ATHENS — There are just 67 days before Georgia kicks off against North Carolina to open the 2016 season, 34 days before preseason camp begins and, yes, only two weeks until SEC Football Media Days get started in Birmingham. So college football is truly right around the corner.
The fact is, it’s truly full go within the walls of the Butts-Mehre football complex. Virtually the entire team is enrolled for summer semester and those guys are a only week away from midterm exams. By now they’re also deeply engrossed off-season strength and conditioning work.
In fact, there already has been some development on the Bulldogs’ depth chart. According to some versions of Georgia’s internal depth chart floating around the ‘Net out there, several of the new signees who have been on campus for less than a month have made their way into the two-deep.
They are: graduate transfer Tyler Catalina at No. 2 left tackle, freshmen Michail Carter and David Marshall at backup defensive ends, freshman Mecole Hardman at No. 2 cornerback and freshman Marshall Long as the starting punter.
No sense in reading too much into that as there will be so much competition and lineup-shuffling over the next 67 days. But it should at least whet your appetite during this hot, dry spell of football information.
Here’s five other things you should know regarding UGA athletics this week. …
1. Another player dismissal
What would any scorching hot Georgia summer be without some arrests to pine over? This one appears to be no exception as coach Kirby Smart executed the second dismissal of his short tenure late last week. The Bulldogs had to part ways with freshman defensive back Chad Clay after his second arrest of the year this past week.
A projected cornerback from Peachtree Ridge, Clay was fingered by police for stealing a pair of headphones from the Ramsey Center. Clay, you will recall, was also involved in the BB gun incident at McWhorter Hall dormitory earlier this year. That case, currently classified as a felony, is still pending. It also involves freshman defensive lineman Julian Rochester.
In all, that’s seven arrests of Georgia football players since Smart became head coach in December. As far as we can tell, that’s the most in such a short span since 2010. None of the arrests have been of a violent nature, however. Smart dismissed sophomore defensive lineman Chauncey Rivers via UGA policy last month because of his third marijuana-related arrest.
2. New DB on board
Though the wheels certainly were already in motion well before Clay was dismissed, Georgia was quick to shore up its depth in the defensive backfield by accepting a transfer. J.R. Reed signed a financial aid agreement with the Bulldogs last week and will transfer to UGA from Tulsa University in August. Reed will have to sit out this season as per NCAA transfer rules.
Reed was redshirted in 2014 and played in all 13 games for the Golden Hurricanes last year. He recorded five tackles and a pass deflection.
Reed is the son of longtime NFL star receiver Jake Reed and the nephew of former Tennessee star and NFL player Dale Carter. It’s probably worth noting that Reed is also related to Deangelo Gibbs, a 4-star-rated defensive back from Grayson’s and the state’s No. 2 overall prospect, according to 247Sports.com.
3. Dooley predicts a statue for Nick Chubb
Get this: Vince Dooley predicts a statue of Nick Chubb eventually will be erected in Cedartown.
It’s not really much of a stretch, considering the context in which Dooley offered the prediction. Dooley this past weekend was attending the unveiling of Polk County’s new Walk of Fame, which includes bronze statues of sports greats that have come out of that area. Dooley was there in support of two of his close acquaintances who were being recognized on the walk, his former assistant coach Howard “Doc” Ayers and offensive lineman Edgar Chandler.
Naturally, Dooley was asked about Chubb, who hails from the area. The star tailback is currently recovering from last year’s season-ending knee injury but is expected to play this season, his junior year.
“I think you’ll see a statue of Nick out here one of these days,” Dooley said.
4. Olympic Bulldogs
Georgia swimmers Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland finished first and second, respectively, in the 400-meter individual medley at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday to qualify for the Rio Games. Kalisz posted a time of 4:09.54, followed by Litherland in 4:11.02. Each swimmer ran down Ryan Lochte over the last 200 meters as the former Florida standout finished third in 4:12.02.
Kalisz and Litherland are the first American swimmers from Georgia to qualify for the Olympics and gives the Bulldogs five overall. They will join Canada’s Javier Acevedo, Brittany MacLean and Chantal Van Landeghem and Finland’s Matias Koski in Rio de Janeiro for the games on Aug. 5-21.
5. Orji up for track’s top honor
NCAA triple-jump champion Keturah Orji of UGA is one of three finalists the Bowerman Award, which is considered track and field’s highest individual honor.
Orji joins Ole Miss sophomore Raven Saunders (shot put) and Texas senior Courtney Okolo (sprinter) as the finalists for the iconic 35-pound trophy. Orji was picked from 10 semifinalists, including five-time NCAA champion and Georgia teammate Kendell Williams. The award is named after legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman.
Orji will likely also make the U.S. Olympic team. But even though she already has met the standard, she’ll have to finish among the top three at trials next week.