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Post Has Figgins’ ship already sailed?

Friday September 25, 2009

The good news (at least from Bruce Figgins’ perspective): The athletic department decided that redshirting this year would count as “time served” for Figgins’ six-game suspension.

We raised the question back when Figgins’ suspension was announced whether or not he’d have to serve the six games if he decided to redshirt. He was going to miss the early part of the season anyway recovering from shoulder surgery, and a redshirting in 2009 might allow him to get back into top form in time to play a complete 2010 season. There was some discussion whether the redshirt went against the spirit of the suspension, but this week’s decision put an end to the uncertainty. It’s now up to Figgins and the coaches: return in the middle of this season with a senior season to follow in 2010 or redshirt and have two years of eligibility remaining.

The bad news: The suspension might have already had its biggest impact on Figgins’ future regardless of when he returns. At the beginning of the season the position was pretty wide open. Aron White was the only returning tight end with any experience, and he had just three receptions a year ago. That window of opportunity might be closing though as Georgia has three emerging young tight ends, and the position looks to be in good shape. As David Hale points out, the tight ends are already just two receptions shy of last year’s total for the entire season. White is a dependable receiver with good hands, Orson Charles just gets better and better, and Arthur Lynch is gaining situational experience. Whose playing time diminishes in order to get Figgins back on the field?

If there’s a niche where a return by Figgins might have the biggest impact, it’s in blocking. It’s not that Charles (or White for that matter) are blocking liabilities, but their strengths are as receivers for now. Lynch, who considers blocking his strong point, might not be quite ready yet – certainly no knock on a true freshman. If the offensive line play continues to be average, the coaches might look to use a blocking tight end more, and Figgins could fill that role. It would also give the coaches the option to use more two tight end sets while keeping both a strong blocking and receiving option on the field.

Mark Richt has a lot on his plate between now and the Vandy game (Figgins’ earliest possible return), and will worry about it then. “I think a lot will have to do with where we are and where everybody is at that time,” Richt said.

PS…if you’re able, read Anthony Dasher’s conversation with Lynch over at UGASports.com (subscription required). Lynch talks about everything from his homesickness (“…there was definitely a time when I wondered if I made the wrong choice…”), his resolve (“I’m the one who chose to come here and I don’t regret it a bit.”), his relationship with his mother (“She taught me to be a good person…”), and of course his approach to playing the game (“That’s the way I was brought up, to just go out there and fight, go out there every day and work my butt off, fight and play with a passion….I take pride in my blocking”). He comes across as a guy that’s already matured a great deal as a true freshman a long way from home.

You’ll also want to catch David Hale’s Q&A with Orson Charles. Again, tremendous maturity and self-awareness from a true freshman. When he scored his first touchdown at Arkansas, Charles said, “Thank you God for putting me on this team.” I think a lot of fans were saying that too.

3 Responses to 'Has Figgins’ ship already sailed?'

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  • I have a feeling that Charles breaking the Gators’ NC trophy will turn out to have been prophetic. Just have a feeling that kid is a legend in the making.

  • Figgins is already 6’4″ and near 280 lbs. Could he pack on another 15 lbs. and become an extremely athletic OL?

  • Figgins is already 6’4″ and near 280 lbs. Could he pack on another 15 lbs. and become an extremely athletic OL?