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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Georgia team is going to be next year,'" Shockley said.
"I think he's a little disappointed after the Tech game, and
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
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
"I know he's excited, and I'm excited for him," Richt said.
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,"
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
in the shotgun or under center," Richt said.
There will be designed runs for Shockley in every game plan, Richt
"If it was Shockley as the starter, we would always have the boot
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
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
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
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
I've been the person people look to on and off the field. I'm looking
forward to having people rely on me again."
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,"
Quotable: "I can see it coming. I can see it being my starting
position." -- D.J. Shockley
"He's Our Guy"
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