well and has unreal hands. He will definitely be<br />

one of the biggest red zone threats in the spring<br />

game, which will give the Bulldog Nation a sneak<br />

peak of what is to come in the fall season.<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 20 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


GEORGIA GIRLS: JARRETT KEMP PG. 24 | BENEFIT HONORING BARBARA DOOLEY PG. 26<br />

PROUST Q&A: BEN HARTMAN PG. 28<br />

Patrice Johnson, Catherine Warner, Bob Pinckney,<br />

Megan Henning, Bonney Shuman<br />

PHOTO BY: CHERI LEAVY/BI<br />

SOCIAL<br />

GEORGIA WOMEN GIVE PHOTOS: PG.27<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 23 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


GEORGIA GIRLS<br />

SOCIAL<br />

Foundation:<br />

NAME: Jarrett Kemp<br />

FAMILY: Daughter of Brian and Marty Kemp, sisters Lucy and<br />

Amy Porter Kemp, and boyfriend, Brooks.<br />

HOMETOWN: Athens, Georgia<br />

CURRENT TOWN: Athens, Georgia<br />

WHAT YEARS AT UGA: 2017-2021<br />

SCHOOL/DEGREE: Mary Frances Early College of Education<br />

PROFESSION: I am the new and proud owner of the amazing<br />

gift and antique shop, Appointments at Five. The store was<br />

opened 36 years ago by two of Athens’ greats, Kitty Culpepper<br />

and Jenny Sligh, and as an Athens native I am honored to<br />

continue the tradition. I took over the reins in September of 2023<br />

and have been working hard ever since to put my own touch on<br />

the store. I love helping our customers whether it’s finding a gift<br />

for hosting, birthdays or babies, helping a couple pick out their<br />

wedding china or finding the perfect antique chest for their home.<br />

Stop by to see how we’ve mixed the old and new and updated this<br />

Athens classic. Also, be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook<br />

and shop online at Appointments at Five<br />

Accolades:<br />

Georgia<br />

Girls<br />

JARRETT KEMP<br />

While no official accolades yet, I consider it a major accomplishment to<br />

have taken over an established business especially in a town like Athens<br />

at the age of 24! It isn’t always easy but I am so excited for what the<br />

future holds. Hoping for another 36 years of Appointments at Five!<br />

Inspo:<br />

2.<br />

BOOK: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers or Where the Crawdads<br />

Sing by Delia Owens are my two favs - must read!<br />

MAGAZINE: Garden and Gun. (1)<br />

PODCAST: <strong>Get</strong> Real with Caroline Hobby.<br />

BLOG: Elisabeth & Butter.<br />

INSTAGRAM: I love following other small businesses to gather<br />

inspiration and just love connecting with other business owners! A<br />

few of my favs are Two Friends SSI, Smiths in Dublin, Ga, Waiting on<br />

Martha and The Blue Print Store.<br />

BRAND: LAKE, Paige, Estelle and anything and everything from<br />

Tuckernuck.<br />

FASHION DESIGNER: The Heath Sisters from Athens, Georgia. They just<br />

started their own clothing line, Melbourne, and their designs are fab!<br />

INTERIOR DESIGNER: Grace Brackman with Maggie Griffin Design<br />

- all of her work is amazing! (2)<br />

CHEF: I love to cook myself but two of my favs are Ina Garten and<br />

Meredith from Wishbone Kitchen.<br />

HISTORICAL FIGURE: Princess Diana. (3)<br />

QUOTE:<br />

“Before you go to sleep, remember<br />

all the beautiful victories you<br />

had today. Be proud of yourself<br />

because tomorrow you are one step<br />

closer to where you need to be.”<br />

Jenessawaits<br />

3.<br />

1.<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 24 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


4.<br />

Athens + UGA:<br />

DESCRIBE ATHENS IN FIVE WORDS OR<br />

LESS: Quaint, vibrant & ever evolving!<br />

RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Last Resort, The<br />

Expat, ZZ & Simones, Georgia Theatre and<br />

Creature Comforts - so many good options!<br />

SHOPS: Amelia’s, and of course, Appointments<br />

at Five!<br />

ATHENS/CAMPUS LANDMARK: Sanford<br />

Stadium and 5 Points. (4)<br />

MEMORY WHILE IN SCHOOL: Gamedays in<br />

Athens are unbeatable! I loved jumping in the<br />

car with all my roommates and riding with the<br />

windows down singing “Teenage Wasteland”<br />

headed to Chick-Fil-A to pick up breakfast then<br />

heading back to our house to pop open the<br />

champagne, make a mimosa and get ready for<br />

a day of tailgating and cheering on the Dawgs!<br />

PROFESSOR/CLASS: Julie Carbaugh! She<br />

believed in me and always looked out for me<br />

even beyond the classroom.<br />

GAMEDAY RITUAL/PLAN: Love keeping the<br />

doors to the store open on Gamedays, getting<br />

all the foot traffic and helping with last minute<br />

tailgating needs, then heading down to<br />

tailgate and the game to cheer on the Dawgs<br />

with family and friends!<br />

5.<br />

TAILGATE RECIPE:<br />

Spicy Sausage Balls (5)<br />

Ingredients:<br />

1 cup of Bisquick baking mix<br />

1 pound of spicy sausage<br />

1 lb sharp cheddar cheese<br />

Directions:<br />

Preheat oven to 350 degrees<br />

Combine bisquick, raw sausage, and cheese in<br />

a large bowl and use your hands to mix until<br />

all combined (you can also put it all into your<br />

stand mixer)<br />

Line your baking sheet with tin foil and spray<br />

with nonstick cooking spray<br />

Form smalls balls and line them onto your<br />

baking sheet about an inch apart<br />

Bake for 30 minutes until they are brown and<br />

crispy!<br />

Cheri Leavy’s rapport<br />

with her favorite<br />

tastemakers and<br />

UGA Alumnae brings<br />

you plenty of doggone<br />

good inspiration!<br />

@cherileavy | @thesouthernc<br />

@wearebulldawgs<br />

@guide2athens<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 25 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY<br />

@ameliasapparel<br />

www.ameliasonmain.com<br />

(706) 850-6373<br />

1738 S Lumpkin Street, Athens<br />

(706) 342-2986<br />

172 South Main Street, Madison


SOCIAL<br />

FAN SHOTS<br />

Ashton Dooley,<br />

Kendall Dooley<br />

Laura Bushatz,<br />

Austin Bushatz<br />

Gabrielle Deliz, Adrianne Beacham,<br />

Matt Beacham, Houston Gaines<br />

Aaron James, Kristin James<br />

Tony Salloum, Heather Salloum Josh Tench, Sam Reed Barbara Dooley,<br />

Ronda Rich<br />

Barbara Dooley cutout<br />

Ben Butler, Caroline Butler, Hunter O’Shaughnessey,<br />

Jamey O’Shaughnessey<br />

(clockwise, from left) Martha Payne, Shannon Candler,<br />

Peter Candler, Melanie Perno, Suzanne Chastain, Woody<br />

Chastain, Leigh Ann Bauerle, Jack Bauerle, Judy Zaban<br />

Miller, Billy Payne<br />

CELEBRATION OF COURAGEOUS LEADERS<br />

BENEFITING THE ST.MARY’S FOUNDATION<br />

AND HONORING BARBARA DOOLEY<br />

By: Hamilton Culpepper<br />

A night to remember … the late, great former head coach Vince Dooley won a lot<br />

of football games on the gridiron, but he outkicked his coverage by marrying the<br />

marvelous Barbara Dooley. Her work off the field far surpasses Ws in the win column;<br />

her work off the field touches and has touched the lives of many in our Athens-Clarke<br />

County community and beyond. Those efforts were recognized at the Celebration of<br />

Courageous Leaders Benefiting the St.Mary’s Foundation on March 2. Family, friends,<br />

loved ones, St. Mary’s staff and anyone who shook the hand of Barbara throughout<br />

the years gathered at the Athens Country Club to show their appreciation for the<br />

longtime First Lady of Georgia football. From the Bulldawg Illustrated family, we thank<br />

you Barbara for everything you have done and continue to do in this community!<br />

Here are a few images that capture the terrific scene from that special night.<br />

MOVING DAWGS ACROSS GEORGIA SINCE 1972<br />

Residential and Commercial Moving<br />

Local and Long Distance<br />

On-site Document Destruction<br />

Document Data Storage<br />

Go Mini’s Portable Storage Units<br />

Packing Materials<br />

DUKE LINDSAY<br />

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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 26 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


