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Friday, August 21, 2009

Get to Know: Rantavious Wooten

Marlon Brown garnered more headlines during recruiting season, but to hear Georgia's veteran receivers talk, it's Rantavious Wooten who has looked like a veteran during the first few weeks of fall practice.

Senior Michael Moore raved about Wooten's sharp routes and cornerback Brandon Boykin marveled at Wooten's speed. The biggest knock on the receiver from Belle Glades, Fla. was his size, and strength and conditioning coach Dave Van Halanger said Wooten has even excelled at improving that -- gaining 11 pounds during his first two months on campus.

So what is it about Wooten that has allowed him to make such a strong first impression? I chatted with him about that and a few less serious topics in our latest "Get to Know" feature...

David Hale: You got started playing football a little later in life. What first attracted you to the game, and what was it that allowed you to develop so quickly?

Rantavious Wooten: When I was growing up in middle school, I just ran track. I even started basketball late. I started everything late. But all my friends were doing it, and I was missing out. I saw how much fun they were having, and I decided to go out and give it a try.

I had tried previously in Pop Warner, but it didn’t work out for me. So I just went my ninth-grade year, and I learned. I watched people to get better. I played my freshman year the whole year on the freshman team. I never got moved up. And that was a message to me that I needed to work harder.

So going into my sophomore year, I worked that whole summer to get better, studying other people to get myself better. I started on varsity my sophomore year, and it’s been going on since then. I think what helped me get ahead of people was my speed, and then I’ve just kept on working on my hands and my route running, and it all came together.

DH: You mentioned your speed. You came in knowing you were a pretty fast guy, but Georgia has a few players like that. Have you raced Branden Smith or Bryan Evans or Carlton Thomas yet to see who's the fastest?

RW: Of course they’re all fast guys, but we haven’t really had a competition. We’re all on the same team. We’re all trying to do big things and show people that we can do it. It’s not a competition, it’s just making each other better. We can all say who is faster, but we’ve never had the competition to see who really is.

DH: I'm sure there's still a little smack talk that goes on between you guys though, right?

RW: There is. A couple people are always asking about me and Branden, and we say the same thing – I don’t know, we just come in here and do what we do.

DH: So you're extraordinarily fast, but if you could have a skill from one other player on the team for one day, what would it be?

RW: The leaping ability of Brandon Boykin.

DH: Yeah, I hear he's a beast on the basketball court, too.

RW: Yeah, he gets after it.

DH: OK, so if you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?

RW: Beyonce.

DH: Do I need to ask why, or should that be pretty obvious?

RW: That should be obvious.

DH: Did you have any nicknames growing up?

RW: They actually called me Gecko.

DH: What does that mean?

RW: I don’t know. We all just gave each other dumb names. Like, one of my friends was Alligator. We just gave each other dumb names, and mine was Gecko.

DH: What's your favorite food?

RW: I'd probably say chicken.

DH: Do you have a place in Athens yet that you like to go?

RW: I eat a lot at Wingsters just because it’s delivery.

DH: You're a Florida guy who decided to come to Georgia rather than one of the in-state schools. Did you hear a lot of complaints from people around you when you picked Georgia?

RW: I didn’t really interact with a lot of people like that because at the end of the day, I knew it was up to me, regardless of what they said or how they feel. Of course there was a couple people upset who felt like I should have gone to Florida or Miami, but I just felt like I just did what was best for me.

DH: You weren't the only Florida guy to come up to Athens this year. Aaron Murray and Orson Charles did, too, and looking at the likely commitments for next season, Georgia appears to have a handful more on their way. Is it becoming the popular thing to do in Florida to head north to play college ball?

RW: I feel like it’s going to become a trend. From my school, a lot of people like Georgia now. I’ve talked to them, and they say, they’re my top school. I feel like a lot of people are going to start coming to Georgia to play.

DH: Is that one of those things where it sort of builds on itself, that you guys go back and start convincing more and more Florida players to come to school at Georgia?

RW: Yeah, get 'em up here. We want to get the best guys, wherever they’re from, and help this team get better every year. Florida has some talented athletes, and they look at us and see there’s a chance to come in and play early, and that’s going to help.

DH: Well, speaking of your chance to play, what kind of impact do you think you can have this season?

RW: I just continue working, and it’s all going to shake out. I’m looking forward to playing, Marlon’s looking forward to playing, but whatever happens, when I get on the field and get that chance, I’m going to take full advantage of it. So whatever turn they give me, I’m going for it.

DH: OK, well that will lead me to my last question, which actually comes from one of my readers. You get a lot of comparisons to former Florida player Percy Harvin in terms of your skill set and body type. Do you think you might get into that Wildcat formation or do some running with the football like he did at Florida?

RW: I feel like I’m pretty good at that. I feel like I can do that. I have two different styles I can play, and I can turn it on and just play ball. If I get in that package, it’s going to be something dangerous.

(h/t to @shadcraft21 for the Percy Harvin question. I'll have answers to more of your Twitter inquiries in the next few days.)

3 comments:

Dawg Stephen said...

Wow. Great interview and good questions. If Ranwoo can produce the way it sounds, we better enjoy him while we have him. Good Job, and thanks for helping us know him better. Hope the opponents get to know his skills that well.

David Hale said...

"Ranwoo" is a helluva lot better nickname than "Gecko," Stephen. Excellent work.

the anonymous suckup said...

I thought his nickname was Wootentheballcarrier...