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 Nabulsi (12:10 PM)
Sorry for the late start. Had a log-in issue. Now that it resolved so let's get started.
Have the Dawgs pursued Hines Ward as a potential position coach? Having a Hall of Famer on the staff would certainly help on the recruiting front.
Radi Nabulsi (12:12 PM)
They can't hire him until they fire someone else since there is a limit in place by the NCAA on how many coaches you can have on staff. I know Ward said he would like to coach but the money he could make in other pursuits would be greater and he would not have to recruit 365 days a year like coaches do now.
Any word on Jonathan Rumphs progress?
Radi Nabulsi (12:13 PM)
I watched him yesterday and have two photos of him in my free spring practice gallery that just went up and from the limited time I was out there, Rumph looked very sharp. And big. That is a large man. A couple players spoke highly of him as well.
Grant (Roswell, GA)
What are the impressions of Jonathan Rumph? Aaron Murray had good things to say about him in an interview I recently heard.
Radi Nabulsi (12:14 PM)
does it look bad on mark riecht that nick saban and alabama seems to always come into georgia and get top recuits to leave the state.
Radi Nabulsi (12:18 PM)
It may look bad but when there are 180 D1 players in Georgia, what can Richt do? And top players want to go to top schools and Saban right now has one of the top school sin the country. Highly-ranked players leave the state to go to OSU, Florida, FSU, Tennessee and others. There is no way to lock the prospects into playing for UGA. Some kids just want to go elsewhere. On guys like that, there is nothing Richt can do. So it may look bad on the surface, but if you look at the numbers and real geography, you will see that it has happened in the past and will happen in the future.
Any news on TJ Stripling? The guy looks the part of a monster OLB, but has been troubled with injuries.
Radi Nabulsi (12:20 PM)
He was working with Jordan Jenkins at outside linebacker yesterday as usual but he still looks way to skinny to me. Stripling is fast but if he locks up with an offensive tackle he just can't seem to break contact. I don't see him taking one of the starting spots this year. That knee injury at Colorado was brutal.
Russ (Oxford MS)
Are Sheldon Dawson, Damian Swann(obviously), and Josh Harvey Clemons for sure starters in the secondary so far?
Radi Nabulsi (12:22 PM)
That is what it sounds like for the spring at least. I am sure Corey Moore, Tray Matthews, Shaq Fluker, Kennar Johnson and Shaq Wiggins will have something to say about that. Matthews is already having a big spring.
Frank Veal (New Orleans)
UGA defense has lost some big guys up front and some guys on the back end. Who do you think will be the toughest to replace for these Bulldogs?
Radi Nabulsi (12:25 PM)
They lost a lot everywhere. But the guy I think will be toughest to replace is actually Alec Ogletree. I mean Jenkins can be the Jarvis Jones- Justin Houston sack machine. But when all eyes are on him, just like they were on Jones last season, who takes advantage of that and makes the big plays like Ogletree did last year? A skill set like Alec's is rare. Could be a while before Georgia fans see another like him.
Samuel L. Jackson (Say What Again)
Radi Nabulsi (12:26 PM)
Always glad to hear from Sam.
Grant (Roswell, GA)
Is Tray Mathews a ligit starter? Will Coach TG play a true frshman in that position?
Radi Nabulsi (12:27 PM)
Yes to the first part. I think Grantham will wait to see what Fluker and Johnson (the two juco transfers) have to offer before he decides. They were recruited for a reason, and that was to contribute right away.
Do you think Georgia can fill its defensive holes and be a legitimate contender this fall?
Radi Nabulsi (12:29 PM)
I did not at first but I have come around. There is a key returner at every spot except safety. Garrison Smith will anchor the line, Jordan Jenkins and Amarlo Herrera will hold down the linebacker group and Damian Swann will coach up the cornerbacks.
Do you see any signs that the Georgia border is becoming more difficult to protect for the Dawgs ?
Radi Nabulsi (12:33 PM)
Not really. The border does not exist in the minds of 17 and 18 year old kids. Other schools have always come to Georgia to recruit. The Peach State has the fourth largest number of D1 kids in the nation each year. Just like the University of Texas can't get every player in Texas and USC can't get every prospect in California, the Bulldogs can't lock up every kid in Georgia. As to your question, it is just as tough as it has ever been.
Joe R. (Atl)
I think UGA's D will actually improved this year even with the loss of many highly touted players. With less egos and more competition for spots, I think they will play more team D. How do u see this playing out? Also, there had been talk of Coach Grantham creating a sort of hybrid position for Josh Harvey-Clemons. I think this could be great (along with other things such as going to a more multiple front) as things sometimes got stale and predictable on that side of the ball in the past. Thoughts?
Radi Nabulsi (12:38 PM)
That is an interesting theory and I think you are on the right track. I won't say they defense will be better but there were a lot of ego issues as guys were not trusting each other to get the job done at times last year so they wound up getting out of place while trying to cover more than their responsibilities. A few players acted as though the decision to forgo the NFL Draft meant that the defense would automatically dominate. That did not happen. It took them a few games (games in which Ogletree and Rambo were suspended) to gel and become productive.
With all of the people saying that the Defense will need time to get "Full Speed" and that that would be the only thing holding them back from having a very good year....why isnt anyone saying that the offense can and probably would win some "if needed" shoot outs (Clemson/SC/LSU) to help the "D" while they adjust????
Radi Nabulsi (12:43 PM)
I have seen a few predictions that the offense will carry Georgia to a victory so I am not certain that your premise is wholly accurate. And I agree with your point. The fear is that while UGA could score over 40 points a game - they scored 38.7 per game last year- the offense did not fare well against the top defenses. And South Carolina's defensive line and LSU in general will be stout despite both schools losing players to the draft/graduation. I fully expect Georgia to beat South Carolina at home, but Clemson on the road with a senior quarterback looking at the new defense...that will be tough.
