ATHENS, Ga. — D.J. Shockley had to wait a little longer than planned for his much-anticipated debut at quarterback for Georgia Saturday night against Clemson, but he made the most of the opportunity when it arrived. Shockley, the redshirt freshman who has been promised a share of playing time behind starter David Greene, came on the field for the first time with 11:13 left to play in the first half. Shockley was preparing to run the offense from the Georgia 25, following a Clemson kickoff.
But as Shockley stood on the field with the offense, officials ruled that Clemson was offsides on the kickoff. Shockley and the offense retreated to the sideline and then watched as Fred Gibson returned the second kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.
Minutes later, Shockley was given excellent field position — the Clemson 15 — thanks to a shanked punt by Clemson's Wynn Kopp. After handing off to Musa Smith for no gain, Shockley picked up the 15 yards with runs of six and nine yards for his first touchdown with 8:10 left in the half. Greene returned for Georgia's next possession and played the rest of the half.
Shockley and Greene were not told by Coach Mark Richt how the quarterback rotation would work until Friday night.
In anticipation of that meeting with Richt to confirm plans for his playing time, Shockley said "My heart will be pumping 100 mph. It's just eager anticipation.''
For starters: As expected, nose tackle Kedric Golston was the only true freshman to start, but it didn't take long for other first-year players to make it onto the field.
Other Georgia first-year players to play in the first half were defensive tackle Darrius Swain, linebacker Tony Taylor, cornerbacks Tim Jennings and DeMario Minter and offensive linemen Max Jean-Gilles and Josh Brock.
Butler a hit at First Friday: A crowd of approximately 5,500 cheered the Georgia team at the first annual First Friday pep rally Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum. Richt hopes to make First Friday a tradition on the Friday before each season opener.
Georgia mascot Uga VI, the Georgia pep band, and the Georgia cheerleaders attended the pep rally. Highlights of past Georgia-Clemson games were shown on the video screen, and as a surprise two-time All-American Kevin Butler came out and spoke after fans cheered the replay of his school-record, 60-yard field goal that gave the Bulldogs a 26-23 win over the Tigers in 1984.
"We're going to try to kick one 100,000 miles,'' Larry Munson told the Georgia radio network before Butler's kick with 11 seconds left in the 1984 game.
Butler was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame last year. He played in the NFL from 1985-97 and finished as the sixth-leading scorer among kickers in NFL history.
Captains named: When speaking to the students and alumni at First Friday, Richt announced his game captains for Saturday: linebackers Boss Bailey and Tony Gilbert, offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb and punter Jonathan Kilgo. Richt and his staff select game captains each week, and players vote on permanent team captains at the end of the season.
As a surprise, Gilbert wore No. 99 to honor David Jacobs, who suffered a career-ending stroke last season. Jacobs has made a dramatic recovery and was on the sideline with the team.
Gilbert wore his usual no. 42 during pregame warmups but then switched to No. 99 for the pregame coin toss and the game.
First of seven: Thanks to the 12-game schedules in the NCAA this season, Georgia will play seven home games. The last time Georgia played seven home games was the 1980 national championship season.
Worth noting: The Georgia sideline was stacked with recruits, many accompanied by family members, during pregame warmups. ... The first three players to come onto the field after the Dawg Walk were receiver Terrence Edwards, quarterback David Greene and Gibson. Richt led the team through the Dawg Walk for the first time since last year's season opener.
30-year anniversary for first African-American players: The first African-American players to letter at Georgia were honored in a pregame ceremony.
This is the 30th anniversary of the 1972 season that the players were first eligible to compete. They were admitted in 1971, when freshmen were ineligible to play.
The players on the field for the pregame ceremony with former Georgia coach Vince Dooley: Albany native Larry West, who lettered as a defensive back from 1972-74 and now lives in Laurel, Md.; Rome native Chuck Kinnebrew, who played on the defensive line for three years and now lives in Boothwyn, Pa.; linebacker Clarence Pope, who still lives in Athens; tight end Richard Appleby, who lives in Hawaii; and running back Horace King, an Athens native who lives in Rochester Hills, Mich. The four former players participated in the pregame coin toss as honorary captains.
King played with the NFL's Detroit Lions from 1975-83.
Appleby was responsible for one of the legendary plays in school history, an 80-yard, end-around touchdown pass to Gene Washington as Georgia rallied to beat Florida 10-7 in 1975.
Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com
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