Georgia Bulldogs: SEC

Getting to know Eric Swinney 

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
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Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ROSWELL, Ga. — Running back Eric Swinney was one of 13 ESPN Junior 300 prospects to attend the Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday. Of those 13, 12 are from Georgia, which regularly churns out elite college football players. For some reason, however, the state doesn’t seem to get the recognition as a top talent-producing state.


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Georgia adds commitment No. 18

January, 27, 2014
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The Georgia Bulldogs picked up a commitment from three-star athlete Dominick Sanders (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) on Monday night. The news was first reported by 247Sports.

Sanders had been committed to UCF since October, but after he took a visit to Auburn without informing the UCF coaching staff, the Knights decided to move on from Sanders. He was set to visit Georgia this weekend but decided to go ahead and pull the trigger. Sanders had also been receiving interest from Missouri recently.

The 5-foot-11, 174-pound athlete could play multiple positions, but the Bulldogs are recruiting him as a defensive back.

"Sanders possesses decent size for an athlete,” his RecruitingNation scouting report reads. "His physical attributes will allow him to play and compete at a variety of positions. He should naturally fill out a bit more in the next couple of years.

"He plays with good strength as he will run through most arm tackles and when tackling will send the ball carrier backwards. Demonstrates good speed as on more than one occasion he has run away from everyone and broken the big play.”

With the addition of Sanders, Georgia is now up to 18 commitments, including nine that are ranked in the ESPN 300.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
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Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.


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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Nebraska extended its streak of nine-win seasons to six under coach Bo Pelini with a 24-19 upset victory over No. 22 Georgia in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Here's a quick recap:

It was over when: The Bulldogs (8-5) turned it over on downs with 25 seconds to play as tight end Arthur Lynch dropped a fourth-and-3 pass from quarterback Hutson Mason inside the Huskers' 10-yard line. Nebraska linebacker David Santos received credit for a breakup, but it appeared to bounce straight off the hands of Lynch, who was the top receiving target all afternoon for Mason.

Game ball goes to: Tommy Armstrong. The Huskers' redshirt freshman quarterback was cool under pressure in his return after missing most of the season's final two games with an ankle injury. Armstrong threw a pair of touchdown passes and had another dropped. He made smart decisions in the run game and largely avoided mistakes.

Stat of the game: Twelve. That's the touchdown catch total for Nebraska senior Quincy Enunwa after his two scores on Wednesday, including a 99-yard reception from Armstrong in the third quarter. Enunwa's total breaks a Nebraska record set in 1971 by Johnny Rodgers, one year before he won the Heisman Trophy. A physical force in the run and pass game, Enunwa, by the way, didn't make it on the Big Ten's all-conference list, even at honorable mention. With the likes of Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis and Penn State's Allen Robinson, it was an exceptional season for receivers in the league. But Enunwa deserves some recognition.

Unsung heroes: Thad Randle and Jason Ankrah, the seniors up front on the Nebraska defense. Randle has never been healthy in college, and Ankrah was without help on Wednesday from Avery Moss, who didn't travel to Florida. They formed an important part of the front seven, which was as usual led by Randy Gregory at defensive end. They slowed Todd Gurley and pressured Mason on Wednesday. In the red zone, the Huskers were especially strong.

What Nebraska learned: It's got a gamer in Armstrong, the quarterback who started eight games this year and will enter spring practice as the leader to start in 2014. He'll get pushed by Johnny Stanton and possibly incoming freshman Zack Darlington, but Armstrong might be tough to unseat after the poise he showed Wednesday. If I-back Ameer Abdullah and Gregory return, the building blocks exist for Nebraska (9-4) to break through in 2014. It would help mightily to use Wednesday as a springboard to play fundamental football in the new year and capitalize on opponents' errors.

What Georgia learned: Transition from the Aaron Murray era won't be easy. When a program has played with one quarterback for four seasons, the offensive system morphs to reflect his strengths. Under Mason, the Bulldogs must find the right balance. It wasn't going to happen in this bowl season. The problems in the secondary on Wednesday can't be explained away by injuries. While Georgia has the talent to field an elite defense, it never came together over the past four months.

