According to regular reports from certain media sources, Mark Richt just keeps losing control of something. Things have been, of course, no different this summer. Whenever a Georgia player ends up in trouble with the local 5-0 for double-dipping a check, rolling up a doobie or just emerging from an alley the wrong way, we keep getting pummeled with the meme of how the wheels are falling off the bus in Athens, how Georgia just keeps on signing the troublemakers, blah, blah and blah...
In light of the recent dismissals of certain key players, I got pretty tired of hearing that hooey... again... Most, if not all of you, feel the exact same way about the nonsense regularly spewed from the sports world's finest rags, so I won't go there. What I will focus on in this post is a number of things to which the media declines to dedicate too much attention. Allow me to briefly discuss the many ways in which the young men who represent UGA on the football field are bringing glory to Ole Georgia this summer.
Seeing a Georgia Bulldog football star playing with a youngster battling cancer at Camp Sunshine is not at all a rarity in the summer months; Georgia players have been doing this for over 30 years now. The tradition remains as strong as ever with certain players on the 2014 team who make it a point to visit the camp as often as humanly possible. Just last week, more than a handful of Dawgs made the 30-mile trip to Camp Sunshine to do little more than spend quality time with the campers. Oh, and for the record, this was the second trip to the camp in as many weeks. Said running back Keith Marshall, a frequent visitor to the camp, "Once you come one time, you want to come back every time." Safety Sheldon Dawson is already planning his next trip to the camp. Join me in raising a paw to these DGDs for making the day of children fighting a battle more ferocious than any World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party could ever hope to be.
Chris Conley this past Saturday released "Retribution," a Star Wars fan film that he wrote, directed and even starred in. Do yourself a favor and check this movie out! We all know what an incredible football player Conley is, but I think it's safe to say if things don't work out for him in the NFL, there's a definite spot ready for him in Hollywood. This wouldn't be the first time a Georgia football player spent some time in Tinseltown. I'm far from a film critic, but Conley's "Retribution" is simply incredible, especially considering it was shot, edited and produced on a student budget and on an SEC football player's schedule. The film was artsy and masterfully edited without trying too hard. Conley employed a perfect combination of lighting and camera angles to match the mood of the moment, which really kept me drawn in. The plot is also pretty captivating, with the perfect amount of drama and even some comedy thrown in (especially in the opening sequence). Having not been back to campus in a little over a year now, "Retribution" also made me incredibly nostalgic for the Classic City. Athens is so beautiful, even in the winter with no leaves on the trees. Bravo, Chris!
Congratulations are in order for Todd Gurley, Ramik Wilson and Leonard Floyd for making Phil Steele's 2014 Preseason All-America Team. Gurley and Wilson were both named first-teamers, while Floyd was chosen for the third team. Even after the pretty embarrassing season the Georgia defense put up in 2013, I am particularly encouraged to see two defenders chosen as some of the best at their position for 2014. We all know Todd Gurley is the best running back in America, maybe the best offensive player period, but it's nice to see him officially acknowledged as such. Well done, y'all!
If linebacker Ryne Rankin's comments in the article linked above speak for the mindset of the rest of the Georgia defense going into 2014, I think we'll be fine this year, even lacking a bit of talent and quality depth. I'm not necessarily implying that all of the guys who left the team this offseason were toxic, but I love Rankin's attitude about accountability. I hope this kind of minset has taken root in the locker room since the recent dismissals. Based on comments from Jordan Jenkins in this piece on new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, it sounds like it might have. Terry Hoage and Scott Woerner also shared some interesting thoughts on the matter.
It's been a rocky offseason, but it's not all doom and gloom out there. Here's to 2014!