Greyson Lambert Transfer Adds Another Dimension to QB Picture

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Greyson Lambert Transfer Adds Another Dimension to QB Picture

Greyson Lambert
[su_spacer size=”20″] Who will be the University of Georgia’s starting quarterback when the Bulldogs tee it up on Sept. 5 for the 2015 season opener against Louisiana-Monroe?
[su_spacer size=”40″] That was the question that raged throughout Georgia’s spring practice this year and it’s one that apparently will rage on right up through fall camp and the first game against the Warhawks.
[su_spacer size=”40″] After the conclusion of spring practice, it seemed certain in this fight for the starting signal-caller job to succeed outgoing senior QB Hutson Mason that it was going to be a two-way battle between redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey and junior Faton Bauta. After guiding the scout team last season, redshirt freshman Jacob Park still has a ways to go on the learning curb and is presently entrenched in the No. 3 spot entering the summer workouts.
[su_spacer size=”40″] However, while that pecking order for the starting quarterback nod at Georgia still seems the same heading into summer workouts, the announcement this week that Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert is transferring to Georgia with still two years of playing eligibility remaining, has added a whole new dimension to the Bulldogs’ quarterback picture.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Lambert, a 6-5, 220-pound product of Jesup’s Wayne County High School, will be eligible to play immediately after graduating from the University of Virginia in just two-and-a-half years. Lambert started nine games for the Cavaliers last season but lost his starting job in the Cavs’ spring drills to Matt Johns.
[su_spacer size=”40″] New Georgia offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, meeting with the UGA beat media this week for the first time since his opening press conference in January, said the interest in Lambert does not reflect displeasure with the quarterbacks’ performance this spring.
[su_spacer size=”40″] I think obviously it speaks to the fact that we’re trying to create competition,” Schottenheimer said on Wednesday before Lambert announced his decision. “… Unfortunately, injuries are part of the process. It doesn’t matter whether it’s quarterback or offensive line, we’re trying to create competition. We think that leads to guys raising their level of play and raising the standard. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Prior to the news that Lambert had selected Georgia over other interested schools such as Florida and Colorado State, Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt acknowledged this week that Georgia was indeed recruiting Lambert and that the timing of it all provides “an interesting dynamic.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Really is not a whole lot different than recruiting anybody,” Richt said. “Every year we recruit. Every year we bring in guys. Every year they will compete for your job.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Richt said he would welcome another quarterback “if there is a transfer who you think has the talent base to help you win. You’re rewarding a guy who has gotten his degree and giving him an opportunity to make a change if he wants to.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Virginia finished 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. Lambert, who missed three games with an ankle injury, passed for 1,632 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Not coming to Athens until early next month and having to learn new terminology and schemes in Richt and Schottenheimer’s offensive system, it wouldn’t appear that Lambert could overtake Ramsey and Bauta for the starting assignment in the short time before the Sept. 5 season opener against Louisiana-Monroe but with his vast advantage in playing experience over the two present Bulldog signal-callers, Lambert is sure to provide the sort of competition that could push Ramsey and Bauta to become even better quarterbacks, that is, if they plan to remain at the top of the QB rotation.
[su_spacer size=”40″] And, certainly an immediate looming question is how will Lambert’s joining the team affect the status of redshirt freshman quarterback Jacob Park? Will Park remain No. 3 on the depth chart as he is now and bide his time over the next few seasons with hopes of still becoming Georgia’s starting quarterback of the future or, will he be heading out of Athens pronto with hopes of moving right into a starting position at another school that would be elated to acquire his pass/run combination skills (such as Mike Bobo’s Colorado State team)?
[su_spacer size=”40″] Before the revelation of Greyson Lambert throwing his helmet into the UGA quarterback picture, Richt clearly emphasized, both after the conclusion of spring drills and also on his UGA Days tour around the state, that Ramsey, Bauta and Park were all still in the running for the No. 1 assignment in 2015.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “Nobody in my opinion has nailed it down,” said Richt, speaking at the first UGA Days stop in Savannah. “All three guys have a legitimate chance to be the starter. It will depend on what they do between now and fall camp and then on what they do in the camp. But they all have the talent base to get the job done. And there will be a lot of things happening that will help our quarterback do his job,” said Richt, alluding to Nick Chubb’s explosive running and Georgia’s experienced offensive line.
[su_spacer size=”40″] And that’s the thing about this starting quarterback battle. With Heisman Trophy candidate Chubb in the backfield and a bevy of other talented tailbacks running behind an offensive front that returns four starters from last season’s 10-3 team, the Georgia coaches simply want their new quarterback to be sound fundamentally and not turn the football over while directing what should be one of the strongest ground attacks in the Southeastern Conference. Couple that fact with what is expected to be a tenacious defense under second-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and there wouldn’t seem to be a need for the Bulldogs’ QB to throw for 300 yards a game.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Still, if you listened to Richt closely in his post-game remarks following the April 11 G-Day game, you got the feeling that it could be the guy with the strongest arm, Brice Ramsey, who will be taking the first snap against Louisiana-Monroe. Ramsey, the 6-3, 216-pound Camden County product, stretched the field with a 72-yard touchdown completion to Isaiah McKenzie and also a 60-yard strike to Reggie Davis.