Cuff so glad he got his shot in 2007

ATHENS – The 2007 season almost didn't happen for Vance Cuff.

Vance Cuff Profile

After graduating from high school, two of the courses Cuff took at Colquitt County were not allowed by the NCAA. It looked like Cuff was headed for prep school, or even worse, junior college. Finally, the NCAA pulled back and cleared Cuff to play college football. He glad to go to Georgia – as it turned out he arrive on campus just in time to make an impact.

"The whole thing with the NCAA was tough," Cuff admitted. "But I put that behind me, and I'm just happy that I'm here now. I think I would be resentful if it had not been around for it because we made history. I was a part of something special. "

Cuff didn't talk with the media during the NCAA debacle, but he did keep up his training.

"I may have missed all of last summer, but I ran the way I ran with my high school – I just did that again last summer," he said. "I just tried to stay in shape. I was in shape when I got here, and looking back that's surprising."

Being in shape allowed him to take part in one of the most interesting seasons ever in Athens. From the win at Alabama to the party in New Orleans, Cuff said he was glad 2007 was a season he played in.

"Last year was great because I was able to come out early and help the team with special teams. It felt good just to get onto the field," he said. "After I played in the Oklahoma State game I knew I was not going to get redshirted. I came back to practice thinking how badly I needed to get onto special teams. I started practicing harder. Coach Martinez kept telling me that special teams was my ticket on the bus."

And on the bus he went. His first road trip ever came at Tuscaloosa, and he didn't quite know how to react to it.

"Playing at Alabama was way different than playing at Valdosta – way different," he said. "I was just watching because I didn't know what to do. I had never traveled before. I was great to have that. I think it helped me out. I was trying to get in the Dawg Pile after the game, but I missed it because I jumped over it."

While the overtime win wasn't the most exciting game of the season, the game against Auburn was. Cuff said he was proud to have been on the field for that historic game.

"I was just happy to be a part of that. That was history," he said. "The team was wild, and then coach got everyone together and he said: ‘You know these black jerseys are not going to help us win.' But I think everyone knew that."

"You could just feel it in the crowd. I could hear all these voices in my head. It was so loud like a game-winning touchdown when the crowd saw that. It felt so good. I could have easily pulled a 43-inch vertical. I've never seen anything like that before. We were ready, but that gave us momentum early on," he recalled.

Although the Auburn game was not the last one of the season, it was the highlight of the year for Cuff. While the Moultrie native may have gotten onto the field his first fall in Athens, that didn't mean he knew it all – there was still a learning curve for him.

"I'm no longer the fastest person on the field. In college you have to have technique along with your speed," he admitted. "Also, you have to be physical now. Adjusting to the speed and then being physical at the same time – that's been hard."

Friday nights in ultra-competitive 1-AAAAA… gone. They are replaced by college stadiums packed with tens of thousands of fans.

"I miss Friday nights… until Saturday comes. Then I forget about the 10,000 at home," he said.

One player on the team was vital for Cuff to get used to college football and Athens itself.

"I don't know what I would have done without Ramarcus Brown," said Cuff. "I have called on him to help me get around (Cuff had a difficult experience on the UGA Bus System his first days in Athens) and learn stuff. I sit right by him in the film room."

With a new season right around the corner, Cuff said he's so glad he made the choice to come to Georgia.

"The freshmen have a character class, and we knew that last season was not a normal season. That's why I am so happy I made the decision to come here. I have never looked back. When I see certain things I am really glad I made that decision," he said.

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