Smart and Dawgs finish SEC Media Days car wash
Jeb Balzevich's red bow-tie with Georgia "G"s all over it was tied perfectly. Looking dapper and also wearing a big smile, the Georgia junior tight end was very much in his element Tuesday morning during the second day of SEC Media Days.
HOOVER, Ala.(GeorgiaDogs.com) -- Jeb Balzevich's red bow-tie with Georgia "G"s all over it was tied perfectly. Looking dapper and also wearing a big smile, the Georgia junior tight end was very much in his element Tuesday morning during the second day of SEC Media Days.
Seated at a small stage in the Wynfrey Hotel, a microphone in front of him and a moving swarm of media members all around firing questions, Blazevich looked like he wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world.
Blazevich is a talker - a fun, thoughtful and upbeat talker - so meeting the media to discuss the Bulldogs, new coach Kirby Smart and so much more, from the other tight ends in the league to the effects of social media, the Charlotte, N.C., native was up for it.
In fact, representing Georgia at the annual July mass media gathering, the unofficial kickoff to the upcoming season, was on his bucket list.
"Oh, no doubt," he said. "This has always been a goal of mine and I'm just humbled and honored that Coach (Kirby) Smart let me do this, and I can be here with Dom and Brandon and be among all these guys. This is such a unique experience and I'm just trying to soak it in - this is just so cool.
Smart picked Blazevich, senior center Brandon Kublanow and junior safety Dominick Sanders to represent the Bulldogs. Georgia flew down Tuesday morning, did all that they have to do and then a few hours later flew back to Athens. Sanders and Kublanow aren't quite the chat masters that Blazevich is, at least not publicly, but seemed to enjoy an event that with each passing year looks more and more like a carnival.
"This is my first time here," Sanders said. "To represent the football team is a good experience. I'm happy to be here and (happy) to answer your questions."
Some players dread being in front of the microphone and dread having the media swarm around them. Blazevich doesn't get it.
"How can you dread this?" he said. "You get to dress fancy, you get to fly on the private, what's it called, King Air, one of those planes, so this is just awesome. It's a special treat."
If you haven't noticed, and those of us above the age of 40 and/or without children certainly may not have, there's a new Pokemon craze, the Pokémon Go game on your phone, that is sweeping the nation, if not the world. Let's just say the Bulldogs are aware of it.
"Greyson Lambert is like a Pokémaster on our team, it's just ridiculous," Blazevich said. "He's always playing and he's always telling guys what Pokémon he's going to get."
Blazevich went on about it for a while, and could probably still be going if his interview time hadn't ended. It's guys like him, or like former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, that make Media Days such a treat. Ask them just about anything and then just sit back and soak in the response.
Smart got what he surely expected Tuesday, more than a few questions about the Bulldogs' quarterback situation. And he wasn't the only coach to do so. Blazevich, Sanders and Kublanow also were asked about the Bulldogs' three-man QB race, between redshirt senior Greyson Lambert, redshirt junior Brice Ramsey and true freshman Jacob Eason.
"Jacob has done a great job," Kublanow said when asked about Eason, the highly-touted newcomer. "He's come in and worked hard -- obviously he's under a lot of scrutiny, but we feel like all three guys have done an amazing job and we'll see how (the competition) goes during fall camp."
Much of the league, with the possible exception of Ole Miss (Chad Kelly) and Tennessee (Joshua Hobbs) - two teams on the Dogs' schedule this season - will enter preseason practice with a little or a lot of uncertainty about who will be the starting quarterback this season. Lambert started most of last season and all three quarterbacks, Smart said, had about equal repetitions during spring practice.
Smart said a starter has yet to be named and has yet to emerge.
"If I knew, I promise you, I would tell you," he said, acting like a bit playfully like a lawyer pleading his case. "I would give you the information. But I don't know that."
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, who has to replace one of the league's top QBs the past few seasons in Dak Prescott, had similar words for his quarterback situation.
"I'm not trying to hold back or play it close to the vest with our quarterback," Mullen said. "We had four guys competing for the job in spring ball. All of them were still in contention for the job. No one really separated themselves to pull away from one of the other four at that position."
The past few seasons there's been a lot of turnover at quarterback throughout the SEC, with multiple schools having one-year starters. Georgia could have its fourth starter in as many seasons, which is a far cry from the stability of the Aaron Murray years - a four-year starter that ended his career (in 2013) with multiple SEC passing records.
Smart said defensive coordinators might breathe a bit easier for a little while, but not for long.
"In years past we had these same question marks," he said. "People arose. Certainly at this time no one knew who Cam Newton was, and he was amazing. Nobody thought they knew what Nick Marshallwould do. Nobody thought Blake Sims was going to do it. Nobody gave Jacob Coker a lot of credit either. ... You learn quickly that guys can arise and they have a lot of playmakers with them and they become really good players in the league."
Coaches love to brag during Media Days about their players' summer workouts. Smart had some legitimate reason to brag Tuesday about his trio of Bulldogs with him in Hoover. Spearheaded by Kublanow, Smart said, the trio of Kublanow, Sanders and Blazevich all got in a 45-minute workout Tuesday morning before the team's 7:30 flight and 10:05 a.m. EST session, which lasted a couple of hours.
"When we left, we were over on Eastern Time, we had to leave at 7:30, fly out at 7:30, and they came over this morning and each one of them had already worked out," Smart said. "They went in at 6 a.m. to get their workout because they didn't want to miss that as they came over to Media Days. And Kublanow organized that. It meant a lot to me to see his leadership."
John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men's Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: http://www.georgiadogs.com/ot/frierson-files.html. He's also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.