ATHENS, Ga. — From rejection to elation, Ty Frix has experienced it all on Georgia’s football team, and that’s just in the last several days.
The freshman walk-on snapper from Calhoun and son of former Bulldogs snapper Mitch Frix was informed early last week that he would not be among the 105 players invited to preseason camp. A disappointed Frix went home until classes started and was visiting with his grandparents Saturday night when he got a call from walk-on program director Joe Tereshinski Jr.
“We had been over there longer than I had told my wife we would,” Mitch said Tuesday. “When his phone rang, he immediately said, ‘That’s Mom. We’re late for dinner.’ Then he looked at his phone and said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Coach Tereshinski.’
“All I heard then was ‘Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I’ll be there, sir.’ He was grinning from ear to ear.”
Frix was invited to camp as the result of senior snapper Jeff Henson’s arrest early Saturday morning for public intoxication. Georgia coach Mark Richt suspended Henson indefinitely, leaving the 6-foot, 205-pound Frix potentially one injury away from snapping for the nation’s No. 1 team.
This time last year, Frix was practicing as Calhoun’s snapper and middle linebacker. He graduated last December and went through Georgia’s spring practice.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be here today,” Frix said. “I was set being at home, hoping my opportunity would be coming up in the 2009 season.”
Frix admits he isn’t rooting for an injury, because senior snapper Bo Fowler is one of his favorite teammates. He feels bad for Henson but said every tragedy provides an opportunity.
Fowler snapped on punts, field goals and extra points in January’s Sugar Bowl, when Henson served a one-game suspension for a DUI charge, and is starting in all three roles now. Bulldogs assistant John Lilly said Frix is working at each spot and “has gunned it back there pretty good.”
Though not the most imposing figure in Georgia’s camp — an Atlanta reporter this week asked him if he was a kicker or a snapper — Fritz does have a frame Lilly said will work.
“You’re looking for a big enough body to be able to protect and occupy some room,” Lilly said, “and then you’re looking for a small enough body where they can still be athletic enough to cover.”
Frix grew up in Dalton, where his father is an orthopedic surgeon, playing recreation ball. After sixth grade, Frix transferred to Calhoun, which offered a middle school team.
One afternoon, Fritz and his father went outside.
“I said, ‘Son, if you’re going to be a seventh-grader playing on an eighth-grade team, I’m going to teach you how to snap, because it may get you some playing time,’” Mitch said.
Fritz refers to that afternoon as one of his most vivid memories of childhood, and his first kicking companion was current Georgia Tech kickoff specialist Scott Blair.
Former Bulldogs assistant Dave Johnson pursued Fritz a year ago about becoming a preferred walk-on. Auburn, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech did the same, but there wasn’t a scholarship offer from any Division I or II school, making his choice simple.
“I’ve sort of known that this is where I wanted to be,” he said. “This is where my dad played, and I was born and bred on Georgia football.”
Mitch played at Calhoun and then at Georgia from 1979 to ’82, starting his last two years when he snapped for Kevin Butler. Butler’s son, Drew, redshirted last season, and Frix worked with the Butlers this summer.
“When you’ve got a legend like that helping you out,” Frix said, “you can’t help but say ‘Yes, sir’ and listen to everything he says.”
Even if Frix fails to beat out Fowler, he should still get to watch the Bulldogs each week if Henson stays suspended.
“They took two snappers on the road when I played, and they’ve taken two on the road every year since,” Mitch said. “For him to do that as a freshman would be huge and a big thrill. It took me two years to get to that position.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...