Georgia Bulldogs: Ty Flournoy Smith

Continuing our run-up to Georgia's spring practice, this week we'll review the Bulldogs' five best recruiting classes of the last decade.

Today, we'll look at No. 4: The 2012 group that is still etching its legacy into Georgia history. We should revisit this ranking again in another couple years.

[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley, Ahmad Christian
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsTodd Gurley became a star in the Bulldogs' backfield.
The stars: Keith Marshall was the initial class headliner, but Todd Gurley immediately shot to stardom when the star tailbacks arrived on campus. The duo combined for 2,144 rushing yards as freshmen and nearly helped the Bulldogs claim the 2012 SEC title. Both struggled with injuries last fall, but Gurley looks like he has the chance to become one of the greatest tailbacks in school history. Among the other headliners in the class, offensive tackle John Theus and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins also played early roles, although they have not yet reached their expected potential from recruiting. Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is also in that boat, with his 2013 season -- his first as a starter -- displaying potential and not much consistency yet. Kicker Marshall Morgan bounced back from a shaky freshman season to enjoy one of the best seasons in school history. And Leonard Floyd -- who initially signed with Georgia in 2012 and re-signed with the following year after a season in prep school -- looks like a star pass-rusher in the making after leading the team with 6.5 sacks last fall.

The contributors: With most of the class still having two or three years of eligibility left, the list of contributors should grow substantially. Quayvon Hicks has started to develop as a productive fullback, while offensive lineman Mark Beard and punter Collin Barber have played a larger role than many players who are still waiting to break through. Defensive lineman John Taylor and cornerback Sheldon Dawson have made minor contributions thus far, but could be names to watch for the future.

The letdowns: There has not been much attrition from the class yet, which is a good sign. Tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith was dismissed last summer and is the lone departure to this point. Otherwise, the disappointment for this class might be that some of the headliners haven't become consistent stars … yet. Jenkins, Theus and Harvey-Clemons have been good players so far, but they need to make further progress to live up to their billing as recruits.

The results: This will be a big year for this class' ultimate place in UGA history. Some members -- Gurley and Marshall in particular -- helped Georgia come within an eyelash of playing for the 2012 BCS crown. It was a disappointing 2013 for the class and program because of injuries and disciplinary issues, so they need to bounce back a bit in 2014. This might be Gurley's final season on campus, but most members of this group still have plenty of time to make sure Gurley won't be the only breakout performer to come from their class.

In-state players key to strong finish

January, 30, 2014
Georgia has another top-10 class lined up for national signing day, but its final ranking next week could rise or fall depending on how the Bulldogs finish within their own state -- particularly whether they land their top remaining target, Lorenzo Carter.

As it stands, the Bulldogs have commitments from two of the top six players from Georgia, but that's it among the Peach State's collection of elite prospects. Heavily recruited players such as linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State) and quarterback Deshaun Watson (Clemson) were among those who checked out Georgia before committing elsewhere.

Mark Richt's staff still has a chance to finish on a strong note, however.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Carter
Miller Safrit/ESPNLorenzo Carter is the top remaining recruiting target for Georgia.
The Bulldogs seem to be in good shape to land five-star defensive end Carter (ESPN's No. 14 overall prospect and No. 3 player at his position). Other targets such as ESPN 300 prospect Wesley Green (No. 120 overall, No. 13 cornerback, uncommitted), Bryson Allen-Williams (No. 162 overall, No. 10 outside linebacker, committed to South Carolina) and Andrew Williams (No. 174 overall, No. 17 defensive end, uncommitted) are among those lurking as possible final members of the class.

