Georgia's Ganus from UAB nearing first game as SEC player

Georgia's Ganus from UAB nearing first game as SEC player

August 22nd, 2015 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia inside linebacker Jake Ganus, who began his career at UAB, is readying for his first game as an SEC player.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Senior inside linebacker Jake Ganus has no idea what will be going through his mind two weeks from today inside Sanford Stadium, when his Georgia Bulldogs host Louisiana-Monroe.

Ganus was supposed to be opening this season against Tennessee in Nashville as a member of the UAB Blazers, who shut their program down last December.

"Hopefully, I'll just be thinking about what my assignments are and focusing on the game," Ganus said this week by phone. "It's going to be fun having almost 94,000 fans cheering for you instead of against you. I'm definitely looking forward to that."

The Bulldogs held their 17th preseason practice Friday afternoon, working out for two hours in shoulder pads and shorts. They will scrimmage for the second time today.

"It was hot today, and it tested them," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "We are well over halfway through with about two weeks to go. The scrimmage will tell us coaches a lot about where everybody is right now."

The Bulldogs will have Sunday off and return to practice Monday.

Ganus, a 6-foot-2, 227-pounder from Chelsea, Ala., was quickly gobbled up by the Bulldogs last December, and he enrolled in January and went through spring practice. He led the Blazers in tackles in 2013 and again last year, compiling 163 in the two seasons.

Georgia coaches really noticed his 11-tackle performance last October at Arkansas. Ganus said earlier this year that being in Athens meant being "an SEC player every week," and he believes he is one now.

"I had to become one really quick, because I'm facing one of the best offensive lines in the country every day," he said. "You learn really fast what it takes to get off of blocks, and then you're having to tackle some really good backs like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall. You have to learn really fast."

Ganus is working inside along with Tim Kimbrough, Reggie Carter, Ryne Rankin and freshman Natrez Patrick, with touted and versatile junior Leonard Floyd occasionally inside. Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson were the starters inside the past two seasons before moving on, but the current contingent has been a bright spot all month.

Kimbrough and Carter, however, have missed recent practices due to injuries.

"It's not just Jake but the whole linebacker room," second-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said. "They've done a really nice job as the quarterbacks of our defense. They've got to make the calls and see the formations, and if they can't communicate, then we can't function."

Ganus expects to be in the rotation and get some playing time, which is something his former school can't do this year or next year. UAB has announced plans to bring back football for the 2017 season, which is bittersweet news for its former leading tackler.

"I was extremely happy that they brought it back," Ganus said. "It's something that a lot of people wanted, but I just feel like the whole situation could have been avoided. That's in the past, though, and I'm here now and couldn't be happier."

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