Dawgs on Scooters

ATHENS – Nobody over 300 pounds should be on a scooter.

That's Georgia offensive lineman Fernando Velasco's theory.

"I'll just stick to driving my truck around and I'll be fine," the 318-pound Velasco said.

Velasco, certainly, would be troubled to learn that it was a 300-pounder who started the scooter craze that has enveloped Georgia's football team. Guard Kevin Breedlove, who lettered from 1999 to 2002, was the first Bulldog to use the motorized bike to get around campus.

"He was 340 pounds maybe," Coach Mark Richt said. "He didn't have a pretty body. It was like this big ol' giant round thing with his face sticking out a helmet and everybody used to make fun of him. Now, all of sudden people realize that's not a bad way to go and then all of a sudden everybody got one."

Now, there are more than 30 scooters outside Georgia's practice facility anytime the team is there.

"It's amazing how many of them ride scooters," Velasco said.

The scooters line both sides of the corridor leading to the player entrance outside the Butts-Mehre Building. Most of the bikes have 49 cc engines, which don't require a motorcycle license to drive, and top out at 35 mph.

"With those big ol' boys on them, who knows" how fast they go? said Barry Brugh, the sales manager at Cycle World in Bogart, just outside Athens.

Scooter sales have gone up throughout the UGA student population in response to rising gas prices and increased parking problems on campus. There are so many scooters on campus that the school's parking service now requires they be registered with parking passes.

"It's the new trend," senior running back Kregg Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin saw his teammates buzzing around on scooters when he arrived as a freshman and immediately thought it was a great idea, he said.

"Some time the bus gets too crowded, and you'd be late for class," he said. "I tried a bicycle and going up the North Campus hills on a hot day, that was kind of hard, so I got a scooter."

He now has more than 3,000 miles on his. Linebacker Brandon Miller's ride failed him after 2,000 miles, but he's eager to get it fixed, he said.

"It was very convenient," he said. "You don't have to use all that gas; you just park right beside the door. I'm going to fix it."

The Bulldogs and their scooters made news this summer when a pair of freshmen were arrested in separate incidents for driving violations while on their scooters. True freshman Caleb King was arrested for going the wrong way on a one-way street and driving on a suspended license. Redshirt freshman Na Derris Ward was arrested after making an illegal pass, a move "most everybody in America would probably," Richt said.

The incidents inspired Richt to hold what he called a "Scooter 101" session before fall camp began to go over the rules of the road, such as the fact that a driver's license is required to drive a scooter.

"You've still got to be responsible," Miller said.

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