ATHENS — Georgia tight end Eli Wolf said from the onset he was going to be politically correct when it came to discussing his former program.
“Tennessee did a lot for me,” Wolf said last month in his first media interview, “so I’m just going to say I’m excited to be here at Georgia.”
On Tuesday, however, Wolf provided some insight into the unique circumstance of a former team captain in good standing leaving a program for a better opportunity at a rival school.
Yes, Wolf is happy to be at Georgia and thriving in James Coley’s offense, leading the Bulldogs with 80 yards on five catches through two games.
But no, Wolf is not reveling in Tennessee’s gut-wrenching losses to Georgia State and BYU, and the Vols’ first 0-2 start since 1988.
“I’m not happy at all, I grew up with those guys, and played four years there with them and it doesn’t make me happy to see them lose and see their heart break like that,” Wolf said, asked if there’s a sense of relief he left a program that’s off to a difficult start.
“It’s going to matter one game in the fall, and after it’s over, those guys are still going to be my buddies in life,” said Wolf, referring to the Oct. 5 game in Knoxville between Tennessee and Georgia. “So I’m not happy to see them lose, I still wish them the best, all except that one week in the fall.”
Wolf had only 10 targets in his three seasons playing at Tennessee, catching nine of them. For much of his career he played behind his older brother, former Vols team captain Ethan Wolf, a 6-foot-6, 250-pounder who helped key Butch Jones’ 2016 record-breaking offense.
Eli Wolf had plenty of work to catch up with his brother on the field and on the scale after reporting at a scant 205 pounds.
“I remember sometimes waking up middle of the night, setting an alarm, eating a peanut butter sandwich or something quick, and drinking protein shakes three times a day,” Wolf said. “The weight room was huge, too. And since I’ve gotten here the weight room has done nothing but help me put that weight on and keep that weight on.
“It took a while, and it was hard mentally and physically to get there, but I never looked at my weight and said, ‘hey, if I’m 220 I’m not going to be able to perform’. I always looked at it if I’m 220, I’m still going to be able to do what everybody at 240 can. I may not be as heavy but I’ll be just as strong as every tight end in the country, and I took that as a personal challenge.”
Wolf credits his new Georgia teammates for his successful transition with the Bulldogs, recalling how Jake Fromm and Charlie Woerner came out to meet him on a visit.
“They came in on a Sunday, took time out of their day, which showed a lot to me,” Wolf said. “It meant a lot to me, and we just kind of took off from there, super friendly guys, they took me right in.”
Wolf said his approach has just been to work hard every day since arriving in Athens. The results seem to speak for themselves.