I know all Georgia fans want to land guys like Michel, Chubb, and Mixon, but why is everyone already writing off current commitment Stanley Williams? And who do you see the dawgs landing?
Radi Nabulsi (12:47 PM)
I guess that is because Williams is looking around. Decommittments are so much more common today that in the past and when a player says something like, "I am still committed but here is my top three schools," well, then folks tend to write off that commitment. I think Williams committed too early - he had just finished his freshman year - and he needs time to truly evaluate his decision. The kid can play so wherever he winds up he will be a contributor.
Lee M (KY)
How are Marlon and Bennet doing on their knee recoveries? Will they be able to work out before the draft and summer workouts respectively?
Radi Nabulsi (12:49 PM)
I have not spoken to Marlon Brown in a while but I have seen Michael Bennett working out this spring and my guess is he will continue to rehab through summer but be recovered by fall camp. At which point he will grab retake starting spot.
Frank Veal (New Orleans)
Should we be surprised if Alec Ogletree gets drafted before Jarvis Jones?
Radi Nabulsi (12:51 PM)
No. I predicted that in January. That is not to say I get things right (since I hardly ever do) but my point then was that Ogletree might be a better NFL prospect or have a better career that Jones.
Word is that Todd Gurley looks taller and more lean and that Keith Marshall looks thicker. Any truth to this? Have you seen anything from them that makes either of them look stronger/faster/quicker than last season?
Radi Nabulsi (12:58 PM)
I mentioned that exact thing in The Pound -- the message board at the DawgNation website on ESPN, part of ESPN's Recruiting Nation. I can't say that they are faster since both are track stars in their own right and actually competed with the Georgia indoor track squad. But Gurley looks taller and Marshall's arms look a lot bigger than last year. I am really starting to get that feeling of "something special is going on." It was like when Knowshon Moreno was killing it in practice or when David Greene and David Pollack were starting to hit on all cylinders. I was hesitant to annoint Gurleyu and Marshall as the second coming of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown but it is starting to feel that way. Sorry- an impression like that is more a gut feeling and is difficult to describe.
Kurt (Powder Springs)
Do you thing Georgia offers Bradley Chubb or Emmanuel Beal?
Radi Nabulsi (1:02 PM)
I don't know Beal but from what I have seen of Chubb I can say that he might get an offer later. Right now it seems as though the coaches have offered a ton of OLB's - both in-state and nationwide. Georgia has a small class this year. So I think that they may be waiting to see where some of their targets land before sending out any new offers. I will look into Beal.
Do recruits like being hounded by fans on social media like twitter and Facebook? I know they like the popularity, but does it hurt or help the school out? Tennessee fans seem to be very active on social media with all their targets
Radi Nabulsi (1:06 PM)
Most like the attention and are constantly asking for more followers. Think about it this way, your follower count is the new quantitative score for how popular you are. Plus these players are being besieged by adults to please come and play for their school. That is an ego stroke that is hard to resist. The recruits dislike when fans argue on their timelines though. I have said for years that once a fanbase gets organized and starts to use social media in a disciplined. methodical manner, that school would have a huge recruiting advantage. Tennessee looks to be the first to do it.
For Josh Harvey Clemons is the statement good at a lot of things, but not great at anything a possibility? It has to be a bit bothersome that he doesn't fit a specific position very well. Sounds like they aren't too sure what to do with him.
Radi Nabulsi (1:10 PM)
I don't think so. I mean he is great at a lot of things but his body type is the issue. He is too thin to really hold the point at outside linebacker. Josh Dawson put on 18 pounds between signing day and the start of fall camp. Harvey-Clemons did not. He would be an abnormally tall safety which could be a huge advantage but he wasn't going to start over Bacarri Rambo or Shawn Williams last year. Personally I think he would be a great wide receiver. But no, Harvey-Clemons will be a star and possibly at more than one position.
Do we lead Miami for Sony Michel?
Radi Nabulsi (1:12 PM)
Since you are in Athens I assume the "we" means Georgia lol. I think so. But even if he committed to Georgia tomorrow his recruitment will go on and on until he signs. And once he does commit, the gloves will come off.
News has come that Sterling Bailey is highly contesting and possibly beating Ray Drew for the other starting d-end position. Is this true?
Radi Nabulsi (1:17 PM)
I think it is way too early to tell. Yesterday was the first day in pads. But the coaches were bullish on Sterling Bailey which is great news for Georgia since depth on the line was an issue last year. Coach Wilson also talked up Mike Thornton and a couple linemen have told me how annoying Mike is to block since he gets so low. It Thornton, Bailey and Drew wind up playing to their projected potential, the defensive end spot could be in good hands.
I expect that we will see fewer late-game snaps for Murray with Mason's support (ensure Murray remains as injury-free as possible). True?
Radi Nabulsi (1:20 PM)
Absolutely. We might even see more designated series, such as the third series of the second quarter or something like that. Now that is just a guess- no one has said that will happen but I would not be surprised if Georgia had a two-score lead that Hutson Mason comes in much earlier than just mop up duty.
Who has been the most impressive so far through Spring practice?
Radi Nabulsi (1:21 PM)
There have only been four practices. Ask me again next week and I'll have a better grasp of who is getting it done.
which college got the best of the Georgia high school stars
Radi Nabulsi (1:23 PM)
I know a lot of folks think Alabama did but Georgia racked up as did Auburn.
Radi Nabulsi (1:25 PM)
OK folks I have to go. Sorry I didn't get to all of the questions but please feel free to swing by The Pound or hit me up on Twitter. I will grab a few of the questions left for my weekly mailbag that runs on Friday. Thanks for the great questions. See you all next at the same time.