SEC Media Days is here. A look at memorable moments and players from Georgia through years

Marc Weiszer
Athens Banner-Herald

Gentlemen, start your talking points.

Hours and hours upon football chatter will fill the College Football Hall of Fame and Omni Hotel in Atlanta starting Monday and running through Thursday as SEC Media Days makes a rare move away from Hoover, Ala., for the annual gabfest.

The SEC’s 14 schools, of course, will all be represented. It was during last year’s Media Days that the 15th and 16th schools became the story after a report came out that Texas and Oklahoma were jumping from the Big 12. That is slated to happen in 2025 if not earlier.

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart shakes hands with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey as he takes the stage during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency in Hoover, Ala., Tuesday, July 20, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Realignment is still a big story with Southern Cal and UCLA heading to the Big Ten and perhaps more moves to come.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart, fresh off a national championship, will make his appearance on Wednesday morning. He will be joined by quarterback Stetson Bennett, outside linebacker Nolan Smith and center Sedrick Van Pran-Granger.

Billy Napier, who nearly coached Stetson Bennett, on UGA QB: 'The kid is living his dream'

Read more:After national title, Kirby Smart sees Georgia football built to last, not 'flash in pan'

Starting in 2010, schools could send three players instead of two to Media Days. Last year, after the event was scrapped in 2020 due to the pandemic, it was reduced to two players again, but it’s back to three this time around.

The event began in 1985 at the Holiday Inn Medical Center in Birmingham. It’s been held in that area for all but one year since.

The Wynfrey Hotel has been the home since 2001 except for 2018 when it was also held in Atlanta at the same site as this week. It was slated to return in 2020 but was cancelled before what became a delayed season start and SEC only schedule.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a look at Georgia’s trips to SEC Media Days through the years:

Most star power

2017. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and Roquan Smith represented the Bulldogs. Nailed it. That trio were the headliners on Georgia’s Rose Bowl and SEC champions.

Double the fun

These players attended Media Days multiple times: QB Eric Zeier 1993-94, QB Quincy Carter 1999-2000, DE David Pollack 2003-04. DT Jeff Owens 2008-09, QB Aaron Murray 2011-13, S J.R. Reed 2018-2019.

Chosen few

Georgia has sent only three cornerbacks, according to records dating back to 1989 -- Chuck Carswell in 1991, Champ Bailey in 1998 and Brandon Boykin in 2011. It has also only sent three tight ends—Ben Watson in 2003, Arthur Lynch in 2013 and Jeb Blazevich in 2016.

Best players never to go to Media Days

RB Garrison Hearst 1990-92, S Thomas Davis 2001-2004, QB Matthew Stafford 2006-08, OLB Justin Houston 2008-2010, CB Deandre Baker 2016-2018, K Rodrigo Blankenship 2017-2020 and DE Travon Walker 2019-2021.

Coaches typically look first to seniors to get the nod.

Bill Goldberg, who became a wrestling superstar, went in 1989 with Rodney Hampton. Emmitt Smith represented Florida that year.

July 21, 2011; Hoover, AL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs center Ben Jones speaks to the media at the SEC media day press conference in the Wynfrey Hotel. Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Feeling slighted

Mark Richt in 2007 when Georgia was picked to finish third in the SEC before it went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl: "We're definitely under the radar. Whether we rise or not is the big question. I believe in this team. I think we've got a chance to do as well as any team that we've had."

Glamour boys

Stetson Bennett is the third QB in as many Media Days to go for UGA. JT Daniels went last year and Jake Fromm in 2019. A QB has represented Georgia 11 times including Greg Talley in 1991 and Joe Cox in 2009.

Before NIL

A.J. Green’s 2010 appearance came amid an NCAA investigation into him selling his Independence Bowl jersey (something that would be just fine now in the age of NIL). UGA officials asked him whether he attended a party in Miami hosted by a sports agent.

"I was home that weekend," Green said in an interview in Hoover. "There was a buzz going around that I went. I talked to them a couple of days ago. Like two days ago."

Well, at least for one game.

Kirby Smart addressed the quarterback questions—something he has done often in his time at Athens—in his 2017 appearance. Former five-star Jacob Eason was the returning starter and true freshman Jake Fromm was pushing for time.

"Jacob Eason is our starter coming into the season and Jake Fromm's got to do something to beat him out," Smart said. 

Fromm got the job after Eason left the opener with an injury and started the rest of the way.

A Leg Up

Georgia has only sent one kicker and one punter. John Kasey went in 1990 and Drew Butler 20 years later in 2010.

There’s not a single kicker or punter in the SEC this year attending.

“No specialists. Shameful!” Butler tweeted this week.

Questions come in all directions

Center Nick Jones in 2006 with hotshot freshman Stafford, Cox and Joe Tereshinski in the mix for the starting job.

"They always try to put it differently, but it's basically the same question," he said. "Who's it going to be? Who do you like? Who are you most comfortable with?' I even had some guy ask me who has the softest hands? I'm like, 'Come on, man.' "