Saturday, May 31, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 91 Days

#91 Kade Weston, DT
6-5, 316, Red Bank NJ (Red Bank Regional HS), RS Jr.
Big Kade enters his 4th season in Athens after 2 solid seasons as a part-time starter. After a redshirt, he started 6 games as a redshirt freshman, registering 12 QB pressures. He was named Freshman All-American and Freshman All-SEC. He started 7 games as a sophomore, with 2.5 sacks, and a career high 4 tackles against South Carolina. Besides just being a large human being that is nearly impossible to move, he has surprising quickness.
Depth Chart Analysis: There are probably 100 college football teams in America that Kade Weston would anchor the defense for. At UGA, he may be playing behind the best tandem of tackles in the country. Still, he stands firmly as the #2 tackle on the depth chart behind Geno Atkins. He'll be another key cog in a tremendous front 4.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 92 Days

#92 Neland Ball, DE
6-6, 232, Jackson GA (Jackson HS), Soph.
Ball chose the Dawgs after a process that came down to UGA and the Auburn Plainsmen, but he also sported offers from Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Clemson. Rivals ranked him as a Top 20 DE in America in his senior season at Jackson High, and one of the Top 20 incoming players in Georgia. He's another nice blend of speed and height that UGA trots out on the edge. Not to mention that he can also perform a fairly decent Soulja Boy dance:

Depth Chart Analysis: Ball finds himself in a tight competition for playing time. He's probably 3rd or 4th on the current depth chart at DE, in the mix with Demarcus Dobbs, Michael Lemon and Justin Houston. Add in the talented incoming freshman class with Toby Jackson (assuming he gets his test score) and Cornelius Washington, add Ball faces even longer odds. Fall camp is going to be very important for a few of the guys I just mentioned, Ball included.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My top cinco cosas to do in...Charleston, SC

I always said that if the Good Lord had not allowed me to go to school in Athens, GA, then my next choice would have been Charleston, South Carolina. Talk about a classic Southern city. Everything we wish Atlanta was, Charleston offers more history than New Orleans, more culture than Nashville, and more old money than Richmond. This city feels more alive each time I visit.
Without further ado...
1 Walk around historic downtown. This city is 300+ years old and you'll be hard-pressed to find as much history and character on this side of the Atlantic. If you like architecture, you should plan to stay a while.
2 Have a pint at Tommy Condon's Irish Pub. I like beer and I like the Irish, so this place feels like home to me. Try to make it on a Wednesday or a Friday for some live Irish music. And don't overlook the Irish Nachos.
3 Visit CharlesTowne Landing State Park. For a glimpse at life in an English colony, check out the historic architecture exhibit and see the archaeologists digging at the site of the original colony, years before the city of Charleston was founded across the Ashley River.
4 Go to the beach. Isle of Palms and Folly Beach are both a hop away, and offer a nice break from the city. Don't miss the huge suspension bridge on the way to Isle of Palms called the ravenel bridge.
5 Check out Fort Sumter, and listen for the echoes of the first shot of The War, fired by a young lieutenant named Henry S. Farley at 4:30 AM on April 12, 1861.

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 93 Days

Jeremy Longo, DE
6-5, 212, Fort Lauderdale FL (Cardinal Gibbons HS), True Fr.
The "Italian Stallion" joined his high school teammate Blair Walsh in comitting to UGA last June after his first visit to Athens. UGA got in on Longo a little later than some schools, as Longo chose the Dawgs over offers from hometown Miami, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wake Forest. (There were also whispers that Urban Meyer offered him as soon as he heard that Longo committed to UGA.) Dean Legge from Dawgpost offers this video he took from the sideline during a Cardinal Gibbons game last season. Notice the quickness and then the long stride (reminds me a little bit of #47 back in his day):

Depth Chart Analysis: The key for Longo will obviously be weight, at least early in his college career. Is he big enough to play immediately? Probably not. However, rumors are that he may be up over 230 lbs before he reports to campus. My best guess is that he gets a redshirt this season. He's played against good competition in south Florida, and he just might have a little nastiness in his attitude. Give him a couple of years, and I can see Longo becoming a crowd favorite.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 NCAA Baseball Regionals: Predictions

The 2008 NCAA Baseball Regionals get under way this week. The team in bold is the predicted winner. Feel free to bash these picks or give your input.

Host: Miami (No. 1 seed)

1. Miami
4. Bethune-Cookman

2. Missouri
3. Ole Miss

Not a very good reward for being the No. ! overall seed having Missouri and Ole Miss coming in to Coral Gables. Look for Miami to take care of business, but Missouri could do what Michigan did last season to Vandy.

Host: Michigan

1. Arizona
4. Eastern Michigan

2. Michigan
3. Kentucky

I'm going with preseason favorites Arizona. Just too much talent. Kentucky has the two best hitters in this regional in Carroll and Cowgill. The winner of this regional goes down in the Supers to Miami or Missouri.

Host: North Carolina (No. 2 seed)

1. North Carolina
4. Mount St. Mary's

2. UNC Wilmington
3. Elon

I want to pick Elon so bad here but UNC just has too much pitching. One of the softest regionals.

Host: Coastal Carolina

1. Coastal Carolina
4. Columbia

2. East Carolina
3. Alabama

Two of my sleeper teams to make a deep run end up in same regional. Gonna go with Coastal here but ECU is a team that could make a run to Omaha. Either team should give UNC all it can handle in the Supers.

Host: Arizona State (No. 3 seed)

1. Arizona State
4. Stony Brook

2. Vanderbilt
3. Oklahoma

After being upset by Michigan last year in Nashville, look for the Dores to play spoiler this year and upend ASU and one of the best looking uni's in college baseball (more on that list later this week). Tons of talent on ASU and Vandy. Vandy could end up with back to back number 1 overall draft picks if Pedro Alvarez is the top pick.

Host: Long Beach State

1. Long Beach State
4. Fresno State

2. San Diego
3. California

Well, the 3 seed Cal has already swept the 1 seed Long Beach State. Another regional where any of the top 3 seeds could easily win it. I'm going with the pitching from San Diego to take this one down.

Host: Florida State (No. 4 seed)

1. Florida State
4. Bucknell

2. Florida
3. Tulane

Buster Posey. Buster Posey. Buster Posey. He's the best catcher, pitcher, infielder, outfielder and student in the Regional. Born and Bred in the Peach State, he will lead FSU to a regional victory.

Host: Oklahoma State

1. Oklahoma State
4. Western Kentucky

2. Wichita State
3. Texas Christian

This years team that has bitched more than any other at not getting a national seed is hands down OSU. It's also probably deserved. Take the Pokes, but they will get a scare from Wichita State.

Host: Cal State Fullerton (No. 5 seed)

1. CS Fullerton
4. Rider

3. Virginia

UCLA is a good team, but they just don't match up with the Titans in Fullerton. CSF already swept 3 midweek games from the Bruins this season. I will be surprised if the Titans lose a game in this regional. The '79, '84, '95 and '04 National Champions will roll.

