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Column: Some football-related topics of local and state interest

The views of the author are not necessarily the views of AllOnGeorgia.


Football makes for good conversation year-around, right?

Well, I don’t care what your answer was to that  question, really.

I think it does.

So today, let’s open up the notebook for some football fodder.

* Brunswick High’s Warren McClendon has narrowed his college choices down to five schools.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle posted on Twitter on Wednesday that his finalists are all SEC schools – Auburn, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Note that Alabama did not make his final list. The Crimson Tide was the first team to offer the four-star prospect as a high-school freshman, but the defending national champions are out of the running now.

Tennessee is now in the mix more than ever, however. New head coach Jeremy Pruitt recruited McClendon for Alabama while offensive line coach Will Friend also recruited him while he was coaching at Georgia. They have both been recruiting McClendon hard since teaming up in Knoxville.

McClendon told Rivals.com that Georgia and South Carolina do have a slight edge over the other three schools.

If you know his bloodlines, you know that McClendon is related to former Georgia running back and Glynn Academy star Willie McClendon.

His cousin, Bryan McClendon, who played and coached at Georgia and is Willie’s son, is the offensive coordinator at South Carolina. Also Brent McClendon, Bryan’s brother, is now a graduate assistant with the Gamecocks.

McClendon said this week he plans to take official visits to all five schools before committing to one of them this fall. He will graduate in December and can enroll in college in January.

* Speaking of Brunswick High, former Pirate standout Darius Slay earned praise from his NFL peers this week when he was voted the 49th best player in the league as announced in a video released by NFL Network to reveal the latest NFL top 100.

Slay made his first Pro Bowl last season and earned his first All-Pro nod after leading the NFL with eight interceptions in his fifth season with the Detroit Lions.

He also led the league with 34 passes defended.

“I just love to compete and I love to do that at a high level,” he says in the video.

He later adds: “I’m trying to get a gold jacket, so I can’t be playing.”

To see the “Big Play Slay” video click here.

* OK, Georgia fans. Go ahead and mark your calendars for the Georgia-South Carolina and Georgia-Florida games this coming season.

CBS announced Wednesday that the Bulldogs and Gamecocks will play at 3:30 p.m. on their network on Sept. 8.

Also, the annual Cocktail Party will air at 3:30 p.m. on CBS as usual on Oct. 27.

#Last year, Georgia defeated South Carolina 24-10 at home in early November. This year, they will go back to their traditional early-season date with the matchup in Columbia being the first SEC game for both teams.

* Speaking of Georgia football, head coach Kirby Smart spoke to reporters earlier this week at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla.

Coach Smart had an interesting take on graduate transfers and the SEC blocking those transfers within the league. It’s one that differs from most of the other league coaches.

Smart points out the hypocrisy in allowing coaches to leave one school for another but not letting players who have been developed throughout their careers by another league program to have the same opportunity.

“You mean just like we do as coaches, right?” Smart said. “Just like I left Alabama with all the secrets I learned when I was there I took with me, and (Will) Muschamp took all those secrets from LSU, and Jimbo (Fisher) took all those secrets from LSU, now Jeremy (Pruitt) has all those secrets.

“So, I don’t see it that way.”

Smart said he favors graduate transfers having the freedom to choose where they want to go without having to sit out a year.

Currently, the SEC requires graduate transfers to sit out a season when transferring within the conference.

Also, Smart said he would certainly favor playing Auburn at home in back-to-back seasons so Georgia could avoid playing Auburn and Georgia Tech in back-to-back games on the road every other year.

“Absolutely, if we can get a chance to fix that and return the favor we paid to them,” Smart said.

Auburn coach Guz Malzahn has mentioned wanting to avoid playing Georgia and Alabama in road games in the same season.

Georgia played at Auburn in 2012 and 2013 when schedules had to be restructured to create the desired competitive balance the league likes to keep for conference games when the SEC added Missouri and Texas A&M six years ago.

 

* Julio Jones has not been attending the Atlanta Falcons’ organized team activities this week, but head coach Dan Quinn doesn’t seem to mind the star receiver being absent from the voluntary workouts.

“With where he’s at in his career, his familiarity with the offense, his understanding of the timing, rhythm, all those things, I think if anyone can get back on the same page fast, it’s him,” Quinn says.

Jones is expected to be with the team at its mandatory mini-camp set for June 11-13.

Rookie receiver Calvin Ridley has been impressive during the OTAs, according to quarterback Matt Ryan.

“He’s done a great job,” Ryan said when asked about the former Alabama wideout. “What I’ve seen is excellent transition in and out of breaks. It’s as good as anybody I’ve been around. He’s got very good hands. He’s smart. We put a lot on these guys early in OTAs as far as knowing where to line up, different route combinations, adjustments that we have versus different coverages. He’s picked all that stuff up really well. You can tell he’s been well-coached prior to coming into the NFL.”

 

 

Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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