UGA NOTEBOOK: Bulldogs pick up key football recruits over weekend

Photo by John Millikan

Photo by John Millikan

ATLANTA — It rained and poured football recruits for UGA and Georgia Tech over the weekend.

UGA had four players commit to the Bulldogs after Friday night’s “Dawg Night” prospect camp, which was delayed for 90 minutes because of thunderstorms.

Georgia Tech picked up commit No. 12 for its 2014 recruiting class on Friday.

UGA has been on a hot streak in recruiting lately, and the Bulldogs added their first commitment on Friday before camp even started. Rutland High School wide receiver Shakenneth Williams picked the Bulldogs over Vanderbilt shortly after arriving on campus.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Williams earned a scholarship at last month’s Mark Richt camp, and some were surprised that he didn’t commit on the spot. On the return trip, the three-star recruit didn’t waste much time.

“Me and my mom talked it over and she liked everything, and I felt like it was time,” Williams said.

Safety Kendall Gant of Lakeland, Fla., was UGA’s biggest catch of the night, with the four-star prospect selecting the Bulldogs over Alabama, Ohio State, USC and Florida State.

UGA’s other two commitments were a pair of much-needed offensive linemen, Lowndes High School’s Dyshon Sims and Isaiah Wynn of St. Petersburg, Fla. Offensive linemen are a top priority for Georgia in this year’s class after missing on a couple of key targets last season.

With Sims, UGA had an advantage because his cousin, Josh Harvey-Clemons, plays safety for the Bulldogs. After committing, Sims canceled plans to spend the rest of the weekend at his other finalist, Alabama.

“It was a pretty close battle,” Sims said. “I just felt more comfortable with Georgia. I know more people there, and I really don’t know anybody at Alabama.

“I also like how you get a four-year scholarship at Georgia. That’s one of the main reasons I picked it. From my understanding, you get three years at Alabama, and you only get a scholarship for each year. If you don’t show enough progression, then your scholarship is pretty much gone at Alabama.”

The 6-4, 278-pound Sims has been a hot commodity among colleges since UGA was one of his first scholarship offers in early May. He’s rated as a 4-star recruit, the state’s No. 1 offensive lineman, and No. 24 overall prospect in Georgia by 247sports.com.

“I was just waiting on my mom to give the OK,” Sims said. “She had a real good talk (over the telephone) with Coach Richt. She feels comfortable with Georgia, and she knows that they will take care of me. It feels like family at Georgia, so I went ahead and committed.”

Surprisingly, Sims went ahead and participated in Friday’s camp, even though he didn’t need to do it because he already held an offer from UGA. He spent a lot of time working with Bulldogs offensive line coach Will Friend.

“I just wanted to evaluate coach Friend as my position coach,” Sims said. “I just wanted to make sure that I would like playing for him for the next four years. Doing the camp give me a good feel on how things would go.”

Wynn waited until Sunday to go public with his decision for UGA, picking the Bulldogs over Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas. He is rated as a four-star and the nation’s No. 7 offensive guard by 247sports.

Wynn is commitment No. 15 for UGA, which projects to sign around 20 in February.

At Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets didn’t have any commitments at Sunday’s camp but picked up a sleeper prospect a couple of days earlier. Michael Preddy, a lineman from Charleston, S.C., selected Georgia Tech over Wake Forest, Louisville and Rutgers.

“I liked Georgia Tech because of the academics and the athletics,” Preddy said. “I could win on the football field, and I could succeed academically beyond college with a degree from Georgia Tech. That really attracted me to the school.”

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Preddy has only played one year of high school football but has a high ceiling of potential. He will probably play offensive line at Georgia Tech.

Four MLB draft picks opt to attend UGA

ATHENS — Three members of Georgia’s latest baseball recruiting class, along with rising senior pitcher Patrick Boling, will be wearing Bulldog red and black in 2014 after passing on a chance to sign a professional contract.

Seven Bulldog signees, plus three student-athletes from the 2013 club, were selected in MLB’s First-Year Player Draft in June, and teams had until Friday to sign their draft picks.

Crisp County pitcher and Herald Player of the Year Robert Tyler (Baltimore, 28th round), outfielder Stephen Wrenn (Atlanta, 28th round) and shortstop Michael Bell (Miami, 37th round) look to be key contributors for the Bulldogs over the next few years after choosing to honor their commitment to Georgia.

Also, the return of the versatile Boling (Washington, 32nd round) bolsters the pitching staff.

Boling, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound native of Cartersville, led the Bulldogs with 82 innings pitched and 81 strikeouts in 2013. He posted a 3-7 mark and 4.17 ERA in 21 games including 11 starts.

Tyler, a 6-4, 195-pound right-hander from Cordele, went 8-2 with a 1.99 ERA and 72 strikeouts for Crisp in 2013. Tyler was tagged the “best prep arm from the Peach State,” according to MLB.com, which ranked him No. 65 among the top 100 prospects for the 2013 draft.

Wrenn, a 6-2, 175-pound native of Marietta, was the No. 69 player on the top 100 by MLB.com. He earned third team All-America honors from Baseball America after batting .445 with 16 doubles, five home runs, 33 RBI and 29 stolen bases as a senior at Walton High School.

Bell, a 5-11, 180-pound native of Union City, played at Langston Hughes High School and earned Rawlings/Perfect Game Southeast Region Honorable Mention honors.

He hit .424 with four home runs, 20 RBI and eight stolen bases as a junior in 2012 for the Panthers.

Four members of Georgia’s recruiting class opted to sign a professional contract, headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier, a first-round selection.

The Loganville native was the fifth overall pick by Cleveland and reportedly received a $3.5 million signing bonus.

Also, pitcher Blake Shouse (Middle Georgia) signed with Colorado for $353,900 after going in the fifth round; catcher/pitcher Jarrett Freeland (Parkview HS) got $325,000 to sign with Cincinnati as a 15th-round selection; and shortstop Wesley Jones (Redan HS), a 31st-round pick of Colorado, received a $150,000 signing bonus.

Bulldog senior shortstop Kyle Farmer (Los Angeles Dodgers, eighth round) and senior All-SEC third baseman Curt Powell (Detroit Tigers, 21st round) began their professional careers last month.

Farmer is making the transition to catcher and is batting .306-2-10 for the Ogden (Utah) Raptors in the Rookie Pioneer League.

Powell, now playing shortstop, is batting .227-0-3 for the Connecticut Tigers in the New York-Penn League. Powell went a career-best 4-for-4 in a victory Sunday.

The 2013 fall semester at UGA begins Aug. 12.

The 2014 college baseball season opens on Feb. 14.

UGA football stars Jenkins, Burnette named to watch lists

ATHENS — Georgia sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins has been named to the 2013 Butkus Award Watch List, while senior guard Chris Burnette has been named to the 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List.

The Butkus Award is given annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Jenkins, a native of Hamilton, played in all 14 games as a true freshman last season, starting six, and received the team’s Newcomer of the Year Award.

Eligibility for the Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.

Burnette, a native of LaGrange, started 12 games last season for the 12-2 Bulldogs. He was voted to the All-SEC Coaches Second Team after helping Georgia have one of the country’s most potent offenses.