JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia and Nebraska have thrown their closed practices open to one group this week as they prepare for the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl Wednesday at EverBank Field.
First Coast-area high school coaches were invited by both teams through emails about a month ago to attend a practice to observe how the Bulldogs and the Cornhuskers go about their work. Nearly 100 high school coaches attended Georgia’s practice on Friday at Jacksonville University, and the same number are expected on Saturday when Nebraska works out at the University of North Florida.
Nebraska is the last Gator Bowl team believed to have invited the coaches formally, when the Huskers played Clemson in the 2009 Gator Bowl. Coaches have watched other teams practice since then at the invitation of college staffs, but not on an organized basis.
“It’s nice of them to do this, and it’s going to help us when we go back to our kids for spring practice,” said Yulee High School special teams coach Martin Berry. “Mainly, we’re looking at how organized a team like Georgia is for a practice and trying to pick up on a few drills.”
Joe Reavis, Yulee’s quarterbacks coach, said he wants to give his players an idea of the tempo and speed of a college practice.
“You’d like to give them some inkling of what to expect if they are able to play in a program like this one day,” he said.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said he hopes the high school coaches can relay to their players just how fast a big-time college program practices.
“I hope they see a highly organized practice, with coaches and players looking like they know what they’re doing and giving the right kind of hustle and energy and effort,” Richt said. “We are organized in what we do, and we want them to see that. I hope they see a team that looks like they’re focused and trying to win a ballgame.”