Long-snapper getting a kick of playing for Georgia

Athens — Backup snapper is probably not on top of Georgia’s list of concerns heading into the 2008 football season. But don’t tell that to Ty Frix, who might be the most grateful backup snapper in America.

Frix, a freshman from Calhoun, counts participating in preseason camp, where he competes in all the practices and conditioning drills every day in the 100-degree heat, as a blessing.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be here today,” Frix said. “… It’s one of the greatest opportunities of my lifetime.”

Today is the operative word there. From the time he was 12 years old, Frix believed it was his destiny to be the snapper at Georgia. His father, Mitch, attended UGA from 1979-82 and was the Bulldogs’ snapper in 1981-82, serving the ball back to Kevin Butler during a record-setting run.

That’s a legacy father passed down to son, and one that the junior Frix took to heart.

“When I was in sixth grade, I switched schools,” Frix said. “My dad took me out in the yard and he said, ‘Son, I’m going to show you how to snap and maybe someday it’ll get you some playing time.’ That’s one of my most vivid memories from childhood and that’s why I’m here today.”

Actually Frix didn’t think he was going to be in camp this summer.

An excellent student — he graduated from Calhoun early with a 4.0 grade-point average — he came to Georgia in winter semester as an invited walk-on.

Though he played offense and defense for Calhoun coach Hal Lamb — he’s alleged to be a pretty decent high school linebacker — Frix took the gift of deep snapping from his father and honed his skills in kicking camps most summers through graduation.

By the time he was a senior, most Southeast schools knew of Frix’s special abilities, including Georgia. When the Bulldogs came forward with a walk-on offer, Frix didn’t delay.

“I had a few other preferred walk-on offers,” Frix said. “But I wanted to be here my whole life. If football didn’t work out this was the college I wanted to be at anyway.”

It almost didn’t work out. Despite enrolling in school in January and going through spring practice and voluntary summer workouts, Frix was not among the 105 players invited to preseason camp.

Frix packed up his dorm room after summer semester ended on July 31 and headed back home to Calhoun the next day.

He was visiting his grandfather, who had just had his gall bladder removed, Saturday night when UGA administrative assistant Joe Tereshinski gave him a call. Tereshiniski oversees the Bulldogs’ walk-on program.

“He told me I needed to get back to Athens as soon as possible,” said Frix, who re-packed that night and was back on campus Sunday morning.

As it turned out, snapper Jeff Henson had been arrested Saturday morning. He was indefinitely suspended from the team later that night. The Bulldogs already had Bo Fowler, who snapped in the Sugar Bowl. But they needed to have at least two ready for the first game.

So here is Frix, wearing a No. 54 Georgia jersey, an injury away from being the starting snapper for the nation’s No. 1-ranked team.

“I still can’t believe it,” he says with delight.

Meanwhile, Georgia coach Mark Richt and his staff are still sizing Frix up.

“Ty Frix snaps it extremely well. He’s just not very big yet,” Richt said of the 6-foot, 205-pound Frix. “He may still be able to hold up in there, I don’t know. But he can snap it extremely well. So that was a good thing to get him in camp.”

Frix said he expects to play behind Fowler this season and hopefully take over next year. That’s if Henson, a junior whose future with the team remains in doubt, doesn’t come back.

“Jeff Henson is one of the most upstanding, nicest guys you’ll ever meet.” Frix said. “But every tragedy’s an opportunity. I feel very really bad for Jeff but this is an opportunity for me and it’s been a great experience.”

For now at least, Frix knows he now has a roster spot. Chalk one up for destiny.

– Courtesy of AJC.com

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