Job Well Done

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Glynn County Athletic Director Steve Waters is a friend of mine. I’m honored to say that.

In the world we live in today friends matter when you are dealing with adversity.

My friend Steve Waters is dealing with the most gut wrenching grief you can have as an adult and that is the loss of a child.

Family and friends will gather this week to honor his son Bennett, who is now suffering no more.

Steve Waters will go down as one the best athletic directors in Glynn County history.

He is invested in this community and really loves his job and the results show it.

When you grow up in Glynn County and attend public schools you are either going to graduate from Brunswick High, or Glynn Academy. I graduated from Brunswick High and Steve graduated from Glynn Academy. Like I said you have to attend one or the other. The county is split right down the middle you either bleed Blue and Gold or Red and White. You come to expect that and that is how great rivalries are generated.

When Steve took over the AD position, almost a decade ago, the entire county was in need of huge facility upgrades. Steve had a vision to make Glynn County second to none in the area of facilities, and the first place this Glynn Academy graduate started was at Brunswick High School.

Yes, you read that correctly Brunswick High School. Let’s take a look at the BHS athletic facilities we love today.

 

  • Bud Couch Field: A state of the art high school baseball stadium built on the site of the old BHS campus facing Habersham Street where this old Pirate attended classes back in the day. Covered stadium seats, press box, batting cages, concession stands, is one of the two best high school baseball stadiums in all of Georgia with the other being on the south end of town called Adam Wainwright Stadium for Glynn Academy also constructed under the watchful eye of Steve Waters.
  • The Brunswick High Gymnasium affectionately known as Brunswick Square Garden: The finest arena for high school basketball in this part of the state. This happened under the watch of Steve Waters. There is also a 2015 State Championship banner on full display there that happened under the watch of Steve Waters.
  • Brand new million dollar track at BHS: Athletes and the local community enjoy on Altama Avenue
  • State of the art girls softball stadium: On the campus of BHS that is so nice the local college uses it on occasion.
  • Brand new field house for the Brunswick High football program: Has two brand new locker rooms, a multipurpose room, kitchen, and new coach’s offices.

 

Most of these things above were done before facility upgrades at Glynn Academy were done. Glynn has a new baseball field, girls’ softball field, new multipurpose football facility all under the Waters watch. At the middle school level, new baseball fields at all middle schools and other great things.

The crown jewel of facilities in Glynn County is Glynn County Stadium.

There upgrades done there like new Jumbo Tron scoreboard, parking lots, and the end zone addition of new locker room, stadium overlook, and private boxes, athletic department offices.

The great thing is great things are still on the drawing board for upgrades all around the county. Those are the things we can see.

The things we can’t see is the willingness to do what is needed to promote Glynn County Athletics on a broader scale across the state.

The coaching searches are done professionally and Glynn County now attracts and keeps the best coaches in their profession in all sports.

As the Waters family deals with loss I wanted to put into writing how much I personally, and a grateful community appreciates a job well done by our Athletic Director Steve Waters.

Our community is there for you Steve and from a Pirate graduate to a Red Terror graduate, I appreciate you my man.

Over the past decade nobody has done more for BHS Athletics on a grand scale than Steve Waters.

He not only bleeds red and white, but he also bleeds blue and gold and has earned the right to be called a Pirate, and most importantly a true friend.

Thanks Steve Waters for a job well done from a grateful community.

 

 

 

Richt V. Kirby

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

With all the advances we’ve seen in technology over the past decade, it’s easy to see why people put so much stock in analytics and data; it’s another tool in the tool belt when it comes to winning.

When it comes to comparing players, and coaches even, it can be a little misleading.

How many polls have you seen online where someone posts the stats of two anonymous players, or teams, and asks you vote on which resumé is better? And how many times after finding out who the players or teams were, did you sit back and think “Yeah, but they’re not taking into account (insert your argument here)”?

When you compare the first four seasons of Kirby Smart’s tenure at Georgia to that of Mark Richt’s, they come close mirroring each other in a lot of ways.

