ATHENS, Ga.—Former Dalton High School tackle Watts Dantzler entered Georgia's 59-0 trouncing of Coastal Carolina with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter.
Eight seconds later, he was celebrating in the end zone following a 33-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Hutson Mason to tight end Orson Charles. It was the first collegiate play for the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Dantzler, and it was the first for fellow freshman and backup center David Andrews.
"We were running down the field, sprinting and hitting each other," a smiling Dantzler said. "We were like little kids. It was one of the most fun things I've ever done."
Andrews and Dantzler joined guard Hunter Long and outside linebacker Ray Drew as Bulldogs freshmen who made their debuts. Tailback Isaiah Crowell and cornerback Damian Swann had their first career starts, while receiver Malcolm Mitchell had his second touchdown catch of the season to cap a rather decent day for what was labeled the "Dream Team" last winter.
The Bulldogs used the three freshmen up front one week after not subbing at all during the loss to South Carolina.
"I've been told since before the first game to just be ready, and at halftime they told me I was going to go in early," Dantzler said. "That was the first time I knew I would play, and I had tons of butterflies. It's what I've dreamed of for so long."
Said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo: "We've been wanting to play those guys, because we've been wanting to establish some depth there."
Crowell was again the freshman headliner, rushing 16 times for 86 yards and a 27-yard touchdown that opened the scoring. Mitchell had a career-high six receptions for 43 yards, his score coming from 7 yards out.
The fact redshirt freshman walk-on Parker Welch entered as the third quarterback pretty much assured a redshirt season for Christian LeMay.
Defensively, inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera led the freshmen with four tackles. Eight freshmen played, and seven made at least one tackle.
"I think the big thing about a game like this is that it allows you to play those guys and get them game reps," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "It's one thing to practice against a team in the same color jerseys, but when you play an opponent, it's different jerseys and a team with different styles and techniques.
"Sometimes your execution may not be what you want because it's new, but this game allowed us to play a lot freshmen, and I'm glad we did."
And so is Drew, the most heralded "Dream Team" member who had yet to play until Saturday.
"The first few games, I would go through the 'Dawg Walk' and fans were like, 'Are you playing today?'" Drew said. "I would just shrug my shoulders and tell them, 'I don't know.' I've been asked a lot of questions, but I'm going to keep going."
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 ...