To the beat of his own drum

ATHENS – In a family of drummers, Seth Watts always has stood out.

Watts didn't turn his back on music, but of the five instruments he has mastered, none is in the percussion family.

"I'm kind of the odd ball out," he said.

The same could be said on Georgia's football team except the former Washington County star is no outsider. The sophomore guard saw his most extensive playing time in last week's game against Vanderbilt and may have another long day against Mississippi State on Saturday.

"He is a little different type of guy, but that's not a bad thing," offensive line coach Neil Callaway said. "There's nothing wrong with that. His interests are a little different than a lot of football players, but that's to his credit."

Watts plays the guitar, piano, saxophone, bass guitar and mandolin, and he's learning the harmonica.

"He's a pretty different kid," offensive tackle Ken Shackleford said. "He ain't like most of the rest of us. He's got different interests and things like that. He's a real cool guy, though."

Watts doesn't think his unique off-field pursuit separates him from his teammates, he said.

"I wouldn't say I have less in common with them, not at all," he said. "I try to be a well-rounded guy. I don't try to focus on one thing more than another. Football, of course, is my first love, but music is something I've always had."

Watts considers the Vanderbilt game his first start because he came in for an injured Chester Adams in the first quarter and played the rest of the game.

"I didn't play good, but I didn't necessarily play bad," he said. "I wasn't expecting to play that much, but I went in there and competed as best as I could."

Adams remains out this week, but Michael Turner has been moved to starting guard. Watts still will get plenty of action if any of the five top linemen get hurt during this week's game.

"I think last week proved that anything can happen on any given day," he said. "If anything happens, hopefully I'll be a little more ready than I was last week. All I can do is prepare."

Coach Mark Richt described Watts' performance this season as "hot and cold."

"But he's getting better," Richt said. "I think this experience is going to be invaluable to him for the rest of this season if we need him to become a starter and certainly for next year."

Watts gets himself ready for a football game the same way he does for a musical performance, he said. Both require a strict superstitious preparation, just not the same one.

"I wear two different color Converse All-Stars when I perform," he said. "I can't very well do that on the field."

His football rituals are much more regimented. Every Thursday before a football game, he eats two different Subway sandwiches in the same order. (At Washington County, it was three sandwiches. "I have to watch my girlish figure now," he said.) When he dresses for a game, his socks, shoes and gloves go on left first and then right, and he listens to the same music in the same order on game days.

"I have to do the same things all the time, talk to the same people," he said. "It's gotten to the point where I have to listen to the same music as I'm doing a certain thing, like when I get taped, I have to listen to a certain band. It's getting really crazy."

Watts' father and grandfather both made their livings as drummers in bands, and both his brother play the drums. He started his musical career before the age of 10 with piano lessons, but the guitar has become his strongest instrument, he said.

"I can't very well bring a piano up to the dorm room, so I try to play my guitar at least 10 minutes a day," he said.

Shackleford was unaware of Watts' musical talent, but most of his teammates know, Watts said.

"If we're hanging out, they'll ask me to play a tune, liven things up a bit," he said. He doesn't expect his musical career to go beyond the dorm room or garage band stage, but he hasn't given up the dream completely.

"Whenever my college days are over, and I settle down into a job, it'd be fun to have a band on the side to play with, but I don't see it going any further than that," he said. "Of course, if the opportunity to play music for a living I'd do it, just like if the opportunity to play football for a living came up, I'd do it."

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