ATHENS – Charlie Woerner has seen his uncle making the play, a moment preserved in posterity on various grainy YouTube clips that happened nearly 37 years ago. Scott Woerner turns, leaps and makes the interception that preserves a Georgia win over Notre Dame, sealing a national championship.
But the nephew and uncle don’t really talk about it. Nor do they talk about corny things like Charlie making his own legacy, or living up to the family name, or any of that.
“We usually don’t talk about football too much,” Charlie Woerner said. “We just talk about hunting and fishing, or whatever he’s doing.”
And the last time they did that, Charlie was in high school.
“Football’s been pretty demanding here,” he said.
“Here” is Georgia, where the nephew has followed in his uncle’s path, not afraid to constantly be asked about his all-American relative. But Charlie, who plays on the other side of the ball – tight end, rather than defensive back – also isn’t particularly tied to the famous last name. He didn’t ask for Scott Woerner’s number (19), though he did go halfway and take the latter digit. He wears 89.
“I just want to be Charlie,” he said. “I don’t want to live under anything else other than who I am.”
That’s also something he’s trying to figure out, at least in a football sense.
Charlie Woerner came to Georgia last year with a blend of size (6-5, 251) and athleticism that made him intriguing. It also made it hard to assign him a definite spot.
At Rabun County High School, he had mostly played wide receiver. But Georgia put him in the tight end room and began developing him there, an adjustment he spoke about Wednesday.
“It was pretty difficult last year, trying to get down in a three-point stance every time. My hips were pretty sore to start off,” Woerner said. “It’s been an experience, for sure, but it’s been a lot of fun, learning something new.”
Then it didn’t help that he suffered an ankle injury in the preseason. He still played in all but one game last year, but the ankle lingered into the season. He called it a “hindrance,” affecting his ability to cut and move as well as he wanted to. He didn’t quite feel 100 percent until late in the season.
It wasn’t an eye-popping freshman year for Woerner – just 5 receptions – but he still showed flashes. The 29-yard catch across the field against Nicholls State was the longest, and he also had an 11-yard catch against Florida.
This year, Woerner is one of the players being used in the slot, a role he’s comfortable in, having done it in high school. He also flexed out occasionally last year. But Woerner said his main emphasis this year has been on blocking, which he acknowledged as his main weakness.
While Charlie Woerner was learning and developing as a freshman, his uncle was having a big year. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his prowess both as a defensive back and a punt returner.
Scott Woerner, who now lives in upstate Georgia, is still a very active follower of his former team. He recently wrote a piece for DawgNation, and the headline spoke for itself: “Enough is Enough, it’s time for UGA to win a championship.”
When Georgia won that last title, Woerner had two interceptions. Two catches. His nephew wouldn’t mind a couple catches himself when the rematch finally takes place, in a few weeks.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Charlie Woerner said. “I’m excited to go up there and be a part of the second clash with Notre Dame.”