Host: Stanford

1. Stanford
4. UC Davis

2. Pepperdine
3. Arkansas

Stanford wins this regional going away. They could make some noise and win a couple of games in Omaha if they take out Fullerton in the Supers.

Host: Rice (No. 6 seed)

1. Rice
4. Sam Houston State

2. Texas
3. St. John's

Rice has a great looking uniform and a great Southern History Department, but it won't be enough to overcome Augie's Horns. Plus I wanna see if 20k show up for a Tex/A&M Super Regional.

Host: Texas A&M

1. Texas A&M
4. Illinois-Chicago

2. Dallas Baptist
3. Houston

Houston is a solid team and Dallas Baptist is gonna be the sentimental favorite across the country, but I believe this Aggie team is going to Omaha this year.

Host: Louisiana State (No. 7 seed)

1. LSU
4. Texas Southern

2. Southern Miss
3. New Orleans

I'm taking LSU since they haven't lost in about 8 month's. Wow, that semi sweep in Baton Rouge sure is looking good for Georgia now. They are the hottest team in the country, but I'm expecting them to struggle a bit before advancing. Southern Miss and New Orleans are both very capable of taking this Regional. New Orleans could be a sleeper here.

Host: Nebraska

1. Nebraska
4. Eastern Illinois

2. UC Irvine
3. Oral Roberts

Interesting regional here. Nebraska is almost unbeatable at home. ORU can hit with anyone. Yet I'm gonna take the Eaters. They have great starting pitching and I'm a sucker for good pitching.

Host: Georgia (No. 8 seed)

1. Georgia
4. Lipscomb

2. Georgia Tech
3. Louisville

Tech has to love their chances. Louisville was in Omaha last season. Georgia is struggling. I'm expecting Cerione and Poythress to be back at full speed. If Holder can give us 6 or 7 innings in his return on Saturday then I'm much more optimistic. Basically I'm going with UGA because of Perno. The sumbitch imposes his will on a team as good as any manager. He's a winner and his teams that have had talent have lived up to it. He has 2 SEC Championships and is chasing his 3rd CWS trip since 2002 (the programs 4th this decade). If Georgia struggles from the mound look for the winner of the friday Tech/Louisville game to take the Regional. Winner here sweeps next weeks Super Regional (vs Raleigh Regional) and advances to Omaha.

Host: North Carolina State

1. N.C. State
4. James Madison

2. South Carolina
3. Charlotte

My heart is saying go with the most talented lineup in college baseball. South Carolina is LOADED. They have the talent to have run away with the SEC and be a top 3 National Seed.
But my head is saying don't be stupid. NC State will take this regional because South Carolina won't win it.

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 94 Days

Cornelius Washington, DE
6-4, 220, Hephzibah GA (Burke County HS), True Fr.
A freak of nature. No other way to really describe Cornelius Washington. With a 6-4 frame and sub-4.5 speed, what other term could you come up with? Normally when you hear about a football player that is also a 100-meter sprint champion, you think RB, WR, or DB. (and yes, I know that Washington isn't in the same class with those guys I linked, but you get the picture.) Washington is a legit one hand down lineman with scary speed off the edge, who appears to be set to destroy tackles and tight ends in the SEC for years to come. He often gets forgotten because he committed to UGA in the summer before his junior season at Burke County (and never even visited another school, by the way.) The fact is that Washington might just be the most athletic and talented player in the incoming class, which as we all know is saying a mouthful. If NFL scouts salivated over Marcus Howard, they'll go ape-dookie when they get a look at Washington.
Depth Chart Analysis: One might look at the depth the Dawgs are sporting on the defensive line, and say that UGA could afford to redshirt Washington. In fact, it may be just as likely that the Dawgs can't afford to keep him off the field this year. This is just a scary (I keep coming back to that word) blend of size and speed that you don't see often. Depending on how fast Coach Garner and Coach Van Halanger can get some lbs on his frame, we may see Washington on the field sooner than we think. I have visions of grandeur when I imagine him at 245 lbs. He certainly has the frame to support it.

Obviously, I am excited about this kid's long-term prospects twixt' the hedges. That isn't just because he's a CSRA kid like yours truly. I'd be interested to hear everyone else's thoughts on him. Have we just forgotten about him because he's been locked in to UGA for so long?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 95 Days

#95 Jeff Owens, DT
6-3, 298, Sunrise FL (Plantation HS), Sr.
Owens begins his senior campaign in Athens as one of the more decorated players currently on the roster. A late commitment in the 2005 signing class, Owens signed with UGA over a number of top schools, including Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Florida, Florida State and even the hometown Miami Hurricanes. His impact was measured early during the SEC Championship run of 2005, when he recorded 2.5 sacks, including one in the game at the Dome vs LSU. Later that year he was named Freshman All-SEC first team, and a Freshman All-American 2nd teamer. All he has done since then is start every game at DT for the Dawgs. He begins 2008 on the watch list for the Outland, Lott and Nagurski awards, and will be the anchor up the middle.
Depth Chart Analysis: Probably as firm as any player on defense, although Defensive Line Coach Rodney Garner has always been after Owens both publicly and privately about his conditioning and attitude. That should not be a problem for 2008, as he is probably preparing himself for a nice, long career in the NFL. Owens should be one of the vocal senior leaders on defense. Expect him to show up every play.

Note: I read on today that DeAngelo Tyson would be given #94 to wear. Obviously I profiled him under Day 96. Obviously we'll make all efforts to profile a player on the day that corresponds with his actual number. When those don't exist, we have to make our best guess. Just keep in mind throughout, that incoming freshmen will get assigned to a number, but it may not always end up being the number they wear in 2008. We'll do the best we can there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 96 Days

Deangelo Tyson, DT
6-2, 276, Statesboro GA (Statesboro HS), True Freshman
Until he committed to UGA early in the recruiting period before his senior season, this was the consensus #1 player in the State. Of course, the fact that he committed so early immediately dropped him a spot or two in favor of Omar Hunter, who dragged his recruitment out until the end. Some services said that he had a poor senior season, never mind the fact that he was often double and triple teamed. While he was fairly locked in on UGA early, he did choose UGA over offers from Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, and Clemson. The one thing that most scouts discuss when talking about Tyson is his footwork. His high school coach has even compared him to Glenn Dorsey, although it is unclear to this point how heavy he will be when he reports to Athens.
Depth Chart Analysis: As mentioned above, his size may determine whether or not he sees the field this Fall, or gets a redshirt. Conventional wisdom would say that between Tyson and AJ Harmon, one of them plays and one doesn't. Harmon, at 305 lbs, probably would be better prepared to play run stuffer in the SEC. No question however, that Tyson is a tremendous talent and will be another solid (perhaps even spectucular) defensive cog for the Dawgs.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 97 Days