Stephanie Powell, Becky Tolbert<br />

Natalie Coghill,<br />

Christine Anderson<br />

GEORGIA WOMEN GIVE<br />

The women-directed fundraising group gathered this spring in Athens<br />

with the purpose to engage more deeply with UGA and commit to<br />

philanthropy and learning. It kicked off with a panel discussion with<br />

University Vice Presidents Jill Walton, Jennifer Frum, Marisa Pagnattaro<br />

and Kathy Pharr and was followed by Dine-Around Programs that evening<br />

at spots on campus such as The Entrepreneurship Program Center and<br />

Special Collections Library. The signature luncheon spotlighted the study<br />

away program.<br />

Katie Newell, Ali Gant, Elizabeth Correll Richards, Leslie Candle,<br />

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Andrea Parris, Jill Bateman, Lauren Cook, Siara Abdulla,<br />

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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 27 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


PROUST<br />

Q&A<br />

COMPILED BY: CAROLINE CHAMPION<br />

NAME: Ben Hartman<br />

FAMILY: Wife: Leslie UGA 1993, son: Hill UGA 2022, daughter:<br />

Curry UGA 2023 and son: Spence (second year at Virginia)<br />

HOMETOWN: Roswell, Georgia<br />

CURRENT TOWN: St. Simons Island, Georgia<br />

SCHOOL/DEGREE: UGA Law Class of 1996<br />

PROFESSION: Lawyer at Hunter Maclean<br />

ACCOLADES: Cum Laude Graduate of UGA Law, Gridiron<br />

Secret Society, Graduate of Leadership Georgia, Graduate of<br />

Leadership Glynn, Past Chairman of the Brunswick- Golden Isles<br />

Chamber of Commerce.<br />

‌WHAT LIFE LESSONS DID YOU LEARN WHILE AT UGA?<br />

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Know how to take a joke.<br />

WHAT PROFESSOR DID YOU MOST ADMIRE?<br />

Professor Michael Wells brilliantly taught Torts and Constitutional<br />

Law.<br />

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST<br />

ACHIEVEMENT?<br />

Raising our three children with Leslie. I couldn’t be more proud<br />

of the three of them. Coach the baseball and softball teams, have<br />

dinner at the table with your family.<br />

WHO ARE YOUR HEROES IN REAL LIFE?<br />

My parents. They taught me the importance of family and being<br />

there for your children. Their lives showed me the importance of<br />

serving others.<br />

My wife, Leslie is a hero of mine. She took over Safe Harbor, a<br />

home for children who need a place to call home, when it was<br />

in a time of<br />

tumult and<br />

has poured<br />

her heart and<br />

love into that<br />

organization for<br />

nearly twenty years. What<br />

an amazing impact her good<br />

work has had on the children and families in our community.<br />

QUOTE TO LIVE BY:<br />

“Family and friends are life’s greatest treasure. Be intentional in<br />

making time for each other. Help folks out. Go easy on each other.<br />

Forgive each other. It is love that matters. It is all that matters.”<br />

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS?<br />

A pontoon at sunset on Lake Burton where Timpson Creek meets<br />

the Tallulah River. Cold drinks with Leslie. The kids and the golden<br />

retriever diving into the cold mountain water. Robert Earl Keen on<br />

the radio. In awe of God’s splendor.<br />

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT<br />

YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?<br />

More patience.<br />

Ben Hartman<br />

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?<br />

Pat Conroy with his insights on the low country and life. Charles<br />

Frazier’s Odyssey-like novel, Cold Mountain. The indelible humor<br />

of Lewis Grizzard on life in the South, fried chicken and the<br />

Dawgs. The musings on clothes, altruism, and transcendentalism<br />

of Thomas Carlyle in Sartor Resartus.<br />

FAVE SOCIAL MEDIA AND WHO TO FOLLOW?<br />

The Poor Man by Ryan Scates. These thoughtful reports begin a<br />

Dawg weekend in the fall.<br />

We believe magic comes from<br />

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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 28 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 29 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 30 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 31 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 33 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 36 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


CLAUDE<br />

FELTON<br />

FROM HIS ROLE WITH HERSCHEL TO THE BACK-TO-BACK<br />

NATIONAL TITLES, HIS WORK AT UGA WAS EXEMPLARY!<br />

BY MURRAY POOLE<br />

When Claude Felton was named<br />

sports information director at<br />

his alma mater on July 1st, 1979,<br />

little did he realize that in just over one<br />

year later, he would begin publicizing/<br />

promoting the top high school football<br />

player in the nation.<br />

A player who would evolve not only into<br />

the greatest running back in the history of<br />

the University of Georgia but also arguably<br />

into the best running back in the history of<br />

college football.<br />

Herschel Walker.<br />

“I didn’t see Herschel play in high school,”<br />

said Felton, Georgia’s Hall of Fame and<br />

legendary SID who capped nearly a 45-<br />

year career serving UGA athletics when he<br />

announced his retirement on January 30 of<br />

this year.<br />

“I think I saw some video or film of<br />

Herschel in high school, maybe on TV or<br />

somewhere else but never saw him in<br />

person,” said Felton. “I can’t remember,<br />

I think I might have seen him when he<br />

came in on a visit but I can’t remember<br />

much until he actually got here when the<br />

freshmen came in.”<br />

But for young Claude Felton, the task<br />

of guiding Georgia’s sports information<br />

department – even with all the publicity<br />

and ballyhoo that Herschel was to bring<br />

with him to Athens from Johnson County<br />

High in Wrightsville – wasn’t too daunting.<br />

That’s because of the excellent training<br />

he had previously received at Georgia<br />

Southern University.<br />

“I had two or three roles at Georgia<br />

Southern,” Felton said. “I was sports<br />

information director and I was actually<br />

public relations director there my last<br />

couple of years.” Felton, it should be noted,<br />

also served three years as an assistant<br />

tennis coach for the Eagles.<br />

“When I came to Georgia, Coach (Vince)<br />

Dooley was the head coach and he<br />

was actually taking over the dual role<br />

of athletic director, starting July 1st of<br />

’79,” he said. “Coach Dooley called me at<br />

Georgia Southern in the spring of ’79 and<br />

he had just hired Andy Landers (women’s<br />

basketball coach) and Jack Bauerle (swim<br />

coach) and he wanted to talk to me about<br />

the sports information job so probably me,<br />

Jack and Andy started relatively about the<br />

same time at Georgia.<br />

“I think Dan Magill (Georgia legendary<br />

SID and tennis coach) gave Coach Dooley<br />

a recommendation on me and I tell you<br />

somebody else who talked to Coach<br />

Dooley about me was Harley Bowers of<br />

The Macon Telegraph. He was the other<br />

one I recall.”<br />

Felton said the person most instrumental<br />

in his early development was Ric Mandes.<br />

“My boss at Georgia Southern, Ric<br />

Mandes, was the head of what they call<br />

institutional development, which sports<br />

information and public relations all came<br />

under that,” Felton said. “But he was far<br />

ahead of his time as an institutional public<br />

relations person. He was doing things at<br />

Georgia Southern at that time that most<br />

schools hadn’t even thought about. He<br />

taught me just so many things and what I<br />

learned from him was certainly a lot of the<br />

basis of what I was able to do when I got<br />

to Georgia. But also, when I was at Georgia<br />

Southern, I had gotten to know a lot of<br />

the sports media around the state so that<br />

was a blessing as well, to have so many<br />

relationships already established with<br />

sports media when I got to Georgia.”<br />

Back to Herschel Walker.<br />

When the 6-1, 218-pound Walker, who<br />

was named Parade Magazine national<br />

player of the year at Johnson County,<br />

reported to his first Georgia practice in<br />

August of 1980, hardly anyone envisioned<br />

what the powerful and very, very fast<br />

tailback would accomplish in his freshman<br />

season in the red and black of the Bulldogs.<br />

“Of course, Herschel as a freshman kind<br />

of took the country by storm, for a lot of<br />

reasons,” related Felton, who as the 1980<br />

season moved along, would be tasked<br />

with researching the UGA and SEC records<br />

that Walker was now accumulating. “One<br />

for just what he could do on the football<br />

field,” said Felton, “but also, what the team<br />

was doing at the same time his freshman<br />

continued on page 38<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 37 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