Otherwise, this recruiting class -- one that could be slightly smaller than normal -- adequately addresses Georgia's immediate needs. Let's look at how Georgia addressed some of those positions:

Secondary: Georgia's weakest position segment last season could use some immediate help -- and it will get it in cornerbacks Shattle Fenteng (No. 3 overall prospect, top cornerback on ESPN's Junior College 50) and Malkom Parrish (No. 77 overall, No. 10 athlete). Georgia recently added three-star athlete Dominick Sanders at corner. Green -- who is scheduled to join Carter and others on a visit to Athens this weekend -- and three-star athletes T.J. Harrell and Tavon Ross remain as targets.

The possible shortcoming here is that safety was an inconsistent position for Georgia last season and the Bulldogs have only three-star prospect Kendall Gant lined up so far.

With Josh Harvey-Clemons suspended to open the season, senior Corey Moore, rising sophomore Quincy Mauger and oft-injured Tray Matthews might be the only early options, but keep an eye on Harrell and Ross between now and signing day.

Running back: With Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall entering their third seasons on campus, Georgia needed insurance policies at tailback.

The Bulldogs locked that up in a big way with the current headliners in this class, Sony Michel (No. 19 overall, No. 2 running back) and Nick Chubb (No. 63 overall, No. 7 running back). It will be interesting to see how Richt's staff juggles a glut of talented ball carriers just a year after injuries to Gurley and Marshall created depth problems.

Tight end: With Ty Flournoy-Smith getting kicked off the team last summer and Arthur Lynch exhausting his eligibility in the fall, Georgia had a need at tight end. Jeb Blazevich (No. 101 overall, No. 2 tight end/H) could become Georgia's next great pass-catching tight end thanks to an impressive combination of size (6-foot-5) and soft hands.

Offensive line: Replenishing the line of scrimmage is always a priority, and with Georgia losing starting guards Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee, signing a top prospect such as Isaiah Wynn (No. 106 overall, No. 6 guard) will be particularly valuable. The Bulldogs are also set to sign four-star tackle Dyshon Sims and three-star prospects Kendall Baker and Jake Edwards.

Receiver: Georgia has plenty of bodies here for 2014, but Chris Conley, Michael Bennett, Jonathon Rumph and Michael Erdman will each be seniors and Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell will be fourth-year juniors.

The Bulldogs have secured commitments from ESPN 300 member Shakenneth Williams (No. 297 overall, No. 45 receiver) and three-star prospect Gilbert Johnson. They also are set to re-sign Rico Johnson, who failed to qualify after signing with the Bulldogs last February.

Defensive line/outside linebacker: Keep an eye on this group for the future. If Georgia lands Carter to go along with already-committed Lamont Gaillard (No. 55 overall, No. 4 defensive tackle), that could be the foundation for some outstanding defensive lines in the next couple of seasons.

The Bulldogs return almost everyone along the line from last season, so it is not a glaring immediate need. The 2014 line will be stocked with fourth-year players, though, so this is a good time to restock the depth charts for the future. They already have a commitment from the versatile Keyon Brown (No. 185 overall, No. 19 defensive end), with Carter and Williams potentially joining him. Like Brown, three-star outside linebacker Detric Dukes brings some versatility to the crop of commitments along the line.

Georgia's coaches never gave up on Allen-Williams even after his commitment to South Carolina in April. He insists he will still sign with the Gamecocks, but plans to visit Georgia with Carter and the others this weekend. Stay tuned.

Harvey-Clemons' return key for defense

September, 4, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- Damian Swann can speak to the impact that safety Josh Harvey-Clemons’ return will have on Georgia’s defense better than anyone else on the roster.

Having served as the Bulldogs’ top nickelback a year ago, Swann knows that Harvey-Clemons’ versatility as a blitzing pass rusher, run stopper and cover man will be a major weapon on Saturday against South Carolina now that he’s back from a one-game suspension to open the season.

[+] EnlargeHarvey-Clemons
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesJosh Harvey-Clemons, who was suspended for the Clemson game, will play a few different positions for the Bulldogs' defense.
“It’s going to be great. Now we can have a true DB playing the nickel spot,” Swann said, noting that true freshman outside linebacker Leonard Floyd played that role in last Saturday’s loss to Clemson. “Leonard played that spot and he actually did pretty well. Now we can have a guy who can actually cover somebody and come in and fit in the run. I think that’s going to be key for us throughout the rest of the season.”

