Georgia’s A.J. Green: Too bad he only plays one sport

A.J. snag the gamer at UK. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

A.J. snags the gamer at UK. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

I am, as we know, a little odd. My first question to Tony Gonzalez involved not the sport he has been hired by the Falcons to play but the one he played as a lark in college. “So how many points,” I asked last week, “did you have against Villanova in the NCAA tournament?”

A bit of background: Villanova was the No. 4 seed in the East Regional in 1997, and Cal — Gonzalez’s team — played the Wildcats in the second half of a Round 2 doubleheader on a Saturday in Winston-Salem. This game was widely ignored nationally and locally because Dean Smith had broken Adolph Rupp’s record for career victories in the first game, and North Carolina basketball tends to be a big deal everywhere but especially in Winston-Salem, N.C.

But does Gonzalez recall the game? Oh, yes. “Twenty-three,” he said, in answer to my question. “Tim Thomas [who's still in the NBA] had eight. We were guarding each other.”

Which brings me, albeit in a roundabout manner, to A.J. Green. It was in Tempe, Ariz., last September that he rose and snatched — that’s the only proper description — a Matthew Stafford pass from the desert sky, and I sat upstairs and said to myself, “That wasn’t a catch. That was a rebound.” So last week at Media Day I asked him: What kind of basketball player were you? Pretty good?”

“I was OK,” he said, and he smiled.

Where’d you play? Small forward? “Everywhere. Forward. Point guard. Everywhere.”

What’d you average? “About 25,” he said.

Did you ever think of playing both sports in college? “Sometimes. But football is my first love.”

And I say that’s a shame. Not that he’s playing the wrong sport — I like football, too — but I figure he’s so gifted he could walk onto Georgia’s basketball team in mid-January and be starting, Gonzalez-like, by February.

Indeed, here’s the Charleston Post and Courier’s recap of Green’s performance for Summerville (S.C.) High in the 2008 Class AAAA state title game against Spartanburg, and you’ll gather from Philip M. Bowman’s account that Mr. Green did more than OK that night. He scored 25 of his team’s 50 points, took nine rebounds and blocked three shots. (Heck of a game, too: A 60-footer that would have won the game for Spartanburg was waved off by the refs.)

But enough basketball. Green’s favorite catch as a Georgia freshman wasn’t the one in Tempe but the one in Lexington, Ky. “The game-winner,” he said, smiling again. As for 2009:

Does he worry the offense will become more run-oriented with a new quarterback? No, Green said. “The offensive coordinator [Mike Bobo] has confidence in Joe [Cox] and his ability to step up and lead the team.”

With Stafford and Knowshon Moreno gone, does the sophomore feel like the old man of the offense? “I guess it’s me and Mike [Moore, a fellow receiver]. But we’ve still got some things to learn.”

What does the addition of Orson Charles, an ebullient freshman tight end, mean for the offense? “Orson’s a great tight end. He’s going to do great things. He reminds me [disposition-wise] of Knowshon.”

And what Georgia receiver, you’re asking, does Green most resemble? Well, I haven’t seen them all, but I did see Gene Washington and Lindsay Scott and Andre Hastings and Brice Hunter and Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown, and each was very good. But Green has the potential to better than all of them. He is, not to put any pressure on him, a talent on the order of Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson. He’s an All-American.

68 comments Add your comment

Panties in a wad

August 10th, 2009
2:46 pm

9-3, second in the East

Saint Simons

August 10th, 2009
2:50 pm

I just want everyone to know that I’m gay and proud of it!

JB

August 10th, 2009
2:52 pm

We beat Tech by 2 TD’s this year…..Only because Richt calls off the Dawgs.

lakerat

August 10th, 2009
3:01 pm

Give it a rest with the constant questions to every single player about the former QB and running back going to the NFL!

Sheesh, all of you need to just leave that part of the history alone, and, as Lou Holtz said way back yonder when he had to kick his 2 best players off the team before the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma in 1978, and he was continually asked about it, “we only talk about the players who are here”!

Will

August 10th, 2009
3:01 pm

I think AJ will have 1500 yards this season…even with the double-teams he will see all season. Moore and Troup will really step up there game as well and take some pressure off of AJ on the other side. Brown looks tough in practice and will create a big mismatch for smaller corners.

When we play a team with a poor secondary like Okie State or South Carolina, AJ will probably have 200 yards a piece. He will be virtually unstoppable.

stoopid

August 10th, 2009
3:03 pm

purchased my #8 jersey this weekend and will be standing in line Aug 22nd to get that bad boy signed! is it game time yet????

JSS

August 10th, 2009
3:05 pm

13-0 and SEC champions.

Spike

August 10th, 2009
3:11 pm

Get him the damn ball!! He is the BOMB!!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 10th, 2009
3:29 pm

His playoff performance on a whole that season was incredible. Not only is this story great, but the relationship he shared w/ the JV Basetball coach who was tragically killed in the Sofa Super Store fire is also very good. That is the piece that Outside the Lines did on ESPN. I followed AJ since he was a Freshman in High School and have never witnessed a better athlete in person. Not even Carlos Dunlap who played at the rival Fort Dorchester.

