ATHENS – I just returned from the annual Countdown to Kickoff extravaganza over at Georgia’s Woodruff Practice Fields. I’ve been before but haven’t been in several years. Now that I have a 5-year-old boy, I figured it would be a good time to go back.
AJC photographer Johnny Crawford was there and posted a great photo gallery here on the AJC website. If you missed my hotlink you can see it HERE. I’ll add a few crappy pics from my iPhone below shortly to illustrate the difference in an amateur and a pro.
It looked like a very good turnout and they’ve really perfected the layout and routine of the event. For fans, you can’t ask for better access to the players. It’s a very relaxed environment and you can spend some time chatting up the players, current and former.
I saw a bunch of both and spoke to a few. Among the former Bulldogs I saw — in addition to the annual hosts David Greene and Jon and Matt Stinchcomb — were Seattle Seahawks receiver Kris Durham, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback and kick returner Brandon Boykin and Tampa Bay Bucs linebacker Rennie Curran.
“It’s a great event,” said Durham, who played for the Bulldogs from 2006-2010 and has participated in “countdown” every year it has been held. “It gets the fans involved and it’s a great cause, especially with what they’re raising money for. I enjoy it. You get to meet a lot of fans, which is always a good time. I get to see a lot of old buddies, just like this guy [Fred Munzenmaier] He’s my favorite.”
I ran into Durham under the shade of the training shed in the middle of Georgia’s otherwise shadeless practice complex. It was 90 degrees Saturday and very humid, which is radically different than what Durham is acclimated to nowadays.
“I’m not used to this humidity anymore,” he said with a laugh. “I’m trying to adjust. I came up here to get water, felt the breeze and I just haven’t left. It’s a nice and comfortable 70 degrees in Seattle right now.”
Most of the current Bulldogs were also in attendance and signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans. Quarterback Aaron Murray missed this year because he’s currently attending the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La. Among those who were there was All-America free safety Bacarri Rambo. I was tempted to ask Rambo what his disciplinary scenario is going to be to begin the season. It has been widely reported that Rambo will have to sit out the first four game so the season due to a violation of team policy. But UGA has yet to make an announcement or even confirm or deny that a violation has occurred. And UGA sports communications Claude Felton asked all the reporters in attendance not to interview Rambo, so we all complied.
I did talk to running back Richard Samuel for a while. He, too, has participated in Countdown all five of his years. It’s a voluntary event for the current players.
“I just enjoy meeting with the fans and talking to them on a personal level,” said Samuel, who will play both fullback and tailback for the Bulldogs this fall. “They only see us from the stands and on the TV, so getting to just hang out with them, I enjoy that.”
I’ll have more from Samuel later on how he feels about his latest position switch, which is back to being “primarily” a tailback again, as offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Friday.
Here are links to the last couple of football reports:
Now for a few pics . . .