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Sam Pittman: ‘I believe we won some games because of our fans, I really do’
Just as they did two years ago, Kirby Smart and Georgia football are trying to attract a packed house for G-Day on April 21, and they’re doing everything in their power to let fans know their presence is needed at Sanford Stadium. That includes getting a few Georgia coaches to butter their bread.
In a video released on the Georgia football Twitter account Wednesday, running backs coach Dell McGee and offensive line coach Sam Pittman wax poetic on how important Dawgs fans have been in their two seasons with the team.
“I believe we won some games because of our fans, I really do,” Pittman said in the video.
Georgia fans made their presence known on road trips last season, as seas of red descended upon South Bend, Knoxville, Jacksonville, Pasadena and Atlanta. Dawg fans turned Notre Dame Stadium into a neutral field and the Rose Bowl to Sanford Stadium West. Pittman went as far to say that when he heard about the horde of Georgia fans heading to Southern California for the Rose Bowl, he knew Georgia would win.
“We went out for a dinner two nights before we played in the Rose Bowl,” Pittman said. “One of the fellas up there told us they’d sold 65 percent Georgia tickets. And I felt like, right then and there, we were gonna win the game. I don’t know why, but I just felt like we were gonna give our fans what they deserve.”
Considering the emphasis Smart puts on recruiting, it should come as no surprise that his effort to fill Sanford for G-Day is a recruiting ploy. But it’s a ploy that has worked before. McGee and Pittman discuss how taken aback the new coaching staff was when 93,000 fans packed Sanford on G-Day 2016, and how that show of force by the Bulldogs faithful was a key moment in building the stacked recruiting Class of 2017.
“We get off the bus [before G-Day in 2016] and I’m like, ‘Are we playing ourselves or someone else today?’ It was nuts,” Pittman said. “The thing that was really amazing to me was that they had to kick a lot of the people out of the stadium because there was too many here. You don’t get that kind of attendance at home games, let alone spring games, at most places.
“There were several recruits that came to that game that I felt like we might have been close or maybe had the lead on or it’s tight. Then after that spring game, it seemed like we started getting a lot of those guys, especially guys here in the state.”
"I believe we won some games because of our fans, I really do."
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) April 12, 2018
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Brittany Gray, DGD
Georgia is one of the best teams in college softball, thanks in no small part to star senior pitcher Brittany Gray. With a 16-1 record, 12 complete games and a 0.48 ERA, second-lowest in the nation, Gray’s helped put the Bulldogs squarely in national championship contention. But Georgia’s season was rocked Monday with news that Gray would miss the remainder of her senior season with a right biceps injury, ending her UGA playing career.
On Wednesday, Gray posted a heartfelt message on her personal Instagram relating her devastation at learning of her injury, encouraging young girls who play softball to be defined by more than the sport, encouraging her teammates to finish strong, promising to return to the sport in some capacity and expressing gratitude for the friends made and lessons learned over four years in Athens.
“The past 4 years here at Georgia have been nothing shy of amazing,” Gray wrote. “You have welcomed this Midwest, basketball-loving girl into your town with arms wide open. In the past 4 years, I have discovered who I really am, I met some of my closest friends, & I have lived out my childhood dreams!!”
Gray finished her Georgia career sixth in career wins (60) and eighth in complete games (39). She’s the sixth player in program history to pitch more than 500 innings. Her 495 career strikeouts are fifth-best in UGA softball history. Any way you shake it, she’s one of the best players in program history. It’s a shame she won’t be able to see out her final season, one that could be historic for Georgia softball, on the field. But Gray certainly has belief in her fellow Bulldogs.
“I love this sport and this team,” she wrote. “We got something special this year, and I CANT WAIT to see my girls kill it.”
There is no doubt that the team is worse without Gray, but it still has an opportunity to make this a special season. The Bulldogs are 36-5 with an SEC-best 11-4 record in conference. The most likely replacements for Gray on the mound are Kylie Bass (12-1, 2.12 ERA) and Mary Wilson Avant (3-1, 1.27 ERA). Avant was the winning pitcher in a 7-0 shutout of Georgia State on Wednesday.
You can read Gray’s message in its entirety below.
This is not how I thought I would end my senior year. Jumping into my teammates arms, dawg piling on the mound because we just won the national championship. Unfortunately, not the dream that I was dreaming about, it was a nightmare. I’m devastated that I can no longer play @ The Jack, under the lights, in the red and black, & with the best fans supporting us. But everything happens for a reason. Gods plan > my plan!! The past 4 years here at Georgia have been nothing shy of amazing. You have welcomed this Midwest, basketball loving girl into your town with arms wide open. In the past 4 years, I have discovered who I really am, I met some of my closest friends, & I have lived out my childhood dreams!! To all the little girls, have fun playing the game!! Know that softball does not define you! It’s something we do for fun, it’s not life. Through all the injuries, the strikeouts, the tears, and joyful moments I wouldn’t trade these past 4 years!!! I love this sport and this team. We got something special this year, and I CANT WAIT to see my girls kill it. You will see me pitch again, i promise y’all that! My playing career (at Georgia) might be over but my coaching career has just begun.
Teammates impressed by Zamir White
Seth Emerson of DawgNation has a post about freshman running back Zamir White you’re going to want to read. White tore his ACL late in his senior season of high school and has spent the entirety of his short time in Athens rehabbing to get ready for his freshman year. Although he’ll be limited throughout the spring, it’s become evident that White is ahead of schedule and should be able to play at some point this season.
Although White has only been getting limited rehab reps, his teammates have been impressed by what they’ve seen of him and believe he can be a force when healthy.
“You can tell he’s gotta be careful with what he does. He’s still rehabbing and things. But you can see he’s got a lot of talent and a lot of upside,” tight end Isaac Nauta said, according to Emerson. “A big physical kid, too. So when he gets up and rolling around really good it’s going to be fun seeing him play.”
Odds & ends
Here’s some DawgNation posts you may have missed Wednesday.
- What was it like being around Georgia football for memorable 2017 season?
- Getting it turned around with Atlanta’s AAU scene key to Tom Crean’s success at UGA
- Roquan Smith compared to Hall of Fame linebacker: ‘He’s so easy to love’
- NFL expert: Nick Chubb, Sony Michel ‘outstanding,’ but one has ‘depressed’ value
For all you recruitniks, here’s what DawgNation recruiting reporter Jeff Sentell had to say Wednesday.
- Why 5-star Bryan Bresee stands out as the nation’s top sophomore prospect
- Elite in-state sophomore RB Daijun Edwards has UGA out in front
- Georgia commit Nolan Smith bumped to No. 2 overall prospect by 247Sports
Dawgs on Twitter
Nothing like taking in a little #Dodgers baseball!
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) April 11, 2018
Justin Fields looks like he’s built from NCAA football XBox game. Widely talented but far from pushing Fromm for gig.
Kirby even more comfortable in Year 3. Rides kids hard, but knows how to have fun as well.
2018: A possible contender again.
2019: An absolute MONSTER team
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) April 11, 2018
Here’s former Alabama running back Mark Ingram getting wrecked by a pup, because why not.
Saints RB Mark Ingram vs. a military dog.
The dog won.pic.twitter.com/tDmkSmBUYE
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) April 4, 2018
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