To watch the trophy presentation of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, click here.
Aaron Murray and Taylor Martinez, the shelved senior quarterbacks at Georgia and Nebraska, started 95 college games.

They won 67.4 percent.

Bet you thought that rate was higher.

Seems we’ve watched these two operate forever. In the past four years, Murray and Martinez meant something important to college football. They tormented defensive coordinators and served as the poster boys for a pair of proud programs, trying -- desperately close at times -- to break through.

It’s not going to happen in their time.

Despite 64 victories between them (35 for Murray, 29 for Martinez), neither won a conference title. At Georgia and Nebraska, a conference title, at minimum, is the standard of success.

Yet as Murray and Martinez depart the college game in sadly anticlimactic fashion as the Bulldogs (8-4) and Huskers (8-4) meet for a New Year’s Day rematch in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, they leave a record of greatness.

[+] EnlargeTaylor Martinez
Josh Wolfe/Icon SMITaylor Martinez's final season didn't go as planned, but he'll be remembered in Lincoln.
Murray’s senior season was nearly doomed from the start. Injuries to running backs Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, several top receivers and playmakers on defense contributed heavily to four Georgia losses.

The QB persevered until Nov. 23, when he suffered an ACL tear in a 59-17 victory over Kentucky. Murray played through the injury for one series but couldn't fight the pain any further.

In similar fashion, Martinez battled for two weeks through a foot injury, suffered in the Huskers’ season opener.

He led the Huskers to a 21-3 edge over UCLA in the second quarter on Sept 14, but any thoughts of a storybook ending to his career crashed to a halt in the second half. The Bruins scored 38 consecutive points. Martinez clearly wasn’t himself, unable use his usually dangerous feet to stem momentum.

A one-game comeback fell flat at Minnesota in October. Martinez was finished. He lost his final two starts and an opportunity to join Colin Kaepernick as the only players in FBS history to pass for 9,000 yards and rush for 3,000. He finished with 7,258 passing yards and 2,975 rushing yards.

He lost his chance to win a conference title, a hope so promising back in 2010, when Martinez led Nebraska to a 17-point lead over Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game as a freshman.

Martinez never broke through.

“It’s been hard,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “This whole season’s been hard on him. It’s not the way you want to see him go out.”

Georgia coach Mark Richt said the same thing about Murray. Richt visited a hospitalized Murray after he underwent surgery on the damaged knee. Richt said he wanted to feel sorry for his quarterback, but Murray wouldn’t let him.

His positivity is relentless. And that’s part of Murray’s legacy, alongside the 13,166 passing yards and 121 touchdown passes.

No Southeastern Conference quarterback before Murray threw for 3,000 yards in three seasons. Murray did it four times. He broke Danny Wuerffel’s SEC record for touchdown passes and Tim Tebow’s record for total yardage.

But, like Martinez, his teams never broke through.

Murray’s best chance fell 5 yards short last year against Alabama in the SEC championship game. He targeted Malcolm Mitchell in the end zone, a shot within reach to win an SEC title as the clock ticked away. Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley deflected the pass to Georgia receiver Chris Conley. Conley slid to the turf, surrounded by defenders. Time expired on Murray’s best opportunity.

[+] EnlargeGeorgia's Aaron Murray
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesAaron Murray's place in Georgia and SEC football history is secure.
Instead of a shot to play for the national title, Georgia beat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl as Murray threw for 427 yards and five touchdowns, both career-best marks.

It all felt anticlimactic for Murray, though nothing like this year.

“Obviously I had a vision of how I wanted to go out,” Murray said recently.

This wasn’t it.

“It’s almost like I didn't say goodbye,” he said, “which, I guess, is a good thing. I guess it's like, 'to be continued.' I'm not leaving. I'm always a Bulldog. I'll always be a Bulldog, and I guess if I would have been there to wave and really cherish the end of it, that would have been like, 'Book closed, it's over,' and I feel like it's not over for me.”

