Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Give Sulek his due.
Much attention has been paid to the fact that Jeremy Sulek, a walk-on, was called on to play in place of injured Alec Ogletree this week.
Let me explain something to you - first off, just because a kid is a walk-on doesn't mean he's not talented. The kid finished with 7 tackles on the day, and that's nothing to sneeze at. In fact, over in South Carolina, they're applauding the 7-tackle debut of Jadeveon Clowney. Also, throughout the entirety of Coach Richt's tenure in Athens, there have been walk-ons who have made good.
JT Wall, walk-on.
Verron Haynes, walk-on.
Tra Battle, walk-on.
Reuben Faloughi, walk-on.
There have been others, naturally...but these are four who have done much more than simply been "every now and again" guys. Sometimes a kid just slides under the radar. Coaches aren't known for just tossing in walk-ons for no reason.
Case in point...2000 - I was the fifth Defensive End on the team. Charles Grant, Josh Mallard, Bruce Adrine and Demetric Evans all played in front of me. Nic Clemons was a true freshman, as were Will Thompson and Arnold Harrison. Clemons, Thompson and Harrison were redshirting. I can promise you, without a hint of doubt, that if all four of the players in front of me had gone down with injuries, I would still have been on the sideline. I can promise you that. Redshirts would have been burned, or positions changes would have happened. Why? Because our team would have been better off with four defensive tackles, or with one of the highly-talented freshmen in the position than with me. The guys on the other side of the ball were simply far bigger, and though I played with a lot of passion and a lot of intelligence, I wasn't going to hold my own for 60 minutes against guys who outweighed me by 100 lbs.
I say all of that to say this - If Sulek is the guy who gives us the best chance to win, then what does it matter that the kid is a walk-on? "Sulek did not hold any scholarship offers..." who cares? Perhaps he didn't grow into his body until he was 20 years old. I have no idea. Now, is he as naturally gifted as Amarlo Herrera? Probably not. But, if Amarlo Herrera isn't running the defense we're calling, will his talent matter?
Counter Point: There were a few plays on Saturday when Sulek was a bit confused about his coverages. Now, is it possible that if Herrera had been the one making the mistakes, he could have made a better recovery? Sure, that's possible. But, I'll take the less naturally-gifted kid who's in the right place 85% of the time over the highly-talented kid who is only in the right place 50% of the time.
Of course, this will cause the fanbase to argue: "But Dukes! We're GEORGIA! We should never be in a position where an injury to a safety-turned-linebacker leaves us without another high-quality athlete ready to step in. Our talent-base, history, and resources should always produce enough high-level recruits to never deal with that kind of dropoff." To this, I have to agree. And, in an ideal world, America doesn't suffer 10% unemployment, a tank of gas doesn't cost me a month's rent, and ice cream is a perfectly acceptable diet food. The fact remains that we are in the position we're in. We lost two linebackers (Dowtin, Samuel) as a result of off-season moves, and we apparently don't do nearly as much cross-training as I thought we did in the linebacking corps. Still, we are in the position we're in. As such, it is the coaching staff's responsibility to find the answer. And believe it or not, they do know a hell of a lot more about this game and this team than any of us do.
So, I'll defer to them. Coach Grantham has said he is in the practice of fielding the 11 players who give us the best chance to win. If one of those 11 is Jeremy Sulek, then damnit, support the kid and cheer him loudly. Another walk-on making good - proud to see it.