Smart has an overall record of 44-12, three division titles, one SEC Championship, and an appearance in the national title game.

While not quite as impressive as Smart’s, Richt’s overall record was 42-10, two division titles, and an SEC Championship.

I remember the expectations being extremely high for Richt leading into his fifth season, but I also recall feeling, at least personally, there was more hype than substance; it wasn’t something he would be able to maintain.

I have a different feeling though when it comes to Smart, and it begins with recruiting.

I won’t pretend to know where most of Richt’s recruiting classes were, but I can’t imagine them being at the level Smart’s have been the last couple years.

Kirby has been bringing in elite talent, at almost all positions, setting up the future for his program quite nicely.

He’s also done an incredible job of bringing in the top tier quarterbacks, which is not something I was expecting when he was hired.

Another part of his recruiting success compared to Richt, is that he is focusing more on local talent, but not at while sacrificing it on a national level.

I know one of the frustrations from Georgia fans was that Richt would oftentimes only recruit the top-level talent, overlooking players from within the state.

I’ll never blame anyone for going after a more talented player, but there is something to say about a four-star athlete who decides to stay home and attend the program they grew up rooting for.

More times than not that four-star recruit will turn out to be a better player, and have a greater impact on your program. It’s a lesson Smart seems to have learned early.

Unfortunately, even after having said all these nice things about Kirby Smart, I don’t think his fifth year in Athens will turn out quite the same as Richt’s- a 10-3 record to go with his second SEC Championship.

However, when you look at the way Smart is bringing in recruiting classes, along with other factors in the SEC and on a national landscape, things are set up perfectly for him to separate himself from his predecessor.

So, if you happen to see a poll next year comparing the records between two coaches after their first five years, and it asks you which one you’d rather have, might I suggest going with the coach who has the worse record.

On paper it may not be as impressive, but you and I both know numbers can be misleading.

Talking Braves

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

More than a week has passed since Spring Training games officially rang in the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

In that time, the Atlanta Braves have won three games, lost five, and ended one in a tie (a Spring-only event).

Win/loss record aside (a meaningless ratio at this point anyway), there’s plenty from the past week to unpack as we roll merrily along towards the first pitch of Opening Day at the end of the month.

First, to briefly follow up on my article last week, Felix Hernandez has gotten off on the right foot. With two solid starts under his belt and Cole Hamels expected to start the season on the Injured List, Hernandez has begun to make believers out of a lot of folks who maybe didn’t think he had anything left.

It’s too early to make a true judgement call, but if he keeps it up, King Felix will be holding court at Truist Park to start the season.

Next, we have to talk about Freddie Freeman. After spending nearly the whole back half of the 2019 season playing hurt, Freddie healed himself up during the offseason and said he felt great when he reported to Florida.

However, he was scratched from a game early in the week and hasn’t played since. Everyone and their mother has told the press that they aren’t worried and that the extra rest is merely precautionary. We’d better hope that’s true.

A healthy Freddie means everything to this team, so we’ll be on the lookout for him to start getting more spring at-bats here in the coming days.

Mike Soroka seems to have picked up where he left off. The Braves lost his one start so far 5-3, but Soroka pitched two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut, scattering three hits.

The real proof that he’s seemingly in mid-season form already is that after the game he talked about inducing a ground ball thanks to a scouting report. A scouting report. In his first Spring game.

Moving on. The biggest positional battle (fielding-wise, anyway) in Braves’ camp this year is that for third base. In which, once and hopeful future Johan Camargo is competing for at bats with erstwhile left fielder and early-on slugger Austin Riley.

So far, both have come on figuratively and literally swinging, with each prospective operator of the hot corner hitting over .300 in this brief period of judged time.

Next, beloved Brave, Charlie Culberson has disappointingly failed to get a hit in 10 Abs. Culberson has managed four bases on balls.

