Greyson Lambert was so anxious to learn Georgia’s offensive playbook that, earlier this summer while still in classes at Virginia, he bought a small whiteboard that he hid in his notebook.
“Don’t tell the professors,” Lambert said, smiling.
That’s okay by now. Lambert has secured his diploma from Virginia and as preseason practice begins at Georgia on Tuesday afternoon, he is now squarely in the middle of a three-man quarterback competition.
The next few weeks will be an intense one for Lambert, Faton Bauta and Brice Ramsey, one of whom will be named the starter for Georgia’s opener on Sept. 5 against Louisiana-Monroe. Lambert’s addition caused a major wrinkle: He started eight games at Virginia last year, making him a much more intriguing option than Jacob Park, the redshirt freshmen who was third-team throughout spring and elected to transfer out.
Ramsey, who finished last season as the top backup to Hutson Mason, was long considered the favorite, but couldn’t separate himself from Bauta during spring. Now he has Lambert joining the competition.
Speaking before Tuesday’s practice, Ramsey claimed he took Lambert’s addition in stride.
“We lost a quarterback and we needed another one,” Ramsey said. “Greyson is obviously very gifted, and he has experience, he’s a really good quarterback. He’s just here to push us, and we’re here to push him, just to see who can get the job.”
Ramsey and Lambert have known each other for awhile: They attended many of the same quarterback camps while growing up in Georgia. But they aren’t close friends; Lambert has been hanging out with the offensive linemen since he got to campus on July 13.
While Tuesday was Lambert’s first full-fledged practice at Georgia, he’s been participating in seven-on-seven workouts. And from the first time in the huddle he had a good command, according to junior guard Greg Pyke.
“He didn’t really skip a beat when he was out there, going with the ones, the twos or threes,” Pyke said. “He’s done a really good job, and so have all the quarterbacks.”
Lambert joins the team as an experienced quarterback, and he plays a position that requires leadership and confidence. But he’s also new on the team, which can make for a tricky balance.
“You’ve gotta come in with a quiet confidence and do what you know to do,” he said.
Lambert said that “conceptually” Virginia and Georgia’s offense are pretty similar, with Georgia’s offense featuring him under center a bit more. The route concepts on pass plays are very similar, he said.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Lambert said of the summer. “It’s been moving pretty fast. But I’m all settled in and ready to get to work.”
Ramsey is known as having the strongest arm in the program since Matt Stafford. But what’s held Ramsey back from winning the job is worries about his accuracy. If he can allay those worries over the next few weeks, he very well may win the job.
“That is the emphasis: They want someone who doesn’t turn the ball over,” Ramsey said. “But at the same time someone who’s not afraid to let the ball go. There’s a happy medium there and you’ve gotta take what the defense gives you, try not to force anything and just throw completions.”
The coaches never make reference to the competition, according to Lambert, other than to tell the quarterbacks how snaps will be split in practice. Head coach Mark Richt, who fielded about a half-dozen quarterback questions during his Tuesday press conference, said all three have so far shown a good grasp of the offense.
“Everybody looks to the quarterback to know what he’s doing, and have the confidence in all situations,” Richt said. “That’s all I’m looking for from all three.”
Bauta laughed when asked if this competition was one of the most difficult things he’s been involved in.
“This is fun. This is what we’re made for. This is what we’re bred for. We’re bred for competition,” Bauta said. “Trying to be the best we can be. We’re bred to be the best in the country, we’re bred to compete every day and exhaust yourselves to the point where we either get the job done or we don’t. That’s just kind of how I was raised as an athlete.”