Murray is eloquent and charismatic. Martinez is quite the opposite.

Uncomfortable in the spotlight, the Nebraska quarterback hasn’t spoken to the media since the Minnesota game.

But Martinez appears to be at peace. He has remained at the side of teammates through conditioning drills and practices this month. Those close to him, though, say he’s devastated by the injury.

A generation from now, Murray and Martinez will be remembered not for this anticlimactic ending or their inability to break through and win a championship.

Time will heal their wounds. History will reflect well on their legacies. College football will remember them.
ESPN Watch List defensive back Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) understands that the SEC has some of the most talented defensive backs in the country. Of his 23 offers, eight come from the conference that has won every BCS national championship game since 2007.


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Gators add OL Trenton Brown 

December, 9, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Massive offensive lineman Trenton Brown (Albany, Ga./Georgia Military College) verbally committed to play for Florida early Sunday morning. Brown, a former Georgia commit, chose Florida over Oklahoma and Florida State.

The 6-foot-8, 340-pound tackle prospect announced his decision via his twitter handle @512_ItsNMe: "Gator Chompin' #GatorNation join me Oh and add me to that #1 recruiting class." Brown later confirmed to RecruitingNation writer Kipp Adams via text message that he had committed.

Brown originally set a decision date for Dec. 19, but decided to go ahead and make his pledge public now and since he is at a prep school, he will be able to sign with Florida on the 19th and enroll at UF in January.

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Instant analysis: Georgia 38, Auburn 0

November, 10, 2012
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Georgia's heading back to the SEC championship game.

The Bulldogs clinched a spot in Atlanta for the second consecutive year after routing Auburn 38-0 on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC) jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first half and the result never seemed in doubt. Here's a look at the high points:

It was over when: The teams went into the locker room at the half. The Bulldogs scored on each of their first four drives, all of which covered at least 64 yards. They punted only once in their first seven drives.

Game ball goes to: Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The pair led Georgia to a 289-yard rushing effort. Gurley had 116 yards on 11 carries (an average of 10.5 yards a tote) along with a touchdown and Marshall added 105 yards on eight carries (13.1 yard average) with a touchdown of his own.

Key stat: 497. That's how many yards Georgia ended up with, a total that could have been higher if the game wasn't already well in hand by the third quarter. The Bulldogs averaged 7.4 yards per play and Aaron Murray threw for 208 yards on 18 of 24 attempts, including three touchdown tosses.

Key play: Murray connected with receiver Tavarres King for a 55-yard completion with 5:32 left in the second quarter to get the Bulldogs to the Auburn 6. Murray did get a little pressure up the middle as he threw, but made a perfect throw to King over the coverage. The completion set up Georgia's fourth touchdown, which made it 28-0.

What it means: As SEC East Division champions, the Bulldogs will await the SEC West champion for a Dec. 1 showdown in Atlanta. Alabama had the chance to clinch that berth on Saturday but was upset by Texas A&M and will now need a victory over Auburn to clinch the West. For the Tigers (2-8, 0-7), it was another ugly loss in what has become a nightmarish season. They are still without a conference win and it will only continue to increase the pressure on head coach Gene Chizik.
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MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- Five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) will take an unofficial visit to Florida for its game against South Carolina on Saturday. For the 6-foot-6, 295-pound No. 1-ranked offensive lineman in the country, this will be his second visit to Gainesville in the last three weeks.

Tunsil, who visited Florida for its game against LSU, said he enjoyed his trip to the Swamp.

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UGA commit Shaq Wiggins visits UF 

September, 3, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN 150 cornerback and Georgia verbal commit Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) visited Gainesville on Saturday to watch Florida take on Bowling Green. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Under Armour All-American said he enjoyed his visit to Florida.

"The trip went well," Wiggins said. "If anything, my favorite part was the crowd."

For Wiggins, he says he didn't pay too much attention to the game itself, but focused more on the cornerback play, specifically on Florida sophomore Marcus Roberson.

