November 18, 2009

Vasser feels fortunate after accident

Chase Vasser knows he's a lucky young man.

It was back in late September, Vasser's Georgia teammates were playing at Arkansas, and the freshman linebacker hopped on his scooter late that same evening for the quick ride back to his apartment at East Campus Village.

He never made it.

Vasser accidently wrecked his scooter, falling hard on the pavement in front of the Butts-Mehre Building, landing on his head and injuring his shoulder. The injuries caused the former Chestatee High standout to drop considerable weight, causing quite the setback to what he hoped would be a successful first-year campaign.

The Gainesville native spoke about the accident for the first time with UGASports.

"It was raining, it was late, it was misty and I was trying to get to ECV. I was on my scooter, I looked down for a minute and as I pulled out of the Butts-Mehre I looked up and I saw somebody sprint across and I just locked it in," Vasser said. "It throws me off, I hit my head first, my head goes back and I land on my shoulder. I don't remember anything else. I don't remember the next day."

Although he did not require hospitalization, Vasser was affected greatly by his injuries. His weight fell to 202 pounds.

"I hadn't weighed that since my junior year in high school," said Vasser, who now weighs 217. "But I'm slowly working back into it. I'm getting my shoulder stronger, I'm working my legs trying to build my strength up there, but it's taken me a while because I couldn't take pressure on the shoulder."

It wasn't until later that Vasser learned he was found after the accident by teammate Blake Sailors, whose father David Sailors is part of the medical staff for the football team.

"They just kept me in ice and Motrin to keep the pain away," said Vasser, who admitted facing his parents was just as painful as the accident itself.

"My dad was upset and my mom started getting really teary," he continued. "She lost one of her family members in a motorcycle accident. She was pretty upset. I know I'm very fortunate."

Jones says he's 50-50

Safety Reshad Jones said Wednesday night he's split as far as whether or not he will return to Georgia for his senior year or apply for the NFL draft.

"I'd say it's 50-50 right now," Jones said. "But until I get my grades back, I won't be able to make a solid decision."

Jones is scheduled to graduate in December.

He considered turning pro following last season before returning to Georgia for another year.

Battle not done with football

Defensive end Roderick Battle's college career came to an end when he tore an ACL in Week 3 against South Carolina, but the Atlanta senior is not ready to hang up his cleats for good.

Wednesday, Battle told UGASports that he will continue to work out and get himself ready for Georgia's annual Pro Day next March.

I haven't given up on football just yet," Battle said. "I'm going to give it a try and see how it goes."

Battle is one of 23 seniors who will be honored prior to Saturday's game against Kentucky.

Richt pleased with practice

Richt felt better about Wednesday's workout after a Tuesday practice that left him less than pleased.

"We weren't sharp Tuesday, just kind of going through the motions, but today we had a lot more energy," said Richt. "It was more physical out there and that's good because it's going to be a physical game."

With Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline sidelined for the remainder of the regular season due to a knee injury, true freshman Morgan Newton is slated to start Saturday. Currently, the Wildcats rank 17th nationally in rushing offense, averaging 203.5 rushing yards per game.

"UK will run it, and even more so now that (Mike) Hartline is out," said Richt. "I think our defensive line has played extremely well against the run, the linebackers and safeties are doing what they're supposed to do and tackling better. We've done a good job this year against the run and on not giving up a lot of big runs. I've been encouraged, and I hope it continues."

GSR rates announced

Georgia student-athletes graduated at a rate of 75% for the latest NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) survey period according to figures released Wednesday by the NCAA. That's up from 70% a year ago.

In the GSR four-year average rate, University of Georgia athletic teams improved in nine sports, dropped slightly in five, and remained the same in two according to the annual GSR Report released Wednesday.

The four-year average rate includes not only freshmen but transfers in and out of the institution. The current report tracks the freshman classes of 1999-2000-2001-2002.

Bulldog teams improved in five men's sports and declined in only two. Improvement was recorded in four women's sports, remained the same in two, and declined in three. Declines reported were all eight points or less.

Georgia football's four-year rate jumped from 48% to 57%, its highest since the GSR was developed in 2005.

"Certainly we are encouraged by the overall report and especially the improvement in many sports including a significant one in football," said athletic director Damon Evans. "But while we continue to improve, we are not where we want to be. I want to also remember the Academic Progress Rate (APR) since it is usually regarded as a more accurate indicator of what our varsity teams are doing at present rather than six or seven years back. Our recent APR scores have been very encouraging."

The APR is a point system based on scholarship athletes' eligibility and retention for a pre-determined time period. NCAA sports falling below the established point cutoff (925) are subject to penalties including scholarship reductions. Georgia has been above the cutoff in all sports.

This and that

Richt was asked about next year's battle for the starting quarterback position and said that Logan Gray, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger would each be given "an equal opportunity" to win the job. … Wide receiver Israel Troupe wore a green non-contact jersey, but Richt the redshirt sophomore would definitely play against Kentucky. "He's just feeling a little under the weather," Richt said. "But he's fine. He'll be out there Saturday." Richt has not decided who will start in place of receiver A.J. Green, who will miss Saturday's contest with an AC sprain in his left shoulder.

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