Not to say I’m smart or anything — we all know better — but there was a reason I spoke with Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times about Greyson Lambert. I had a real feeling that Georgia’s coaches had brought the Virginia transfer to Athens for a reason.
Think about it. Brice Ramsey was kinda/sorta thought to be the guy to succeed Hutson Mason, same as Mason succeeded Aaron Murray. But Mike Bobo, who’d tutored Ramsey, left for Colorado State in December. Brian Schottenheimer arrived in January, and Coach Schotty (as he’s known, for brevity’s sake) had no history with the holdover.
Georgia exited its first spring practice under Schotty still not knowing if Ramsey was its man, and that’s never a peaceful easy feeling for an offensive coordinator. When Virginia made the surprising announcement on April 23 that Lambert, who started nine of 12 games last season, had been relegated to No. 2 behind Matt Johns, another name was thrust on the transfer trail, which has become college football’s version of free agency.
Unease can lead a program to do things it mightn’t ordinarily do. Under Mark Richt, Georgia has taken very few transfers, Jarvis Jones being the most notable, and under Richt the Bulldogs have never lacked for a guy capable of being at least a competent No. 1 quarterback. (Even Joe Cox wasn’t terrible.) But now it’s apparent that these coaches, having twice declined to name the presumptive heir apparent their starter for 2015, harbor doubts about Ramsey.
Back to the transfer trail: Over the summer, Georgia broke with pattern and considered — and was being considered by — Everett Golson, who’d led Notre Dame to the BCS title game in January 2013 that the Bulldogs narrowly missed. He chose Florida State. (And will, on cue, start for the Seminoles.) Lambert, who’s from Jesup, chose Georgia.
Think about it. Had Georgia been sold on Ramsey, a redshirt sophomore, why woo Lambert? With the heralded prospect Jacob Eason ready to enroll in January, the Bulldogs pretty much know who’ll be their 2016 starter. If there was no chance for Lambert to start in 2015, why bring in a guy with two years of eligibility to be a backup both of those years?
That Georgia took Lambert and was happy to have him made me believe there was a very good chance for the transfer to start Game 1. Conference snobbery might have clouded the issue for some — if you can’t hold a job on the worst team in the ACC Coastal, how can you be the No. 1 quarterback on the SEC East favorite? — but I couldn’t imagine Richt and Schottenheimer taking Lambert if they hadn’t seen something on tape.
This isn’t to say Lambert will hold the job forever, but as of this week, it’s his. And I can’t say I’m surprised. In my conversation with Doughty, whom I’ve known for 30 years and who covered every Virginia game Lambert played, I asked if Lambert might be in over his head. Absolutely not, I was told.
Doughty on Lambert: “He has a big body and strong arm. He has a good head on his shoulders. He didn’t have the greatest stats, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he has success at Georgia. There will be a lot better cast around him.”
And: “He can improve his decision-making … I wouldn’t say he lacked poise, though. I thought the guy was a pretty good quarterback.”
And: “He could be pretty successful for them. I don’t think there’s any one thing holding him back.”
There’s nothing holding him back now. Greyson Lambert is Georgia’s starting quarterback. It’s his job to lose.