year … going undefeated and winning a national championship.<br />

Herschel finished third as a freshman in the Heisman Trophy<br />

behind George Rogers who was a senior at South Carolina and<br />

I can’t remember who was second (Hugh Green, Pitt). In those<br />

days there was no way a freshman was going to win the Heisman<br />

Trophy, no matter what. And his second year he was definitely<br />

good enough to win the Heisman; he finished second that year<br />

behind Marcus Allen and probably would have won it had Marcus<br />

Allen not been the first player I think in college history to rush for<br />

2,000 yards in a single season. And the third year, Herschel was<br />

pretty much a runaway in the third year.”<br />

Felton said that although Walker didn’t need much extra publicity<br />

due to his extraordinary exploits on the playing field, Georgia’s<br />

sports information department did begin to get his name on the<br />

national sports scene’s consciousness.<br />

“We did some things all three years to some degree,” he said.<br />

“But there were no cell phones, no internet, no email in those<br />

days so pretty much everything you did was direct mail. We did<br />

quite a few direct mail pieces that went to media all across the<br />

country but you could only do it so often just because of the time<br />

it took for the mail to arrive. But pretty much everything was<br />

direct mail in those days and we did a lot of things. We had a lot<br />

of comparisons how he was doing compared to former Heisman<br />

Trophy winners, running backs and those sort of things. There<br />

were a lot of things we did all three years but probably his last year<br />

was the biggest year.<br />

“Herschel would still be the best running back I’ve ever seen, for<br />

sure,” Felton said. “A lot of Georgia people still say Charley Trippi<br />

might have been the best overall athlete ever to play for Georgia,<br />

which might have been true as he was a great baseball player, too. But,<br />

yeah, Herschel is still the best college running back I’ve ever seen.”<br />

What, in Felton’s mind, was the best performance Herschel ever<br />

had at Georgia?<br />

“Probably his freshman year against South Carolina when it was<br />

him against George Rogers,” Felton recalled. “And I believe that<br />

might have been Herschel’s first game on national television. And<br />

in those days, you had maybe one game a week on TV and that<br />

game against South Carolina Keith Jackson was the play-by-play<br />

announcer I recall. And Herschel had a real big day against South<br />

Carolina and we won the game (13-10), which kept us undefeated<br />

going into those last three games against Florida, Auburn and<br />

Tech. And of course, the next week against Florida was the Belueto-Scott<br />

play and he had a big game that day too. He had several<br />

big games against Florida, which I remember. But that game<br />

against South Carolina as a freshman was certainly a big game<br />

that really promoted him onto a real national stage because it was<br />

the first time people were able to see him all across the country,”<br />

said Felton.<br />

Walker, that game, outperformed future Heisman winner Rogers<br />

by rushing for 219 yards on 43 carries including maybe his best<br />

touchdown run ever at Georgia when he dashed 76 yards down<br />

the north sidelines, in the process outrunning several Gamecock<br />

defensive backs who had a perfect angle on Walker.<br />

Felton has been inducted into three Hall of Fames for his<br />

exemplary work in his four decades at the university: the College<br />

Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame, the<br />

Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame and on February 24 of this<br />

year, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Felton was also presented<br />

the Football Writers Association of America Ben McGrane Award.<br />

But Felton, modest to a fault, is certainly not one to toot his own<br />

horn.<br />

“A lot of that is due to the fact of really just being at Georgia<br />

because if you’re at Georgia, all the years I’ve been there, you<br />

get to work on a national stage, first of all,” he said. “And you get<br />

to work with some of the greatest coaches and athletes in the<br />

history of the college game in a bunch of sports, not just football.<br />

The same year I came was the same year Dominique Wilkins<br />

QUOTES<br />

Claude is the person who gave someone with zero Sports Communications experience a chance<br />

for an internship in 2005 and then a full-time job in 2006. He’s the one who taught me that no<br />

detail is too small to cover and no media outlet is too insignificant not to help. He provided me<br />

with a nugget of his expertise daily and challenged all of us in the Sports Communications office<br />

to work up to the level of professionalism he had created. Claude was also a friend, a confidant<br />

I could trust and a friendly face at church after we had both come in from an away game in the<br />

early hours of the morning. He is a generous, caring, insightful and wealth of knowledge like very<br />

few others around. Claude means the world to my family and me, and I look forward to watching<br />

him embrace this next chapter and enjoy every fish that comes into the boat and every quail that<br />

hits the ground.<br />

LELAND BARROW<br />

SENIOR ASSOCIATE SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR<br />

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION<br />

I know of no other person who has served in<br />

the same capacity as Claude Felton who did it<br />

as well as he did. What people need to know<br />

is he was not only masterful in the crafts of<br />

sports information and promotions, he was an<br />

excellent leader. He was honest supportive and<br />

a true friend to ALL of us! Just the best ever!<br />

ANDY LANDERS<br />

FORMER UGA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL<br />

COACH<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 38 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


CLAUDE FELTON SALUTE<br />

QUOTES<br />

came. So, we’ve got a lot of great athletes in a lot of different<br />

sports which really put me in a position to work, like I said, in a<br />

national setting.”<br />

As might be expected, Felton said the three national football<br />

championships the Bulldogs won in his roles as sports<br />

information director, then assistant athletic director, associate<br />

athletic director and finally senior associate executive athletic<br />

director, were the highlights of his career at Georgia.<br />

“You have to say the national championships first of all but I<br />

would point out that since I’ve been at Georgia that Georgia<br />

has won 46 or 47 national championships in all sports,” he said.<br />

“And they all have been something special. I guess I worked<br />

most closely every day with football and to win that 1980<br />

national championship was certainly special since I had been<br />

here only a couple of years then. But at that point you think<br />

we may never win another one. And I guess we went about<br />

40 years before we did win another one. Certainly, these last<br />

two were certainly special because, like I say, it was another 40<br />

years since 1980 before we won another one.”<br />

Felton said he simply wouldn’t have made it his 44 plus years<br />

in his position without all the excellent assistance he received<br />

in the sports information department.<br />

“If somebody asks me what has been my best strength over<br />

the years, it’s probably hiring,” Felton said. “Because I’ve had<br />

an unbelievable group of full-time staff, grad assistants and<br />

undergrad students who have all pitched in and just done<br />

phenomenal work and, as I’ve said many times, they’re the<br />

ones that most of the time made me look good. We had great<br />

stability with a lot of staff members who have been at Georgia<br />

a long time.”<br />

“When I talked to Claude when he did retire, he told me a story I had<br />

never heard. He said one of his first meetings when he was still down<br />

at Georgia Southern that Coach (Vince) Dooley came to him and said,<br />

‘Now Claude, first things first, I just hired two new young coaches you<br />

need to get with.’ And that was Andy Landers and me. And it was pretty<br />

funny. Claude said, ‘I guess it’s one really young enthusiastic guy from<br />

some junior college up in Tennessee and also this young, real friendly<br />

guy that swam here and I hope he has some upside.’<br />

“As time went on, I think some people forget one thing about Claude.<br />

I think he was the same age I was, 27 at that time. And Andy was too.<br />

So, the three of us, unbeknownst to each other, started at the same<br />

time. I didn’t know Andy; Andy didn’t know me and we didn’t know<br />

Claude until he came to us. The bottom line with Claude, I always felt<br />

he was like the anchor in our athletic department. He was savvy with<br />

what he did but his demeanor was always the same, whether it was<br />

something great going on he had to cover or something tough he had<br />

to cover.<br />

“You talk about a baptism of fire is when he started, the year before<br />

Herschel came. So, talk about a learning curve I think Claude, under the<br />

circumstances, learned more in one year than other SIDs could have<br />

learned in a lifetime. Unless you were here at that time, the Herschel<br />

mania was almost inexplicable. You had to see it to believe it. The<br />

thing about Claude was that his influence stretched far and wide. One<br />

of my swimmers who ended up working with him just retired after<br />

an illustrious career at Alabama, and Claude is the father of so many<br />

successful SIDs across the country, there are too many to name. And<br />

the other thing about Claude, he never wanted for anything. He just<br />

did his job and didn’t care about the financial part and would have<br />

been just as happy if no one knew who he was. Bottom line, Claude<br />

was first class and we were lucky to have him!”<br />

JACK BAUERLE<br />

FORMER UGA SWIMMING AND DIVING COACH<br />

FELTON A KEY COG IN THE<br />

FINAL FOUR’S OPERATION<br />

BY MURRAY POOLE<br />

As he drove back from this year’s SEC Men’s Basketball<br />

Tournament in Nashville, Claude Felton wasn’t feeling<br />

that well.<br />

Seems he had contracted a strain of the dreaded flu<br />

bug, an illness that made him bed ridden for several<br />

days and one that would result in nearly a total loss of<br />

his voice.<br />

But Felton, who had just retired from his nearly 45-year<br />

SID position with the University of Georgia athletics<br />

department, knew he had to get well fast. In several<br />

weeks he was supposed to resume his role on the<br />

NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four media coordination<br />

