Chat with Radi Nabulsi
Welcome to DawgNation! On Wednesday, reporter Radi Nabulsi stops by to chat about the state of Georgia football.
Nabulsi joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Georgia for Rivals.com for the last four years and for the UGA Athletic Association since 1993. Nabulsi is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and lives in Athens, Ga.
Send your questions now and join Nabulsi Wednesday at noon ET!
Radi, how many spots are available for the 2014 class at UGA and why are the commits so slow coming, especially on the OL?
Radi Nabulsi (2:01 PM)
I am expecting a class of around 17 or so. But Georgia may be expecting more -- they have out as many offers as they did last year when they were trying to sign 34. As for the commits, that is a streaky thing. Remember last year when three guys committed independently on a Friday? All Georgia needs is a little momentum and they could be more than halfway full. Dontavius Russell might be they spark...
How many WRs will UGA take in this class and are they making a strong effort for the kid out of Michigan?
Radi Nabulsi (2:06 PM)
I was told early on that they were looking at one premiere receiver. That of course could change as it boggles the mind to just take one but they have a good young group on the roster now. I am not sure how hard they are pursuing Drake Harris, but the wideout from Louisiana, Cameron Sims, is high on the board I am told.
What should I be looking forward to in the G-day game Saturday?
Radi Nabulsi (2:09 PM)
I think the new combinations on the offensive line, the play of Ray Drew and T.J. Stripling on the line, how Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons work at safety and lastly what Reggie Carter does at middle linebacker. I mean that is some of what I want to see since it is all new to us. For entertainment value of course keep an eye on Jordan Jenkins, Chris Conley, Todd Gurley, Garrison Smith, Amarlo Herrera and Damian Swann.
Radi, after Richards visit...where do you think UGA stands now?
Radi Nabulsi (2:12 PM)
Tight end Milan Richard had a lot of his questions answered this past weekend and really got to know a lot of the players. I would think Georgia is at the top for him, tied with either Clemson or South Carolina. BUT that is a guess since he told me he has no leaders.
Having seen spring practices, do you think this year's Defense is as fast or faster than last years? And, if so, do you think this version could end up being more productive?
Radi Nabulsi (2:17 PM)
A lot has been made of this group being faster but I just don't see it. Jarvis Jones was fast. Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo were fast. Branden Smith is one of the quickest guys to ever play for Georgia. This group is smaller so a lot of hopes are pined on them being faster. The players on the team now are fast and maybe Carter is faster than Mike Gilliard and Matthews is faster than Shawn Williams, but until they get into sync, there are still a lot of new guys on that side of the ball. I don't see them being more productive in the first half of the season, but I bet they are in the second half.
I truly think the defense will gel faster than most people expect and that the "O" will win som shootouts if needed early on (Clemson/SC/LSU) but I dont think that SC or LSU can score much even on the young D.....Clemson will be the only true shootout and I think we can out score there D that isnt that impressive....With all of that said....besides Florida.....which i think we also win while we go undefeated...who do you feel will represent the west....Bama or T-A/M.....and a second quick ?...how will we use Faton Bauta...He reminds me of TEBOW....We have to get him in game action...........
Radi Nabulsi (2:19 PM)
I cannot see anyone knocking off Alabama. Just can't. As for Bauta, there was talk of some plays designed specifically for him but of course I have never seen them. I don't see him getting much if any playing time this year since Hutson Mason will likely be fighting for every series possible.
Is Georgia realistically in it for Joe Mixon? Also, when do you think Michel will pull the trigger?
Radi Nabulsi (2:20 PM)
I don't think so although Mixon likes UGA. I think Sony Michel will commit this month.
When do you feel we'll hear from Michel and Chubb; do you think they are likely to both pick the Dawgs?
Radi Nabulsi (2:22 PM)
April for Michel, but I am not sure about Chubb. He told me he wants to take some more visits before he decides, but the Georgia coaches made a strong impression on Chubb during his last visit (read my story). I think both wind up at Georgia eventually.
With the loss of so many defensive players, I have been hear we are faster. That sounds good, but size does matter in the SEC. Are the Dawgs faster because we are smaller? More importantly are we smaller on the D Line?
Radi Nabulsi (2:29 PM)
I answered this to a point but the second question reminded me of something interesting. Ray Drew would be a size increase over Abry Jones at one DE spot. So would John Taylor. Garrison Smith would maintain his spot so no change there. But losing John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers and Cornelius Washington (when he moved down to the line) would make Georgia smaller at nose and when they have four down linemen. Chris Mayes and John Atkins are both huge and could offset that size issue- but- and this is where I think it gets interesting- what if 6-1 Mike Thornton wins the nose spot? Could you imagine both defensive ends being bigger than the nose? It would work though. Thornton is strong and a burden to block. Should be fun to watch.
Who has impressed you the most during the Spring practices?
Radi Nabulsi (2:34 PM)
Chris ConleyTray MatthewsRay DrewReginald CarterJohn TaylorSheldon DawsonSterling BaileyJosh Harvey-ClemonsJonathan RumphMark BeardWatts DantzlerJ.J. GreenQuayvon HicksT.J. StriplingKeith MarshallAt least those are the ones I think have stepped up. I mean I could list Murray and top players but I expect them to excel.
Have you spoken to Sony face to face since his first visit?
