Freshman WR A.J. Green
After Georgia’s first practice ended yesterday, coveted freshman wide receiver A.J. Green came into the team meeting room and was immediately swarmed by the assembled media there. If there was any doubt as to whom was the most anticipated new player on the Bulldogs’ roster this year, it was removed at that moment as I watched Green sit down and disappear into the middle of a huddle of a dozen or so reporters.
I stood just outside the circle so I could listen and pipe in if needed (reporter Jenna Marina, who is helping us out on Georgia in August and writing a story on Green today, was right in the middle of it). As I observed the scene, it got me thinking, “funny how things work out.”
I thought back to February of 2005. Coach Mark Richt was experiencing one of the more challenging periods of his career at that time (anything is second to this current one). Defensive ends coach and special teams guru Jon Fabris decided to leave Georgia for Oklahoma about the same time that defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder left for the NFL and running backs coach Ken Rucker left for Texas. Not long before then Richt had talked D-line coach and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner out of leaving Georgia for a coordinator’s position at LSU.
Anyway, Fabris had left and was gone for a short while before having a change of heart and asking Richt if he’d take him back. Of course, Richt did.
Good thing for Fabris and for Georgia that Richt had not already hired a replacement. So Fabris comes back and a year and a half later, he goes to Summerville, S.C., and convinces A.J. Green to commit to the Bulldogs in October of 2006. And, perhaps more remarkably, despite some of the most intense recruiting efforts ever by Georgia rivals, Fabris managed get Green to stay true to that commitment (for the record, Fabris gives Green all the credit for this).
I recount all of this because — and I’m trying not to overhype this situation — I think Green may turn out to be one of Georgia’s most significant signees in a while. I know, I know, it’s been only one practice and Green “tweaked” a groin injury in that one. But folks, sometimes it’s just very evident when a player is the real deal. Not only does Green look the part of a dominant wide receiver (6-4, 200 pounds), he illustrates it every time he runs a route and hauls into his big strong hands a torpedoed pass like it was a little Nerf ball. And he appeared a lot faster than I had originally expected. Any time fellow players, upperclassmen no less, come in from practice buzzing about the “new kid” like they did Green yesterday, you know you may have something special on your hands.
And Green talks the talk. Though he’s not a braggart by any stretch, Green is clearly confident and not at all overwhelmed by mass of attention and expectations. That can be as important as what one can do on the field.
Of course, as Fabris did in 2005, Garner stayed on and Tony Ball came in as running backs coach and the next year the two of them helped convince a running back out of New Jersey named Knowshon to come South to play football.
Funny how things work out… .