committee. This year’s tournament was to be played in<br />

Glendale, Arizona at State Farm Stadium, home of the<br />

NFL Arizona Cardinals, with the semifinals on Saturday,<br />

April 6, and the championship this past Monday night,<br />

April 8.<br />

As Felton recollects, this will be approximately his 25th<br />

year working the Final Four. He’s been working the SEC<br />

tournament for a good bit longer than that.<br />

“The SEC basketball tournament, there’s several of<br />

us around the league that have been on it, the media<br />

coordination committee for that tournament,” Felton<br />

said. “So, we go and pretty much work for the SEC for<br />

that week, just helping with the media arrangements<br />

for that tournament. I would say I’ve done that SEC<br />

tournament for 35 years.<br />

“The NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four media<br />

coordination committee, I’ve done it for about 25 years.”<br />

Felton said his involvement with post-season<br />

tournament basketball through the years has been a<br />

most gratifying and rewarding experience.<br />

“A fellow named Dave Cawood was the one who first<br />

got me involved with the Final Four committee,” he said.<br />

“I think probably about 1996 maybe. So that’s been a<br />

great experience for a lot of reasons. It’s been a great<br />

professional experience for me as you get to be around<br />

a lot of prominent people. Anybody that’s anybody in<br />

the national media is involved in the NCAA basketball<br />

tournament so it’s allowed me to develop relationships<br />

with all of them. But it’s also been beneficial for Georgia<br />

to have anybody serve on that committee because<br />

there’s only about eight or nine members on that<br />

committee that are from schools around the country.”<br />

Felton said his role on the committee varies from day<br />

to day.<br />

“Over the years we work a little bit with credentialing<br />

and we work with all the media arrangements … we<br />

set up all the media interviews with coaches and the<br />

players throughout the week with the general media<br />

group but also with CBS or TBS or the national networks<br />

that are doing the games as well as the national radio<br />

networks. I work a good bit with photographers as well,<br />

setting up the photography arrangements. It’s pretty<br />

varied.”<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 39 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


FROM THE<br />

booth<br />

JEFF DANTZLER<br />

@jeffdantzlerTV<br />

Always in demand, so many people needing something from him …<br />

Claude Felton always delivered for the University of Georgia<br />

Claude Felton is one of the best men I<br />

have ever known.<br />

Scores of admirers say the same thing.<br />

Claude Felton is the greatest Sports<br />

Information Director of all time. He and<br />

Dan Magill. His mentor.<br />

It says so much about the Greatest<br />

Bulldog Ever, that his two successors<br />

were the very best. Both Claude and<br />

Manuel Diaz, championship accumulating<br />

winningest tennis coach in Southeastern<br />

Conference history, recently announced<br />

their retirement. Their accolades,<br />

astounding.<br />

The first time I ever heard Claude’s name<br />

was back in December of 1982, when my<br />

mom and dad and uncle took me to the<br />

Sugar Bowl, as top-ranked Georgia, three<br />

time reigning Southeastern Conference<br />

champion led by Heisman Trophy winner<br />

Herschel Walker, took on Penn State for<br />

the national title. Claude and my parents<br />

grew up in Savannah and graduated from<br />

Savannah High School together in 1966.<br />

At the Marriott team hotel, while I was<br />

staking out autographs, I remember<br />

getting to meet Georgia’s astounding<br />

young Sports Information Director. I wrote<br />

him a letter the next year, and he mailed<br />

me an autographed picture of Kevin<br />

Butler. The first time Supertoe ever spent<br />

the night at my home, Chateau JD/Emily,<br />

that signed photograph was on the pillow.<br />

When I was 12-years-old, it was pretty<br />

clear I was not going to be the next<br />

Herschel Walker, Dominique Wilkins,<br />

Mikael Pernfors, Tom Watson or Reggie<br />

Jackson. But I loved sports and knew I<br />

wanted to work in sports.<br />

Radio and sports information would be<br />

the path. Growing up in Statesboro, a lot<br />

of really nice people let me hang around<br />

the Georgia Southern SID Office and local<br />

radio stations, owned by the longtime<br />

Voice of the Eagles, Nate Hirsch, also a<br />

friend of Claude’s. They worked together<br />

when Claude was Georgia Southern’s SID<br />

in the 1970s. They both said that Dave<br />

Winfield’s home run in Minnesota’s College<br />

World Series win over Georgia Southern is<br />

the longest home run they’d ever seen.<br />

Having been verbally committed to attend<br />

Georgia since the ‘78 Tech game, I knew<br />

I wanted to work for Claude. When I was<br />

a sophomore at Statesboro High, he said<br />

there would be a spot for me to be a student<br />

assistant in his office. Thank goodness, back<br />

then, getting accepted to Georgia wasn’t<br />

nearly as arduous as it is now.<br />

I had an instant affection for him.<br />

Everything about Claude was and always<br />

has been good, right, sound and first class.<br />

Always in demand, so many people<br />

needing something from him, he always<br />

delivered. Claude has defied father time.<br />

He’s barely aged, and was able to squeeze 26<br />

hours into a day and eight days into a week.<br />

Claude was the ultimate “man behind the<br />

scenes.” He was the genius who stealthy<br />

directed the spotlight to so many of<br />

Georgia’s most famous standout students,<br />

athletes and coaches.<br />

I was astounded watching him work - the<br />

“little things” he did that few ever noticed<br />

had such a huge impact. While I, like many<br />

distinguished cohorts, was graduating<br />

“Summa Cum Claude,” from the Georgia<br />

Sports Info Office, the Dogs were going<br />

through some hard times. Claude was of<br />

course, at his best. Stories were shaped,<br />

fires were extinguished, and on “coin flip<br />

weekends, when TV networks had a hard<br />

choice deciding what game to broadcast,<br />

Georgia was several times chosen in large<br />

part due to Claude’s hospitality and the<br />

exceptional work from his incredible staff<br />

(many of my close friends).<br />

He never wanted any recognition.<br />

When I called him the Michael Jordan<br />

of SIDs on the football postgame show,<br />

about a month later he received a letter<br />

in response to a story the Atlanta paper<br />

had done on some of the nuances of<br />

the Georgia-Florida game. The article<br />

said in one brief paragraph, “Florida’s SID<br />

staff, due to its proximity to Jacksonville,<br />

handles the press box set up and<br />

credential distribution.” This was in the<br />

1990s. An angry fan wrote that “if you can’t<br />

handle all of that, you need to retire!” To<br />

which Claude, the next time I saw him<br />

said, “I really wish you’d stop mentioning<br />

my name on the radio.”<br />

He was at about every baseball game at<br />

Foley Field, and would often laughingly<br />

tell my longtime broadcast partner David<br />

Johnston, “I would come in and see you<br />

guys, but Jeff would say I’m here.”<br />

He wanted no limelight.<br />

But when you are that good, when<br />

you are the best, when you are the gold<br />

standard at what you do, the accolades<br />

come.<br />

A member of the College Sports<br />

Information Directors Hall of Fame, Claude<br />

received perhaps his greatest recognition<br />

in February of <strong>2024</strong>, when he was<br />

inducted into the State of Georgia Sports<br />

Hall of Fame.<br />

A protege to Coach Magill, working<br />

at the right hand of legendary football<br />

coach and athletic director Vince Dooley,<br />

Claude flourished with the most famous of<br />

Bulldogs.<br />

When it comes to those who didn’t play<br />

or coach football at Georgia, Claude is<br />

right there with the likes of Coach Magill,<br />

Larry Munson, Jack Davis and Sonny Seiler<br />

when it comes to great Bulldogs who made<br />

immeasurable contributions to the program.<br />

He was a young SID during those glory<br />

days of the 1980s, and in the autumn of<br />

his career during the Kirby Smart dynasty,<br />

culminating with the back to back national<br />

championships in 2021 and 2022.<br />

From Vince Dooley to our current nation’s<br />

best dynamic duo of Athletic Director/<br />

Football Coach Josh Brooks and Kirby<br />

Smart, through difficult to the grandest of<br />

times, Claude has been THE ROCK of the<br />

University of Georgia athletic association.<br />

Much like Coach Magill was, especially<br />

during the dark days of the 1950s.<br />

In his book Bulldoggeral, Coach Magill<br />

wrote in Claude’s copy, “To The Greatest<br />

SID in the history of the SEC.”<br />

Prior to Coach Dooley’s Celebration<br />

of Life in November of 2022, Georgia’s<br />

lettermen gathered at the Indoor Practice<br />

Facility. Coach and Barbara’s son Daniel<br />

gave a wonderful speech, and mentioned<br />

Claude’s importance to his dad.<br />

This column doesn’t do him justice. A<br />

lengthy book and documentary would be<br />

far better. But he has been an incredible<br />

mentor, friend and second father. Many<br />

could say the same.<br />

When Emily and I were married on Jekyll<br />

Island in July of 2018, the wedding was<br />

at 5:30 p.m. Claude and his wife Cathy<br />

drove the five hours from Athens. After<br />

the wedding, they drove back. The next<br />

morning at 4 a.m., he and Kirby were on a<br />

plane to Bristol, Connecticut to do a bunch<br />

of tv and radio shows on ESPN.<br />

He’ll still be around, just not everyday. We<br />

all figured that at some point, he would<br />

eventually retire. When he did, it was the<br />

end of an era. His office was and is the best<br />

in the land, and is in great hands.<br />

But things will never be the same. Just like<br />

with Coach Magill, no one person can do<br />

all of what Claude did. As great as Herschel<br />

and Brock Bowers were as players, Coach<br />

Dooley and Kirby as coaches, and the mighty<br />

Munson was announcing, Claude was every<br />

bit as remarkable as the incomparable,<br />

incredible, beloved Sports Information<br />

Director for his beloved alma mater.<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 40 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