Harvey-Clemons’ return actually creates something of a personnel problem for Georgia.

Against Clemson, Harvey-Clemons and junior safety Corey Moore -- who missed the game with a knee injury -- both watched from the sideline. Now they’re back and the coaches will have to juggle a group of players who they like at outside linebacker and safety in order to get them all on the field as much as possible.

“We still don’t want to lose the progress that we think Leonard Floyd is making,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We want him to continue to get a lot of reps for us, so it’s going to be a little bit of a challenge to get Jordan [Jenkins] in there, Leonard, Corey, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews all on the field at the same time, but we’re planning to get those guys on the field for a majority of the time.”

That’s where defensive coordinator Todd Grantham can put his creativity to good use.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how we’re going to set up our fronts in some of the packages we have this week,” Jenkins said.

Not that Grantham has any intention of revealing detailed personnel decisions ahead of the South Carolina game. As he predicted since offseason conditioning began, Grantham said Harvey-Clemons will play nickel, safety and outside linebacker at points, and that Floyd’s similar versatility will allow the coaches to move him around, as well.

“We can move guys around, so we’ll tweak with it,” Grantham said. “We can play Leonard as an outside 'backer. We can play him at the nickel, we can play Josh at strong safety. We’ll be able to do all of that with it because it think it’s important you play multiple guys and continue to do that.”

Nonetheless, Grantham admits that Harvey-Clemons -- who was named the Bulldogs’ defensive MVP at the end of spring practice -- brings something to the defense that might have been lacking against Clemson. In particular, his coverage skills will allow Georgia to do even more with the nickel role than it asked Floyd to do in the opener.

“I think it gives you a little more flexibility at the nickel position because he’s really like a DB covering,” Grantham said. “Leonard’s very athletic and can do those things, but he’s more like a linebacker in his coverage skills, which is fine for a guy who’s going to be a 265-pound guy in a couple years. I think the coverage element’s a little different. ”

Georgia has not permitted Harvey-Clemons to speak to the media since he and former teammate Ty Flournoy-Smith were involved in a marijuana-related incident in their dorm room in May, which led to Flournoy-Smith’s departure from the program and Harvey-Clemons’ one-game suspension.

The star sophomore’s play can do the talking for him on Saturday, though, when No. 11 Georgia will likely require a more consistent performance from its defense in order to topple No. 6 South Carolina.

The good news for the Bulldogs is one of its most potent defensive weapons is back, and Harvey-Clemons’ predecessor at nickelback believes that will make a major difference.

“I think that’s going to be one of the key points to our defense, having him in that spot and having him being able to do all the things I did last year,” Swann said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed on Wednesday that Ty Flournoy-Smith intends to transfer to another program, although he was not yet sure of the sophomore tight end’s eventual landing spot.

“It will probably be a junior college destination,” Richt said. “He’s talking with [Georgia Military College].”

Richt did not rule out Flournoy-Smith eventually return to Georgia.

“Possibly. That could happen,” he said.

Flournoy-Smith appeared in eight games last fall as a true freshman and seemed to be in the mix for an increased role this season. He was arrested in February for reporting his university-issued schoolbooks as stolen when he had actually sold them back to an Athens-area bookstore, but Richt said at the time that his punishment would be handled internally.

Richt said that he and Flournoy-Smith met this week and that the tight end had reached a decision by the end of their meeting.

“He came to my office and when we were done talking, he thought it was in his best interest to transfer out. That’s kind of where I’m going to leave it right now,” Richt said.

Flournoy-Smith’s departure leaves Georgia with three scholarship tight ends for the 2013 season. Senior Arthur Lynch and sophomore Jay Rome return after splitting the vast majority of the snaps at the position last fall, while signee Jordan Davis will enter the mix this summer.

