I am a very fortunate man. I am married to a phenomenal woman in Wifey, I grew up in a home with two loving and very supportive parents, a great younger brother that I have a wonderful relationship with to this day and I have more real friends than most could hope for. I am a very fortunate man. I know it and I consistently take advantage of any opportunity to list, for anyone that will listen, all of the varied reasons why. Among those many blessings, I count the fact that I was born in the South and have lived the duration of my life in the great state of Georgia right up there among the best of them. I know where home is. These facts played no small role in my choice to attend the finest school in the land, the University of Georgia. I am proud of my home state and I am proud of my school…in every way.
I tell you that to tell you this.
When I think about the unofficial national holiday for those of us that live and breathe college football, national signing day, I cannot help but think of the process that each young man goes through in choosing the school he will play for, represent and call home for the next three to five years. This process is different for every player, but no less angst-riddled.
When it comes to the University of Georgia, I am invested in this annual process too and for more reasons than just the wins and losses that may or may not result from any player choosing to become a DAWG. Like I said above, these players will become representatives of UGA whether they like it or not. For those of us that truly love the University of Georgia for reasons more than what happens on Saturdays in the fall, that is no small thing. This is just one more reason I am proud to have a person like Mark Richt leading our program. I trust that he will bring quality young people into the program and that he will help develop them into even better young men both on and off the field that we in the DAWG Nation can be proud of.
As Signing Day 2010 approaches I have the same hope that I have every year…that these young men are at peace with their decisions and that they truly WANT to be at the University of Georgia. To me, this is absolutely the most important factor in this entire process.
I want players to come to UGA that WANT to be Georgia Bulldogs. Players that WANT to wear that G on the side of their helmets and play “between the hedges.” I want players that have a genuine dislike for the color orange, that can’t stand the Techies and that truly HATE Florida.
Don’t be misled DAWG fans, unlike Bigfoot, these players actually do exist. The first example that pops into my mind is this weeks RETROBEAST, Greg Blue. I can remember listening to Blue, an Atlanta native, during a radio interview back in 2001 after his commitment to be a part of Coach Richt’s first recruiting class. Blue talked about his utter disdain for the Techies and how he COULD NOT WAIT to play against them saying that he wanted to “knock somebody’s head off.” Need another example?? How about DJ Shockley? Shockley was an all-world recruit and another Atlanta native that could have played anywhere in the country. Shockley chose to come to play for Coach Richt and the University of Georgia. Despite having to sit behind David Green for four years, Shockley stayed at Georgia and ignored those calling for him to transfer to another school so he could play sooner. Shockley stayed because he believed in Coach Richt, because he loved the University of Georgia and because he simply wanted to be a DAWG. When his moment in the sun finally came, DJ took full advantage leading the 2005 DAWGS to their last SEC Championship. How ‘bout another? Nation, I present for your viewing pleasure…AJ Green. Green was another 5-star recruit that had his choice of schools when signing day rolled around in 2008, but despite the fact that he was not a Georgia native and the best efforts of the national power houses (including Urban Meyer and the HATED Gators), Green was all DAWG.
It is happening with the 2010 class too. Georgia safety Jakar Hamilton, a JUCO transfer who enrolled at UGA earlier this month, had this to say in a telephone interview with UGASports:
"Man, I can't wait to get there…I don't think a player should commit just for a coach, they should commit for what the school has to offer. Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the APR, and is one of the top academic schools in the SEC; to me it's the total package. Plus, I get to play for a good, Christian coach like Coach Richt; it's everything I ever wanted."
Hamilton was later quoted in the AJC talking about the physicality with which he plays the game that will soon be on display in Athens:
“I’m one of those players who just don’t care. I’ll throw my whole body even if I have to break something to do it. . . . If I have to catch a concussion, I’ll do it.”
In the end, Hamilton chose the DAWGS over Alabama, West Virginia, Ole Miss, Kentucky and Auburn.
I LOVE IT!
Then, just yesterday, news broke that the DAWGS picked up their first commitment for 2011…Tucker athlete Chris Sanders.
Sanders told UGASports.com that he has always wanted to be a Bulldog and that he just could not ignore the pull of the home state school. Sanders chose the Bulldogs over West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Duke and he believed Alabama was on the verge of offering as well.
Saturday, the ball just kept rolling for the DAWGS as news came that Georgia picked up their second commitment for the class of 2011…Griffin safety Corey Moore. Moore says that he “grew up a DAWG fan” and simply loves Georgia.
Nation, this is exactly what I’m talking about. I want players at the University of Georgia that WANT to be at the University of Georgia and nowhere else. In my mind there is something different about this kind of player, one that believes he is part of something and that he is playing for something greater than self. You couple that type of commitment with the type of commitment that Coach Richt has made to guarantee the development of these young men and his program and I believe you have a recipe for a great deal of sustained success. Glory, Glory!!!