Its going to take a lot to ruin the relationship between Georgia and Carver, far more than Mondays arrest of three Carver football players on charges in connection with thefts from a University of Georgia football locker room.
The incident was the most highly publicized and public of the few potholes in the well-traveled road from Carvers front door to Georgias Sanford Stadium but did nothing to hurt the bond between the schools, Carver coach Dell McGee said.
I dont think any fences are broken, McGee said. Its an isolated incident that occurred. (Georgia coach Mark Richt) and I talked about that, and he doesnt think any less of our program, our parents or those young men. Those young men are all kids who are good in school, and they made a very stupid decision.
If you have been reading into the public outcry about the allegations, you might wonder why Richt would bother returning a call from Carver. But if you have been paying attention, hearing McGee say things already have been patched up should come as no surprise.
The relationship between the schools football programs, which began in 1980, has taken some hits and always weathered the storm. This is no different.
Sure, there have been some hiccups, D.J. Jones, a former Carver and Georgia football player, said. But if you track players from a high school to a college over a certain time, when you have that many athletes going to one school, nobody is batting 1.000.
Jones, now the co-host of Sportsvisions on Fox-54, signed with Georgia in 1980, becoming the first Carver football player to play for the Bulldogs, according to former Carver coach Wallace Davis. Jones lasting relationship with both schools has given him insight into a connection that, while criticized from the outside, seems to be as harmonious as ever.
Coaches at Carver and Georgia always understood that their kids will get an opportunity to go to Athens and be taken care of in terms of being given an opportunity to get an education and play football, Jones said. That started all the way back with Coach Davis, and thats something that has never changed all the way up to right now with Coach McGee and Coach Richt.
Davis first developed the pipeline of talent that is pouring some of Carvers biggest names to Georgia in running back Isaiah Crowell, who signed in February, and in linebacker Jarvis Jones, who landed at Georgia nearly a year ago after a season at Southern California.
Davis produced future Georgia players in D.J. Jones, Herman Archie, Nicky Pitts, Glenn Ford, Jasper Sanks and Ryan Davis. While those athletes signed before there was a rivals.com to publicize their every move, they were enormously important in developing the connection between the schools.
D.J. Jones was a highly coveted athlete who had interest from colleges across the country. Archie, too, had offers coming in every which way when he signed in 1982.
People were saying some of the same things about Herman that they said about Isaiah Crowell, Davis said. Notre Dame coach Gerry Faust said that if he didnt get Herman, hed lose his job. Sure enough, he didnt get Herman and he lost his job.
Jones and Archie went on to successful careers at Georgia, and more Carver players followed.
These were decent, honorable kids who loved the University of Georgia because it was the state school and because they felt it was the best school in the nation, Davis said. You talk about schools like Stanford, USC, Notre Dame. Well, in their hearts and eyes, they put the University of Georgia on that plateau. They could have gone anywhere, but they chose to go to Georgia.
Now, McGee produces prospects that bring UGA coaches to Carvers campus each time they drive through this corner of the state.
Davis isnt sure the theft charges didnt do more harm to the relationship, but he said its roots are so deep that it would take something far more significant to turn off the stream of talent from Carver to Georgia.
I dont know that a coach can say what kind of damage was done, Davis said. But to say something like what just happened will prevent another player from Carver from going to the University of Georgia, thats a tough statement to make.
UGA FOOTBALL PLAYERS FROM CARVER SINCE 1980
1980: D.J. Jones, QB
1982: Herman Archie, WR
1989: Nicky Pitts, LB
1994: Glenn Ford, DB
1997: Jasper Sanks, RB (spent first year at Fork Union Military Academy)
1998: Ryan Davis, CB (began as walk-on)
2010: Jarvis Jones, LB (transferred from Southern California)
2011: Isaiah Crowell, RB; Quintavius Harrow, S
Chris White, 706-571-8571