ATHENS, Ga.—Coming on the heels of yesterday’s announcement by the UGA Athletic Association that the proposal for a 109,000 square-foot, $30 million indoor practice facility had been approved to forward to the Board of Regents for consideration, an even bigger announcement echoed throughout the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall: Greyson Lambert had been chosen as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback for the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe later this week.
“Lambert is going to start the game,” head coach Mark Richt declared, ending months of speculation. “There may be others that get in the game, but he’s the starter. It’s been a very, very close competition and it’s still being contested. But at this point, we felt it was wise to name the starter and get him the reps with the No. 1 unit.”
Lambert, a University of Virginia graduate with two years of eligibility remaining, beat out sophomore Brice Ramsey, presumably the top backup, and junior Faton Bauta, likely the third-string signal caller. Richt said offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer informed the quarterbacks of their decision before Monday’s two-hour practice. The entire team was promptly told after practice, followed by Richt’s long-awaited announcement to the media.
Today, Richt addressed the media and, again, he fielded primarily questions regarding the quarterback position. The head coach claimed naming Lambert was the toughest player-personnel decision he had ever made during his coaching career, and even spoke of legendary British statesman Winston Churchill regarding his message to reserves Ramsey and Bauta.
“One of our [graduate assistants] talked about a [Churchill] quote that he had about being ready for the moment, and he talked a little bit about what a shame it would be that if your moment comes and you did not prepare,” Richt said. “It was about preparation and preparing for your moment. You never know when your moment is going to come.”
Worthy of mention, the Churchill quote Richt refers to is as follows: “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
Unlike the other two quarterbacks, Lambert has no playing experience in a Bulldog uniform, although he was the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback a year ago. Still, Richt stressed for the second straight day that nothing Lambert did while at Virginia was considered in making the decision, only how he, and his competition, performed during the Bulldogs’ first 24 practices of preseason camp.
“It was just a cumulative grade so to speak,” Richt responded regarding what separated Lambert from the pack, “a cumulative performance [during fall camp].”
Notably, although Lambert has no playing experience as a Bulldog quarterback, he will reach a couple of milestones as soon as he steps on the field in four days: At 6-foot-5, he’ll be the tallest quarterback to ever see playing time at Georgia. Wayne Johnson (1985-1988) and Mike Usry (1997-1998), both officially listed at 6-foot-4, held the distinction of being the tallest quarterbacks in UGA history. In addition, Lambert will be just the second Bulldog signal caller of the modern era to start a game following a stint at another Division I school. After playing for the Naval Academy in 1975, quarterback Steve Rogers transferred to Georgia and sat out a year before starting two games for the Bulldogs in 1977.
Nevertheless, not terribly long after Lambert’s debut and any distinctions that come with it, expect him to be relieved by Ramsey, perhaps as early as the first quarter. As difficult as it was to name a starting quarterback, it seems as much a no-brainer all three quarterbacks will see the field against Louisiana-Monroe.
“They all can get us in the right plays, they all can get us in the right protections and they all can function well and help us win,” Richt said of the trio. “That’s what made [the decision] so tough.”
Accordingly, although Lambert was named the starter against the Warhawks, the other two quarterbacks will seemingly still be (in the words of Churchill) tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing. Their “moment” could come as early as Saturday.