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Richt comes to Gainesville focused on the fans
Answers pressing questions about the team during UGA's Gainesville Day
Georgia head football coach Mark Richt signs a shirt for Blaine Fisher at the Gainesville Civic Center Tuesday evening during a Georgia Alumni Association event. - photo by Tom Reed

For Dan Moore, it was worth the drive down to the Gainesville Civic Center on Monday from his home in Young Harris.

He was out to share his thoughts during University of Georgia Day in Gainesville with football coach Mark Richt and generally liked the response he got from the coach.

But by the time Moore got his question answered about the team's passion (or lack thereof) during games - referencing back to the end zone celebration against Florida in 2007 - the Bulldogs coach found it the perfect time to ask a question back.

"What do you think about the black helmets?," Richt asked, to which Moore just shook his head.

With about 250 Bulldogs fans in attendance, it was a lighthearted question and answer session with Richt, preceded by the same time given to assistant basketball coach Kwanza Johnson, who attended in place of head coach Mark Fox as he was visiting with a prospect in Athens.

Richt let his guard down and showed his sense of humor with the Bulldog Nation.

In regards to Moore's question about the celebration against the Gators in the end zone a few years back, Richt had an answer ready.

"If you call (SEC) commissioner (Mike) Slive and can get his permission, we'll do it again," Richt said of the celebration, which he said went further than he ever intended with players dancing in the end zone after an early touchdown.

Fans reacted steadily with laughs between the dialogue with emcee and former Atlanta sports anchor Chuck Dowdle.

One standing ovation was drawn when a fan stood and gave his full endorsement of Richt's character as a coach, man, husband and representative of the University of Georgia.

"I appreciate the passion and love our fans have for our team," Richt said in response to the standing ovation. "And we all want better than what happened last year."

Through the friendly back and forth with the fans, Richt did give some insight into pressing issues with the team - most notably the status of the offensive line and its attrition.

With Trinton Sturdivant done after enduring his third career knee injury and A.J. Harmon announcing he was leaving the school this week, there were some definite holes to fill.

The only position without any change on the offensive line is the starting center Ben Jones, who is also the team's best leader Richt pointed out later to answer another question.

Then at guard, Kenarious Gates and Chris Burnette would be the two starters if the season started today. Cordy Glenn and Justin Anderson are the two best options right now at tackle.

When talking about the wide receiver talent, Georgia has a lot to replace with A.J. Green and Kris Durham both now on NFL rosters.

Richt stacked up the talent saying that tight end Orson Charles is the team's best receiver, followed by Habersham Central graduate Tavarres King, then a long list of names including Israel Troupe, Marlon Brown, Chris Conley and converted defensive back Malcom Mitchell.

Richt also had the ear of the crowd when he talked about how the concept for the "Dream Team," the label for Georgia's 2011 recruiting class, came to be. He said he was singling out "game changers" who could help make an impact right away and push returning starters and major contributors for playing time.

Richt also commended those early commits who stayed on board, like East Hall's Sterling Bailey, who was on hand for the event, for not wavering in his desire to play for the Bulldogs.

"The idea for a Dream Team started out as a state idea, but then we had others from outside the state that also came on board," Richt said.

Richt also spent time making it clear that there's no other place he wants to be than at Georgia, even though he's been courted by others schools.
"I want to spend at least another 10 years here at Georgia," Richt said.

NOTES: Richt said that running back Caleb King should be academically eligible to play in the fall, despite recent rumors to the contrary. ... Before meeting with fans, Richt told media members that offensive lineman Dallas Lee, a Buford High graduate, has been hampered by an "asthma-like" condition. ... Offensive tackle Austin Long endured a torn pectoral muscle during weight lifting.


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