A LOOK AT NIL & BEYOND PG. 42 | WHAT’S THE WORD: COACH WES JOHNSON PG. 46<br />

WINTER/SPRING SPORTS UPDATE PG. 47<br />

MORE<br />

SPORTS<br />

XAVIER TRUSS<br />

PHOTO BY: TONY WALSH/UGA<br />

BY: GREG POOLE<br />

EXPLORING NIL & BEYOND<br />

Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) is a straightforward, easily<br />

understood concept. Athletes can now earn money by allowing<br />

companies to use their names, images, or likenesses in<br />

promotional activities. That’s all there is to it.<br />

Why all the fuss if NIL only grants college athletes economic<br />

rights that many, if not most, college football fans support?<br />

When federal courts ruled that the NCAA could not deny<br />

athletes the right to earn money from their popularity (NIL), some<br />

university recruiting staff saw an opportunity to close recruiting<br />

gaps with rivals by taking advantage of the NCAA’s enforcement<br />

paralysis in the wake of adverse Court rulings.<br />

The NCAA’s current adverse legal opinions are based on the<br />

Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Congress passed the Sherman<br />

Act to deal with monopolies in the American economy, like J.D.<br />

Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, which at one point controlled over<br />

90 percent of U.S. oil refining. NCAA members award nearly all<br />

athletic scholarships and the U.S. Federal courts ruled that the<br />

NCAA’s control of college sports violates the Sherman Act when<br />

the Association exercises its monopoly power by limiting studentathlete<br />

compensation to a scholarship, room, and board.<br />

After the Courts ruled that the NCAA violated the Sherman<br />

Antitrust Act by prohibiting athletes from earning money from<br />

their personal popularity (NIL), many university recruiters saw<br />

an opportunity to make recruiting hay by taking advantage<br />

of the NCAA’s paralysis in the wake of adverse Court rulings.<br />

Recruiting practices changed overnight by guaranteeing recruits<br />

and transferring players cash payments if those athletes enrolled<br />

at the school offering them. The Association became powerless<br />

to enforce its rules regarding restrictions on player’s economic<br />

rights.<br />

Recruiting is the most crucial activity in college sports success.<br />

The ability of a coaching staff to mold a group of players into<br />

a team in the short term is a relative constant, as are facilities.<br />

Talent is the critical annual variable. Traditionally, recruiting has<br />

been about lavish facilities and a team’s demonstrated ability to<br />

prepare players for their ultimate goal - NFL stardom and riches.<br />

With those adverse court decisions showcasing the enforcement<br />

weakness of the Association, enterprising recruiters injected a<br />

new arrow into the recruiting quiver - open cash payments. Of<br />

course, players have received extra benefits in the past, but those<br />

under-the-table deals pale when compared to today’s player<br />

market.<br />

The original concept for NIL was simple. Suppose Company X<br />

believes Player Y will produce positive advertising results. In that<br />

case, Company X might contact the school’s collective (a clearing<br />

house for advertising deals) and hire Player Y for an ad campaign.<br />

Savvy recruiting staff quickly understood that there was no<br />

longer a rules structure to punish recruiting offenses.<br />

The Wild West of college recruiting had arrived …<br />

The NCAA, desperate to regain its power and ensure its<br />

continued existence, reasoned that in light of its antitrust<br />

continued on page 42<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 41 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


problem, it would simply plead with Congress to grant an<br />

antitrust exemption similar to relief extended to major league<br />

baseball in 1922. Despite the NCAA’s pleas, Congress has yet to<br />

give the Association a similar antitrust exemption, leaving the<br />

NCAA to face an existential enforcement<br />

battle.<br />

Jim Cavale of Athletes.org (founder of<br />

inflcr.com) sums it up succinctly with his<br />

catchphrase: “Remember, the players have the<br />

power.” At the same time, he councils players<br />

on the realities of the portal:<br />

“The transfer portal hype is really about the<br />

10% of players who have already performed<br />

well; it is not about the 90% that didn’t play<br />

and are just trying to go somewhere else. It<br />

doesn’t mean that if you are part of the 90%<br />

and you haven’t played yet, and you might<br />

have been a highly ranked player in high<br />

school and now your stock is lower, it doesn’t<br />

mean that you cannot transfer and have a<br />

good experience. The portal is really about the<br />

top players, but there are a lot of players who<br />

have worn three or four uniforms since this<br />

portal stuff changed. They had to realize that<br />

the common denominator was them. It wasn’t<br />

their coaches’ fault - it was them.”<br />

Gonzaga Men’s Basketball coach Mark Few, in<br />

a recent interview, adds:<br />

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“If used properly NIL can be a really, really<br />

good thing, a positive thing that has been<br />

long overdue,” he said. “We are not in a good space in college<br />

basketball, you know, with how we are operating with no<br />

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Georgia football has chosen not to become involved in high<br />

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put its assets to work securing NIL deals for current players like<br />

quarterback Carson Beck. Beck reportedly signed an agreement<br />

for his final UGA campaign worth $500,000, and shortly after, an<br />

Atlanta automobile dealer signed Beck to a deal that included<br />

the use of a Lamborghini. Beck’s deal illustrates<br />

the dramatic change in NIL from a concept<br />

characterized by payment for services rendered<br />

to a ‘salary’ negotiation. Carson’s Lamborghini<br />

is NIL, but if reports of his $500K deal are<br />

correct, any amount paid to him not funded<br />

by an ad deal is pay-for-play. The days of<br />

college athletes playing in exchange for the<br />

traditionally accepted compensation model are<br />

over, and the current free-market recruitment<br />

environment is unworkable in the long term.<br />

What comes next?<br />

The first step is distinguishing between NIL<br />

(payment for advertising services) and Pay-For-<br />

Play (payment to play for a school). Currently,<br />

both concepts are alive and well across big-time<br />

college football. Carson Beck’s newly acquired<br />

deals appear to have both. First is the Lambo<br />

deal, which seems to be a pure NIL deal. Beck<br />

will endorse the car dealer in exchange for the<br />

use of the car. However, Mr. Beck reportedly<br />

enjoys an agreement that will pay him $500<br />

thousand during his final year at UGA. His<br />

Lambo deal will fund a portion of his contract,<br />

but any portion of his deal not funded through<br />

advertising is pay-for-play.<br />

If the current unregulated player market is<br />

allowed to continue, at some point, annually increasing “NIL/<br />

PayForPlay” deals will cause an acute case of donor fatigue. The<br />

pit of wealthy donors willing to perpetually fund the “market<br />

value” of recruits is not bottomless.<br />

Two possible solutions exist for the quagmire through which<br />

the sport is trudging. The first, and in my opinion, least likely,<br />

is an antitrust exemption like MLB enjoys. Congress must pass<br />

legislation to enable the exemption, which seems unlikely to<br />

happen anytime soon. The NCAA is pinning its survival hopes<br />

on Congressional action because the alternative will gut the<br />

organization’s premier membership and could precipitate its<br />

demise. That alternative to Congressional action is for the schools<br />

that are now known as Division 1 (or some portion of those<br />

institutions) to leave NCAA and form a new governing body.<br />

The NCAA has lost its antitrust cases because it makes rules<br />

that all of its 1,100+ members must follow—the definition of<br />

monopoly power. If (when?) the new governing organization<br />

exists with 50-100 former NCAA members, there will no longer be<br />

a monopoly (trust) governing college sports, and antitrust laws<br />

will no longer apply.<br />

NIL is also profoundly affecting the recruiting of high school<br />

prospects. The recent flip of a state of Georgia high school player’s<br />

commitment from UGA to USC seems to have resulted from Kirby<br />

Smart’s oft-repeated policy of not entering into a bidding war for<br />

athletes. Instead, Coach Smart continues to rely on selling recruits<br />

on his track record of grooming players for the NFL. However, the<br />

lure of big money now will often make it challenging for Smart’s<br />

message to hit home until rules return to recruiting.<br />

The game has changed permanently. Regardless of the ultimate<br />

solution to the current financial lawlessness in college sports, the<br />

solution will not be a return to the rules of the past. NIL is here<br />

to stay. The best hope for traditionalists is an effective ban on<br />

pay-for-play, but the scholarship, room and board days are over<br />

forever.<br />

In a few years, fans will have begrudgingly accepted the new<br />

world order of college sports, and we can get back to the critical<br />

business of hating rivals and winning championships.<br />

It is that simple.<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 42 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


