Georgia mini-camp: News and Notes

ATHENS – Mark Richt and his staff hosted almost 300 prep football players on Friday and Saturday; here are some news and notes from the event.

Linebackers were out in full force at the mini-camp. There were no less than four impressive linebackers at the camp. The most impressive seemed to the South Aiken's (SC) Dekoda Watson. He's been lighting it up all spring according to most, and his performance in Athens was no different. The entire time I was watching the linebackers compete against the running backs, Watson did not lose a match up.

Watson was only one, however, of a handful of big-name linebackers that were at the camp. Stephenson's Kelvin Sheppard, who is more physically mature looking than Watson, also did well. None of the 40-yard times were that breathtaking on Friday afternoon, but that was because the recruits were made to run on the Bulldogs' bottom two practice fields, not the track. The track was being utilized for a camp for under privileged children. One of the faster linebackers, Perry Riley (who appeared to run a 4.69), also looked good while in Athens. He's not as big as the other linebackers, but seems to be quite acceptable while competing.

One surprise was Woodstock fullback/linebacker Danny Carmichael. Coaches seemed excited when he ran what appeared to be a 4.62 and 4.82 in his two 40-yard runs. What was so impressive about Carmichael was that he was running that time while weighing nearly 240 pounds. In fact, Carmichael appears more like a fullback than linebacker (even though he worked out a lot with the linebackers), and I think that means he will be on the outside looking in when it comes to an early scholarship offer from Georgia.

The slow surface did not, however, prevent Charlton County's Justin Williams from running a legit 4.4 40. Trust me when I tell you than less than six players were around the 4.4 mark on Friday; the running surface is very difficult to get good speed on. Williams has good speed and good hands. The concern with him, like with many receivers, is if they will have the ability to get off the line of scrimmage in college.

Almost all receivers had a field day running and catching the ball until the cornerbacks came on top of them and smothered them at the line. Getting off the line in college is going to be a real problem for Kris Durham if he does not add weight (which is expected). If you looked at Durham on the street you would think there is no way he would play football. But the Fred Gibson clone is surprisingly quick and without a doubt had the best footwork of the receivers in camp. He was seen talking with Wide Receivers Coach John Eason periodically in camp, and footwork might have been the topic of discussion.

I watched Durham, like the other Georgia commits, a lot both days. Durham is an instruction follower. In L-cone drills he was consistently staying tight on the cones (the way the drill is supposed to be run) and still winning more than his fair share of races. That means, to me, that he's not just a long-stride runner; he seems to be able to move quickly in short spaces even though his limbs are longer than most.

Cameron Smith was getting a lot of attention from Georgia coaches as well. Smith plays running back, and was getting plenty of love from Mike Bobo while he was there… I would be surprised if Tony Wilson ended up not going to Georgia…

Speaking of Wilson, there was a heavy out-of-state feel to the camp, but one Florida player seemed to draw attention to himself for the wrong reasons. Jamal Harvey, who seems more than talented enough to play at Georgia, would (at times) stay on the ground laid out after he failed to catch difficult balls despite the fact that there was another set of receivers and cornerbacks using the same field… Florida athletes got a lot of attention from Georgia's coaches and Bulldog players from the Sunshine State including Charles Deas and his teammate Bobby McGee who were both specifically introduced to Florida Dawgs… Georgia coaches, particularly Willie Martinez would scold players who appeared to be loafing between stations. "You're not jogging and you are here trying to get a scholarship?" screamed one coach to a group of players going from the L-cone drills to another station.

Several high school coaches and players were impressed to see Head Coach Mark Richt stick around for nearly all of the camp. "You certainly don't see that everywhere," said one coach…. Georgia's incoming freshman class may be small, but they all seem to be on the same page. I can't recall one incoming freshman that was missing from the camp – even newcomer Kade Weston was walking about socializing with players.

The head honcho in the social department is former "The" Stephenson (as he likes to call it) star, Demario Minter. Minter was very active on the sideline with the high school cornerbacks – cheering them on in that position's never-ending struggle to defeat wide receivers. Minter was particularly supportive of any Stephenson player… Greg Blue, Kelin Johnson, Danny Ware, Marquis Elmore, Russ Tanner, Tim Jennings, Thomas Brown and others all made at least a small visit to the camp.


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