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Georgia players (from left) Jacob Gross, Jonathan Ledbetter and Dyshon Sims celebrate a 31-3 victory against Mississippi State with their fans on Sept. 23, 2017, in Athens, Ga.

5 things to love about Georgia sports right now

Cy Brown

Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

All you need is love

There are countless things to love about the University of Georgia and UGA sports. So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to run down five things to love about the Georgia Bulldogs right now. Make sure to chime in with what you love about Georgia sports down in the comments. Let’s go.

Georgia football just wrapped up one of its best seasons in decades … — Last season ended on the sourest of notes, but even that wasn’t enough to mar the Dawgs’ remarkable 2017 run. There was the trip to Notre Dame; revenge tour wins against Tennessee, Florida, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech; getting a win back against Auburn to claim the SEC championship for the first time in more than a decade and an overtime win in the freaking Rose Bowl. All of that in Kirby Smart’s second season. This is just the beginning, folks.

… And its best recruiting class ever — UGA football’s most recent signing class isn’t just the No. 1 in the country, it’s one of the best ever. Smart signed seven 5-star prospects. He not only addressed areas of need but added a top player at nearly every position on the field. He dominated the state of Georgia and ran circles around the SEC East for the second year running. Like I said, this is just the beginning, folks.

UGA hoops is recruiting like mad, too — OK, so things aren’t going well for the men’s basketball team now, but there is hope. As things stand, Georgia has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2019. I repeat: Georgia basketball has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2019. This comes with the obvious caveat that it is still a long way until Signing Day. Mark Fox is firmly on the hot seat. Who is to say that 5-star standout Ashton Hagans and 4-star prospect Elias King will stay committed if Fox is run out of town? But if those two Georgia guys do eventually ink for their state school, the program will be in a nice position to finally take, regardless of the coach.

The Gym Dogs might turn a corner — The first season of the Courtney Kupets Carter era of Georgia gymnastics did not get off to a great start, with three losses in her first four meets as coach. (To be fair, each loss came at the hands of a top-10 team.) But the last two meets have seen significant improvement, as the Gym Dogs defeated Missouri in Athens and No. 6 Kentucky on the road. There is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done, but the Gym Dogs are starting to show that old spark again.

The Lady Dogs are back — Between the final few seasons of Andy Landers’ legendary tenure as the Georgia women’s basketball coach and Joni Taylor’s first two seasons in the same post, the last four years have been a historic nadir for the program. But in her third season, Taylor has found her sea legs and has led the Lady Dogs to 21 wins, tying the mark from her first season with four games left in the regular season. And she has done it with a lot of youth on the squad. Three of the team’s top-5 scorers are freshmen. It has been a while since Georgia fans had a reason to be excited about basketball, men’s or women’s. With the SEC and NCAA tourneys approaching, it is time to get excited about these Lady Dogs.

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Georgia recruiting on national title level

In a recent post, ESPN recruiting reporter Tom VanHaaren noted two data points each of the last seven college football national champions have in common.

“Each of the past seven national champions have averaged a top-10 recruiting class the four years prior to winning the national championship, and all seven have landed at least one recruiting class ranked in the top four in the two years prior to their title win,” VanHaaren wrote.

So VanHaaren looked at the numbers and found four teams meet that criteria heading into 2018: Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State and — wouldn’t you know it — Georgia.

Avg. class rank: 4.75

The Dawgs made it to the title game this season with a true freshman at quarterback. Georgia played 16 true freshmen overall and, similar to Ohio State, are adding 19 ESPN 300 prospects. That includes the No. 1 overall player: quarterback Justin Fields. Georgia is losing a lot of production in the ground game, with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel moving on, but they will be replaced by ESPN 300 running backs Zamir White and James Cook, who are the No. 1- and No. 3-ranked running backs, respectively. They’ll join D’Andre Swift and try to pick up where Chubb and Michel left off.

Salary details released for new assistants

Salary information for Georgia football’s two newest assistants has been released. Cortez Hankton will earn $375,000 annually, while Scott Fountain will earn $300,000. Fountain earned $115,000 last season working as an off-field analyst for the program. Check out this post from Seth Emerson of DawgNation for more details.

House of Payne

The dream of the “Jeremy Pruitt Memorial Indoor Practice Facility” is officially dead.

Chip Towers of DawgNation reported Tuesday that the football team’s indoor practice facility will be named the “William Porter Payne & Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility” after former Augusta National chairman Billy Payne and his father Porter, both of whom were Georgia football lettermen.

UGA confirmed in a release that the naming rights resulted from “gifts totaling $10 million secured from friends of Billy and Porter Payne.” So if anyone wants to rustle up an easy $11 million to rename it after Pruitt, the man who got the ball rolling on this whole indoor facility thing, I’ll chip in five bucks.

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