The Bulldogs seemed set to sign just one tight end for the 2014 class and already have a commitment from ESPN 150 honoree Jeb Blazevich. However, Flournoy-Smith’s departure might alter that plan.

Richt said he is simply not sure whether that will change the coaching staff’s recruiting plan for the position yet.

“You’re going to have a target number at each position,” Richt said. “If you don’t hit a target at a certain position, then you might take that one and give it to this position. So that happens along the way. But we had our target and we basically hit it and now whether that’s changing, I’m just not sure yet.”

Richt said Flournoy-Smith is the only Bulldog that he knows of who is pursuing a transfer.

Recapping UGA post-spring reviews 

April, 29, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- Over the last two weeks, we reviewed the competition for playing time at each position on Georgia’s depth chart and identified a player to watch at each position.

A defense that lost 12 significant players will be a focal point well into the fall, and it was in our post-spring recaps. Let’s take a look at the defensive positions first:

Post-spring position review: TE

April, 18, 2013
Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a closer look at each of Georgia’s position groups at the end of spring practice. Today we examine the tight ends:

Returning players/stats: Arthur Lynch, Sr. (12 starts, 24 catches, 431 yards, 3 TDs); Jay Rome, So. (one start, 11-151, 2 TDs); Ty Flournoy-Smith, So. (no catches)

Arthur Lynch
AP Photo/Alex MenendezArthur Lynch became a bigger threat for the Bulldogs in the second half of 2012 and is UGA's second-leading returning receiver.
Newcomers: Jordan Davis, Fr. (ESPN No. 15 tight end, expected to enroll this summer)

Key storyline: As with Wednesday’s receiver to watch, Chris Conley, Georgia tight ends Lynch and Rome started to play a much larger role in the passing game in the second half of last season once injuries created opportunities for more balls to come their way. Now established in the passing game, Lynch and Rome could build on last season’s 582 combined receiving yards by getting off to a quicker start as receivers this fall.

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UGA TE to watch: Jay Rome 

April, 18, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- At the midway point of last season, many Georgia fans were asking why the Bulldogs’ tight ends -- and Jay Rome in particular -- weren’t playing a bigger role in the offense.

Rome caught only two passes in the first eight games last fall as a redshirt freshman, playing almost exclusively in a blocking role. That was not what anyone expected from the player whom ESPN rated as the nation’s top tight end prospect when he signed with the Bulldogs in 2011.

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UGA week in review: Spring has sprung 

March, 2, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- Tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith and fullback Zander Ogletree created some of the only headlines in an otherwise quiet week for Georgia’s football program.

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith was arrested late Friday night and accused of falsely reporting textbooks as stolen, only to have actually sold them back to a local bookstore, according to police.

“He filed a police report stating his books had been stolen to the police department,” UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson said. “The police department started investigating this crime to see if we could find his books or find the responsible party, and we did. We found out that he was the one that sold his books to a local book-buy store and he had filed a report with us falsely.”

Smith was booked into Athens-Clarke County jail at 10:56 p.m. on Friday and charged with false report of a crime. He was released at 12:41 a.m. on $1,000 bond.

Williamson said Flournoy-Smith filed the report earlier this week and his detectives visited a number of area bookstores in order to track them down. Once they located the books, Williamson said, their interviews with the store clerk and with Flournoy-Smith led them to believe he had been the one to sell back the books.

They sought and were granted a warrant and will attempt to prosecute because of the waste of resources involved in the investigation, Williamson said.

“This situation here, it appeared that he needed money and he sold the books back,” Williamson said. “The books are issued to him, I guess athletics can say more about it, through the program. When there’s a loss, he has to make them aware. And to cover up what he’d done, he had to file a police report.

