Georgia's Starting Defensive End Is A Sandlapper

This Saturday when the Gamecocks meet the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, one of the better defensive ends in the conference so far will be on the the Dawgs' side of the ball. Not First-Team All-SEC performer David Pollack. The young man we are referring to is Georgia's other defensive end, Robert Geathers, the one from Georgetown, SC ...

Geathers' pedigree as a football player coming out of high school was well known hereabouts, especially to folks over in the Numinous Recruiting forum. Geathers' father, Robert Geathers Sr., played for the Buffalo Bills. And his uncle, Jumpy Geathers, played for the Saints, Redskins and Falcons. At that time, radio personality and college football recruiting guru Bill King, said that Geathers was "one of the best defensive ends on the eastern seaboard." So, how did Lou Holtz and his staff let a player with the talent of Geathers escape across the border to Georgia?

The truth, according to Robert, Jr. at least, is that the Gamecocks were not a candidate for his services. That makes some of us think that it would have been nice if Gamecock coaches would have had at least some shot at persuading Geathers to become a Gamecock. But according to one of Geathers' statements following Georgia's August 30, 2003 game against Clemson--a 30-0 victory for the Bulldogs--that was not the case. "I was deciding between Clemson and FSU, and it kind of came to me overnight. Something just told me to go to Georgia."

What told him to go to Georgia we're not sure. There are a lot of scenarios that have been passed around out here on the Internet - none of which haven been proved - yet. But one thing we Gamecock Insiders seem to know for sure is that Geathers was considering, and perhaps even leaning if not mostly committed to, the Gamecocks the night before signing day.

Geathers' father described the Gamecocks' efforts to keep one of the State's finest athletes home. Ironically, as Geathers, Sr., drove his son to the Georgia campus for a recruiting visit, one of the South Carolina coaches (Charlie Strong) called Geathers on his cell phone.

"They called to see how things were going," Robert Sr. later said chuckling. "We told them we were pulling into Georgia. The guy said, 'Why are you going there?'"

Gamecock fans have never once fretted over losing Geathers or his family to Georgia after knowing the rest of the story. Both Robert and Jumpy were bitter that they had not been signed by either of the instate schools during their heydays ... or so it has been said. The truth is that some things are just not good fits. Geathers was obviously a better fit at Georgia considering the demands and circumstances once signing day rolled around - or maybe that night before?

Anyway, sure enough, on February 9, 2001, Robert Geathers, Jr., signed a national letter of intent with the University of Georgia, and 'Junior' became a Jaw Ja Bulldawg. He capped Mark Richt's first recruiting class with an exclamation point and suddenly, almost miraculously, Robert, Jr. went from a three star DE prospect to a five star DE signee for the Dawgs overnight according to at least one recruiting service administered by the always flexible Bobby Burton.

Ohhhhh, the power of signing with the Dawgs it seems? And what's more Geathers passed George Gause on the All-Southeastern Team the next day as well. All because he signed with Georgia.

At any rate Junior has been at Georgia ever since, earning a starting job as a true freshman when the Dawgs were woefully shorthanded on the defensive line, then playing as a sophomore for a short while before injuring himself and being redshirted last year.

So, why am I writing a piece about Geathers Junior when Georgia's other defensive end Pollack, a Lou Groza candidate, receives much more attention? Geathers is a Sandlapper. Secondly, Geathers did well against the other school, up the road here in his home state, earlier this season - and he did well against USC in Williams-Brice last season.

Last year, Geathers started at Defensive End in Georgia's 13-7 win against the Gamecocks and he recorded three unassisted tackles in the game.

This year against Clemson, it was Geathers who faced up Charlie Whitehurst on a horribly called and desperate Clemson trick play - the "no call" that so many Clemson fans are still crying about which some believe would have changed the course of their game with Georgia.

"We knew they needed momentum and might try some kind of trickeroo," Geathers said after the game. "I saw the quarterback run out of the play so I ran with him."

The pass deflected off Geathers' outstretched arm and fell harmlessly away.

Geathers remarked after the game, "I saw his eyes and was trying to see his hands, so I just put my hands up."

Georgia Defensive Line Coach Rodney Garner later said, "That was not his responsibility. It was just a very heads-up play, great instinct, natural savvy, or whatever you want to call it."

Whitehurst, as well as numerous Clemson fans, claimed Geathers committed a penalty, pass interference.

"I thought he hit me," Whitehurst said. "I went for the ball and couldn't get my hands up."

But Geathers said, "I heard the boos, and Whitehurst was over there crying like a little baby ... I was just laughing."

Geathers went on to disagree with Whitehurst's contention he interfered.

"It was a good play by me," Geathers said with a chuckle. "That's all I'll say about it."

It seems that the Geathers people like to chuckle at their fellow Sandlappers. In truth we like to chuckle at Clemson's whining too. In fact we hope and believe that we will have something to chuckle about after this Saturday's game.

At any rate, after Georgia destroyed Clemson in the 2003 season opener for both teams, Geathers was not above a little trash talking about the state school he claims he almost selected. When asked if Georgia intimidated the Tigers ... ? "Yeah," said Geathers, smiling. "I think if we do that every game, we can't be stopped."

The problem for Geathers this weekend will be that every South Carolina state school is not so willing to give him something to laugh about. And SC's flagship university is coming to visit him in his newly adopted home this weekend.

Let's see who gets the last laugh.

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