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Derrick Henry sets decision date 

August, 31, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- On a record-breaking night, ESPN 150 athlete Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee) has set his announcement date to choose between Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

Derrick Henry
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comDerrick Henry will announce his college decision on Sept. 28 and one team still remains out in front.
In a 51-28 loss to Gainesville High School Thursday night, Henry rushed for 336 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. Henry broke former Jacksonville (Fla.) University Christian star Willie McClendon's streak of 33 consecutive 100-yard rushing games from 1985-87. Henry has still never rushed for under the century mark in his high school career.

At 8,200 career rushing yards, Henry moves in to third place on the state of Florida's all-time career rushing list, trailing only Emmitt Smith and Florida running back commit Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glades, Fla./Glades Day).

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ESPN 300 A.J. Turman sets 3 visits 

August, 28, 2012
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ESPN 300 running back A.J. Turman (Orlando, Fla./Boone) plans to take all five official visits, and the four-star back already knows of three.

A.J. Turman
Corey Long/ESPN.comA.J. Turman is the No. 24 running back and the No. 261 player overall in the ESPN 300.
"I'll probably decide which visits I'll take by either the end of this week or next week, but I know for sure I'll visit Georgia, Tennessee and FSU," Turman said on Monday night.

Though Turman hasn't set specific dates for the visits, the 6-foot, 198-pound athlete said those three schools are standing out.

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The impact that Texas A&M's membership in the SEC has had on recruiting is noticeable. The Aggies currently have a whopping 27 commitments in their 2013 recruiting class even though fall practice hasn't even started for Texas high schools. Many of the Aggies’ commitments have said that the SEC membership is among the top reasons they chose Texas A&M.

Coach Kevin Sumlin has acknowledged that impact, noting that Texas A&M has "probably gotten a few more visits" and his coaches have had a few more "return phone calls" from recruits who might not otherwise have considered the Aggies if they weren't in what's widely considered to be the nation's premier football conference.

In its home state, it can be a selling point, since Texas A&M is the only school within the state that can allow a Texas high school football product to stay close to his home and still play in the SEC. And Sumlin has acknowledged that while the Aggies can and will recruit nationally, Texas will continue to be their primary emphasis.

That's justified, considering that Texas produces hundreds of Division I signees every year. But what about other SEC schools? Does Texas A&M's entry into the league mean that coaching staffs across the SEC will attempt to increase their recruiting within Texas? At SEC media days last month, coaches' opinions were varied.

LSU coach Les Miles, whose staff has recruited players from Texas and particularly from Greater Houston, said the Tigers’ presence could increase.

"I think there will be a greater opportunity to go in there and recruit, as well, because it's a great conference and certainly Texas A&M represents that in that state," Miles said. "We'll be able to go in and say to them, 'If you want to play in that conference like Texas A&M, certainly LSU and those other schools in our conference would represent that.


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[+] EnlargeLaremy Tunsil
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comFive-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil now has a top three of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Five-star offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) visited Alabama, Georgia and Florida over the last week. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle named a top three after his visit to Florida on Sunday.

"I would say they are my top three," Tunsil said of the three schools he visited. "It's a tie right now with all of them."

Tunsil, who camped at Alabama last weekend, visited Georgia on Friday and Saturday before heading to Gainesville on Sunday. The No. 3-ranked player in the country said he was impressed by what Georgia had to offer.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida, Florida State and Pittsburgh have recently offered Durham (N.C.) Hillside tight end Josh McNeil. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound athlete committed to East Carolina in November but quickly opened things up after receiving offers from larger BCS schools.

Though McNeil remains wide open, he says the Florida offer will put the Gators in his list of top schools when he narrows things down.

"Coach [D.J.] Durkin was in contact with me earlier in the year," McNeil said. "Then they lost contact, but now I'm talking with them again, and they offered like a week ago or so. I haven't had a chance to look much at Florida like as far as their depth chart and things like that yet, but when I start to narrow things down I know they would be in my top 10."

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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