#97 Brandon Wood, DT
6-1, 280, Buchanan GA (Haralson County HS), RS Soph.
One of the more heralded recruits from the 2006 incoming class, Wood was a Top 5 player from the state of Georgia, and a nationally ranked prospect at the defensive line position. He was one of the 1st players in the 2006 class to commit to UGA, choosing the Dawgs over Ole Miss, although most believed it was really a done deal for UGA long before that. After a redshirt season in 2006, Wood was hampered by injuries in 2007 and only saw limited time in 5 games, mostly toward the end of the year. Still, this is a guy with ridiculous athletic ability (there is the legend out there that he ran a 4.66 forty for pro scouts last spring), who deserves to be on the field if he can stay healthy.
Depth Chart Analysis: It is because of the late 2007 playing time, that most believe Wood is ready to make some type of impact in 2008. He isn't going to take a starting spot away from Jeff Owens or Geno Atkins, nor is he likely to even bump Kade Weston from the two-deep this year. But he is very versatile, and can even move outside to play some rush end if need be. With his combination of size and quickness, he'd be a tough matchup. He is certainly more than just another run-stuffer at defensive tackle. In this writer's honest opinion, if he can stay out of the training room, he'll make a big impact this year.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 98 Days

#98 Ricardo Crawford, DT
6-1, 297, Cerro Gordo NC (West Columbus HS), Soph.
Crawford arrived at UGA after graduating high school early and enrolling in time for spring practice. He was what many in recruiting annals considered a "sleeper" because of his size for an incoming freshman. There wasn't alot that needed to be done with his body type to get him ready to play. Ricardo did have offers from Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and East Carolina, but chose UGA, and enrolled early. There were many Dawgs that expected to maybe see him on the field in his first season of action. Instead, he redshirted in his first year, and saw limited action (5 games) in 2007.
Depth Chart Analysis: Ricardo Crawford finds himself stuck down the chart at a position where UGA might carry its most depth on the roster. Jeff Owens is firmly locked ahead of him, and Corvey Irvin's senior status probably keeps him in front of Crawford as well. Adding to Crawford's plight is that 2 very good incoming freshman might be in the way (Deangelo Tyson and AJ Harmon.) Still, Crawford has plenty of time (and ability) to move himself toward eventual impact and playing time in his next 3 years in Athens.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 99 Days

For the next 99 days, as we march toward what we expect will be one of the more memorable seasons in UGA history (in one way or another), this spot will be occupied once a day by an in-depth profile of one current UGA football player. Naturally, we'll choose to profile the player whose current assigned jersey number corresponds with that day on the countdown. For those true freshmen not on campus, and who have not yet been assigned jerseys, we'll slot them in a spot where they might most likely end up (the 90's for DLs, 80's for WR and TE, etc, etc.) There may also be some days when we'll shift key walk-ons around to make sure we give them their due. So, without further ado, here we go with #99:

#99 Jarius Wynn, DE
6-5, 273, Lincolnton GA (Lincoln Co HS, Georgia Military College), Sr.
The latest in a long-line of defensive standouts that have come from the top single-A high school program in Georgia, where Wynn played for legendary Larry Campbell. After getting interest from alot of big time college programs, he signed with South Carolina State, but decided to take the Junior College route instead. At GMC, he was voted team captain and defensive MVP, as well as receiving a 2nd team Junior College All-American selection. Jarius was no stranger to Athens even in his days at the Red Devils. His brother Shed played in Athens earlier in this decade, and showed the same flashes of brilliance that we saw from Jarius at times in 2007. His best game by far came against Florida, where he had 3 big tackles, and also took his turn pummeling Tebow, along with the rest of his teammates. Like his brother in the 2002 Tennessee game, Jarius apparently likes to show up in the big games.
Jarius Wynn's depth chart analysis: one of the more hotly contested battles in fall camp will be at the Defensive End slot opposite Roderick Battle. Wynn is very much in the mix for that starting slot, and in my honest opinion, it is all up to him as to whether he or not he grabs it. His competition is a pretty light Jeremy Lomax and perhaps a true freshman in Toby Jackson. The flashes that Wynn showed in 2007 could manifest itself into a big 2008 senior campaign.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It might still be 10 to 9 in Texas, but it's 4 to 2 in Tulsa.

Georgia wins the 2008 NCAA Tennis National Title over Texas 4-2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After dropping the doubles point and the first singles point to trail Texas 2-0, the Dawgs stormed back to win 4 straight points for the win and Back-to-Back National Titles.

Nate Schnugg and Jamie Hunt started the comeback with dominating victories at the no.2 and no.4 singles spots. If the two sophmores stay all 4 years, they will have the chance to go down as two of the most decorated Bulldogs in Georgia's storied tennis history.

With 3 matches to go the Dawgs needed to win 2 of the 3 remaining singles. Seniors Luis Flores at no.3 and Texas transfer Travis Helgeson at no.1 closed the deal for the nations first repeat National Champion since the Stanford run from 95-98.

Helgeson and Flores

Congratulations to Coach Manny Diaz who has now won the National Title in 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2008. Georgia's other two titles were in 1985 and 1987 under the legendary Coach Dan Magill.

All Time NCAA Tennis Championships:

Stanford ...........................17

USC ..................................16

UCLA ...............................16

Georgia ..........................6

William and Mary ............2

(Yes, the time of this post was intentional...thanks for asking)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

111th NCAA Division 1 Golf Championships: West Regional Preview

The West Regional of the 2008 NCAA D1 Golf Championships begins Thursday in Bremerton, WA - home of the Atlanta Hawks' Marvin Williams. Gold Mountain Golf Club's Olympic course will be the venue, a municipal course that has hosted a USGA Championship (the 2006 US Amateur Public Links), but that you or I could walk up and play for less than $50.

Southern California is the #1 seed in the Region, but the Trojans (ranked #3 in Golfweek's latest team rankings) are hardly the runaway favorite. Fellow Pac-1o rivals UCLA (#4) and Stanford (#7), along with the ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles (#10) add to a strong field at Gold Mountain.

2007 NCAA Championship Medalist Jamie Lovemark of USC, headlines the field, and along with teammate Rory Hie, the Trojans will put out the best 1-2 lineup in the Regional.

USC is the pick to win the Regional, and the Pac-1o should dominate. Keep an eye out for Arizona State. The Sun Devils shocked the college golf world by beating USC (as well as 6 other teams in this regional field) at the Pac-10 Championships.

West Regional Predictions (top 10 teams advance to Finals):

1. Southern California: before the stumble at the Pac-10 Championship, Trojans had won previous 2 tournaments against strong fields. Still a young team, but as much talent as you'll find.

2. UCLA: Former junior phenom Philip Francis is the 4th or 5th best player on the Bruins' squad. Senior Kevin Chappell has improved as much as any player in the country over his 4 years in Westwood.

3. Stanford: despite disappointing 5th at Pac-10 Championship, defending NCAA Champion is always a threat. In any sport.

4. Arizona State: surprise winner at Pac-10, Top 2 players are freshmen.

5. Florida State: won 1st ever ACC Title in April. Swedish senior Jonas Blixt should contend for NCAA Medalist honors later this month.

6. Pepperdine: Waves were inconsistent all year, but still trot out 2 of the Top 100 in the nation in freshman Andrew Putnam and senior Jesse Barnsley.

