I'll be using some of the material I gleaned from yesterday's Peach State Pigskin Preview throughout the summer, but there were a few items of note that I knew you all would find interesting right now. Because delayed gratification is overrated, you should know:
- Richard Samuel. He's up to 233 pounds, and Akeem Dent says that he reacts well to the ball and "will pop you." Dent seemed to think that Samuel's instincts on the defensive side of the ball may be better than on offense.
- Branden Smith. He's currently second string at corner, and will see snaps on offense. Coach Richt says they'll have to "look him in the eye" over the first few games to get a feel for how gassed he's getting to decide how many snaps to give him.
- About those early season day games. Coach Richt is pleased to have some day games, but would rather play some of those early season games at night, saying they look to be "excruciatingly hot and humid." Both he and Kris Durham noted that it will place a greater burden on the players to condition even harder during the summer, when the coaches aren't around to push them.
- Conference expansion. Coach Richt thinks all the talk out there is "interesting" but isn't sure how much will come of it. Coach Richt noted that the conference's championship game, television exposure and attendance are nation-leading and seemed unconvinced that Commissioner Slive will push for expansion unless it sweetens the members' already saccharine-sweet deal.
- Outside linebackers. Coach Richt agrees that the team has a depth issue and some of the incoming freshmen will have to step up. He mentioned T.J. Stripling first and most often on this topic, while conceding that Stripling and fellow signee Dexter Morant are both a bit on the "slim" side right now. He did mention that Brandon Burrows may be a bit more physically ready to contribute next season if necessary.
- Hutson Mason. Kris Durham got a chance to throw and catch with him recently and said the young signal caller hit him in stride on every throw.
- Justin Anderson. Coach Richt noted that he's a big, massive guy who will be a big asset at nose if he can force double teams. He's got a lot to learn, but heck, so does everybody else. As Coach Richt also noted, during the spring "Todd was really the only one who knew what the heck was going on."
- Trinton Sturdivant. He's recovered well and there are no limitations on him now. If for no other reason than my love of O-line depth, this is great news. As a fan, there is nothing I would love to see more than Trinton getting back on the field. That kid has elevated perseverance to an art form.
- The incoming freshman class as a whole. A lot of them have arrived on campus this week, and Akeem Dent had an interesting take on the group from his experience with them so far: "every one of those guys wants to work." That's a good thing to hear from one of your veteran leaders.
- Speaking of Akeem, he's not one of those guys you see quoted a lot. This was the first chance I've had to speak with him and I walked away impressed. He's a nice kid who looks you in the eye and answers questions directly. Kris Durham was also a nice guy, if a bit soft spoken.
- Matt Stafford. Speaking of Durham, I had a chance to do a brief one-on-one with him. One of the topics that came up was his old roommate Matthew Stafford's new gig and digs in Detroit. Kris said that he spoke with Stafford a couple of days ago, though he's been really busy with OTA's. He said that Stafford jokes that he would like to be able to come back for just one more game, because he thinks he could really smoke guys in college now. The speed of the pro game is truly on another level that way. That said, Durham thinks it's funny that Stafford's pad in Detroit is just like his room in Athens: a bed on the floor with a TV. I think that monastic approach to his new life will serve Staff well as he continues his development in the Motor City.
- Abry Jones. He's up to 290 pounds and is set to start at defensive end. I imagine we'll hear a lot about the former Northside standout.
- Coach Bill Curry. Still an interesting guy to talk to. Greeted me with a slap on the back and said he was glad to see me again, which I found odd given that last year's Preview was the only other time we've ever spoken. I suspect that he thought I was David Ching and that I had done something new with my hair, but that's OK. He seemed to enjoy talking shop with Tech's Paul Johnson, Coach Richt and the other coaches as much as any of the attendees, and worked the room like a pro. Despite his tenure on The Flats, Coach Curry is a really hard guy to dislike one-on-one.
- Paul Johnson. Didn't look quite as pissed off and/or constipated as last season. Winning a conference title will do that for you, I suppose.
Again, this isn't an exhaustive list, but it should be enough to whet your appetite for football. Thanks again to the folks at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame for hosting us again this summer. And if you're in Macon take some time to stop by the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. It really is a fun trip, especially for kids. They have memorabilia and exhibits from high school, college, professional and Olympic sports, including a lot of one of a kind items. I also recommend the current exhibit of art by UGA grad Jack Davis, including many of his Georgia football game program covers. The 8 foot tall bronzed replica of Nike of Samothrace, on loan from the East West Foundation, is pretty spectacular if you're an art enthusiast. Seriously, stop if you need an air conditioned break while traveling through the midstate.