The Black Hole

ATHENS -- It should be between 67 and 72 degrees in Orlando, Fla., when Georgia arrives there Dec. 26 to begin preparing for the Capital One Bowl. That should be just about perfect for Max Jean-Gilles. The No. 11 Bulldogs' sophomore offensive tackle weighs 345 pounds and bench presses 490 but is very finicky when it comes to the weather.

"He likes a certain temperature," Coach Mark Richt said. "I don't know where his spot is, somewhere between 79 and 49, maybe 59."

Max Jean-Gilles says 79 is actually a little too hot, but as long as he keeps playing like he did this season, the Bulldogs will allow him to be picky.

"If everybody played like Max, we'd have been in pretty good shape," Richt said. "He's got to be a preseason All-SEC (next year) as far as I'm concerned."

Jean-Gilles will start his 14th straight game at tight tackle when Georgia (10-3) faces No. 12 Purdue (9-3) on Jan. 1. He is the only Bulldog lineman to make the team's Victors Club in more than half the games this season, and he made it in 11 of 13.

"I think he's by far been the most consistent lineman we've had," offensive line coach Neil Callaway said.

Jean-Gilles doesn't hesitate when asked if he has dominated opponents this year.

"Yeah, pretty much," he said. "That's the way I played in high school, and I carried it into college.

Jean-Gilles, who was born in Miami to Haitian immigrants, was considered the No. 1 offensive line prospect in the country by some recruiting analysts when he came out of North Miami High School two years ago. In a shocking move, he spurned his hometown Hurricanes ("They ate lunch with me just about every day at my school," he said) in favor of the Bulldogs because he wanted to get far away from the turbulent part of town where he was raised.

"I had good parents and good friends," he said. "I kept myself out of trouble and here I am now."

Georgia is thankful for that. Jean-Gilles immediately impressed his teammates last year with his impressive upper body strength. He has refined his technique this year, but it is still brute strength that sets him apart.

"He gorilla-dunks people," said All-American defensive end David Pollack. "Max has got the death grip. He puts those hands on you, and it's over. You have to hit him in the throat or in the face to get them off."

Jean-Gilles said, "They call me the Black Hole. If I get my hands on you, it's going to be a lot of overpowering."

The Black Hole's dirty little secret is he's a bit delicate when it comes to temperature. It's rare, Richt said, that Jean-Gilles is not complaining that it's either too hot or too cold. Despite his near-constant griping, he's is a coaches' favorite.

"He's one of the most fun guys to be around," Richt said. "Every day he shows up and loves it."

Jean-Gilles' heat tolerance has caused him serious problems. Last year, he showed up weighing 375 pounds and barely survived the heat and humidity. He reported in good shape this year but still had problems making it through practices early in the season.

"I guess that's just something he'll have to deal with the rest of his career," Callaway said.

He shouldn't have to deal with it on in the rest of this season. The Bulldogs and Boilermakers can expect mild temperatures and sunny skies when they kick off in the Capital One Bowl.

It should be a perfect day for football. Of course, it might be too perfect.

"I love the rain," Jean-Gilles said. "I love getting dirty."

Max Jean-Gilles
Offensive tackle
6-4/ 345 pounds
Major: Arts and sciences
High School: North Miami
High School honors: A Superprep All-American ... all-state last two seasons ... two-time team MVP ... three-time team captain.
College honors: All-SEC second team this season
FYI: Leads the Bulldogs with 60 "dominator" blocks

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