7. UNLV: disappointing 4th at Mountain West Conference championships, but no finish worse than 4th in any tournament since October.

8. San Diego State: since starting season with three wins and four 2nds in first 9 tournaments, posted disappointing 8th, 7th, and 7th in final 3 tournaments of the season.

9. Texas
10. Texas Tech

11. Clemson
12. Oregon State
13. Central Florida
14. California
15. North Carolina
16. Washington
17. Kentucky
18. Oregon
19. St Mary's
20. LSU
21. Kansas State
22. Wisconsin
23. Oklahoma
24. San Diego
25. Denver
26. Navy
27. Columbia

Sleeper: Washington

Medalist: Kevin Chappell, UCLA


Get the Picture / Georgia Sports Blog

Postseason Positioning

The 2008 SEC Champion Georgia baseball team is in thick of the race for one of the 8 National Seeds for the NCAA tourney. The top 8 seeds are guaranteed home field until Omaha. The other main advantage of being a National Seed is the fact that you don't have to meet one of the other 8 National Seeds until the CWS. This would mean no 3 game Super Regional for Perno's Dawgs in Coral Gables, Tallahassee or Cary should Georgia make it out of the upcoming Athens Regional.

Coming into last nights game vs Georgia Tech the Dawgs were #10 in the rpi. The 3-2 win over rpi #8 Tech should help solidify our spot as a top 10 rpi team. You can check here to see where UGA stands in the rpi rankings after the victory at Turner Field. Georgia has won 4 straight over Georgia Tech at Turner Field and 5 out of 6.

Even though Georgia has locked up the SEC before the final conference series at home vs Alabama, expect Perno to go after this series the same way he has the previous 9. A sweep would go a long way in getting that Top 8 seed. 2 wins vs Bama and 2 wins in Hoover at the SEC Tourney should lock it up.

From the moment Ryan Peisel tried to fight half the then #1 Arizona team in the opening series of the year, this team has been on a mission to be The Champ. The only thing greater than watching the Dawgs win a Super Regional in Athens to advance to the CWS would be to watch it from the green house above Kudzo Hill.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

111th Annual Division 1 Men's Golf Championships: Central Regional Preview

The Central Regional in the 2008 NCAA D1 Golf Championships gets off Thursday at The Ohio State University's Scarlet Course in Columbus, OH. The Scarlet Course is widely considered to be the best collegiate facility and course in the nation, designed in part by Alister McKenzie (who also designed a decent course along Washington Road in Augusta), with a recent restoration headed up by none other than Buckeye legend Jack Nicklaus.

The Central boasts the strongest field of the 3 Regionals, with 4 of the nation's Top 8 teams. This region is also chock full of probable future PGA Tour stars, with a potential first round threesome of Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler (Golfweek's #1 ranked player), Alabama's Michael Thompson (#2), and Wake Forest's Webb Simpson (#6) that should get the biggest gallery of the weekend.

Alabama is the #1 seed, and deservedly so. The Tide won 5 team titles in the regular season (never finishing worse than 4th), as well as an SEC Championship. They'll roll out as strong a Top 4 as anyone in the country with the exception of Georgia, but they'll need those 4 to perform as usual to beat the field in Columbus. Bama's top player is Thompson, last year's US Amateur runner-up, and a participant in this year's Masters, where he called a penalty on himself, which most likely cost him a good chance to finish as Low Amateur.

No team in college golf sends more players to the PGA Tour than Oklahoma State, and this year's Cowboy roster should be no exception, although this year's group is very young. Fowler, a freshman, is the consensus top collegiate golfer in America, bringing to Stillwater one of the most decorated junior careers in golf history (even if he didn't bring a pair of scissors.) The Cowboys have had their disappointing moments this season, but have been as strong as you'd expect in recent weeks, finishing 2nd, 2nd, 1st and 1st (Big 12 tournament) in its last 4 outings.

Florida has a deep, veteran squad that has mostly underperformed (at least by Gator standards) all year long. Traditional powers Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, as well as host Ohio State are also in the field this weekend in Columbus.

I'm calling a Florida victory in the Regional. Just a hunch that the Gators get it all together just in time for the Finals.

Central Region Predictions (top 10 teams advance to Finals):

1) Florida: Two (soon to be three) time All American Billy Horschel is playing in his 3rd NCAA Tournament (T35, T10.) Gators have all the talent and experience required.

2) Oklahoma State: Young team has gained experience throughout the year, and the Cowboys are now peaking at just the right time.

3) Alabama: #1 seed will cruise toward finals, where they will likely be the overall favorite.

4) Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets haven't played well since T3 at Brickyard Collegiate in October.

5) Tennessee: Vols play better the further they are from Knoxville (2nd at USC Collegiate Invitational, 1st at Ping Arizona Intercollegiate, 1st at Turtle Bay Hawaii.)

6) Wake Forest: Deacs won 1975 NCAA Tournament on Scarlet Course. Senior Webb Simpson playing in 4th NCAA tournament.

7) Indiana: three straight tournament medalist titles for junior Jorge Campillo, including Big Ten Championship.

8) Texas A&M: beat Oklahoma State by 26 strokes at Barona Collegiate Cup in March, but lost by 37 to Cowboys in Big 12 Championship in April.

9) Kent State
10) Lamar

11) Louisville
12) Michigan
13) Wichita State
14) Arkansas
15) Penn State
16) Ohio State
17) Illinois
18) Eastern Kentucky
19) Loyola (Md.)
20) Baylor
21) Marquette
22) Eastern Michigan
23) Colorado
24) Cleveland State
25) TCU
26) UT-Arlington
27) Sacred Heart

Sleeper: Michigan

Individual Medalist: Rickie Fowler, Oklahoma State

Wednesday: West Regional preview

Monday, May 12, 2008

111th Annual Division 1 Men's Golf Championships: East Regional Preview

The 2008 NCAA D1 Golf Championships kick off Thursday at 3 sites nationwide. The East Regionals will be held this year at Council Fire Golf Club outside of Chattanooga, just along the border between Tennessee and Georgia. 27 teams (and a handful of individual qualifiers) will tee it up Thursday through Saturday, with 10 teams and 2 individuals (not otherwise qualifying via the team route) advancing to the Championship Finals on May 28th at Purdue University.

Let's face it, it would be an upset of monumental proportions if the #1 seed Georgia Bulldogs don't advance, much less if they don't win this Regional rather easily. Each of the Dawgs' Top 5 players reside in the Top 41 of Golfweek's current Collegiate Men's Individual Rankings. (By contrast, 17 of the teams in this regional don't have a single player ranked higher than the Dawgs' 5th ranked player according to Golfweek, Brian Harman.) Just to make it slightly more lopsided, two of the Dawgs' top 4 players, Adam Mitchell (Golfweek #10) and Harris English (#26) both spent their pre-UGA years in Chattanooga, and have logged countless rounds at Council Fire.