Saint Simons

August 10th, 2009
3:33 pm

just a reminder 45 -42 !!!!!!!! hahahaahahahahahahahahahaha

PMC

August 10th, 2009
3:35 pm

Mark, Georgia has a DB that used to play Basketball and QB at Fayetteville High School (Brandon Boykin) and he’s got plenty of game.

Coach Fox has to be knocking on his door and asking him if he will come workout with the Basketball team in January.

Mark Bradley

August 10th, 2009
3:35 pm

I didn’t mention the story about the Summerville dying in the fire, but that seems a powerful tale in itself.

Corine Browns (d)

August 10th, 2009
3:43 pm

who dat gonna beat dem dare gator..who dat?

Class of '98

August 10th, 2009
3:45 pm

AJ nursed a bum ankle all last season as well, if I recall correctly. I can’t wait to see him full speed. He is also, by far, the best freshman WR I have ever seen at UGA. The only other who comes close is Terrance Edwards. But not THAT close.

Paddy

August 10th, 2009
3:47 pm

/AJ is better than Carlos Dunlap, WOW. Who would have thought?

Nick

August 10th, 2009
3:51 pm

That’s comparing apples to oranges. One is a DE the other is a WR. I bet Dunlap goes higher in the draft.

Nick

August 10th, 2009
3:52 pm

9-3 is a fair prediction. Anyone who thinks they’ll beat UF hasn’t been paying attention or just needs to sober up.

jeffrey d

August 10th, 2009
3:54 pm

but I figure he’s so gifted he could walk onto Georgia’s basketball team in mid-January and be starting, Gonzalez-like, by February

True, but I could probably walk onto Georgia’s basketball team and be starting by February. (I’m 5′11″, white, and horrible at bastkebtall).

JT

August 10th, 2009
3:54 pm

Anyone who thinks UGA will beat UF this year has not been paying attention or needs to sober up.

9-3 is a fair prediction.

jeffrey d

August 10th, 2009
3:54 pm

Fred Gibson played basketball too, didn’t he? But if I recall, he wasn’t anything too spectacular.

jeffrey d

August 10th, 2009
4:00 pm

Anyone who thinks UGA will beat UF this year has not been paying attention or needs to sober up.

We beat Florida last year. And we were horrible last year.

Rob

August 10th, 2009
4:13 pm

jeffery d

We beat them in Basketball earlier this year, but I don’t know if you remember the score was 49-10 in football. In case you forgot, I’m sure Urban can call a timeout to remind you.

chitown

August 10th, 2009
4:18 pm

A.J. Has a long way to go to get to Calvin Johnson status. Calvin put up his numbers with an awful quarterback who could never hit his targets or remember what down it was. Imagine what Calvin could have done as a freshman with a quality quarterback like Stafford throwing to him? My guess is a lot better than A.J Green last year.

jeffrey d

August 10th, 2009
4:24 pm

oh sorry…thought we were talking about basketball. Carry on.

jasonfm

August 10th, 2009
4:31 pm

Saint Simons, if those 3 points can get you through another 7 years, I’m proud of you. The world has not seen such (sorry for this reference:) dogged determination since Brittan in WWII. Can you keep it to yourself for a bit, though?

Saint Simons

August 10th, 2009
4:34 pm

Just a reminder, I’m gay because no girl would go out with me:(

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 10th, 2009
4:35 pm

Carlos Dunlap while a phenomenal athlete in High School (At 6′6 240 he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown- I saw this in person) had a terrible attitude. He displayed this several times throughout his tenure at Fort D. Dunlap might not have even been the best defensive player on his team. Robert Quinn was a gifted defensive end and a state wrestling champ who had offers from essentially every D-1 school, but suffered a brain tumor that cost him basically his senior year in High School.

Dunlap may go higher in the Draft, but on a high school level AJ Green commanded TRIPLE COVERAGE his Senior year. Despite that he was still able to go over 1000 yards receiving.

reservoirDAWG

August 10th, 2009
4:50 pm

Is it 09/05 yet?

Its a gator world

August 10th, 2009
4:55 pm

Lowcountry bulldawg,

AJ commanded triple coverage? What exactly are you smoking? That’s got to be the dumbest statement I’ve seen all year. The kid is not superman and he’s not even the best wr in the sec. Julio Jones is vastly superior to this kid and he proved it against you guys head to head. Give it a rest. TRIPLE COVERAGE MY ARSE!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 10th, 2009
4:59 pm

Research it yourself. A corner back, the had a Linebacker in the zone and rolled a safety to his side. That is triple coverage. That is a fact not an opinion. Go research Bowmans article with the Post and Courier. Again, feel free to show your lack of intelligence with name calling if it makes you feel better.