It’s not a stretch to imagine that all of Braves Country is rooting for Charlie Clutch to make the MLB roster out of Spring Training this year, especially given the cruel end to his season in 2019.

His path to the team isn’t cleared for him and therefore he’ll need to start turning heads beyond pulling walks out of pitchers, who are just getting their mechanics in order.

Lastly, let’s talk about the future: top prospects Christian Pache, Drew Waters, and Ian Anderson have all seen game time. The hype may very well be real.

Sure, Waters and Pache don’t have the sexiest stat lines in the game, but they’ve looked good enough to instill excitement in the hearts of those paying attention.

Anderson got into two games over the course of the week, pitching 2 and 1/3 innings and allowing one run. That isn’t not too shabby for the kid.

Overall, with these three, who we already know won’t make the roster at the start of the season, things are looking good. We might even prepare ourselves for their debuts sometime before September.

 

Let Me Go

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In America millions of workers change jobs on an annual basis. Many organizations train and develop workers in their field of expertise and lose them to other organizations for a variety of reasons.

This is the norm in a capitalist society and employers have adapted to this. If the NCAA has their way this could be the norm for college football if adopted this coming April.

 

The proposed rule is as follows:

First-time transfers starting in the 2020 academic year would no longer have to follow the long standing sit out a year rule in their first season at their new school.

The proposal is being fast-tracked. Because it is a “criteria change” to the NCAA waiver process and not a new “rule change,” it can avoid the regular legislative cycle and take effect well before the NCAA convention next January.

 

Doesn’t that sound just peachy? College football coaches seem to be totally against this idea, and with good reason.

Former UGA Head Coach Mark Richt tweeted the following on the proposed new transfer rule: “I know, I have an idea,” Richt wrote in a message that went viral, “You recruit and develop players and when I think they’re good enough I will poach them from your roster! Welcome to what the new normal will look like in college football!”

Currently for a transfer to play immediately you have to receive a special waiver from the NCAA. There lies the problem.

The NCAA has not been consistent with the existing rule and now it appears that they want to go the generic route and just allow each student athlete an automatic option to transfer penalty free if they so choose.

I use the University of Georgia as an example to show the hypocrisy of the NCAA recently:

Jacob Eason was the top-rated Pro Style QB in the country for the 2016 cycle. Eason started many games as a freshman at UGA. Eason got hurt in the season opener his sophomore season and never regains the starting job from Jake Fromm. Eason decided he wanted to transfer back to his home State of Washington but had to sit out a season per NCAA rule.

Justin Fields was the top-rated dual threat QB in the country for the 2018 recruiting cycle. Fields came in and played some and was Jake Fromm’s backup. Fields decided he wanted to transfer to Ohio State and the NCAA granted an immediate waiver for Fields to play right away.

Why was Fields given preferential treatment over Eason when they were in the same position on the depth chart when they left UGA?

Then you have Luke Ford, a five-star TE in the 2018 cycle from Illinois, that transferred from UGA to be closer to a sick family member and the NCAA denied the waiver to play immediately for Ford.

This is exactly what the special waiver was designed for, right? But the NCAA, in all of its infinite wisdom, in these three cases seemed to only care about Ohio State’s QB situation, rather than what’s best for the individual student athlete.

Fields did have a high-priced lawyer representing him in his endeavors.

Can you see SEC head football coaches poaching other SEC rosters waving their current depth charts?

If the NCAA wants chaos then you are about to have it. What if Tua was poached to Auburn by Gus Malzahn when he sat behind Jalen Hurts his freshman year at Alabama? You would have had a civil war in the State of Alabama most likely.

Will Kirby, Coach O, Nick, and Gus hire a new assistant coach with the sole responsibility of poaching other Power 5 rosters?

Chaos is on the horizon and it appears you can throw developing roster depth out with the bath water. What else would you expect from the NCAA?

College sports, along with society, appears to be caving in to the entitlement mentally. Get ready for the new normal College Football fans.