Graphics By:<br />

Georgia Football<br />

Quarterback<br />

After not signing a quarterback out of high school in the 2023<br />

class, Georgia made a strong effort to recruit the position in the<br />

<strong>2024</strong> class. At one point, the Dawgs had two of the top10-ranked<br />

quarterbacks committed. Yet, in this era of College Football,<br />

nothing is ever set in stone until the letter of intent has been<br />

signed. Dylan Raiola, ranked the No. 1 quarterback by some<br />

recruiting services, flipped his commitment from Georgia to<br />

Nebraska just a few days before Early Signing <strong>Day</strong>. There was one<br />

player who stayed firm in his recruitment throughout it all, Ryan<br />

Puglisi. Puglisi initially announced his commitment to Georgia<br />

in October of 2022. Puglisi was able to enroll early and compete<br />

in Orange Bowl practices, and one thing that always seems to<br />

stand out is his mentality. Late into the recruiting season, another<br />

quarterback committed to Georgia. This time, accepting a<br />

preferred walk-on offer. Colter Ginn, out of Perry High School, led<br />

his team to a state championship this past season. Ginn threw for<br />

261 yards and a touchdown in the championship.<br />

Tight Ends<br />

Tight End coach Todd Hartley once again did his thing on the<br />

recruiting trail for the <strong>2024</strong> Class. Starting off, Hartley landed<br />

Jaden Redell. Redell is currently listed at 6-4, 233-pound. Redell<br />

was a participant in bowl practices, and in one image showing a<br />

group of new Dawgs, he towers, looking every bit his listed size.<br />

Georgia also landed Colton Heinrich out of Cardinal Gibbons HS<br />

in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In three years, Heinrich recorded 74<br />

receptions for 947 YDs (12.8 per reception) and six touchdowns.<br />

In addition, Hartley landed a veteran TE from the transfer portal.<br />

Benjamin Yurosek is a 6-4, 242-pound senior. Yurosek, in his time<br />

at Stanford, amassed 107 receptions for 1,337 receiving yards<br />

and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball 14 times for 119 yards.<br />

A great addition to look forward to in the Georgia offense with<br />

plenty of experience.<br />

Wide Receivers<br />

The high school recruiting for the <strong>2024</strong> class only resulted in<br />

one commitment. NiTareon Tuggle committed to the Dawgs<br />

as a three-star but worked his way up the ranks during his final<br />

season. Tuggle was named the WR MVP of May 7th, 2023’s<br />

Under Armor Camp. Tuggle continues to show off incredible ball<br />

tracking and body control in all of his highlights. Standing at<br />

6’1, nearly 200 pounds, the Dawgs got themselves another wide<br />

receiver with great potential. With a lot of talent at the position<br />

heading to the NFL, Georgia hit the portal hard this offseason.<br />

Miami graduate transfer Colbie Young, being just one of the<br />

names, will make an immediate impact. Drawing comparisons<br />

to former UGA and Miami WR Lawrence Cager, Young shares<br />

the size of a tight end, with the skills of a wideout. Young is 6-5,<br />

215-pound, and will fit perfectly in the Mike Bobo offense. In his<br />

time at Miami, Young was seen countless times turning short<br />

screen plays into huge gains. In the past two seasons, Young had<br />

77 receptions for 939 yards and 10 total touchdowns.<br />

Georgia landed two more wideouts this offseason. Michael<br />

Jackson III, out of USC, was hurt by the depth at WR at USC and<br />

decided to look for a new home. While on the field, Jackson III<br />

displayed his estimated 4.45 40 speed at both punter-returner<br />

and receiver. Jackson III played three seasons at USC and racked<br />

up 46 receptions for 498 yards and five TDs as well as two carries<br />

A look at the<br />

BY: WILL HEARN/BI<br />

<strong>2024</strong><br />

Georgia Signing Class!<br />

for 72 yards. Next is true freshman London Humphreys out<br />

of Vanderbilt. Dawg fans may remember Humphreys scoring<br />

a 49-yard touchdown early into the matchup against the<br />

Commodores, blazing past the Georgia secondary. Combining his<br />

height at 6’3, with his speed, Humphreys could be a key piece in<br />

the future.<br />

Running Backs<br />

Dell McGee landed one of the most stacked running back classes<br />

in some time. On some sites, the three running backs signed in<br />

the <strong>2024</strong> class are all listed in the top 10 at their position. McGee<br />

just took the head coaching job at Georgia State, leaving a highly<br />

sought after vacant position on the Georgia staff.<br />

Dwight Phillips Jr. is one of the fastest prospects in the class. He<br />

plays both running back and runs track for his high school, where<br />

he continues to show off impressive times. A year ago, Phillips Jr.<br />

clocked a 10.29 second 100M dash. This speed has been trained<br />

by his dad, who is a 5x World Champion and 2004 Olympic Gold<br />

Medalist in the long jump. Phillips Jr. carried the ball 62 times for<br />

774 yards and seven TDs as well as received the ball nine times<br />

for 245 yards and two touchdowns during his senior season. In<br />

addition, he returned one kick return 95 yards for a touchdown.<br />

Chauncey Bowens, once committed to the Florida Gators, is<br />

another talented back committed to the Dawgs. A combination of<br />

both speed and power, Bowens is listed at 5-11, 209-pound and<br />

runs a verified 10.88 100-meter dash. Bowens played in 10 games<br />

during his senior season and ran 112 times for 811 yards and 10<br />

TDs.<br />

Nate Frazier, out of Mater Dei High School in California, was the<br />

last of the three to commit to Georgia. Frazier split time with Class<br />

of 2025 RB Jordan Davidson at Mater Dei but was still able to put<br />

up impressive stats. In 10 games played during his senior season,<br />

Frazier had 91 rushing attempts for 583 yards and five TDs.<br />

Finally, Georgia also made a major addition in the transfer portal<br />

at the running back position. Trevor Etienne, former Florida<br />

running back and brother of Jacksonville Jaguars running back<br />

Travis Etienne Jr, committed to Georgia just a few weeks after the<br />

Dawgs lost their SEC Championship game. Etienne played for the<br />

Gators for two seasons and racked up 1,710 all-purpose yards.<br />

Look for Etienne to make an immediate impact on this upcoming<br />

season.<br />

Offensive Line<br />

Stacy Searels landed one of the biggest offensive line classes<br />

in Georgia history. Six offensive linemen signed with Georgia in<br />

the <strong>2024</strong> class, and they have an average size of 6-7, 325-pound.<br />

