To outsiders Aron White may seem like nothing more than a backup tight end with a good academic resume. But inside the Bulldogs’ locker room, there might not be a more influential person. Yes, he’s a cut-up and a mile-a-minute talker, but he’s also a fifth-year senior and a leader and an extremely bright individual who has bought into everything that is UGA. And in terms of being a team spokesman, nobody has embraced the role more than this Missouri native, who might be the only member of the football team who actually looks forward to his weekly media opportunities with the local press.
With that in mind, White had so much to say and so passionately about the Georgia-Florida game during our relatively brief session on Wednesday, I decided to share it with you in full. With White it’s important to note that he speaks extremely fast and almost in a stream-of-conscious manner. Let me know what you think.
Meanwhile, I’m on my way to Jacksonville and will have more for you later. Enjoy . . .
On the team’s attitude the week of Florida game . . .
“People get a little tight during Florida week and that’s the way it’s always been. That’s fans, players, staff, coaches, everybody. Everybody just gets a little more serious during Florida week. There’s not as much joking around. That’s just across the board. That’s everybody.
“Players joke about who will be the first person to get yelled at. And when they do, you’ll hear half the team go, ‘it’s Florida week!’ Because they know, it’s Florida week and there’s no playing around. I get busted a lot for joking around because I talk a lot at practice. Not necessarily bad stuff but I’m just a character sometimes. Sometimes the coaches don’t like hearing it, sometimes they don’t mind. So every once in a while I’ll get caught off guard and they’ll chew me out. I might’ve gotten caught this week once or twice.”
On the lack of recent success versus Florida . . .
“I want to win it because of the fans. The Bulldogs don’t like Florida and they let you hear it whenever you lose to Florida. I want to win it because they’re an SEC East opponent. I want to win it because we need another victory to stay in the hunt to get back to the ’ship (championship game).
“But more than any of that, I’m playing for my teammates, I’m playing for my coaches and I just hate Florida. Regardless if Florida was on the other side of the United States, if they were in the Pac-10 or the MAC or whatever, I don’t care. I’m still gonna hate Florida, I’m still gonna want to play Florida and I’m still gonna want to kill Florida.
“I’ve been around here long enough to see a win against Florida and know how good that feels. But I have yet to do it on the field. I’ve had some good games against Florida and I’ve had some bad games against Florida. But regardless, this is a new year, this is a new day. This is two new teams as it is year in and year out and we’re coming to get them. I don’t care what anybody says; I don’t care if somebody’s out; I don’t care if somebody thinks we don’t stand a chance; I don’t care if all the Bulldogs are behind us; I don’t care if one Bulldog is behind us. I’m still going to come out there with the same passion and intensity against Florida that I do every year and I feel like my teammates will echo that.”
Do you share this passion with the young players?
“I think if they haven’t heard it enough they will by the end of this week. As much as we take everybody one game at a time, this is a game we look forward to every year. Just like we look forward to Tech, just like we look forward to Tennessee, just like we look forward to Auburn.
“I think it’s easy to see here what games are a little bit more important to us. There might be some other games we just need to go out there and win. But I definitely think we’ve done a good job of conveying to the guys who have never played in this game before how important it is.
“I think we echo the frustrations of the Bulldog Nation in general the last couple of outings, because we feel like we have not necessarily been playing to our ability when we go down to Jacksonville. We’ve definitely have made some mental errors and, not necessarily given games away, but given them more momentum than they deserve. You know, Florida has a great program and they’ve played great against us. But last year we felt like it was about time for the tables to turn. We felt like we were playing great and we let a close one get by and that one really hurt.
“For me personally, I’ve always played well against Florida and that was the first year I felt like I did not play well. I made a critical error. I tipped the pass that got picked right before the half when we were going down there close. That’s something I’ve been thinking about all year. That was a game that really left a lot of frustration with me personally. I’ve got a lot of anger pent up about what happened in that game.
“Blood is definitely going to run hot this weekend. I’m sure at some point something will happen that everybody will say was uncalled for or the emotions got the best of us, whether it’s on their side or on our side. We’ve both been caught doing some antics down there. My freshman year we ran out on the field. The year after that they had us blown out by a pretty good lead and they started calling some timeouts late. But all that’s out the window and it’s a new year and we’re going to come and we’re going to play. And while we didn’t forget those things, we’re going to focus on our game plan and we’re going to need to because guys that get caught up in all that emotion usually lose. It’s the players that stay focused and do what they do best, they usually win.”
On when he first realized the intensity of the Georgia-Florida rivalry . . .
“I got my first taste of it when I was coming out of my junior year of high school in a Nike camp down in Gainesville. Me and Logan [Gray] and our running back went down to Florida and we were touring everything. Logan already had an offer and they were debating offering me because they had already signed Aaron Hernandez, who was obviously an outstanding player for them. I remember Coach [Dan] Mullen was recruiting me and Logan and I didn’t feel like I got treated very well down there. Coach [Urban] Meyer didn’t take time to talk to me and that’s something that resided in me. And when I did commit to Georgia, all I heard was ‘y’all have to go get Florida.’ I realized at that time it was a big rivalry, but I didn’t realize how deep that hate was between us.
“Since I’ve been here there’s a lot of rivalries I’ve really bought into. All the rivalries really. They’re all going to stay with me throughout my lifetime. They’re a part of me and I’m a part of them. But I don’t think any of them run quite as deep as Florida. It’s something that I’ve bought into fully. I don’t care if I’m in Missouri or I’m in Georgia, I don’t care where I’m at, if I see Florida on somebody’s shirt or even a license tag, I’m going to slide them a little look. That’s the way it’s going to be. And if they have something to say about it I’m going to say something back. At the end of the day I’m always going to be a Dawg and everybody’s going to know that.”
On whether UGA wants to beat Florida too badly . . .
“I think over the last couple of years we’ve maybe been too pent up about this game. But this whole season has had a different feel to it. I don’t know if you guys see it, I don’t know if the Bullog Nation, the fans out there, have been able to tell, but there’s just a completely different mentality around here. It doesn’t have the same feel to it, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“I loved the feeling in ‘07. We had a great group of guys then and since then it changed. But this year it’s completely different. I don’t think we’re an uptight crew. Even when we were 0-2 I don’t think we were an uptight team. I don’t think we played uptight. We made some errors, definitely, early on, especially in the South Carolina game. And we’ve made mistakes since then. But we’ve jelled enough to the point that I don’t think we play uptight and get super emotional and where it doesn’t allow the team to play to the best of its ability. We make mistakes sometimes.
“But it is still Florida week and, for whatever reason, guys hone in a little bit more; guys study that game plan a little bit more; guys are in here watching more film. You hear guys all the time say ‘I’m going to the Butts.’ You say, ‘it’s only 1:30,’ and they say, ‘I’m going to go on in and catch some film’ or ‘I want to hit the ice tub again.’ And I love seeing that. I love seeing guys dedicated and there’s no time you see it more than this week and Tech week, in my opinion.”