Best Chief Ever

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida State University’s basketball team is contending for the Atlantic Coast Conference title and a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

Coach Leonard Hamilton is in his 18th season as Head Coach at Florida State.

In 18 seasons, Hamilton at Florida State is 357-220, that is a .619 winning percentage. In 32 years of coaching Hamilton is 557-430, which is a .564 winning percentage.

In a conference with three Hall of Fame coaches (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim), and a fourth destined to end up there (Virginia’s Tony Bennett), Coach Hamilton is often overlooked.

Currently at 24-4, the Seminoles are a virtual lock to make the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in the past twelve years. Not bad for a program that’s 10 for 61 in total tournament appearances.

A team that lost six of its top eight scorers from last season could very well make it to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year. Though a Final Four appearance has eluded him, he has made a career of winning at places where few have: Oklahoma State, Miami, and now at Florida State.

Florida State is a school where football is unquestionably king.

Hamilton insists very little has changed over the years and in some ways he is right. His fundamental principles and beliefs have remained unchanged. Through it all, he has managed to stay young. Hamilton, who is in his early 70’s (but looks 45), making him the BBall Benjamin Button.

At Florida State, Hamilton had losing seasons in two of his first three years, but the Seminoles are on a 15-year win streak. Including 20+ wins in his last five seasons.

Florida State’s basketball program doesn’t need a superstar to carry the program. That’s part of the appeal in Hamilton’s recruiting pitch. Hamilton has convinced players to accept their role and focus on the team.

With 14 NBA Draft selections under Hamilton since 2004, the Seminoles are fourth in the ACC for most draft picks (Duke 28, North Carolina 23, and Syracuse 18). Florida State has had at least one player selected in the NBA Draft in 11 of the last 15 seasons.

For the Seminoles under Hamilton, the academic achievements of his players is a long-standing tradition of success. During Hamilton’s tenure at Florida State, more than 90% of his players have earned their degrees. The Seminoles were one of seven ACC teams credited with a perfect Academic Progress Report score.

Ask someone to name the top five winningest coaches in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

The first three are obvious, I named them earlier in the article.

If you are a college basketball fan, they might get former Maryland coach Gary Williams at Number 4.

Yes, Leonard Hamilton has more ACC wins than Bobby Cremins, Terry Holland, Tony Bennett and Lefty Driesell.

Quietly, Leonard Hamilton has become the most successful coach in Florida State history, fifth all-time winningest coach in ACC history and a future Hall of Famer.

Buzz Kill

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I’ve always viewed social media as a type of reality show, with the participants often leaving out anything negative, manipulating what you see to fit whatever narrative they’re trying to sell.

The only difference being that on social media it’s playing out in real time, not at a weekly designated time.

Most of the time I’ve spent on Twitter has been pretty disheartening, but there have been moments where it was borderline magical.

One instance was almost a year ago when people were updating videos and pictures of Josh Pastner sitting at the ACC tournament, as he received messages on his phone, concerning the NCAA’s notice of allegations that were levied against his Yellowjacket program.

It was one of those occasions where I couldn’t refresh my phone quickly enough to keep up with all the posts and comments.

Normally, I don’t take joy in other people’s misfortunes, but Pastner has made it fairly easy for me to root against him; reading about the Georgia Tech scandal and some of his comments towards it is a good place to start.

Even though this event took place almost a year ago, I bring it up because as Georgia Tech is currently looking at their third straight losing season, while dealing with NCAA sanctions due to things that transpired under Pastner’s watch, it’s about that time of year to question whether or not the Yellowjacket coach will be back next year.

On the surface, the answer looks to be cut and dry- “No”. There’s not really much of a reason to keep him on staff and in all honesty, I wasn’t even sure Pastner would make it to this season-outside of the infractions. I don’t think he’s great of a coach to begin with.

I have no idea which way the administration is leaning, but there’s a part of me that actually hopes they don’t let him go.