It is unknown which position on the offensive line these players<br />

will play at Georgia, but just know that there is some serious size<br />

in the class. The highest-rated prospect in the class is Daniel<br />

Calhoun, out of Walton High School in Marietta, GA. Calhoun<br />

is 6-6.5, 365 pound, and was ranked the 66th best player in the<br />

country and 5th best OT by 247Sports.<br />

Defensive Backs<br />

Despite DB Coach Fran Brown’s departure (to take the HC job<br />

at Syracuse), Georgia still landed an elite defensive back class.<br />

The No. 1 corner in the <strong>2024</strong> class, Ellis Robinson IV, has been<br />

committed to the Dawgs since February 1st, 2023. Since then,<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 44 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


his commitment stayed strong, and so has his ranking. Robinson<br />

IV is tied with Nolan Smith as the second-highest recruit in UGA<br />

history. Robinson IV showcased his talents at the Under Armor<br />

All-American game. Robinson IV was highlighted multiple<br />

times throughout practices for his lockdown coverage, most<br />

notably picking off one of the best quarterbacks in the class, DJ<br />

Lagway. KJ Bolden is a name I’m sure most Dawg fans heard<br />

multiple times throughout his recruiting process. The No. 1 safety<br />

in the country was initially committed to FSU and flipped to<br />

Georgia on signing day. Bolden knew Fran Brown was leaving<br />

the program, but Brown’s comments on the University and its<br />

success influenced Bolden to stay.Two more DBs, Demello Jones<br />

and Ondre Evans, also signed with the Bulldogs this offseason.<br />

Demello Jones, the 7th-ranked safety in the country, played in<br />

Georgia’s high school state championship against Prince Avenue.<br />

Although the outcome of the game was not in Jones’ favor, he<br />

still was able to record himself a pick-six. Jones returned Georgia<br />

Tech commit Aaron Philo’s pass for 98 yards. Ondre Evans is the<br />

8th-ranked corner in the country. Initially committed to LSU, he<br />

flipped to Georgia due to his and Coach Fran Brown’s relationship.<br />

Jones also says attending a Georgia practice took another step in<br />

influencing his decision to flip. Georgia acquired one defensive<br />

back in the portal this offseason. Former Buford safety Jake Pope<br />

announced he’d be joining the Dawgs on January 12. Georgia<br />

now has two former Buford safeties in the backfield.<br />

Linebackers<br />

An ongoing theme you might be noticing in the <strong>2024</strong> class is<br />

landing the No. 1 ranked player at a certain position. This does not<br />

change with the linebacker group brought in by Glenn Schumann<br />

and company. Georgia landed Justin Williams, the No. 1 ranked<br />

LB in the <strong>2024</strong> class. Williams played High School ball at Oak<br />

Ridge in Conroe, Texas. The 6-2, 205-pound backer ran an 11.01<br />

100-meter dash in his junior year of high school. He is listed as the<br />

10th most talented recruit in UGA history. Fellow five-star Chris<br />

Cole out of Salem, Virginia committed to Georgia in September<br />

of this past year. Finally, Kristopher Jones, from Fairfax, Virginia,<br />

joins the group as the third linebacker in the class. All three of<br />

these players are listed in the top ten at their position.<br />

Defensive Linemen<br />

Georgia landed five players on the defensive line out of high<br />

school in the <strong>2024</strong> class. Consisting of both true D-Linemen and<br />

edge rushers, the group has some serious talent. Joseph Jonah-<br />

Ajonye, high school teammate of linebacker Justin Williams, is<br />

the highest-rated defensive lineman in the class. After his initial<br />

commitment, Jonah-Ajonye said “To put it simply. Georgia is just<br />

different... I feel like I’m built for that defense. Jordan Thomas,<br />

Nnamdi Ogoboko, and Nasir Johnson are all also new members<br />

of the ‘trench mob.’ Each stands no smaller than 6-3, 300-pound,<br />

Tray Scott continues to bring in massive athletes to the defensive<br />

front. Quintavius Johnson, listed as an edge rusher, showed<br />

off his athleticism throughout High School. Johnson played<br />

some time at quarterback and scored himself a 70-yard rushing<br />

touchdown on the offensive side of the ball. Georgia landed<br />

one defensive lineman in the portal. South Carolina DL Xzavier<br />

McLeod announced he was transferring to Georgia on December<br />

22nd, 2023. McLeod’s high school recruitment came down to<br />

South Carolina and Georgia, but he stuck with the Gamecocks.<br />

Things have now come full circle as the 6-5, 284-pound freshman<br />

will put on the ‘G’ this upcoming season.<br />

Special Teams<br />

Georgia managed to land the most talented punter in the<br />

country, Drew Miller. Miller averaged 49.5 yards per punt with<br />

55% landing inside the 20-yard line during his senior season.<br />

Miller only allowed five return yards in all 11 games played.<br />

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BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 45 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


