"He's Our Guy"

ATHENS -- The patience <b> D.J. Shockley</b> has shown over the last four years, the patience even his father questioned, is about to be rewarded.

The Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, when Georgia plays Wisconsin in Tampa, Fla., will be the last time D.J. Shockley watches the offense take the field to start the game. Quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said this week he expects youngsters Joe Tereshinski III and Blake Barnes to do their best to unseat Shockley as the Bulldogs' starter next year, but head coach Mark Richt has made it clear on several occasions that the only competition next spring and fall will be for the No. 2 spot.

"The moment our bowl game is over, (Shockley) is going to be our guy," Richt said, "and we're going to build the offense around him, and I think everybody is going to be real pleased."

In many ways, Shockley's earned the benefit of the doubt. When he signed with the Bulldogs in 2001 as a Parade Magazine All-American, Georgia's quarterback situation was in flux, and Shockley was hailed as the "Next Big Thing." However, over the next four seasons, the unheralded David Greene stubbornly refused to relinquish the starting job, going so far as to become the NCAA's all-time winningest quarterback just to prove his point.

Shockley considered transferring after the 2001 and 2002 seasons, but ultimately decided, "I enjoy being here. I enjoy the atmosphere here."

In the waning days of the 2002 season, he decided he would finish his career a Bulldog, for better or worse. It was a decision his father, North Clayton High School coach Don Shockley, clearly didn't agree with.

"I did have a certain feeling about that, but that's the decision he wanted and that's the decision he was going to be happy with, so that's the decision I resigned myself to," Don Shockley said. "Coming out (of high school) I felt my son was a tremendous talent. He could have been playing a lot of different places. As any father would, I wish he had played more, but I'm happy with what he's happy with. He's happy staying at Georgia."

Despite his disappointment with the way things worked out on the field, Don Shockley is satisfied with the way Richt has treated his son.

"Nobody made any promises," Don Shockley said. "I'm a football coach and nobody is going to tell me how to run my team, and I know Coach Richt feels the same way. All that was promised was our son would get a good education. That promise has been upheld."

D.J. Shockley will graduate this spring and be taking graduate courses by the time he takes the field for the 2005 opener, which comes Sept. 3 against national power Boise State in Sanford Stadium.

"I tell you what, my biggest thrill is that D.J. is graduating," Don Shockley said. "If the NFL comes, that's fine and he can make whatever choice he wants to. If it doesn't come, he's got a degree and he's got a very marketable name, and he can get out and be productive in the world."

Before that happens, though, there's a senior season Shockley can't believe is here.

"I'm like, 'I can't believe I've been here four or five years.' It's been interesting, though," he said. "You always think you're going to play right away and start when you come in, but, overall, it's been a pretty good time."

There were already questions about how Georgia would fare next season before the Georgia Tech game, in which Shockley played so poorly that Greene had to come off the bench with a broken thumb to seal the victory. Shockley was 5 of 16 passing for 112 yards and was booed by the home crowd in Sanford Stadium.

"After that second half, people were like, 'I don't know how good this Georgia team is going to be next year,'" Shockley said.

"I think he's a little disappointed after the Tech game, and hopefully that'll help him motivate himself going into the fall," Bobo said.

Richt eagerly jumped to Shockley's defense after the Georgia Tech game, just as he has done every time he's had the opportunity in the last four years. The vocal support hasn't gone unnoticed by Shockley.

"It's been one of the things that has kept my confidence up," he said.

Richt has made no secret of how much he appreciates the way Shockley has handled his situation. Not once in the last four years has a divise word come from his mouth or has there even been a public whiff of locker room discontent.

"I know he's excited, and I'm excited for him," Richt said. "We're just very hopeful that he has an awesome year. I would love to see him be successful. I think the only guy who might enjoy it more than me is David Greene. I think he'll be fired up for Shock, too."

The good soldier behavior has earned Shockley the respect of his teammates, which will be a tremendous help next year when he takes over the leadership of the team, Greene said.

"He's ready for it," Greene said. "I'm not worried about him at all."

Shockley played in nine games this season, completing 45.6 percent of his passes for 464 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. In 25 career games, he has 967 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions on 67 of 130 passing. Although his career completion percentage of 51.5 would rank in the lowest third of NCAA passers this year, Shockley's teammates have plenty of faith in his ability.

"I expect him to be just like what he's like in practice," senior receiver Reggie Brown said, "and that's phenomenal."

Richt will do everything in his power to help Shockley succeed, including spending a lot of his summer re-writing the playbook, or at least dusting off the one he used when Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward was running a fast break offense at Florida State.

"We're going to see where (Shockley) is most comfortable, whether it's in the shotgun or under center," Richt said.

There will be designed runs for Shockley in every game plan, Richt said.

"If it was Shockley as the starter, we would always have the boot and waggle in the game plan," he said, referring to plays where a quarterback fakes a handoff to one side of the field and runs to the other. "I just didn't think it was something that was a strength of David (Greene)."

There also will be a plan for Shockley to run on passing plays. On some plays, Richt said, if Shockley's first three options aren't open, he'll take off. He might look just at a primary receiver and then scramble on some plays, Richt said. Or he might automatically run against certain coverages where no defender has the responsibility for the quarterback.

When Ward ran Richt's offense at Florida State, defenses had to stop playing certain coverages because they knew Ward would recognize them and run for 20 yards, Richt said.

There will be other differences, as well, chiefly that Georgia will now be Shockley's team. He will no longer be playing a series or two or three a game in relief of Greene. The responsibility for the offense's success or failure will rest with him.

For the last three seasons, Shockley's mind-set has been: "You know you are going to get some snaps, but David is the man. He's who the team is going to fall back on when things get rough."

That safety net will be gone effective January 2.

"I'm looking forward to it," Shockley said. "My whole life pretty much I've been the person people look to on and off the field. I'm looking forward to having people rely on me again."

D.J. Shockley
Junior quarterback
6-foot-1, 195 pounds
High school: North Clayton
College statistics: Has played in 25 games, starting none ... Has completed 51.5 percent of his career passes ... Completed longest pass of a career, a 53-yard gain, in Nov. 27 Georgia Tech game.
Notable: Shockley doesn't think only having one year as a starter will hurt any chances he might have to play professional football. "The NFL see talent regardless of if you have one year or you have three years," he said.
Quotable: "I can see it coming. I can see it being my starting position." -- D.J. Shockley

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