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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dawgs to Watch No. 13: Darryl Gamble

In high school, opponents always knew where Darryl Gamble was on the field. The Bainbridge product was a one-man wrecking crew at linebacker, earning All-State honors as a junior and posting some impressive numbers as a senior, despite missing much of the year with an injury.

Back then, Gamble could simply pin his ears back and go after the guy with the football. It was a simple formula he executed to perfection.

At Georgia, however, the learning curve has been a bit steeper.

"In high school, you have your three or four plays on defense, but you come here and there's plays for each formation," Gamble said.

Coaches loved Gamble's physical play and work ethic from the day he arrived in Athens, but turning those skills into on-field success took a bit longer.

Gamble was redshirted in 2006 and didn't see the field often to start the 2007 season. When things finally began to click into place by midseason, however, shades of that high school success quickly became apparent.

Gamble recorded two tackles and forced a fumble in a game against Vanderbilt in which seemingly every stop was huge for the Bulldogs. He starting receiving more playing time, and by season's end, he had earned significantly more trust from coaches.

Against Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, Gamble made four tackles, then carried the momentum over to the spring, where he was named the most improved linebacker after the annual G-Day game.

"I'm not yet the starter, but I'm next best man going in, so I think that's pushing me to become a starter," Gamble said. "I feel a lot more pressure being counted on and winning the coaches' trust."

Now second on the depth chart at weakside linebacker, Gamble looks to play a far more significant role as he enters his sophomore season. And despite a stout crew of veterans including All-SEC selection Dannell Ellerbe surrounding him, he knows once again, plenty of eyes will be focused on him when he steps on the field.

"A bigger spotlight means I can't mess up on stuff," Gamble said, "because I don't want to lose (the coaches') trust."

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