ROCKINGHAM — The behind-the-scenes work of guys like Scott Sinclair will more than likely go unnoticed when college football fans watch No. 3 Georgia face off against No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Most of the focus will be on the Bulldogs’ rushing attack — headed by senior duo Nick Chubb and Sony Michel — and their defensive unit’s game plan for Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner.
Not many casual fans will take notice to Sinclair, who was born and raised in Richmond County, and the energy he brings to the Georgia sideline while donning a Bulldog-red polo shirt and looking through a dark pair of shades.
Not many casual fans will realize that Sinclair is Georgia’s director of strength and conditioning and helped the Bulldogs “develop into strong, athletic, fast football players” as they prepared for their first-ever College Football Playoff appearance.
But that’s OK with the Richmond County native because he understands that all of his hard work during the summer and winter months is one of the many reasons Georgia finds itself 48 minutes away from a chance at a National Championship.
“Being a part of the grind and pushing the players to go above and beyond what they think they can do is really special. Then to watch them go out on the field and have success is extremely gratifying … something that’s very rewarding,” he said. “I look forward to playing in the College Football Playoff.”
Sinclair was hired as the director of strength and conditioning at the University of Georgia on Jan. 6, 2016 after spending three years at Marshall University in the same position — working with both the football and track and field programs.
Prior to his stint at Marshall, he earned his stripes as the associate director of strength and conditioning at the University of Central Florida for nine years, was the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Georgia Tech (2001-03), and worked in the strength and conditioning department at Wake Forest University (1999-2001).
Sinclair received his bachelor’s degree in sports medcine from Guilford College in 1999, four years after he graduated from Richmond Senior High School — where he played both football and baseball.
“Growing up in Richmond County … we always worked hard. The teams and coaches always made sure you pushed yourself and were never satisfied with second best,” he said. “Also, my parents always taught me that a job worth doing is worth doing right. Instilling that mindset — that whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability — has carried me through life.
“So I’ve tried to carry that over to my job and our players at Georgia.”
In his two years on the job, Sinclair witnessed the Bulldogs improve from just three games above .500 a season ago (8-5, 4-4 SEC) to a 12-1 overall record and a conference championship this season. They dominated Auburn, who handed them their only loss of the season, four weeks ago in the SEC title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia also went a perfect 6-0 at home this season behind some of its better outings on both sides of the ball — scoring 223 points and only allowing 78 in those six games. Chubb (1175 yards, 13 TDs) and Michel (948 yards, 13 TDs) have carried the load for the offense’s attack for much of their careers and will look to continue that trend in the playoff.
“Having the ability to coach at Georgia with such a history and football tradition has been amazing. Saturday in Athens is like no other place,” Sinclair said. “The atmosphere around campus on game day is an incredible experience.”
Neither Monday’s matchup with Oklahoma nor the national championship game will be held at Sanford Stadium, but Sinclair can only imagine what it would be like if Georgia won both games.
The Bulldogs haven’t won a National Championship since 1980, which is the longest drought of the four teams in the College Football Playoff, but will have a chance at one — facing either No. 1 Clemson or No. 4 Alabama — if they get past Oklahoma.
“Bringing a National Championship back to Athens would be amazing. This community and school have been waiting on something like this for quite some time,” he said. “And more than that, I want it for the players. They are the ones that go out each day and put in the work to be the best.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.