Thomas Brown last put on a Georgia football uniform back on Jan. 1, 2008, when the Bulldogs proceeded to hammer Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
Granted, Brown is only 25, but Georgia center Ben Jones is pretty sure the new member of the strength and conditioning staff could put his college uniform on and do it all over again.
“He looks like he’s 20, still,” Jones said. “He gets out there, I think he could still win most of the sprints.”
Brown joined the revamped Georgia strength and conditioning group in December and was announced in January. He was drafted by Atlanta in 2008 and also spent time on Cleveland’s roster before making the career change after the 2010 season.
He doesn’t much of a coaching or administrative résumé, but that’s countered by his example. Brown was manic in the weight room as a player and set records galore, especially for running backs.
“I think he’s still one of the strongest,” Jones said. “He’s in top condition. He’s in there working out in between (players’) workouts, getting his lift in and running with the other strength coaches.”
Brown still holds the team mark for squat for running backs and power clean, cementing his reputation as one of the strongest players in Georgia history.
That work ethic may already be having an impact.
“The numbers they’re putting up in the weight room are really impressive,” Jones said. “Not just the O-line or D-line. You have your skill guys, squatting over 400, benching over 300.
“I’m like, ‘Wow, these guys are real strong.’ I never knew these guys weighing 190 (pounds) could do all this weight and turn around and run like they do.”
Lights, camera, Miles
LSU head coach Les Miles made a playful video of him playing basketball for ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt -- it had to do with criticism of Miles’ game-day footwear -- but naturally, it got out and is on the LSU website.
Miles is wearing frighteningly short purple shorts, white socks almost up to his knees and a white headband. His son challenges him and wins, as does his daughter, who sings the national anthem before the action begins. Both handle him -- on a rim that’s about 8 feet. Miles changes to shoes Van Pelt sent -- and non-1980s attire -- and gets revenge.
“We took an afternoon and displayed my basketball ability very honestly,” he said, faking a serious defense of his game. “Made the shots that I shot. The slam was my slam. I defended my seven-year-old Macy Miles extremely well.”
After smacking his daughter’s shot away, he roars.
“Certainly I didn’t think that that was going to be as big a deal,” Miles said. “Kind of like eating grass.”
Watch for Wildcats
Kentucky has ventured into Georgia in recruiting regularly and increased prioritization of the state. One reason is the addition of Steve Pardue to the staff.
Pardue was one of the state’s top coaches during 17 seasons at head coach at LaGrange, where he went 161-45.
Pardue and the Grangers played Peach County in three playoff games, losing the 2003 state title 16-7 but winning 35-17 in the 2005 semifinal and 24-7 in the second round in 2006.
LaGrange was something of a pipeline to colleges, sending linebacker Wesley Woodyard to Kentucky and Tray Blackmon to Auburn, among others. Both played against the Trojans.
Pardue resigned in November with a 161 wins and three state titles. The Kentucky native was hired in January, but he’ll be seeing plenty of familiar faces.
“The impact that he’ll have on us, I think, will be huge, especially in the state of Georgia and western Kentucky, because Steve grew up in western Kentucky,” Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips said. “He’s been in the state of Georgia for a long time, been on the Coaches Association Board.
“We want to get more into south Georgia. We feel we’ve done a really good job in the Atlanta and central Georgia area. We want to get in the South Georgia area to see if we can attract more quality players, and Steve brings that to us.”
Former Wilkinson County standout Alvin Dupree will be a freshman at Kentucky. Houston County wideout Earnest Simms played with the Wildcats from 1999-2002.
Protecting new stars
Houston Nutt had a unique idea when asked about freshman requirements, noting how little a break players get.
“I wish there was a rule where our guys would have to get away from campus for 25 days a year,” the Mississippi head coach said. “But right now, our freshmen that came out of high school have been on campus since May 27th, first session of summer school.
“So basically you’ve created, ‘I got to go to school year-round.’ It’s constant.”
Tennessee was a second away from a 7-5 regular season (which may have led to a higher bowl than the Music City) and 8-5 overall mark (including the bowl) rather than 6-6 in the regular season and 6-7 after the bowl, had there not been the two crazy endings in losses to LSU and North Carolina, both finishes including too many men on the field.
“They asked me on this tour, they say, ‘Hey, what was your greatest moment last year?’ ” Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said. “I said, ‘Well, there were two of them. They just only lasted about 30 seconds.’
“I told everybody I was 8-7 in postgame handshakes last year. It was a remarkable feat.”