2023’s “Eating off the floor must be the unlikeliest motivational slogan ever used by a sports team. There is no need for a precise definition of the term. But let’s take a shot at it. Eating of the floor is the exact opposite of a term that has been around forever in sports – “having the big-head.” A player, or a team, has the big head when there is a feeling of invincibility, a can’t-lose attitude. Eating off the floor focuses the team on its goals and vulnerabilities and helps keep young men grounded in reality. Here are ten examples.
Javon Bullard – Defensive Back
Just a quick replay of Bullard’s hit in the end zone that removed the football from Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. Certainly, JB knocking Harrison, Jr. unconsciousness on the play earns him inclusion on this list, right? A three-star recruit, Bullard is one of several players on this list who prove that the recruiting industry’s star ratings are inferior to Kirby’s rating.
Ladd McConkey – Wide Receiver
Speaking of former three-star recruits, Ladd is another player with an immeasurable characteristic – heart. McConkey does not catch every pass intended for him. No one does, but he never suffers an incompletion because he hears a defenders’ footsteps and shrinks from contact. Fearlessness defines him, and that is eating off the floor personified.
Mekhi Mews – Special Teams / WR
Even though Mews is a situational, special teams, or late-game participant, he has the grit (despite his small stature – 5-8/170 – generously listed) to take on opponents eagerly yet skillfully. If you doubt he deserves inclusion, re-watch the 2023 G-Day game.
Brock Bowers – Tight End
Should a hybrid tight end be included? In the case of Bowers, the answer is absolutely. He is highly skilled without question, but that does not qualify him for this list. His blocking without question earns the nod here. Not only does he go head-up with defensive tackles and linebackers, but he will also be seen blocking downfield when not targeted. Remember, this young man will be drafted in the first round next year. Still, he enthusiastically does everything his coaches require, including the down-and-dirty business of physically moving defenders to free his teammates.
Branson Robinson – Running Back
Robinson runs like a tank. Watch him during a run when he realizes no cuts are available to avoid a tackler. The shoulders drop, eyes stay up, he drives forward with his huge legs. The collision occurs and his legs continue to drive forward until offensive line reinforcements arrive to move the pile toward the goal line. This extra effort is becoming a signature of Georgia’s offensive line and a huge crowd-pleaser.
Chaz Chambliss – Linebacker
Has there ever been a postgame photo of Chambliss without at least one cut leaking blood from the bridge of his nose? Band-aids and butterflies are part of his gameday attire. Chambliss has appeared in 26 games during Georgia’s national championship runs. Providing critical depth at outside linebacker and a force in kick coverage, whom no opposing player relishes blocking. Chambliss leaves it on the gridiron, all of his effort and some of his blood.
Sedrick Van Pran – Center
Van Pran is the acknowledged leader of the offensive line. Before each snap, he sets the blocking scheme based on his reading of the defense. Then he must execute his block, often with a nose guard parked directly in front of him. In addition, he must pass the ball backward and between his legs while looking in the opposite direction. That is no mean feat when done accurately and consistently. For UGA to succeed in the SEC, Van Pran must keep himself and his fellow offensive linemen eating off the floor.
Dan Jackson – Safety
Jackson is a redshirt senior with two seasons of playing experience. He missed much of the 2022 season due to injury but certainly qualifies for inclusion based on his gritty play over two championship seasons. His hustling give-up-the-body block of a Bama defender in Indy ensured Ringo’s dramatic touchdown and Dan Jackson’s spot in the history of UGA football.
Tate Ratledge – Offensive Lineman
Ratledge plays right guard and looks the part of an interior lineman. His hustle and downfield blocking on running plays exudes eating off the floor. Remember those moving piles of bodies that often form when a Bulldog running back is stopped but still on his feet? When the pile begins moving toward the enemy goal, look closely and expect to find No. 69 leading the charge.
Jamon Dumas-Johnson – Linebacker
In 2022 Dumas-Johnson was a finalist for the Butkus Award and was the second-leading Dawg tackler with 70. The unquestioned boss of the defense, Dumas-Johnson calls plays and ensures the readiness of the front seven for the next play. He has the speed to sprint wide with a back out of the backfield and the strength to battle offensive linemen and stuff a run up the middle. His uncompromising, hard-nosed play qualifies him for this list. Ask any opposing back or lineman who has met him face-to-face on the line of scrimmage.