UGASports - The Dashboard: Looking ahead to the 5-Star Challenge, and more
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The Dashboard: Looking ahead to the 5-Star Challenge, and more

Some notes and thoughts for the week in this edition of the Dashboard.

1. The Rivals 5-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour is coming to the Georgia Dome this weekend and UGASports will be on hand.

For the first time in four years, the annual Rivals 5-Star Challenge is back in Atlanta, this time set for the Georgia Dome on Saturday, followed by the Underclassman Challenge all day on Sunday.

While there, players will have the opportunity to compete against the best prospects in the nation, before taking part in 7-on-7 action along with a Big Man competition later in the evening.

Don’t look for any evaluations from me, that’s not my bag, I’ll leave that to Jake Reuse, Trent Smallwood and the gang, but I am looking forward to meeting and talking with a number of the players set to arrive.

The event coincides with the annual publisher’s conference, but for me, the most enjoyable part of the entire weekend is Friday when all the players will check in upon their arrival in the ATL.

No other news outlet can bring the top prospects of this caliber together in one place at one time for interviews, and I’m certainly looking forward to the opportunity.

Netore Johnson and his hair of many colors will be there, along with fellow Bulldog commits Breon Dixon and Jaden Hunter, each of whom have told they are looking forward to representing not only their home state, but the Red and Black as well.

But here are the two guys I’m looking forward to meeting – running backs D’Andre Swift and Cam Akers.

Both players are tentatively scheduled to make a side trip to Athens while nearby for the competition part of the event Saturday night, so this will be an opportunity to get some last-minute thoughts on their impending visit.

They won’t be the only ones.

Wide receiver target Mark Webb, offensive tackle Tony Gray, defensive end Robert Beal, defensive end Malik Herring, linebacker K.J. Britt, JaCoby Stevens and AJ Terrell are also names recruitnics will want to hear from.

While everyone wants the latest update – and you’ll get them – just spending time, getting to know them and finding out what makes them tick is the most enjoyable part of the day for me.

2. One subject I’m interested in tackling with the recruits …

… is to see if I can gain any discernable differences between the way new head coach Kirby Smart and his staff go about the business of recruiting players as opposed to former head coach Mark Richt.

No, this is not an attempt to discredit the former Bulldog coach, but simply a question intended to distinguish the differences between the two staffs.

We’ve already seen Georgia’s offensive line targets cite Sam Pittman and his philosophy as being an attractive part of the equation.

But what else? That’s what I want to see.

3. What will see from Nick Chubb?

Wow, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

On one hand, if you’ve seen Nick over the past few weeks, you wouldn’t know that there’s anything wrong. There’s no limp, no brace, he’s running, apparently changing direction, and looking every bit like the running back that set the college football world on its ear before his tragic injury last October at Tennessee.

If anybody can come back from this type of injury, Nick can. I’ve been covering this team for 20 years and can only think of a handful of players with the same drive and determination that we’ve seen from Mr. Chubb.

But at the same time – and this is due to all those years listening to Larry Munson growing up – it would probably be wise to pump the brakes just a little bit.

Chubb is human, after all, so predicting some sort of amazing season to the tune of 1,500 yards, etc, is probably pushing the envelope just a tad.

While I’m convinced Chubb will play, I just don’t see Coach Smart and Jim Chaney pounding him play after play – at least not to start. With a proven back like Sony Michel, there’s no need.

Chubb will make his mark and his future remains bright. But to ensure it stays that way, look for coaches to be extremely careful to make sure he doesn’t overdo it. That’s just my take.

4. Georgia will not be making a change with its head baseball coach this year

I know and understand why the thought will perturb many out there. Me? I have no dog, or dawg in this fight as the case may be, but as one of only three reporters who covered the team on a regular basis this past spring, here are my thoughts.

First off, there was no way AD Greg McGarity was going to make a change this soon. The reason? Head coach Scott Stricklin has a six-year contract that pays him $600,000 per year and McGarity is simply not going to let him go after just three seasons. While I know that doesn’t sit well with some, that’s just the way it is.

That said, it’s certainly understandable why UGA baseball fans are upset. They can’t be blamed in the least.

When Stricklin arrived he promised to take UGA back to the next level when it comes to its baseball program. So far, his three years in Athens have resulted in three straight sub-500 campaigns.

That’s not good.

Yes, the SEC is as strong as ever and that’s not going to change, therefore this WILL BE a critical year for Stricklin, whose job it is get the Bulldogs back to where the program should be.

This year’s freshman class will be the third consisting entirely of players that he recruited, so you get my drift.

In defense of Stricklin, rebuilding a program is never easy and I think he’s a good coach. But in today’s world of “win now or else,” coaches have less time than ever before to make something happen.

Fair or not, that’s just the way it is.

Some random thoughts …

• I know I’m late to the table with this, but on the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, I just wanted to offer my own words of thanks for those heroes. There’s very few of those gentlemen left anymore, but their act of heroism that day in Normandy will never be forgotten.

• Just wanted to say a quick word on the passing of Mohammed Ali. While the man had his detractors and I understand why, to me he was a hero. I can vividly remember watching The Champ, his bouts with George Frazier, George Foreman, losing to and ultimately regaining the heavyweight championship from Leon Spinks. Those were boxing’s Glory Years, especially the heavyweight division, nothing at all like we have today. I miss those times. Another piece of my childhood is gone.

• On June 18, my wife and I are heading out West for a little R&R. Being we recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, I owe it to her to do something special, right? So we’ll be gone for a couple of weeks and I’ve been threatened bodily harm if I’m caught online looking at the Dawgvent, so don’t expect to see me around. For those who follow me on Twitter, I’ll probably be able to regale you with some tweets of our trip, but only when Cathy’s not watching.

Cam Akers will be one of several Bulldog targets at this week's Five-Star Challenge.
Cam Akers will be one of several Bulldog targets at this week's Five-Star Challenge.