David Brent Martin
If you bleed red and black, then you just had to be there.
Thursday night’s Lake Country Bulldog Club meeting at Rock Eagle produced a higher-than-expected turnout of around 350 Bulldog faithful, and coach Mark Richt was on hand to entertain all in attendance. Richt not only took the time to answer detailed questions, but also took photos with fans and signed a variety of items like football helmets, footballs, Jack Davis prints and magazine covers — and there were plenty of “sharpies” on hand as well.
Thursday’s Bulldog Club meeting began around 5:45 p.m. at the large dining hall located on the grounds of Rock Eagle. Plenty of cool beverages were available, and after a brief socia,l a large banquet table feast was unleashed to all the hungry fanatics who made the trek to see their favorite football coach.
One question posed to Richt was about the team’s secondary, and whether some new faces can step up to replace the likes of Asher Allen. And it appears the Bulldogs have a variety of speedy talent to help cover the SEC’s stingiest receivers in 2009.
“Prince Miller will start at the wide corner. Usually, he’ll get matched up with the better receivers because teams usually put their best receivers on the wide side of the field. Brandon Boykin is slated to start at the boundary position. And we’ll also have Makiri Pugh, Vance Cuff and Sanders Commings. I’ll bet we’ll have three cornerbacks in a game over 50 percent of our season — because how teams spread things out,” said Richt.
Georgia’s tight end position has also been a concern to Bulldog fans ever since the days Jermaine Wiggins, Randy McMichael and Leonard Pope graced the field. Last year’s senior Tripp Chandler is now gone, and the Bulldogs will be looking to enhance the position with several newcomers.
“Orson [Charles] will certainly play tight end — there’s no doubt about that. Bruce [Figgins] won’t be playing anytime soon. I’d have to say that Aron White is our leading candidate to start right now, and Bryce Ross and the two true freshmen [Charles and Arthur Lynch] will battle it out. I can say that, from the reports I’m getting from some of our veteran players, they really like Orson and Arthur Lynch. They think they both have a chance to play right away,” said Richt. “We’re looking forward to the tight ends playing like Georgia tight ends again.”
Richt also took the time out to talk about his son John, who had originally signed to play quarterback at Clemson, but who has since re-signed with Mars Hill in South Carolina.
“He’s very excited to be at Mars Hill. He actually isn’t there yet, but he’ll be there in about a week or two. Mars Hill felt a bit more like home to him. He was at Prince Avenue, a single A Christian school, and Mars Hill is a very small school — probably 900 to 1,000 students. It just felt comfortable for him and he’s looking forward to it,” said Richt.
The savvy coach was also pressed about Georgia’s team leaders, and who was going to step up this season and perhaps lead the team to another SEC title.
“Each position or segment of players has found a guy that he believes is the best candidate to lead. The guys that stand out overall are Joe Cox, Rennie Curran, Jeff Owens, Michael Moore and Ben Jones, even though he’s only a sophomore, really does a good job. Clint Boling also does a good job,” said Richt.
Richt was given a rousing standing ovation as he took the microphone and immediately went into his diagram of how he thinks the Bulldogs can succeed in 2009. The coach spoke of the school’s weight room and football complex expansion projects, and also talked about how this year’s seniors are really taking charge with the rest of the team.
“Our seniors decided that they wanted to have a disciplinary board. So if any guy got out of line in any way then those guys would get a chance to speak to them and apply some peer pressure. We want to have peer pressure to do things right as opposed to having peer pressure to do things wrong or silly,” said Richt. “I just think it’s been outstanding. We have a lot of momentum right now and if we can stay healthy, well, let’s just say I have really high hopes for this bunch.”
GMC JC head football coach Bert Williams was also at the banquet, and received special recognition from Coach Richt during the start of his presentation. Coach Williams has ushered in a new and exciting era of excellence at GMC JC and has also proven to be a successful harnesser of talent — sending players like Vince Vance, Jarius Wynn and Corvey Irvin to UGA in recent years.
“We signed three of Bert’s linemen a couple of years ago and two of them got drafted this past year, and the other one [Vance] will be a senior offensive lineman and he’s hoping he’ll get drafted too,” said Richt with a smirk.
After Richt’s speech, the Lake Country Bulldog Club concluded with a raffle [of autographed UGA memorabilia] and another autograph and photo session with the coach — which was icing on the cake.
Not only did the club sell out its allotment of available tickets, but also had to make room to squeeze in about 40 or 50 extra people.
Those who would like to learn more about the Lake Country Bulldog Club and future events visit the Web site at www.lakecountrybulldogclub.com.