Charlotte is the #2 seed, and while the 49ers won their first tournament of the regular season at Council Fire back in September in impressive fashion, the host Chattanooga Mocs might actually stand to give UGA its closest competition in the Regionals. UTC won its last 3 tournaments of the season, beating fellow East Regional participants Ole Miss, UAB, Virginia Tech, and South Carolina. UGA head coach Chris Haack even named UTC the favorite for the Regional.

East Region Predictions (top 8 teams advance):

1) Georgia: disappointment at SEC Tournament (and 2007 NCAA runner-up finish) should make Dawgs even more focused for 2008 NCAAs.

2) UT-Chattanooga: something has to be said for sleeping in your own bed at night, not to mention they are pretty good anyway (3 players ranked in Golfweek Top 100.)

3) Charlotte: 3rd place team in 2007 NCAAs, won A-10 tournament by 23 strokes just 2 weeks ago, although largely "untested" in regular season.

4) South Carolina: finished 2nd to #1 Alabama at SECs, beating UGA by a stroke.

5) Auburn: started season strong, finished weak, disappointment at SEC's (8th.)

6) East Tennessee State: 100% European roster finished season well, 3rd in strong field at Augusta State Invitational, 2nd in Atlantic Sun tournament.

7) UAB: C-USA Champions have been a 2-man team all year, will need strong play from back end of the lineup to contend.

8) NC State: inconsistent squad could be a sleeper. 3rd at warm-up following ACC Championships.

9) Duke
10) Mississippi State

11) Michigan State
12) SMU
13) Virginia Tech
14) North Florida
15) Georgia State
16) Middle Tennessee State
17) UC-Irvine
18) Western Carolina
19) Augusta State
20) Memphis
21) Coastal Carolina
22) Ole Miss
23) Virginia
24) Colorado State
25) New Mexico State
26) Western Illinois
27) Jackson State

Sleeper: SMU

Individual Medalist: Adam Mitchell, UGA

Tuesday: Central Regional preview

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Quick tennis update....

It was a sad day for the #11 seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricanes as they were the only top 16 team not to make it to....Tulsa. I'm not one to toot my own horn but it went pretty much as I predicted. One 17-32 seeded team did make it through, Oklahoma State, to unceremoniously dismiss the host team. It was only one month earlier that Tulsa throttled Okie State 6-1 on the very same courts.

Georgia faced some good competition to make into the Round of 16, but advanced fairly easily over the Highlanders from Radford University and Auburn Tigers in Athens. Niether team ever threatened the Dawgs, but they weren't walkovers either.

I attended Saturday's match against Radford and I must say I was impressed. Although the final score was 4-0, Radford was pesky. Georgia jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead taking the doubles point. It wasn't much longer that the match was 3-0 in favor of Georgia as Nate Schnugg and Christian Vitulli cruised. The match slowed and it took what seemed to be an hour and a half before the Dawgs finally clinched. Luis Flores clinched the match at #3 singles, but appeared to be in a race with Javier Garrapiz to see who would close it out as they both had simultaneous match points.

Quick plug for Radford. Radford University is located in Radford, Virginia in the New River Valley surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The website makes the campus look absolutely picturesque. Pretty much every athletic facility is named after former Radford President, Dr. Donald N. Dedmon. Interestingly, Dr. Dedmon was Acting President of Marshall University immediately following the tragic plane crash in 1970.

As expected, Virginia, Ohio State, UCLA, Georgia, and Ole Miss all advanced. In fact, Ole Miss was the only top 5 seed to drop a point on the way to the Round of 16.

I am eagerly awaiting the matchups between the Gators and the Longhorns and the Illini and tOSU Buckeyes.

A sincere Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Peek at Recruiting

I've been saving this blog for a couple of days, for the sole reason that I didn't want that stellar NCAA tennis analysis to leave the top of the page. But now I'm done waiting. Coming to the blog 15 times a day just to keep viewing "The Original Gator Hater" wasn't cutting it for me.

UGA football recruiting is progressing very nicely toward 2009. The Dawgs currently have 10 known commitments, 8 of which hail from within Georgia borders. This figures to be the prevailing theme as we look to next February. UGA could land as many as 14 of the state's consensus Top 20 players, during a very solid, but not exactly "flashy" crop of in-state prospects.

Former University of Tennessee quarterback (and current quarterback coach at North Cobb High School) Tee Martin recently commented to the AJC's Carter Strickland on both of UGA's 2009 quarterback commitments, after working with them at the Nike and Elite 11 Camps. Martin is obviously sold on these guys. Unlike Logan Gray, who heard rumors of a position change throughout his first season on campus, there will be no question that Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger will be quarterbacks. With Gray not set to be a senior until the 2011-12 season, there will be quite a competition on campus in the next few years. One thing is certain, UGA has seen an era of quarterbacks in Athens since Mark Richt arrived that has been absolutely unrivaled in its own storied history. That certainly does not appear to be coming to an end anytime soon.

From a personal standpoint, the most interesting commitment thus far in the 2009 class is linebacker Chase Vasser. Aside from the fact that he looks like he'll be a can't miss player and a possible anchor of Wil-Mart's defense, I was intrigued to learn that he carries a 2 handicap on the links, and that he is considering asking UGA golf coach Chris Haack if he has an available roster spot after he gets to Athens. While a 2 handicap is certainly very strong, I doubt he'll have much chance at contributing for one of the best collegiate golf programs in America. I do think it would be a very interesting idea, and I'm quite certain that Vasser would be the only D1 college athlete to pull the ole' Bo Jackson football/golf combo.

Dennis Felton is having a nice run lately himself. The Dawgs' SEC Tournament Championship has parlayed itself into a nice couple of late backcourt commitments from the Atlanta area, to cap off what was already a solid class. The 5-player 2008 class has a chance to be a Top 25 class nationally.

2009 could be the class that ultimately puts the UGA program off the top. Barring any unforeseen attrition, UGA will look to sign a class of 3 next year. Already committed is Frankin County combo guard Demario Mayfield. With potentially 2 additional spots to fill, UGA will look to beef up its frontcourt. One thing is certain, a spot is being held for one guy who many say is the top player in America, South Atlanta PF Derrick Favors:
The most likely candidates for the 3rd spot in the '09 class (assuming UGA is lucky enough to secure Favors) would be:
  • 6'7 wing from Wheeler HS in Marietta, Ari Stewart. Stewart is easily the #2 player in GA (behind Favors) in the 2009 class, a true inside-out swing forward. Like Favors, everybody in the country wants Stewart, so landing him would be a major coup.
  • 6'7 Mary Persons PF Terrance Shannon, a tremendous athlete with a great deal of raw potential. Shannon plays much bigger than 6'7 thanks to his explosiveness and leaping ability, in the mold of a Josh Smith.
  • 6'9 power forward from Columbus, Torin Walker, more of a true post player, but also a skilled passer that would excel in Felton's motion offense.