In far too many instances, when a coach or program is punished for breaking the rules, the guilty party doesn’t have to suffer through penalties. While the coaches and players that follow have to do all the heavy lifting, the guilty party stays out of the spotlight for a year or two before getting back into coaching at a smaller school and working their way back up.

If Georgia Tech were to keep Pastner on, it’s the perfect example of “you’ve made your bed, now you must lie in it.”

Instead of bringing in another coach to deal with the aftermath, and one who will probably lose his job because he’ll be dealing with a somewhat stacked deck to begin with, Pastner has to deal with it.

Personally, it would be nice to see someone have to actually face the scrutiny they brought upon themselves by their actions.

However, I’m realistic and I know this scenario isn’t likely to play out, mainly because it would entail Georgia Tech paying millions to a coach they wouldn’t want around, just to prove a point.

Still, I can’t help but feel, in a society where everything is filtered, how refreshing it would be to see an athletic program that knows it’s going to struggle for a few years, regardless of who’s running the show, bite the bullet and go all in the uncomfortableness of the situation.

It may not be realistic, but it would make the comments on social media an entertaining read.

 

King Felix

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Any professional sports team has to know that a projected roster is just about the furthest thing from a guarantee there is.

Whatever a general manager does, injuries, slumps or any number of other things can change what a roster looks like.

In baseball this is a rule with no exceptions, as a 162-game schedule that takes place over more than 6 months dictates that no 26-man roster will be consistent from Opening Day through the end of the season. It’s a safe bet that no teams will make it to the end of the season’s first month sporting one roster throughout.

But with roster turnover comes opportunity for those who weren’t expected to be on the team just yet (or at all). Sometimes those opportunities even present themselves before the first pitch of spring training.

The Braves’ newest member of the starting rotation – or should I say projected member – is Cole Hamels, who has a minor injury and is shut down for three weeks.

As a consequence of that, he won’t be on the roster come Opening Day. Now, barring injury, Mike Soroka, Max Fried, and Mike Foltynewicz are expected to be in the rotation when the regular season kicks off on March 26th.

Hamels was to be the fourth starter (his spot is still guaranteed upon his delayed return), and the fifth starter was to be determined during the exhibition games on Florida.

With Hamels out for the start of the year, the Braves are now needing to fill two spots in the rotation to begin the season and one might be filled by a very unexpected pitcher.

Erstwhile Seattle Mariners legend Felix Hernandez was inked to a minor league contract by the Braves last month.

That’s 6-time All-Star, Cy Young Award-winner King Felix, as he was affectionately known in the Pacific Northwest.

Once Hernandez was one of the best pitchers in the game of baseball. Hernandez has fallen enough that I had completely forgotten that the Braves had signed him until I turned on Atlanta’s first spring game and there he was on the mound.

His 1-8 injury-plagued season in 2019 contributed to his “forgotten man” place in both my mind and on the roster, though he hasn’t been the Felix Hernandez that made him famous since 2015.

That being said, Hernandez is only 33 years old. His best fastballs are behind him, but he was special enough for a long enough time that he must have developed enough pitching know-how to survive without the arm of a 22-year-old version of himself.

With an extra spot opening up in the rotation and one belonging to a veteran, no less – Hernandez’s two-inning stint on the mound to kick off Atlanta’s spring slate suddenly took on a lot more meaning and pressure and Hernandez delivered.

Hernandez allowed one walk and no hits with two strikeouts against the Baltimore Orioles. He looked comfortable, capable, and healthy on the mound. It’s a small sample size, but it could be the beginning of an impressive enough spring that pave the way to a rotation spot come the end of March.

A healthy Felix Hernandez, who is even half of what he was during his prime in Seattle, would be a MASSIVE feather in the cap of Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves.

This is a guy with 169 career wins (and would easily have over 200 if he’d played on better teams). He is also a guy who has never pitched in the postseason. That’s the kind of motivation that leads veterans to have career resurgences (Nick Markakis’ career year in 2018 could likely attest to that).

We’ll have to keep an eye on Hernandez as spring goes on and the competition becomes a little stiffer (he did after all face not just the awful Orioles on Saturday, but their early spring training road team).

