As we all know, Matthew Stafford's early departure for the NFL left the door open for...Orson Charles?
Charles, once a big-name tight end prospect, is now a Bulldog. Many have pointed to him as the man who will restore Georgia's once-proud reputation as a tight end powerhouse.
But what if Stafford hadn't left after his junior season, and hadn't left his No. 7 jersey for Charles to take?
"I think that was kind of really the deciding factor on me coming to Georgia was that I was able to keep my same number," Charles said, seemingly only partly kidding.
"That seven means a lot to me. I switched schools [to Plant High in Tampa, Fla.] and switched to No. 7, that was my change. I had wanted to change completely. And then seven is God rested on the seventh day, he created Earth and rested on the seventh day. So that meant a lot to me."
Charles pulled down three receptions for two touchdowns and 55 yards in the Bulldogs' first scrimmage of fall camp last Wednesday. He added two receptions for 49 yards in Saturday's scrimmage.
"Orson's had a good camp," said head coach Mark Richt. "We've got some good tight ends and receivers going."
The 6'3" freshman has already put on 13 pounds since coming to Athens, and is now up to a healthy 233 pounds, and says he's gotten faster, too. With Bruce Figgins suspended for the Bulldogs' first six games and Aron White already having missed some time with a sore hamstring, Charles has already gotten more chances. And he's loving every minute of it.
"I love college," said the always-enthusiastic Charles. "A lot of people think I'm crazy, but I just love college period. Just being with a new team. It's kind of crazy because this is what you dream of. You're playing NCAA [football video games] and you create yourself on the game, but then you're actually here."
Charles denied throwing to himself profusely in those games (though he did admit high school, and now Georgia, teammate Aaron Murray is usually behind center). But in real life, he is being implemented in all kinds of formations.
"We have different formations that stretch me out and keep me at tight end, and two tight end sets," Charles said. "So it's very, very different."
Charles is sporting Stafford's former number, but the comparisons to receiver A.J. Green, and expectations for Charles to match his spectacular freshman season, are what have really run rampant so far.
"He just loves to play," said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. "He wanted to take every rep. He didn't want to sit out a single play ...He [doesn't] know everything that's going on, but neither did A.J. Green last year. He made plays."
So, with all that said, would Charles really have not come to Georgia if he hadn't gotten his seven?
"I probably would have come," he said. "I probably would have been wearing an ugly number, but I probably would have come."
Thanks to The Red & Black's Daniel Shirey for the photo.
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