While we're on the subject of Felton, I was pumped to learn earlier this week that UGA's men's basketball program finished 2nd in the SEC only to Vanderbilt (no shame in that) in the annual NCAA Academic Progress Rate rankings. Given the state of academics in this program not 6 years ago, combined with the criticism that Felton has taken for his tactics in dealing with player punishment, and his disciplinary methods ever since he stepped on the UGA campus, the release of the NCAA academic rankings do not represent a small news story. This validates Felton as a leader of men, as much as the SEC tournament title validated him as a solid college basketball coach. Georgia is lucky to have Felton, and I see uncharted territory for men's basketball at UGA in the very near future.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Greatest Sporting Event You've Never Attended

The children are all bathed and snuggled away in their beds. The wife is comfortably sprawled out on the La-Z-Boy anxiously awaiting this week’s riveting episode of American Idol to begin. Finally, some quiet time to reflect.

It happens about this time every May. I ponder the good times gone by. 16 years ago I discovered the beauty of bladder busters from “the ‘Roo”, eating 3 meals a day at the Taco Stand a/k/a “the Stade” on Milledge Avenue, then topping it off with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Oh, and squeezing no less than 12 hours of NCAA tennis a day, every day, for 9 straight days. It’s a wonder I am still alive.

The 63rd Edition of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament officially kicks off Friday, May 9, 2008. A 64-team field begins the quest to capture the title in what some consider the single greatest sporting event on the face of the Earth. Okay, let’s be honest, maybe I’m the only one who considers it the greatest sporting event on Earth, but sadly it remains one of the best kept secrets in college athletics. This ain’t your Saturday afternoon ALTA match folks.

64 teams begin the journey, at 16 host sites, in the hopes of hoisting the hardware after the traditional dogpile which will undoubtedly take place again this year on center court of Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is only Tulsa’s second time hosting the Men’s NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA switched the format to 64 teams, closely resembling that of March Madness, several years ago, growing from what had traditionally been a 16-team field. This year Champaign, Illinois; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Oxford, Mississippi; Columbus, Ohio; Malibu, California; Knoxville, Tennessee; Austin, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Charlottesville, Virginia; Waco, Texas; Los Angeles, California(Two Sites); Gainesville, Florida, Tallahassee, Florida; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Athens, Georgia host the action in the First and Second rounds. Unlike the NCAA basketball tournament, don’t expect many upsets early. However, a 17-32 seeded team will undoubtedly find a way to sneak into the 16-team square dance this year. And that’s when the real fun starts.

Each match is determined in a best of 7 points format, consisting of 3 doubles followed by 6 singles matches. The team that wins 2 of 3 doubles matches secures the all-important doubles point. Each singles match counts a point. The first team to 4 points wins.

The Georgia Bulldogs look to defend the title won last year in Athens in dominating 4-0 fashion over the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Dawgs went wire-to-wire #1 in the country and finished the season an unprecedented 32-0. Don’t look for such a dominating performance by any team this year. The 2007 Georgia Bulldogs were undeniably one of the greatest college tennis teams ever assembled.

This year’s #1 seed, University of Virginia Cavaliers, head into the tournament undefeated and on the same trail blazed by the Dawgs last year. The Cavaliers are led by Senior and #1 player in the country, Somdev Devarrman. Some of you may recognize his name as he won the NCAA individual title in 2007 by defeating Georgia’s, John Isner, despite never breaking Isner’s serve. Virginia also boasts the #1 Doubles team in the country. There is no doubt Virginia is the odds on favorite to run the table this year as they eased through the ACC without dropping more than 2 points in any match. But they are not unbeatable, as they played very tight matches with #3 Seed UCLA, Illinois and Kentucky earlier in the season.

Ohio State is quietly having an unprecedented season as well and have been rewarded with the #2 seed for their efforts. In fact, the Buckeyes only loss of the year came at the hands of the Cavaliers at The Indoor Championships in February. Ohio State is led by Bryan Koniecko, the 2008 Big Ten Athlete of the Year. Yes, a tennis player is the “athlete of the year” for the Big Ten. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but the guy is a great player.

The traditional tennis powerhouse UCLA comes in as the #3 seed. The Bruins ravaged the Pac-10 and ended the season undefeated in division play. Again, the Cavaliers are the only blemish on UCLA’s record, losing a heartbreaking match 4-3 at Indoors.

Georgia and Ole Miss round out the top 5 seeds. Georgia’s 40-match unbeaten streak in the SEC ended this year, but went on to win the SEC regular season. Ole Miss won the SEC tournament. The two are on course to meet in a quarterfinal showdown in Tulsa.

Look for one of these 5 teams to win this year’s title.


A healthy Georgia has the best shot to hand the Cavaliers their first and most untimely loss of the season. Georgia has not been healthy the entire year. Senior leaders Luis Flores and Travis Helgeson have battled nagging injuries all year culminating with Flores withdrawing during the first set in his quarterfinals match of the SEC tournament. That was only 2 weeks ago. How healthy is Flores? I think it is safe to say he will not be 100%.

Look for Georgia to make it past Wake Forest and Pepperdine, the 2006 NCAA Champs, for a much anticipated quarterfinal match-up with “The Fighting Chadwicks.” For the Rebels to make it to the quarters, the toughest test will come from the Tar Heels and that shouldn’t be much of a contest. The Dawgs and Rebels met during the regular season with Georgia easily handling the Rebels, 5-2. However, the Dawgs finished the season losing 2 of 3 and limping into the tournament. The Rebels ended the season on a tournament victory high. Look for the Dawgs to meet Virginia in one of the Semifinals.

On the other side of the draw UCLA and Ohio State have equally difficult paths to a Semifinal matchup. Look for UCLA to meet the real USC in the quarterfinals. UCLA has already defeated USC twice this year. Most recently, UCLA won a hotly contest match on the road. Can UCLA beat USC three times in a year? Yes. UCLA advances to the semis.

Ohio State is a relative unknown in NCAA tennis. They have burst on the scene really in the last 3 years finishing #3 in 2007, #5 in 2006. The Big 10(or 11) is not considered a tennis powerhouse by anyone. While the Buckeyes have had success during the regular season, they have never made it past the quarterfinals at the NCAA tournament. To get to the quarters this year the Buckeyes will have to get past arch-rival Illinois first. Believe me, that will be a great match to watch and Illinois could pull an upset.

If they can survive the Illini, the Buckeyes will face the winner of an epic round of 16 matchup between the Florida Gators and the Texas Longhorns. The Gators and Longhorns lock up in the most intriguing first round matchup in Tulsa. I fully expect a knockdown dragout between these two and it’s hard to pick a winner, but I’ll take the Longhorns. The Longhorns can beat Ohio State, but this is the year Ohio State finally makes it to the semifinals to face UCLA.


The Virginia-Georgia semifinal will be awesome to watch. Georgia has the talent to beat Virginia and if the tournament was being held in Athens, like it should be every year but I digress, I have no doubt Georgia would win this match. However, the neutral site clearly favors Virginia this year. Virginia has strong singles and doubles play, but so does Georgia. Both teams are well-conditioned to thrive over this 5-day event. The winner of the doubles point will likely win this match. If the Dawgs can win the doubles point, they can win this match on Courts 4, 5, and 6. I expect a lot of barking from the Dawg faithful matched by chants of Wahoo from those yahoos from Charlottesville.

