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Monday, August 25, 2008

Dawgs to Watch No. 5: Baccari Rambo

Midway through the second week of preseason camp, Georgia head coach Mark Richt decided to give his players a break. Instead of another grueling practice, they spent the morning in the pool.

Ostensibly, the day off was meant as a diversion and a reward, but Richt also knew it was an important part of building a team. So when freshman safety Baccari Rambo stood at the end of the high dive, poised to make the 10-meter leap into the pool, but frozen with fear, it only underscored the chemistry Richt already knew the team was developing.

"Rambo wasn't sure if he was going to do it, but we got to cheering him, and he did a good job," Richt said.

The dive was a perfect analogy for Rambo's early efforts with the Bulldogs. It was a new and frightening experience, but one he conquered with the support of his teammates.

Preseason camp has been a lot like that for Rambo, who is in line for significant playing time as a reserve safety in the early season. With sophomore Quintin Banks out for the first few ballgames, Rambo is among a group of true freshmen expected to fill the void.

"They talk to me a little bit to tell me I need to step up and stuff, which kind of made me work harder," Rambo said.

The hard work, however, took its toll on Rambo.

Despite making a strong impression in the early going, Rambo hit a wall during two-a-days. It was a disappointment to both himself and his coaches.

"I was in a little slump, I didn't do too well," Rambo said. "They had to move other people around."

The mid-camp doldrums are nothing new, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. Rambo was just the latest victim of the malaise that hits almost every freshman during his first preseason.

"It happens every year, some earlier, some later," Martinez said. "It's just the pace. Everything's fast, and not just the football. You're talking about guys' academics. You've got coaches over here, you've got coaches in academics, and it takes a little bit of time to get adjusted to it."

Like the cheers that got him off the high dive, it was the support of his teammates that helped Rambo adjust, he said. They got him over the hump, and now he's back to where he wants to be practicing hard and in line for playing time in Georgia's secondary.

"I just want my role to be anything that will help the team to win," Rambo said.

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