Richt expects growth from Gainous

CAIRO — Tommy Gainous always looked like a man among boys. In fact, he was so big, one young fan, standing on the sideline at a Cairo game, curled up against his father when Gainous departed the field after making one particularly vicious hit.

"Gosh," the youngster said. "He looks like he could eat me."

At 6-foot-6, weighing in the neighborhood of 260 pounds, Tommy Gainous has the height and the temperament to be a tremendous football player for the University of Georgia.

Now, it's a matter of finding out how he can pick on people his own size.

"Linemen take time to develop and he's got a lot more growing to do," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said this week. "Tommy is very athletic for a big man, and he's a tremendous fighter and athlete."

Gainous proved Richt right by taking pride in being the first guy down the field on Cairo punts, of which there were many this season. He'd snap the ball back, then race down and make the tackle. You usually could hear it up in the stands.

Gainous grew up as a Bulldogs' fan. So when he found out that the University of Georgia was interested in him — which happened at summer camp last year — he let them know he was interested in them, too.

"The first time they came to me with an application, I knew I was interested," Gainous said. "I knew I was going to get a chance to start."

With Georgia on the lookout for offensive linemen, Gainous certainly has a window of opportunity.

"We signed seven offensive linemen, and we had to," Richt said. "We had only eight on scholarship."

Though this season was a struggle for Cairo, Gainous, apparently appreciated all outgoing coach Warren Field did for him. Field, who has not been invited to participate in Cairo's season-ending football banquet, was present for Gainous' signing on Wednesday.

"He deserves this opportunity because he's such a loyal team player," Field said. "He worked hard from the beginning and was one of those I really enjoyed coaching.

"It's a great thing for Cairo. I know he'll do a great job at the University of Georgia."

Though his senior season wasn't what he'd hoped, Gainous has fond memories of Cairo's comeback in 2001. "I think the greatest accomplishment was in my junior year, and we started 0-3," Gainous said. "We finished 8-4 and went to the second round of the state playoffs." This story originally appeared in the Thomasville-Times Enterprise.

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