what’s the<br />

word<br />

BY HAMILTON CULPEPPER<br />

DIAMOND DAWGS’ SKIPPER EXUDES TOUGHNESS!<br />

WES JOHNSON<br />

Toughness, a word maybe<br />

associated with a boxer or a Navy<br />

Seal, but this <strong>2024</strong> Diamond<br />

Dawg squad exhibits a different type of<br />

toughness; a concentration when things<br />

aren’t going the way this team wants<br />

them to; a dedication to the process. That<br />

toughness is the one word head baseball<br />

coach Wes Johnson uses to describe his<br />

team.<br />

The first year head coach has wowed<br />

the Classic City, the University of Georgia<br />

and the Southeastern Conference with an<br />

unprecedented start to the <strong>2024</strong> season.<br />

However, it’s no coincidence sprinkled<br />

on Foley Field from Munson and Lady<br />

Luck. It is a valiant leader with committed<br />

players keeping their heads down,<br />

focused on the trajectory of this program.<br />

A native of Sherwood, Arkansas,<br />

Johnson has been around the baseball<br />

block at the high school, college and<br />

professional level, most recently as the<br />

defending national champion LSU Tigers’<br />

pitching coach. The experience taken<br />

from these various stops all contribute to<br />

Johnson’s early success here at Georgia.<br />

“The biggest thing for me being a<br />

pitching coach at that level is game<br />

management on the defensive side of the<br />

baseball,” Johnson said. “Having to make<br />

those moves at a very high level, and we<br />

[the Minnesota Twins] were good. You<br />

have to stay ahead of the game really fast<br />

at that level, and that experience there is<br />

really helping me be a head coach.”<br />

While the MLB is the highest level of<br />

play, SEC baseball is no walk in the park.<br />

It is second to none in winning, and<br />

playing those types of opponents each<br />

weekend is a heavy load on a team and<br />

head coach. Johnson, surrounded by<br />

it for multiple years of his career, is<br />

accustomed to the grueling schedules,<br />

extended bullpens and hostile crowds.<br />

He’s shown his lineup can match up<br />

with those SEC opponents, sweeping<br />

No. 8 Alabama at home and grabbing<br />

a 16-2 win at Rocky Top over the No. 5<br />

Vols. How is this conference so good and<br />

how can Georgia match that play?<br />

“It’s resources,” Johnson said. Georgia,<br />

Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, they all<br />

have these star-studded high schoolers.<br />

“All of these places, you’re kind of in the<br />

baseball mecca of the U.S … as a general<br />

rule, the majority of good players across<br />

the country come out of the southeast.<br />

You do your demographics homework,<br />

and those players only want to go so far<br />

from home, so they stay close by. And<br />

heck, I say it to everyone. ‘The education<br />

you get from the University of Georgia is<br />

second to none.’”<br />

The high-powered offense of the <strong>2024</strong><br />

Bulldogs is led by two Georgia guys:<br />

Charlie Condon (Marietta) and Corey<br />

Collins (Suwanee). These home-state<br />

Dawgs are a testament to that headdown,<br />

dedicated brand that Johnson<br />

and his staff are trying to promote. “They<br />

want Georgia to be good,” Johnson said.<br />

“They want this program; they want this<br />

University to be good. They grew up in<br />

this state, and it means a lot to them.”<br />

The Georgia lineup doesn’t just see<br />

success from these two though. It is<br />

top to bottom, all nine raking home<br />

runs, all nine batting in runners, all nine<br />

contributing to the early wins of the Wes<br />

Johnson era. Johnson believes this lineup<br />

is unique, unlike any other he’s coached<br />

in his seasoned career.<br />

“2016, we won the league while I was at<br />

Mississippi State. I’m trying to count the<br />

big leaguers on that team, but that lineup<br />

was good. 2018, I was at Arkansas, and<br />

we lost the national title on a dropped fly<br />

ball. That team has a lot of big leaguers<br />

on it as well. This one ranks up there with<br />

those two probably. This offense will rival<br />

those, but this offense has some dynamic<br />

pieces. I haven’t ever had a lineup with as<br />

much flexibility and is as deep. You look<br />

at what we’re doing: we’ve got four guys<br />

who are playing everyday, and then we<br />

run matchups the rest of the way.”<br />

This early success has earned Johnson<br />

the support of the Athens community,<br />

but the humble leader doesn’t just want<br />

to be adopted into the Classic City, he<br />

wants his players to be adopted into the<br />

history of Georgia lore.<br />

“I can’t thank our fans enough for the<br />

support we are getting, but I’ve said this<br />

many times, ‘Coaches are only as good as<br />

the players they have.’ Yes, it’s awesome<br />

they are adopting me, but I really hope<br />

they are adopting our players. Those guys<br />

are the ones out there doing it. My days<br />

in the sun are long gone.”<br />

The diamond, the smell of fresh cut<br />

grass, perfectly groomed dirt, the sights<br />

and sounds of the ballpark, Johnson loves<br />

baseball, lives and breathes it. It’s his<br />

livelihood and so much more. It’s a sport<br />

he fell in love with at a young age and<br />

grows more in that devotion each day.<br />

Like it’s said in Moneyball, “How can you<br />

not be romantic about baseball?”<br />

“My priorities are the Lord, my<br />

immediate family, then baseball,” Johnson<br />

said. “It’s everything, it’s all I know. I joke,<br />

‘I don’t know where I bank, and my wife<br />

dresses me.’ I hate losing more than I like<br />

winning. There’s a lot of truth to that. You<br />

work so hard, but you have to ride those<br />

highs and lows just like romance.”<br />

It’s safe to say, the performance on the<br />

field has brought support far and wide<br />

for the Diamond Dawgs. Furthermore,<br />

what Wes Johnson is doing beneath the<br />

surface, behind the curtain, not seeking<br />

recognition, Georgia baseball is in<br />

humble hands that will take this program<br />

to an everlasting YEA!<br />

A final quick message from Coach:<br />

“Please continue to support. I can’t tell<br />

you how excited our players were at the<br />

Alabama series, the Iowa game and the<br />

Georgia State game. I wish the fans could<br />

see how much our guys fed off of your<br />

energy, so please, continue to support<br />

our guys! Then, even to the casual fan:<br />

if you haven’t seen Charlie Condon play,<br />

you need to find your way to Foley Field<br />

because these guys don’t come around<br />

but every 10-12 years, if that!”<br />

To hear the full interview, check out “The<br />

Hammy Show” on Spotify as he discusses<br />

much more with Coach Wes Johnson!<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 46 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


WINTER/SPRING SPORTS UPDATE<br />

BY: MATTHEW HERREN<br />

As the winter season has ended, and springtime is roaring through Georgia,<br />

there is plenty of optimism around the many athletic programs in Athens. From<br />

weekend series at Foley Field to postseason hoops in Stegeman Coliseum, the past<br />

few months have created many proud moments for the Bulldog Nation.<br />

HOOP DAWGS<br />

The Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball team finished the regular season with a<br />

record of 16-15, along with a lone victory in the first round of the SEC Tournament<br />

over Missouri. Coach White’s team was given the opportunity to accept a spot in<br />

the NIT, giving the program its first postseason berth since 2017. The Hoop Dawgs<br />

knocked off Xavier in the first round at home, and then pulled off improbable<br />

victories on the road against Wake Forest and Ohio State to advance to the Final<br />

Four in Indianapolis. For a team that endured a six game losing streak during the<br />

heart of SEC play, Coach White and his relentless Bulldog squad have a lot to be<br />

proud of. Senior guard Noah Thomasson led the team in scoring with 13.1 points<br />

per game, followed by Jabri-Abdur Rahim with 12.2. Freshman guard Blue Cain<br />

emerged as one of the top three-point shooters on the roster with a 35% average<br />

from behind the arc. Seven-foot center Russel Tchewa led the team in rebounds,<br />

averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. Looking ahead to next season, Bulldog Nation<br />

will be saying goodbye to key seniors such as Noah Thomasson, Justin Hill, Russel<br />

Tchewa, and Jabri Abdur-Rahim. However, plenty of buzz surrounds five star<br />

incoming freshman forward Asa Newell, who White and his staff hopes to be a<br />

big factor in the program’s future. In terms of the transfer portal, question marks<br />

surround freshman guard Silas Demary Jr., who following the Bulldogs’ final game<br />

against Seton Hall said he was “going to decompress” before deciding on his future.<br />

DIAMOND DAWGS<br />

The Diamond Dawgs currently sit at 23-6 and in prime position for a possible run<br />

to Omaha this summer. Out of the 23 wins include a two game sweep over Georgia<br />

Tech, a three game sweep over Alabama, and a 16-2 victory over No. 4 Tennessee<br />

in Knoxville. The team’s new skipper Wes Johnson has his team swinging the bat<br />

as good as anyone in the country with a team average over.300 and 84 home runs,<br />

the most in the nation. Baseball’s next top prospect Charlie Condon has been<br />

on a tear for the Bulldogs, leading the team in batting average (.481), on base<br />

percentage (.593), hits (52), and home runs (19). Corey Collins has been another key<br />

piece to the offense, batting.396 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs. However, pitching<br />

has been the weakness of the team, as the staff has an ERA of 5.33. Looking ahead<br />

to the rest of the season, the Bulldogs will continue to face stout SEC competition,<br />

as six of their final seven series are against teams inside the top 25, along with a<br />

lone matchup against Clemson, the No. 2 team in the nation. Matchups at Foley<br />

Field include series against Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and Florida. If Johnson can figure<br />

out a way to lower the runs given up, these Diamond Dawgs can match up with<br />

anyone in the country.<br />

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S GOLF<br />

The men’s golf team recently won The Goodwin at TPC Harding Park with a total<br />

score of 839 (-1), giving the group their second team tournament win alongside<br />

the Puerto Rico Classic this February. Ben van Wyk was the low man for the<br />

Bulldogs after a 207 (-3) finish, good enough for a third-place finish overall. The<br />

team will have a few weeks of preparation before traveling to St. Simons for the<br />

SEC Championship at Sea Island April 24-28. As for the women’s golf team, they<br />

recently competed in the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the UGA Golf Course in<br />

Athens, placing third overall with a score of 879 (+15) over three rounds. Fifth-year<br />

senior Caterina Don had a solid weekend, shooting 213 (-3) with an impressive<br />

second-round 67. The Lady Dawgs will keep working on their game ahead of the<br />

SEC Championship April 12-16 at The Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, as well as the<br />

NCAA Regionals at Auburn University Club May 6-8.<br />

GYM DAWGS<br />

The Georgia gymnastics team finished the regular season with<br />

a record of 6-10 and one conference win. The Gym Dawgs won<br />

their season opener against NC State, but did not win again<br />

until March 1st against Auburn. However, they won the Kidney<br />

Care Women’s Gymnastics Championship in Nashville in March.<br />

Unfortunately, the team’s season ended with a third place finish<br />

in the NCAA Regionals. On a high note, gymnast Lily Smith<br />

earned the all-round title at the regional.<br />

SOFTBALL<br />

The Lady Diamond Dawgs are rolling right along, sitting at 29-6<br />

with a top-five ranking in the nation. In the early months of<br />

the season, Tony Baldwin’s group was able to participate and<br />

be successful in tournaments across the country where they<br />

could match up against some of the top competition in the<br />

country. Offensively, the Dawgs are batting.314 with 58 home<br />

runs and 239 total runs scored. Jayda Kearney has led the way<br />

offensively, batting.391 with 14 home runs and 34 RBIs. Lilli<br />

Backes has been the solid arm in the rotation with a 2.44 ERA<br />

and 75 strikeouts, along with four saves and 12 games won.<br />

This team has a real shot at not just qualifying for the College<br />

World Series in Oklahoma City this summer, but bringing home<br />

the program’s first national title.<br />

MEN’S TENNIS<br />

The Georgia men’s tennis team is 10-11 on the year with a 3-6<br />

record in SEC competition. Long-time head coach Manuel Diaz<br />

announced this will be his last season before retirement, ending<br />

a 36-year run which included four NCAA titles and 29 SEC<br />

Championships. The highlights of the season so far include wins<br />

over Georgia Tech, Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas. However, the<br />

Bulldogs have struggled away from Dan Magill Tennis Complex,<br />

going 0-5 in away matches. Diaz and his players will have a few<br />

more weeks to get their game in shape before heading to Baton<br />

Rouge at the end of April for the SEC Championships.<br />

WOMEN’S TENNIS<br />

The Georgia women’s tennis team owns a record of 13-4 (8-1 in<br />

the SEC) and sit at seventh in the ITA rankings. They lost their<br />

first conference game on March 31 on the road against #16<br />

Auburn. Their season so far has featured wins over Florida, Texas<br />

A&M, and Alabama, all who are ranked inside the top 25. The<br />

Lady Dawgs will have four more home matches before they host<br />

the SEC Tournament April 17-21 at Magill Tennis Complex.<br />

DAWGS IN THE MASTERS<br />

Beside the G-<strong>Day</strong> game, one of the best parts of Spring in<br />

Georgia is watching the greatest golfers in the world compete<br />

in the Masters tournament at arguably the world’s finest venue:<br />

Augusta National Golf Club. Once again, UGA golf will be well<br />

represented with Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley,<br />

Chris Kirk, Sepp Straka and Bubba Watson participating. Go low<br />

Dawgs … Woof, Woof, Woof!<br />

BULLDAWGILLUSTRATED 47 ISSUE ONE • SPRING/G-DAY


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