More Dawgs Need to be Like Charles

ATHENS – More players on Georgia's football team need to be like Orson Charles.

The Tampa native gets it… and you don't have to understand coach speak, or code words (the way players talk in order to not answer media questions that they'd love to answer) to understand why Georgia could use a few more players like Orson Charles.

In high school, Charles struggled to help bring income to his family. He worked at a fast-food chain after school – fitting in work around his school and practice schedule. It was a fight. Yeah, it sounds like a cliché… unless you are living it and going from school to practice to work every day.

Maybe Charles' life experience before Georgia got him more prepared for college life. Maybe Charles was just born with "it". Maybe he just wants it more than other guys. I think it's probably all three (and killer talent) that make Charles one of the top players on the team… and a sophomore inching closer to being the leader of what looks like a resurging Georgia program.

Two weeks ago, Charles and Aaron Murray couldn't wait to get out to the first spring practice. It was so important to the duo that they were actually losing sleep over it. I could understand how Murray, the night before the day where he would need to set the tone for perhaps the next four years of his life, would have a hard time sleeping. Charles, on the other hand, didn't have anything to worry about. But he did… football, and life really, is just important to Charles.

Charles worked out with the ROTC this year, too.
"I was nervous," Charles. "We were both nervous about seeing what the coaches were going to say and being out there on the field again."

That's code... here is the translation: "Look, we just won a state title in 2008, and going 8-5 is not the reason I came to Georgia. I am losing sleep over it."

Charles and Aron White form probably the top tight end tandem in the conference if not the nation. The Tampa native says that if guys are not fighting for as much time as possible at their spot they are failing as players, and he's right.

"The moment you feel like there is not competition where you are… that's where you fail as a player," he said.

But Charles sees the big picture, too. He knows just what got Georgia beat last year, and he's doing something about it.

"As of right now we are getting better at just not turning over the ball and basic stuff like that," he said. "We are watching our mistakes from last year and correcting them. That stuff starts at the beginning, like every time you have a flag or a penalty you have to do up-downs, and then after practice, too. Coach (Richt) has put emphasis on that."

"We need to stop doing that. That's killing us. We are tired of losing over the flags and penalties," he said.

I don't feel like I need to translate Orson Charles here.

"We are killing ourselves. If you look at every game – they did not physically beat us. We beat ourselves," he said with a matter-of-fact tone, and he's right.

I believe everything Orson Charles says, after all, in breaking Florida's national title trophy on a recruiting trip, he's the only Georgia player to have hurt the mighty Gators over the last two years. Score another one for Orson.

Charles finds matt drills "enjoyable". He got right with the ROTC program at Georgia this year, too. Dude is just wired differently, but that's not always a bad thing.

"That's how you develop mental toughness right now – mat drills and workouts," Charles said. "These long stretch of weeks – I know a couple of times my days just ran together… its Friday, and I thought it was Monday. Matt drills are hard, but ROTC is hard, too. Both of them are mentally tough. You have to talk to yourself, and tell yourself not to quit… that everyone is looking at you. That's really what it is – you have to motivate yourself, and talk to yourself."

In other words, Charles is offering this strange notion that I firmly believe in: personal responsibility. The idea that you control your own destiny… not someone else.

Charles is focused on leadership.
I saw Charles play the night Aaron Murray was carted off the field with a broken leg. He didn't pout when Murray was carted off the field… in fact, it seemed that his game picked up. There was no sulking, or wondering "what if" – Charles was trying like mad to just win the game that was in front of him at the time. In other words he was tough – mentally tough. He was a leader. He stepped up when the best Plant had to offer went down, and made sure his team didn't lose.

"There are a lot of people who can lead vocally. A lot of people have to lead by example – like A.J. He's just on the field, but a lot of people want to be like him. He's not a talker, but he leads by example. Everyone wants to do what he does, so everyone looks at A.J. and what he does," Charles said. "There are different ways to lead. I think I bring both aspects of leadership, so I try to lead this team."

Good… more guys in red and black need to be like you.

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