published Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Pyke's switch from lacrosse to football paying off at Georgia

  • photo
    Georgia sophomore right guard Greg Pyke grew up playing a lot more lacrosse than football.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Georgia right guard Greg Pyke is more imposing than your typical human being.

Imagine what he must have looked like to fellow lacrosse players growing up.

Before Pyke ever began competing for a starting role on a Southeastern Conference football program, he was a standout lacrosse player at The Boys' Latin School in Baltimore. Back in high school he was "only" 6-5 and 295 pounds.

"When I was on the field, I would just love to hit people, and it's one of the reasons I chose football," Pyke said Wednesday by phone. "I was so much bigger than most of the guys, and I was always getting penalized for a high stick to the neck. I would get so many penalties in lacrosse that I figured I might as well play a contact sport in which hitting was encouraged."

Pyke began playing lacrosse when he was 6, and he had an older brother who played at North Carolina and an older sister who played at James Madison. Football didn't enter the picture until he was a high-school freshman, but schools started showing an interest during his sophomore year.

By the time Pyke was a junior, he realized there would have to be a change in the pecking order.

"I knew I needed to starting looking more at my football offers because those full scholarships were looking pretty nice," he said.

Pyke signed with the Bulldogs in 2012 as Rivals.com's No. 25 guard nationally and as 247Sports.com's No. 23 tackle. He redshirted later that year and appeared in only two games last season.

This past spring, Pyke capitalized on the departures of last year's starting guards -- Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee -- and claimed Burnette's right-side spot.

"I was trying all spring to work my way into the starting lineup, but spring ball really doesn't mean anything compared to right now," Pyke said. "It was great to run out with the first team on the first day of camp, but no job is safe."

That Pyke has practiced solely at right guard so far this preseason only adds to the thought that he may be the safest at his position up front other than senior center David Andrews. Pyke certainly hopes to be cementing his starting role, and he credits a background in athletics -- especially lacrosse -- for getting him to where he is now.

"It's one of the biggest benefits I could have asked for," Pyke said. "I never played a sport just to have better coordination. I just loved competing, so I always played football, lacrosse and basketball all the way through."

Hall disqualified

Junior fullback Merritt Hall has been medically disqualified due to repeated concussions, according to quarterback Hutson Mason. Hall has appeared in 25 games the past two seasons, including seven starts, and he has amassed three carries for 9 yards and two receptions for 13 yards.

"You just feel bad for the kid," Mason told reporters Wednesday in Athens, "and you realize how tough of a position that is. You're kind of just sacrificing your body and your head. Those concussions are so serious."

Odds and ends

Wednesday marked Georgia's fourth and final two-a-day session. ... Senior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson (concussion) returned to practice in a noncontact jersey, while sophomore receiver Reggie Davis was spotted in a noncontact jersey and with his left hand in a club.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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