Ware making the most of his carries

ATHENS – Danny Ware is used to flux. His entire football career has been about rolling with the punches.

At Rockmart High School, he played for four head coaches. As a college freshman, he entered Georgia as a fullback, started eight games as a true freshman at tailback and then watched as his name slipped further and further down the depth chart as a sophomore and junior.

His slide ended this fall, when he was filed away as the No. 9 Bulldogs' third-string tailback and all but forgotten amidst the preseason buzz over starter Thomas Brown.

"When I saw a (newspaper) article that said ‘Where's Ware?' it kind of got to me and frustrated me," he said. "I said, ‘Well if everybody is going to say I'm gone, I guess I have to show them I'm still here.'"

He's done that by leading Georgia (3-0) in rushing through the first three games of season. He has 23 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns while sharing time with Brown and Kregg Lumpkin. His 41-yard touchdown run against Western Kentucky is the Bulldogs' longest play from scrimmage this season.

"I like what he's done," Coach Mark Richt said. After being demoted "you always feel down and you feel sorry for yourself maybe a little bit in the beginning, and I think Danny went through some of that. But it looks like he decided, ‘I'm just going to bust my tail and make them play me more.' That's what you want out of a competitor."

Ware's 6.9 yards-per-carry average is 1.9 better than Lumpkin's and 3.5 better than Brown's and stacks up favorably with backs around the country.

"I think he's taken his game to another level to this point in the season," Richt said.

Of the top 10 rushers in the Southeastern Conference, only Arkansas' Felix Jones (7.2) is averaging more yards per carry. Only 11 running backs in the country with more than 20 carries are averaging more yards per rush.

"Going through some adversity like he did reveals one of two things," said Dan Duff, Ware's final coach at Rockmart. "Either you're going to work harder to get back to where you want to be or you're going to give up."

Ware's friends and neighbors in Northwest Georgia are happy to see the path he chose, Duff said.

"We weren't sure," Duff said. "I knew he had it in him. That's what we were hoping for. I wouldn't say we're surprised, but we're pleased with the way he did respond and proud of him for doing that."

Richt has made it clear he won't change the tailback rotation this week and isn't planning on it the rest of the season. That means the player who in 2004 became the first freshman running back to start a Georgia season-opener since 1943 will have to be content with third, at least for now.

"I strive to (start), but so far it hasn't come up this year," Ware said. "I'm still working hard to get to that level, but I ain't going to let it get me down. I'm going to keep going out there and busting my tail every day. (Starting) is an honor, but in this instance I guess it's overblown because we're all in there. We're all getting the ball basically the same amount of times. It's just really whoever's hot I guess."

For now, at least, that's the third-teamer.

Georgia's tailbacks

Player Carries Yards Avg. TDs

Danny Ware 23 159 6.9 2

Thomas Brown 36 121 3.4 1

Kregg Lumpkin 23 116 5.0 2

Making the most of it

Of the running backs with more than 20 carries this season, only 11 have a better yards-per-carry average than the Bulldogs' Danny Ware.

Player School Carries Average

Garrett Wolfe Northern Illinois 74 8.51

Steve Slaton West Virginia 62 8.11

Amir Pinnix Minnesota 27 7.89

Javon Ringer Michigan State 46 7.74

Ian Johnson Boise State 58 7.72

Louis Rankin Washington 36 7.67

Chris Markey UCLA 32 7.50

Felix Jones Arkansas 27 7.19

George Stripling Louisville 28 7.18

Mike Hamilton Oklahoma State 44 7.11

Tony Temple Missouri 51 7.00

Danny Ware Georgia 23 6.91

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