Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- It's never too early for Southwest Georgians to talk about Bulldogs football with the head man in charge.

A few hundred Georgia Bulldog supporters proved that Wednesday at Doublegate Country Club, turning out in droves to hear UGA head coach Mark Richt speak at the Albany Chapter of the Georgia Bulldog Club's annual meeting.

Richt talked about a little bit of everything, ranging from recruiting to former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's graduation present. It's safe to say the Denver Bronco's first round draft pick didn't get much from Richt.

"Tim is a great person, but I'm glad he's gone," Richt joked.

Richt and his staff are currently scouring the state as part of the team's "Dream Team" recruiting theme. While visiting nearly every high school in the state, Richt said he believed if his coaches can bring all the top in-state talent to Georgia, they'll win a national title before they leave.

There's also a high level of anticipation for the 2010 edition of the Dawgs, which will feature a Heisman-level receiver in A.J. Green, an experienced offensive line, a new 3-4 defensive scheme, and a projected starting redshirt freshman quarterback in Aaron Murray.

"I think a lot of the ingredients are there for a tremendous season," Richt said. "We've just got to go out and do it."

Speaking about Murray and the quarterback position, Richt said this year's signal caller will need a "healthy respect" for the football.

"You don't have to be the hero," Richt said of his message to Murray.

Murray was named the starter after spring practice ahead of Logan Gray, who is the only quarterback on the roster with live snaps. Gray has expressed an interest in playing receiver and Richt said he would be open to the idea despite the inexperience at the quarterback position. Hutson Mason, a true freshman, will likely be the No. 3 quarterback on the roster come fall.

"I'm not worried about depth unless we get hurt," Richt said.

Richt went on to discuss new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense, a change from last year's 4-3 alignment. Both teams in last year's national title game, Alabama and Texas, ran the 3-4 on defense.

Georgia's head coach also talked about the timing of Grantham's hiring, which came after reported discussions with Alabama defensive coordinator and former Bulldog Kirby Smart -- a native of Bainbrige -- fell through. Richt said he nearly attempted to hire Grantham more than a month earlier than when Grantham accepted the position in January, but also said the Bulldogs might not have been fortunate enough to hire Grantham if he had offered the former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator that soon.

"I'm not sure we would have gotten him then," Richt said. "I'm not going to say why but circumstances changed."

Dawg fans came from all over Wednesday. Lee Bush from Unadilla, who attended the Macon chapter's meeting earlier this month, drove down to hear more Bulldogs talk. He said he's also not concerned with the quarterback play, which most of the focus will be on leading up to kickoff.

"I think Murray is going to be the real deal," Bush said.

Cam Cochran from Americus brought his 4-year-old daughter, Camie, who gave a big thumbs down when she was asked about the Bulldogs' SEC rivals, the Gators and Gamecocks.

Cam Cochran said he's excited to see the 3-4 defense in action, as well as breaking in a new quarterback.

"(The 3-4) seems to work at other places," Cochran said. "And the offensive line and running backs will take the pressure off of (the quarterback). All he's got to do is throw it to A.J."

Georgia assistant men's basketball coach Kwanza Johnson, who came in the place of vacationing head coach Mark Fox, also told the crowd big things are expected from this year's team, which could feature potential first-round NBA Draft picks in Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.

Georgia basketball struggled in Fox's first year in Athens, but made strides with a young team in key wins against Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt.

"We've got to be better next year than we were last year," said Johnson, adding that the players began to pick up Fox's triangle offense as the season wore on.