ATHENS – It is said that negative news gets read more and solicits more reaction than positive news. We’re going to test that theory today. I plan to share with you today only positive observations regarding some Georgia football players.
And we’re not talking about how they look on the field of play.
Riley Ridley’s spring break arrest for marijuana possession and Trent Thompson’s late-February pharmacologically-induced medical emergency dominated the headlines during the Bulldogs’ offseason. But I’m here today to point out some good things Georgia football players have been up to this spring as well, all of it very recently.
You may have missed it, but two UGA football players – one current and one former – were honored at the annual Peach of an Athlete banquet in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame. “Peach of an Athlete” awards are sponsored by the Atlanta area Boy Scouts of America and recognize athletes whose character, scholastic achievement, athletic excellence and commitment to community service most closely match the aims and ideals of the Boy Scouts.
Jeb Blazevich, a rising senior tight end from Charlotte, was one of their honorees. Such awards are old hat for Blazevich, who is about to graduate with a degree in risk management and insurance. He was one of 12 players nationwide named to the 2016 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team last year and was honored at halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, where he volunteered for the weekend. He was also named one of 11 semifinalists for the 2016 Wuerffel Trophy, which is given to a college football player with an exceptional history of community service. All these commendations are because of Blazevich’s busy community service calendar, which includes working with “Learn, Play, Excel” to educate and provide leadership for area students, annual visits to Camp Sunshine to spend time with children who have cancer, and working with Watkinsville-based Extra Special People, an organization that assists individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
Blazevich also found some time to play some football. He played in all 13 games last season, starting 11 of them. He enters his senior season having started 33 of 39 games with 39 catches for 482 yards and three touchdowns.
Also honored by the Scouts was former Bulldogs’ player Reshad Jones. The Miami Dolphins safety, who played for the Bulldogs in 2007-2009, was recipient of the group’s pro award, which is given to a prominent professional athlete “who exemplifies the qualities of responsible citizenship and outstanding character.”
Our purpose today is to focus on the good works of some football players, but I should point out here that UGA track and field star Kendell Williams was named the female Peach of an Athlete of the year at that same banquet.
Now as far as all that goes, that was high-profile, public recognition on a big stage in Atlanta. But most of the time, you don’t hear about the good a lot of these young men are doing on the regular. It’s not because we in the media are ignoring it. It’s simply not widely publicized.
For instance, did you know:
- Earlier this week, Georgia star tailback Nick Chubb was the guest speaker at a Sparrow’s Nest event in Athens. The Sparrow’s Nest a Christian-based center for that provides emergency lodging, food and clothing for people in need.
- Mecole Hardman, a rising sophomore defensive back and kick returner, returned to his hometown of Elberton this past weekend to serve as an escort at a pageant and ball for special needs children.
- Star wide receiver Terry Godwin was in Watkinsville this past weekend – along with teammate Brian Herrien – to talk to little leaguers and to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to start the Oconee Little League baseball season. Afterward, he and Herrien hung around for an extra half-hour or so to sign autographs and take pictures with the children and their families. I know this only because my son Bryson was one of the kids lining up to get his cap signed. Otherwise, the event wasn’t publicized.
That’s just a few of the things that have been going on lately. They’re doing stuff like this all the time.
Meanwhile, one of Georgia’s all-time greats – both for his on-field work and what he does off of it – will be back in town doing some good work tonight. Tight end Benjamin Watson, now a 14-year veteran playing for the Baltimore Ravens, will be at the Tate Student Center talking to a large group of UGA students and local citizens about improving race relations. It’s an area on which Watson has become one of the nation’s foremost and outspoken authorities.
I tell you all that because I’m doing a sort of experiment today. We live in a day and age of digital analytics in which we can see exactly what people are reading, what they are reacting to and what they are sharing on social media, etc.
So let’s see how this little good-news post does. Let’s see if it solicits comments from readers. Let’s see if it gets shared on social media. Let’s see if it creates discussion and page views. Maybe then we can do more stories of this ilk.
Regardless, we know that the majority of Bulldogs – and let’s face it, most of the student-athletes at most colleges everywhere – will continue to do right things for the right reasons. That’s whether they get notice for it or not.