ATHENS — For Tavarres King, the football season can’t get here fast enough. The last time we saw him in game action, he was running up and down the field at Raymond James Stadium to the tune of 205 receiving yards with an 80-yard touchdown. However, his personal highlights got lost in what ended up being a gut-wrenching loss to Michigan State in triple overtime.
“I’ve been extremely eager all off-season to get back out there to continue where I left off,” said King, a senior flanker for the Bulldogs. “It was an extremely high note personally, but not as a team. So we’ve been getting after it this summer. Guys have been participating in drills and workouts. We’ve had pretty much perfect attendance all summer. Everybody’s eager to get back on the field and tackle this thing.”
King and his teammates don’t have much longer to wait. Players report for preseason camp on Tuesday.
Of course, none of them really ever left. According to King, the Bulldogs had 100 percent participation during summer workouts from returning lettermen and incoming freshman. Seventeen of Georgia’s 19 signees enrolled in classes in June and have worked out with the team all summer. Two others — defensive lineman John Atkins of Thomson and defensive end Leonard Floyd of Eastman — were unable to attain freshman eligibility and will attend prep school.
But about 100 players — 75 on scholarship and another 25 walkons — have remained in Athens to attend classes and participate in the Bulldogs’ revamped offseason strength and conditioning program. Program director Joe Tereshinski added added longtime Penn State strength and conditioning director John Thomas and speed and agility specialist Sherman Armstrong to his staff after last season.
“It’s very different, and different is good. It’s definitely good,” King said. “We’ve adapted to the changes that have been made and everybody’s on board with what those guys bring to the table.”
King said he and the other skill players have been drawn particularly to Armstrong. The former track All-American at Illinois has been in Tampa training players for the NFL combine since 2008.
“Sherman’s a guy who knows how to run and runs well himself,” King said. “He’s a guy that us skill guys, we want to imitate his moves and learn everything we can from him because it makes us better.”
The Bulldogs’ summer routine included running and lifting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and doing boxing and agility drills on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with team runs on those afternoons. They also run pass skeleton and position drills at least two days a week.
“Tuesdays and Thursday are long days because you wake up and do that boxing, then you go to class, eat lunch, come back over here, do speed and agility, then pass skel or position drills,” King said. “So those are long days, but they’re definitely beneficial.”
After first official team meeting of the season on Tuesday, the Bulldogs will undergo medical and physical testing on Wednesday and have the first practice Thursday on the Woodruff Practice Fields.
King said he is in the best shape of his life. He said he can speak for the entire team when he says there is no dread and nothing but anticipation for the opening of Georgia’s preseason football program.
“We’re ready to go,” King said. “This is what we train for. We train to play football. So we’re ready to get out there and compete with each other and make each other better.”