UCLA is the most storied program in Men’s Tennis with 16 National Championships is poised to face Ohio State for the first time this year in the other semifinal match. UCLA has mediocre doubles teams despite having the son of former professional doubles great, Robert Seguso on the squad. Ohio State has two nationally ranked doubles teams and I look for Ohio State to take the doubles point. In singles action, the teams are very evenly matched with numerous highly ranked players. This match is going to be a 4-3 thriller that will probably last about 4 hours. If it holds true to form, momentum will swing wildly throughout the match bringing both fans bases to a roar. Look for UCLA in a mild upset.

Who will claim dominance over the NCAA Men’s tennis world in 2008? I don’t know, but I guarantee it will be exciting to watch. I believe the Tulsa website will have live updates and stats during the tournament. As soon as I figure out how to post a link I will so you can follow the action live if you can’t make it to Tulsa.

Tulsa will host both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA tennis tournament. After the team championship, individual singles and doubles action begins. It's all very exciting to watch but the team tournament is the "must see."

Athens, Georgia has hosted the tournament 24 of the 31 years of the “modern era”. The author despises the rotation of the tournament out of Athens which the NCAA started in earnest in 2002. For those that don’t know Athens, Georgia is the “mecca” of college tennis. Thanks to the efforts of Dan McGill, Manny Diaz, and Kim Bassinger, there is no reason why Athens can’t be to college tennis what Omaha is to college baseball.

The Original Gator Hator

No real reason to post this now. I'm sure you'll see it again come October. What the heck, it's just funny."Herschel Walker Cuyler them Dawgs is hell don't they!"

Monday, May 5, 2008


Here is the latest roundtable from Dawg Post. Talking schedule, assistant coaches and deep threat wide recievers.

Getcha Popcorn Ready

Set the tivo's for Friday May 30th at 8pm as the Holder brothers will make their TV debut on the History Channel's Modern Marvels. This all came about when the History Channel read a blog by the younger Holder written on axes.

You know you're a badass when you blog on axes.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Game 7 in Beantown

Well, Georgia's professional basketball franchise has done the unthinkable, and pushed the NBA's best regular season team (at least record-wise) to a Game 7. If you held my feet to the fire and asked me to pick this game, my brain would say Celtics. They won the first 3 games in Boston by more than 20 points per game. However, if the Hawks can keep it close into the 4th quarter, the fact that Atlanta has won all the close games in this series could prove useful. No Celtic has proven in this series that they can keep their cool in the clutch, and especially not when Atlanta "bows up":

ESPN did a piece for Sunday morning's SportsCenter with Boston's "Big Three", with Michele Tafoya mostly throwing out softball questions about how this team would respond in any Game 7, much less a Game 7 against a #8 seed that had 29 less regular season wins than the C's. As usual, KG was the most vocal in the interview, with Allen and Pierce taking the usual subservient stance. None of them looked nearly as shocked to be sitting there talking about a Game 7 against the Hawks as Doc Rivers has in the interviews I've seen in the last 2 days. But I have to believe that some doubt has now crept into the minds of the Green People (players and fans), if not about their ability to win this series, certainly about any chances they have at winning the Title that has eluded them for the past 22 years.

For all the baggage that KG brings to any game - the trash talk, the cursing (hopefully the children in Boston can't read lips), all his crazy arm motions and facial expressions - he has played the 4th quarters in Atlanta like a scared puppy. A few times down the stretch in Game 6, KG had the ball in the post and gave it up. Any other situation he'd be taking that to the hoop, no matter who is guarding him.

One of two things will probably happen Sunday afternoon:
1) The C's will come out shooting lights out as they have for the most part in the previous 3 games in Boston. If Mike Bibby doesn't keep it under control, throwing up quick jumpers and turning the ball over, the C's could jump out to a lead that would be hard for the Hawks to come back from.
2) This game is close throughout, and maybe the Hawks even take a lead late in the 3rd. If that happens, we could see the Boston crowd start to show its frustration. The Big Three, none of whom have ever gotten it done in the postseason for any team, are likely to tighten up. Atlanta has been the "looser" team throughout the series, and that will serve them well down the stretch if this game is close in the 4th.

For the average NBA fan outside of Boston, it will almost be as enjoyable to see how the Celtics handle a close game, as it would be to see the Cinderella Hawks pull off the biggest postseason upset in NBA history.

Some side notes:
-One of the ESPN SportsCenter anchors this morning actually made a comment that the Celtics had to like their chances today, because Boston is 3-0 all-time in Game 7s against the Hawks. Seriously? The last time Boston played a Game 7 against Atlanta was 20 years ago.
-Impressive showing from the New Orleans Hornets last night. I don't think there is anyone in the NBA who doesn't believe this team couldn't make it to the Finals this year. Imagine if Atlanta does pull the upset today, and you have the prospect of a Finals that features the Hornets against anyone from the East (including the Hawks.) If you aren't a die-hard NBA fan, I don't see you paying much attention to that series. That's a shame, because the world really should take note of Chris Paul (even if Hawks' GM Billy Knight hasn't.)

Enjoy Game 7!!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Future of Georgia Baseball

There is something special about Perno's Dawgs this year. Obviously it helps to have the best player in the country and the best closer in the country. The Dawgs have had great success this decade with 2 SEC titles (about to be 3) and trips to the CWS in '01, '04 and '06. If the Dawgs make the CWS this year, I think they will win it all. This team is built to win it all....they just gotta get to Omaha.

Is the offense anywhere near the '01 team led by Jeff Keppinger? Not even close. (Keppinger hit .500 with 9 hr's in 10 postseason games including a blast off unhittable Mark Prior of USC). But if Beckham's postseason matches his regular season he could give Keppinger's clutch numbers a run.

Even the '06 CWS team led the SEC in hitting spearheaded by Joey Side's 111 hits and Josh Morris' 23 hr's. Plus you can't talk about that '06 team without mention of setup man Rip Warren putting up zero's before handing the ball to Freshman All-American closer Joshua Fields.

The best team we have fielded outside of the 1990 National Champions is the '04 team that won the SEC. Led by the three headed pitching monster of Lubrano, Hyle and Ruthven with Startup acting the part of shutdown closer, the '04 team ended up 3rd in the CWS.

This team Perno has a similar makeup to that '04 team. The pitching depth and the defense is arguably the best ever in Athens. 2 wins vs Ole Miss this weekend will go a long way in locking up the SEC title. With the SEC title will come a national seed that will help Perno's chances of getting back to Omaha. IF Perno can get the Diamond Dawgs to Omaha I believe he brings another National Title home. They remind me of last years OSU team.

Quietly, Perno has been LOADING up on talent. The incoming class is possibly the best Georgia has ever had. Perno has locked down the state of Georgia. The players that tech and Clemson used to get are now all wanting to play in Athens. If a couple of these recruits get to campus instead of signing with mlb, then Perno should have many chances at the CWS in coming seasons.