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “I thought (Ramsey) made some nice plays,” said Richt. “I think he overall in the spring, I can probably talk in more generalities, but he’s done a very good job of studying, getting us in the right protection, getting us in the right hot and side adjustment situations. He’s been really pretty accurate throughout these spring practice situations, to be honest with you.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] And when the final wrap was put on spring practice, Richt said it was imperative that the eventual starting quarterback have the arm to throw the ball downfield.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “It’s very important,” he said. “We’ve got guys who can run, really. Malcolm (Mitchell) is fast. Reggie (Davis) is fast. Isaiah (McKenzie) is fast. Justin Scott-Wesley can really run. We’ll see how these other kids run who come in. We’ve got guys who have enough speed. All three (quarterbacks) have the arm to throw it deep. There’s no doubt in my mind on that. I think we miss too many balls by throwing it too far, actually — just all spring long. You didn’t have to tell (Aaron) Murray to back-shoulder a guy. Murray was going to keep it in play and put it where we could get it. Very few times did Murray lay it out and have them go get it,” Richt said. “It would have to be very evident that our guy got ahead and really stacked the guy for him to lay it out. If it was two guys side-by-side, he was going to rip it on the backside of that guy and complete it. He completed a bunch of balls because he kept them in play. We’ve got young guys who want to throw that perfect, long bomb but when you throw it too flat and too far, you’ll never complete a ball that’s thrown too far. You’ve got to throw the ball, usually, a little shorter but outside. You’ll complete more balls that are short and outside than balls that are too far down the field.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] In the Bulldogs’ two spring scrimmages plus G-Day, Ramsey totaled 38 completions on 69 attempts for 625 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions. Bauta, the 6-3, 218-pound junior from West Palm Beach, Fla. and likely the best runner of the three candidates, had a total of 50 completions on 83 attempts, for 578 yards and five touchdowns, with also two picks. And Park, the 6-4, 202-pound product of Goose Creek, S.C. who would seem to be the Bulldogs’ best dual-threat option, showed 16 completions on 30 attempts for 315 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Richt also liked the way Bauta − said to be by far the hardest worker on the team − and Park handled themselves on G-Day and throughout the spring.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “Faton has also been a guy who has worked extremely hard to get a comfort level with what Coach Schotty (new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) is trying to teach them and I think he got better and better as the spring went along,” said Richt. “I think Jacob ran more reps with the two and three units but you can see his arm talent, you can see his ability and I think this summer is going to be crucial and important for him, all of them really. But the more he gets comfortable with the system, the better he will compete. I think it’s still a race, I don’t think there’s any question it’s going through summer and fall before we get ready to make a decision regarding who that guy is.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] In their only spring meeting with the media, each of the three quarterbacks simply said they’re learning every day in Schottenheimer’s new system, working as diligently as they can in improving on their playbook knowledge and passing technique, and that the eventual pecking order lies in the coaches’ hands.
[su_spacer size=”40″] We’re all starting from zero,” said Bauta. “It’s not like one of us knows the playbook more than the other.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] I have playing experience,” said Ramsey, who threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns while backing up Mason last fall, “but that means nothing now. I’m back to square one. I had just felt comfortable, right when (Mike) Bobo left, with the playbook. I was like, `Yes, I got it,’ and sure enough (now) I’m into a new system. … It just produces new challenges.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] I created a lot of bad habits last year,” Park offered. “I’d just chuck-and-duck. I didn’t have good protection last year on scout team, I didn’t really trust my protections, so I tended to scramble out of the pocket a lot. I knew I was redshirting last year,” he said. “Now, I’ve actually got to sit and make reads, sit in the pocket, pick up the blitzes, not run around and chuck the ball all the time, make good decisions and throw completions. Now I’m playing actual fundamental football and not backyard football.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Ramsey, Bauta and Park’s teammates, in this year’s spring drills, said anyone of the three is capable of guiding the Bulldogs to lofty heights this coming season.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “They’re all great quarterbacks,” said sophomore cornerback Malkom Parrish. “They deliver the ball on time and know what they’re doing so the competition is there between the quarterbacks and the team is working hard and they’re working hard. Whatever the coaches decide who’s going to play this year, that’s on the coaches … I don’t know anything about that.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] All the quarterbacks are great to me,” declared junior free safety Quincy Mauger. ” Jacob Park has a great arm and is a great kid and student. Faton is a hard worker and he knows the game. Brice is the same. All are great students of the game and they’re all hard workers.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] “The (fall camp) scrimmages will be big,” Richt concluded. “We’ll have two scrimmages. We usually have three prior to the first game but that third scrimmage is usually like a practice game. I’m hoping by then we’ll at least say who’s starting the first game. We’ll just have to see.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] And now, with a fourth quarterback candidate arriving on campus next month, Richt and Schottenheimer should have plenty to observe in August camp as they attempt to zero in on their No. 1 guy, Georgia’s starting quarterback for the 2015 season opener.

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.