But if he can seize the massive opportunity in front of him, everyone wins.

Donovan Delivered

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Former Florida coach Billy Donovan returned to the program he put on the college basketball map.

For the first time since 2015 we will see the man return to the O’Connell Center floor that was named after him. His signature was placed at both ends of the court between the 3-point line and the top the key.

Donovan is the current coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the NBA All-Star Weekend, Donovan was honored at halftime of the Florida vs Vanderbilt contest.

Donovan became the coach at Florida in March of 1996 after Lon Kruger resigned to take the job at the University of Illinois.

The Gator basketball program had only fleeting success over its history. The Gators reached the Final Four under Kruger in 1994, but slipped back to mediocre levels the next season.

The 1998-1999 season the Gators went 22-9 earning 20 plus wins for only the fifth time in school history. They made their third NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance and became the second squad in school history to appear in the final top 25 polls (17 in ESPN and 23 in Associated Press).

While success in the regular season became a standard, post season the Gators consistently underperformed.

In the 2005-2006 season, Donovan’s sophomore led Gator team posted a school-best win streak to start the season reeling off 17 straight wins and reaching number 2 in the Associated Press poll. The Gators struggled during conference play, posting a 10-6 conference record heading into the SEC tournament.

Florida cruised through the SEC tournament and defeated South Carolina in the finals, earning the Gators second conference tournament title. In the 2006 NCAA tournament, The Gators were a three seed.

2005-2006 Gator basketball team would come together and defeat UCLA 73-57 to capture the school’s first NCAA basketball title. As exciting as the championship game, during the post championship celebration, the entire starting five (Lee Humphrey, Taurean Green, Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Cory Brewer) announced they would return and attempt to win back to back championships.

The 2006-2007 Gators did not disappoint Gator Nation. They became the first team since the 1991 and 1992 Duke teams to win back to back NCAA Championships. The Gators defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 84-75 for the repeat championship.

With the Florida Gators football having won the 2007 BCS National Championship game (also over Ohio State). The University of Florida became the first school in NCAA history to hold both the football and basketball National Championships at the same time.

The Gators in the Donovan era were 467-186. The Gators won two national championships (2006 & 2007), four SEC tournaments championships (2005,2006,2007 & 2014) and six regular season conference titles (2000,2001,2007,2013 & 2014). Donovan’s Gators reached the Final Four 4 times with trips in 2000 and 2014 in addition to the national championship seasons.

Billy Donovan is the second coach in Division I history to notch 500 career wins before reaching his 50th birthday. The other was Hall of Famer Bobby Knight.

Billy Donovan thanked former players (30 plus in attendance), former assistants (8 in attendance), his former boss Jeremy Foley, his family and Gator Nation for helping him reach this career pinnacle.

Simply put, Billy Donovan made basketball matter at the football first school.

 

It’s Great To Be A Gator

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2020 recruiting classes are officially in the books. One team I want to examine is the Florida Gators. Their recruiting class is ranked eighth nationally, one spot behind Auburn. We can argue Florida’s class is better.

They have 1 five-star recruit, 17 four-star players and 6 three-star players. Auburn does not have a five-star player, 16 four-stars and 10 three-star players.

The highest rated player is five-star defensive tackle Gervon Dexter from Lake Wales, Florida. He’s 6’6 and 294 pounds so he has prototypical size for the position.

He was the top-rated player in the state of Florida and sixth nationally. Dexter runs a 4.88 forty so he also has great speed and athleticism.

He only started playing football two years ago for Lake Wales High but has made an elite impact ever since. In two seasons, Dexter recorded 27 sacks, 53 tackles for loss, 178 total tackles, 14 forced fumbles, and three batted passes – all in 23 games.

Several four-star D-linemen will join Dexter in the trenches. Weak side defensive end Antwaun Powell (Chesapeake, VA), d tackles Lamar Goods (Oakdale, CT), Johnnie Brown (Sebring, FL), Jalen Lee (Watson, LA) and strong side defensive end Princely Umanmielen.