“If somebody files a report with us and we have someone assigned to investigate it and we do everything we can to find it, that’s credible and real. There’s a lot of resources spent on it and all it was was one lie to cover another lie, so we prosecuted. When we figure out someone knowingly falsifies a police report, then we prosecute.”

The rising sophomore appeared in eight games last season, but did not register a catch while playing behind junior Arthur Lynch and redshirt freshman Jay Rome.

Dawgs Snapshot 2013: Jordan Davis 

January, 31, 2013
To gear up for 2013 national signing day, DawgNation's Radi Nabulsi is breaking down every commitment in the Bulldogs' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Tight end Jordan Davis, Thomson, Ga./Thomson | 6-foot-4, 225 pounds

Committed: July 29, 2012 grade: 77. Three-star prospect. rankings: No. 15 tight end, No. 355 in Midwest region, No. 86 in Georgia

Picked Georgia over: Florida, Louisville, South Carolina

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UGA midseason report card: WR/TE 

October, 10, 2012
Editor’s note: Georgia’s football season is halfway over and the Bulldogs will take this weekend off before resuming SEC play next Saturday at Kentucky. We’ll take a look at a different position group each day this week and evaluate how it performed in the first half of the season in our DawgNation midseason report cards.

ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the highlights of Georgia’s first five games was the production the Bulldogs were getting out of so many different players in the passing game. They enter the second half of the season in a slightly less certain position.

[+] EnlargeBrown
AP Photo/John AmisWith Michael Bennett out for the year due to injury, Marlon Brown and company will have to step up their efforts.
After the Tennessee game, Michael Bennett, Tavarres King and Marlon Brown all ranked among the SEC’s receiving leaders, plus tight end Arthur Lynch had enjoyed big games here and there. However, Bennett -- who was leading the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches at the time -- suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, altering the dynamic within the group.

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Upon Further Review: UGA 56, FAU 20 

September, 17, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- After rewatching Georgia’s 56-20 win against Florida Atlantic on ESPN3 today, I can’t say that I learned much that wasn’t apparent from watching the game live.

The Bulldogs’ first-team offense was as good as I’ve seen it, there was an ugly first half for Georgia’s defense and the game eventually turned into a bludgeoning. But let’s jump into some of the finer points of the Bulldogs’ win in this week’s “Upon Further Review.”

• This is one of those situations where you ask if someone wants the good news or the bad news first. I prefer the bad news first in such a scenario, and that would be that Georgia’s defense had a truly awful first half against another opponent which had no business moving the ball so effectively.

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UGA freshmen already fill key roles 

September, 3, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Keith Marshall didn't take long to get any freshman jitters out of his system.

The former five-star tailback prospect was on the field for the very first play of Georgia's season-opening win against Buffalo as a member of the Bulldogs' kickoff coverage team.

"It felt good. It was nerve racking because I was excited," Marshall said. "It was good to get the first hit out of the way."

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt played it coy when asked about safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree being listed atop the depth chart for the Bulldogs’ game against Buffalo on Saturday.

“We’ll just have to wait and see. Time will tell,” Richt said about what to expect from the two players Saturday, provoking uncomfortable laughter from the media members gathered in the room. “I’m glad we can laugh about that.”

Although Richt has never acknowledged a punishment for either player, suspension rumors have surrounded Rambo and Ogletree since the spring, when both players reportedly failed drug tests.

(Read full post)

Williams adapts to new TE duties 

August, 25, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia tight end Hugh Williams grew up playing offensive line in a run-heavy triple-option offense where even the receivers caught only a few passes.

So what has been the most difficult part of his offseason transition to a position that might require him to catch a pass here and there?

“The catching,” Williams said with a laugh.

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Peach State: Top Tier Recruiting Ground?
California, Florida and Texas are largely considered the "Big Three" in college football recruiting. But national recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton joins ESPN's Phil Murphy to explain why Georgia deserves to be in the top tier and has numbers to prove it.