Last season Damien Gary started 9 games. He was the 3rd leading receiver on the team as well as the 3rd leading receiver in terms of yardage. Gary's production was down slightly compared to his 2000 numbers but that was due in large part to injuries.
Gary will be a junior in 2002 and although Gary might be an afterthought in the eyes of many, he is one of the top threats in Georgia's passing game. His best game as a wide receiver came against Arkansas State. In that game Gary has 8 receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown. That was the only game all season that Gary had over 100 yards receiving.
Some do not fully appreciate Gary's impact on games because they do not consider his presence during special teams play. Gary did not return any kickoffs this season (unlike in 2000) but he did continue to be a star as a punt returner. Gary's touchdown return against Tennessee gave Georgia the momentum in the 1st half. The play went for 72 yards and was Georgia's first touchdown of the day and propelled the Dawgs to outscore the Vols 23-10 from the second quarter on.
What we learned:
Damien Gary is often forgotten about because of the big play presence of players like Terrence Edwards and Fred Gibson. But at the same time, Gary is willing to make the plays necessary to win. He is a versatile athlete. This was confirmed once more when Richt used Gary as a tailback on the last drive against Tennessee.
Although it is not clear if Gary will continue to be overshadowed this season, we have learned that he does not need the spotlight in order to succeed. He was the 2nd best punt returner in the SEC last season and as many know, special teams can win or lose game.
What we have not learned is if Gary could be used even more if Gibson or Edwards slump off in 2002. That is yet to be determined.
What was said:
"I can't tell you what I am thinking. All that I know is, I am trying to make the first person miss, and then try not to let him tackle me." – Damien Gary on himself (10/19/01 Red and Black)
"He's probably leading us is making people miss." – Georgia Wide Receivers Coach John Eason
"Gary has grown into one of the SEC's most versatile players in just his second year." – The Red and Black's Graham Garrison.
Dean Legge can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org