Mark Bradley

August 10th, 2009
5:01 pm

Julio Jones is terrific. But Green is, too. We’ll be debating those two for at least two more seasons.

Cuz in Minnesota

August 10th, 2009
5:26 pm

AJ is no Calvin Johnson. Calvin was smothered by the Dawgs D his last game. I don’t see that happening to AJ. Well unless he is smothered by the Dawgs D, but that is for an alternate Universe.

Paul H

August 10th, 2009
5:27 pm

UGA most likely won’t beat Florida, but will at some point during AJ Green’s career here. UGA will beat Tech because it’s not 2016 yet, which is when Tech is schedule to beat UGA again.

Mark Bradley

August 10th, 2009
5:28 pm

I laughed at that one, Cuz.

LSU Fan

August 10th, 2009
5:28 pm

38-3!!!! hahahahahaha

Cuz in Minnesota

August 10th, 2009
5:30 pm

Calvin Johnson could probably beat AJ in World of Warcraft. He did go to Tech don’t ya know. Oh my God I am starting to talk like these people.

Mark Bradley

August 10th, 2009
5:31 pm

You know, I’m not a gamer, but I did download the Stickwars free app to my iPhone. It’s an extremely complicated game that involves tossing stick men in the air and smashing them against the ground. Needless to say, I’m hooked on this. As is Elizabeth Bradley, age 12.

LizDawg

August 10th, 2009
5:45 pm

AJ is already showing much more potential than Calvin “2-Catch” Johnson. The Dawgs smothered him on defense. Paul Oliver, Minter & co. locked 2-Catch down every time.

Its a gator world

August 10th, 2009
5:47 pm

Lowcountrydawg,

You prove my point exactly when you stated the linebacker was in the zone. Exactly. In zone coverage a linebacker covers a “zone” not a person. A safety naturally rolls over on either side to help out the corner if the wr gets a step past the corner. You make it sound like AJ automatically has 3 guys assigned just to cover him which is absurd. No defense can afford to put 3 guys on one single guy and then be exposed against every other skill player. How ridiculous is that?

MiltonDawg

August 10th, 2009
6:16 pm

I foresee AJ setting receiving records at UGA and in the SEC during his tenure here. Cox this year, Gray/Murray/Mettenberger (all good qbs) the following years.

Jason

August 10th, 2009
6:23 pm

AJ still has a good amount of work to do to be as good as Calvin was. Calvin was an automatic touchdown on fade routes when Tech was inside the 10 yard line. AJ hasn’t reached that level of dominance, but he is quite a talent. He’s still young, so who knows how good he really is. However, I do think that Julio Jones has shown more potential so far than AJ.

Dave

August 10th, 2009
6:24 pm

I still can’t believe Munson is gone . . . just damn

coach buck parkview

August 10th, 2009
7:31 pm

Cuz & Mark, why don’t you two go on a date or something… I think you were made for each other

NewnanDawg

August 10th, 2009
7:35 pm

What about Marlon Brown for the 2 sport act? He is still listed at some of the recruiting sites as both a football and basketball signee at UGA. When I was in Athens in June the coaches wouldn’t say anything about it; just that no decision had been made on whether he would, or could play both sports.

Please let the next 25 days go by quickly! Go Dawgs!

Matt the Brave

August 10th, 2009
7:52 pm

Hey Saint Simons, how many times has Tech won in the last decade? Must be nice to go all over the AJC website and post last year’s score. I’m guessing that you have no job? That Tech degree’s really helping you, right?

Gators Will Pay

August 10th, 2009
8:04 pm

Any reference to Lou Holtzzzzz is a waste of words. I can’t stand the man as a analyst. ESPN needs to hire some SEC analyst and get rid of the guys who constantly want to talk about how great Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and Southern Cal are. Since ESPN has signed the huge contract with the SEC, they need to show us the deserved respect.

Cuz in Minnesota

August 10th, 2009
9:54 pm

Coach buck I will buy Mark a beer when he shows up at the Masters but he is not my type. I stick to females.

Jason, I think from what I saw last year that AJ has a fairly good understanding of the ten yard fade route.

Mark Bradley

August 10th, 2009
9:55 pm

No beer will be necessary, Cuz. (I’m not much of a drinker.) But a pimento cheese sandwich from the Augusta National concession stands would be nice.

Cuz in Minnesota

August 10th, 2009
11:00 pm

Yep, those green wraped Pimento cheese sandwiches are worth the three thousand for the ticket.

ASDdgrgr

August 10th, 2009
11:09 pm

Fred Gibson had a much better freshman season than A.J. Green and he had to catch passes from David Greene who has the arm strength of a high school quarterback. His freshmen season was the best single season for a wide receiver in UGA history per game average. (He didnt play the first 4 or 5 games). He was also an incredible basketball player and could have entered the MLB draft if he wanted to after playing only his senior year of baseball.