Four-star cornerback Ethan Pouncey is ranked tenth best at the position in the 2020 recruiting class. The last name looks familiar because he’s the younger cousin of Maurkice and Mike.

Ethan is 6’1, 160 lbs. so he has to get to the training table and weight room. His older brother Jordan is a wide receiver, who was previously at Texas but he is transferring to UF.

There are three other four-star corners coming to Gainesville. Avery Helm (Missouri City, TX), Jahari Rogers (Arlington, TX) and Mordecai McDaniel (Washington, DC).

First, I want to point out it is impressive for the Gators to land top recruits from Texas.

All of these corners are at least 6’1 so they have great size to compete with tall receivers.

They have four-star safety Rashad Torrence II from Marietta, Ga. He was on the team that won the 7A GHSA state championship, so he knows what it takes to win.

As a senior, he had 111 tackles, 7 pass breakups and 1 interception. I think he might be one of the most underrated recruits and I expect him to be a star.

Four-star dual threat quarterback Anthony Richardson is from Gainesville. He attended Eastside High just a few miles from the campus. He is also on Season 4 of the Netflix documentary series “QB1: Beyond the Lights.”

Richardson is 6’4, 233 lbs. and the fifth ranked dual threat QB in the 2020 class. He only played in six games in 2019 before he suffered a season ending shoulder injury. In those games, he scored 15 total touchdowns and the team averaged 24.5 points per game.

There are also several talented playmakers joining the Gators. Wide receivers Xzavier Henderson (Miami, FL), Jaquavion Fraziars (Dunnellon, FL), Leonard Manuel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and tight end Jonathan Odom (Tampa, FL).

Top Dawg

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Writing about sports, and really just writing in general, can be a fickle endeavor.

Originally, I sat down to write about what is sure to be Anthony Edwards’ single season in Athens, and whether or not it should be deemed a success or failure.

I thought it would be pretty simple since in most cases, when a highly recruited player spurns one of the more well-known programs for one with not as much caché behind it, the answer is usually fairly cut and dry.

Most of the time both the player and team underperform, leaving behind a season that is unforgettable to almost everyone involved. However, Edwards and Georgia is that rare case where the success of one has not translated into success for the other.

For all intents and purposes, Edwards has lived up to being the number one ranked player in his class. He’s basically a guarantee for SEC Freshman is the Year and there’s a good possibility he’ll receive that same recognition on the national level.

I’d be shocked if he isn’t a 1st team All-SEC player (possibly SEC Player of the Year) and is currently projected as a Top 3 pick in this year’s draft. When you look at what he’s accomplished this season, from his perspective, it’s really hard to look at his short-lived tenure in Athens as a bust.

Of course, the key phrase there is “from his perspective” because as good as he’s been- especially these last few weeks- Georgia’s season has been the exact opposite. If Edwards individual season has been “Parasite”, Georgia’s has been “CATS”.

No one with realistic expectations thought this was a Final Four team, but when you have arguably the second most talented player in your program’s history on campus, you at least hope to capitalize on their time there.

Normally, that includes some mixture of national exposure, either from upsets, an overachieving season, or at the very least an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

This way you’re not only proving to recruits that you can help propel them to the next level, but that people will actually know who they are when they get there.

Besides Edwards’ game against Michigan State back in November, where his highlights were all over the internet, has anyone outside of the SEC even watched him play?

Imagine the narrative surrounding the basketball team if instead of battling with Vanderbilt not to finish in last place, they were somewhere in the middle of the conference, battling for a tournament bid, with one or two upsets under the belt.

I also don’t think it’s too farfetched to say that Edwards would be getting some National Player of the Year whispers as well in this scenario, something that always plays well to future recruits.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Edwards is perfect and this season’s disappointment falls on Tom Crean and the rest of the roster- neither of those statements are true. That just happens to be a different column for another day.