The 2017 senior class is one special group that deserves the proper salute on Saturday afternoon in Sanford Stadium.
Well, the trip to the Plains was certainly a disappointment for everyone in the Bulldog Nation, but a 9-1 record with still plenty to play for remains in place. The million dollar question now is whether our coaches and players can shake the bitter taste of defeat quick enough to be ready for a Kentucky Wildcats team that’s playing some of its best football of the 2017 season.
Each week, head coach Kirby Smart has reminded both his team and the Georgia fan base that “humility is only a week away,” and Auburn’s sound victory over the Dawgs certainly proved that to everyone who loves red and black. It is in moments like these that a team’s leadership must earn their stripes, and thankfully the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs are full of individuals completely capable of answering the challenge.
Even before knowing the outcome of the Auburn game, I had made the decision that the focal point of this issue’s cover would be to salute our seniors. To me, it’s the least Bulldawg Illustrated could do for this outstanding group of men, who will be playing their final game in Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
What I like best about this group of seniors is the way they handled the head coaching change after the 2015 season. Obviously, they had been recruited by Coach Richt and had huge admiration for him, but when the change was made to Kirby Smart, rather than moping around, they stepped up to support the process of their new coach. This support was clearly shown in mid-December of last year, when Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Dominick Sanders made the decision to stay at Georgia for their senior season.
I think we can all agree that each of the above players is certainly going to have an excellent opportunity to play in the NFL, so for them to put the University of Georgia before themselves is so special. And what an incredible season 2017 has been, thus far.
However, you can’t talk about this senior class without mentioning many of the others that have given so much to Georgia. I’m talking about players like Jeb Blazevich, Isaiah Wynn, Dyshon Sims, Christian Payne, Javon Wims, John Atkins, Malkom Parrish, Aaron Davis and Trent Frix.
Of course, there are other seniors that I haven’t mentioned, but I think you get the point that the state of Georgia football isn’t at its current elevated position without this class. So as our cover displays, everyone at Bulldawg Illustrated proudly salutes our seniors. And for our fan base, the best way to show the respect that all of these individuals deserve is to pack Sanford Stadium for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. kickoff. Beyond that, a victory over Kentucky would mean a perfect 6-0 home record for the 2017 season, which Jeff Dantzler discusses in his column on page 10.
Ok, enough of my lovey, dovey treatment of our seniors. You know I respect you, but I, along with everyone in the Bulldog Nation, need you to step up and take care of business in your final game in Athens. And for the guys under you, it goes without saying that your efforts against Kentucky should be at your best. These seniors deserve to celebrate with the Georgia fan base when the final whistle is blown on Saturday.
That’s about going to do it for me. While the first loss of the season is always brutal, it certainly didn’t keep everyone at BI from producing another quality issue.
From our sports pages, you will definitely learn that Kentucky is fully capable of winning on Saturday. And don’t miss Greg Poole’s From the Field on page 42. Greg captures the feeling in the Georgia locker room at Auburn, and it was so nice to hear the resolve of our team. And Hamilton Culpepper (page 45) had a blast catching up with former Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray.
On the social side of this issue, Cheri and company have put together a neat feature about the Athens’ music scene (beginning on page 24). You’ll certainly enjoy Georgia students and alumni reminiscing about some of their favorite bands from their college days. Also, don’t miss interviews with UGA alums, Bethany Davis (page 22) and Judge Steve Jones (page 32).
Alright, Georgia fans, let’s salute our seniors on Saturday and rally our team to get back in the winner’s circle. See you in Sanford … Go Dawgs!!