Radi Nabulsi (2:34 PM)
What are the chances of Andrew Williams and Kendall Baker committing soon?
Radi Nabulsi (2:37 PM)
I think Baker would commit first. He just seems to be a guy that once he decides he won't waste any time. Williams still has a lot of schools he wants to check out. He only has three favorites he is wiling to name right now on his way to making top-15 list. So Williams might take a while.
Radi, Im in my opinion this 2014 for the state of GA looks like it could be the best overall class, 2-4 Tremendous players at almost every position.. Maybe not that much star power like 2013 but awfully close
Radi Nabulsi (2:38 PM)
I don't see it. 2013 was unparalleled in my opinion.
With all the playing time J.J Green has gotten at RB this spring, once the season starts is he a 3rd option at that position? or will he then move to WR
Radi Nabulsi (2:42 PM)
Great question. Problem is I have no idea. Some expert, huh? I think he should stay at running back since the depth chart at wide receiver is fairly deep and once you get past Marshall and Gurley, then you have to rely on Brandon Harton and Kyle Karempelis. But in the fall when A.J. Turman arrives in June, he could wrench away that third spot but Green has so many more reps that I figure he could hold on there. Why go to the back of the line at receiver?
Does UGA have a realistic shot at mr Deshaun Watson? Also for Running Back situation do you think it will be whoever commits first will get the spot?
Radi Nabulsi (2:47 PM)
1. Yes. I still think he winds up in Athens. 2. Yes. I think whichever two commit first get those spots. That may have been why Michel said he will decide in April. But if Choice or Chubb or Hood or whoever decides to go first they will be taken. Chubb was told he was one of the top two choices but if Michel commits and another were to pull the trigger, he would be on the outside looking in.
How bout them Bravos look pretty good huh?
Radi Nabulsi (2:49 PM)
Yes. I saw a image online with this caption: "Ya'll going to make me lose my mind, Upton here, Upton here." There were two arrows pointing to where the Uptons would be. I have been laughing ever since.
Mickey (Johns Creek)
Now that we have had the new strength and conditioning coaches with their new methods for a year, what is the feeling about the changes?
Radi Nabulsi (2:53 PM)
After throwing out a lot of the changes that Joe Tereshinski instituted and getting back to what they were doing before, they confidence (and performance) in the program is back. Add in the new speed coach (Sherman Armstrong), a nutritionist and the new stuff Justin Lovett is doing (boxing, MMA workouts) and you have a top flight S&C staff. That is not a shot at Joe T. But notice that they went back to mat drills and the like.
Adrian (Batesville MS)
As an Ole Miss fan, what will it take for the Rebels year in and year out to be on that LSU, Bama and UGA level? it seems like everything is in place to be a top 10 team year in and out
Radi Nabulsi (2:59 PM)
Ole Miss is always on that level for one, two or even three quarters. Same as Vandy, Mizzou, MSU and Kentucky. But when your best players are getting gassed in the third quarter and they have to face a fresh, five-star second string guy that litter the roster at Alabama and LSU, well he is going to get beat. In other words it is all about depth in my opinion. Florida's second string will beat just about any second string in the league. Same with Alabama, LSU and UGA. It all comes down to sheer numbers. Ole Miss is getting deep. And one or two more strong classes and they will be amazing.
Brett (Lagrange )
As of now it's Swann and Dawson at CB with Matthews, JHC, and Moore battering for the safeties. Can JUCO guys like Shaq Fluker and Kenner Johnson come in during the summer and win a job from those guys?
Radi Nabulsi (3:03 PM)
I had that as one of the questions in my weekly mailbag and it is hard to say. Johnson spent all last year playing cornerback but he knows the position. Fluker though is a monster and I can see him coming in with his experience and skill set and taking the third safety spot in the nickel package UGA employs so often.
What do you think of the new branding?
Radi Nabulsi (3:08 PM)
Not a fan of the secondary logo but other than that I think it was a good idea. You should have one font across all platforms. I am surprised it was not that way already. The uniform tweaks don't bother me -- but then I could care less what they wear. But please note, if you want to attract recruits, you have to be seen as cool. Tradition is not cool. It is nice - but not cool. Changing uniforms sometimes is cool. Just sayin'. Also, I think they should have gone to the pro-style combat uniforms earlier. Not the awful color scheme but rather the style. Glad to see the players getting those now.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Do you think LBs Bryson-Williams and McMillan will be in a Bulldog uniform next season?
Radi Nabulsi (3:08 PM)
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How would you rate the Dawgs chances of getting Shaw to join Russell on the defensive line? And what other defensive lineman are high on Georgia?
Radi Nabulsi (3:12 PM)
Georgia is in good shape there but Dontavius Russell may have taken one of their spots. Don't forget that Georgia picked up John Atkins, DeAndre Johnson, Chris Mayes and Toby Johnson in this last class. How many defensive tackles will they take in 2014?
Who do you see as the favorite to land Raekwon McMillan... Bama or Ohio State? Please say Ohio State. I dont know if I could handle to true Georgia boys (R. Foster) lining up in the middle for Bama for years to come
Radi Nabulsi (3:13 PM)
Ohio State. I do not see McMillan going to Alabama.
Radi Nabulsi (3:14 PM)
Thanks for stopping by everyone! I really enjoyed it. Be sure to hit up David Ching next week and ask him all of your post G-Day questions.