Perfect Game has our 2008 class ranked #2. You can check out the rankings here.

The scouts at Real Baseball Intelligence have broken down some of the '08 recruits that have signed with Georgia. Here is what they had to say about a few of them:

Xavier Avery
School: Cedar Grove HS (Georgia)
Class: HS Senior
Height: 6′0″
Weight: 160 lbs.
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Pos: of
Hometown: Ellenwood, GA
Commitment: Georgia (Football/Baseball Recruit)
Previously Drafted: None

Avery is an intriguing athletic specimen who excels in two sports. At Cedar Grove High, Avery is a running back for the football team in the fall and an outfielder in the spring. He has outstanding speed (he runs a 60 yard dash in 6.17 seconds). His swing has plenty of holes but he has raw power.

Avery is raw even for a prep talent. He’s committed to Georgia as a running-back, where the Bulldogs expect him to be an All-American candidate. He will be hard to sign because of his dual commitment and his strong academics, but Avery has the raw tools to be an impressive big leaguer.

The Future:
Late first-round/supplemental round.

Brett DeVall
School: Niceville HS (Florida)
Class: HS Senior
Height: 6′4″
Weight: 205 lbs.
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Pos: lhp
Hometown: Niceville, FL
Commitment: Georgia
Previously Drafted: None

Strengths:DeVall has three plus pitches: a 88-92 mph sinking fastball, a plus slider and a plus changeup. He shows an advanced feel for pitching and has good mechanics .

Weaknesses:He doesn’t have as much raw stuff as many other high school pitchers in the draft. He’s a very good student, which may make him difficult to sign.

The Future:DeVall deserves a pick in the supplemental round.

Michael Palazzone
School: Lassiter HS (Georgia)
Class: HS Senior
Height: 6′3″
Weight: 190 lbs.
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Pos: rhp
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Commitment: Georgia
Previously Drafted: None

Strengths:Palazzone is a polished high school pitcher with the stuff and potential to become a #2 or #3 starter in a big league rotation. He’s a product of the prestigious East Cobb baseball program and shows two plus pitches: a low 90s fastball and a hard curve. He’s got room to fill out, so scouts are expecting he’ll be able to reach the mid 90s consistently in pro ball. Unlike most high school pitchers, he’s shown the ability to set up hitters and has good mound presence.

Weaknesses:Palazzone doesn’t have the raw stuff or projectability of Tim Melville or Alex Meyer. He may be a hard sign, because Palazzone is a good student and is committed to a local powerhouse.

The Future:Late first round/supplemental round.

Cecil Tanner
School: Ware County HS (Georgia)
Class: HS Senior
Height: 6′6″
Weight: 190 lbs.
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Pos: RHP
Hometown: Waycross, GA
Commitment: Georgia
Previously Drafted: None

Strengths:Tanner is another member of a deep Georgia recruiting class that includes seven of Baseball America’s top 100 high school draft prospects. If he makes it to campus, he could join Brett DeVall, Michael Palazzone and Xavier Avery. Tanner throws a hard 94 mph sinker.

Weaknesses:Tanner is raw. He needs to improve his secondary pitches.

The Future:Second round.

Thursday Musings

Before I progress toward the more pressing sports issues of the first day of May, I thought I'd reflect on what I thought was the ideal choice for the first ever blog on this site. One of the all-time classic Nature Boy rants, and from the looks of things, also possibly one of the earliest recorded stand-alone interviews for Space Mountain. How, one might ask, can a person tell how old Ric Flair is just by looking at a picture? Like the rings inside of an century-old tree, one need look no further than the scars on the Nature Boy's forehead. Granted, the large band-aid above the right eye covers up a good bit, but without researching further I'd say (by reading the scars) that this particular video is circa 1983, just before the first incarnation of the Horseman in the old NWA days. Pro wrestling back then was as much a part of the landscape of legitimate sport in the mid-80s Southeastern U.S., as the Braves and Falcons were. (Actually I'd have to give the NWA the slight edge given the collective state of those 2 franchises back then.)
A couple more things about Naitch before moving on. At about the 1:10 mark of that video, he starts into what is one of the staples of any good Flair interview, the precession of naming enemies, in other words everybody in wrestling that day who he wants a piece of. This particular one begins with Luger, and onto Dusty Rhodes, Koloff, Ricky Morton, Steve Williams. Of course, along the way, Flair just decides he'll just throw Ted Turner's name in there for the hell of it, since Ted just so happens to be signing Ric's paycheck. Classic Flair. Hall of Famer.

On to current events.....

I know I am in the minority, but I thought the Hawks put up a spirited effort last night. Cutting it to 6 in the 3rd given everything that had taken place to that point was pretty strong in my opinion. Fact is, no way was the NBA going to allow the Hawks to bring this series back to Atlanta with a chance to close it out. Combine that with the fact that Allen and Cassell hit pretty much every shot I remember them taking, two early fouls from Joe Johnson, and another terrible game for both Marvin and Bibby, and you have about what you'd expect. What will be interesting is to see how a potential Game 7 would be officiated. As much as I know David Stern wants a Celtics-Lakers final, an Atlanta win in this series would also clear an easier path for a LeBron-Kobe final, at least in the perception of the league office. One thing is for sure, Friday night in Philips is going to be off the charts. As much crap as we get from the rest of the country, when Atlanta fans show up (see Braves in 91, 92, and 95; Falcons in '98; and the last 2 Hawks' games at Philips), we can get as fired up as anybody else, with the lone exception of maybe a European soccer crowd.

At the current rate, the Braves look ready to clear the slate early and let UGA football have the stage to themselves this summer. (To be completely honest, there probably wasn't enough room for a Braves pennant race and a potential preseason Top 2 UGA anyway.) In all seriousness, what is killing the Bravos right now isn't the fragile rotation or the early bullpen problems, nor is it Bobby Cox (contrary to what my Dad thinks.) Lack of offense from what is supposed to be an offensive team, particularly in late innings, has been the problem. You don't go 0 for 9 in 1-run games by coincidence. McCann and Franceour particularly need to get things going more consistently. We'll have to see how a potential Smoltz move to the bullpen affects things in the long run. Again, it doesn't matter who's starting the game, the Braves seem to always find a way to keep it just close enough to lose it at the end. I'd rather shore up the bullpen in any way possible, even if it means you sacrifice your ace. Then, I'll just keep my fingers crossed that this "vaunted" lineup finds a way to quit throwing up on itself every other night.

This weekend:
Big series for the Diamond Dawgs against a pretty good Ole Miss squad this weekend at Foley. Should also be a decent PGA Tour stop in Charlotte for your viewing pleasure, albeit sans Eldrick. Anyone looking for me Saturday afternoon can find me at a ballet recital (two of them, in fact) somewhere north of Atlanta.

I plan to focus on some UGA football and basketball recruiting in my next blog. Those are 2 topics from which you'd be hard-pressed to draw a negative lately. Have a jolly Thursday.