While many in the Red and Black fans cringe at the mere mention of Tim Tebow's name, new Georgia signee Fauton Bauta isn't one of them.
At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Bauta's style of play often drew comparisons to the former Florida star, not only as a runner and passer, but the fact they're approximately the same size and in high school were told a different position would likely be in their collegiate future.
Bauta smiled when asked if he'd ever been linked to Tebow before.
"It's an honor. It's definitely an honor to be compared to a great player like him. I know a lot of people are always critiquing him because of how he throws, but to be compared to anybody in the NFL is a great honor," said Bauta, one of Georgia's three early enrollees. "To be compared to him, someone of his character, the type of man he is and his will to win and just his whole outlook is huge. I really do appreciate the comparisons."
Bauta's story is certainly an interesting one.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Bauta's family moved to Jupiter, Fla. for his senior year, where he starred at Dwyer High and earned a spot on the Orlando Sentinel's Class 7A second-team offense, along with being tagged as the 15th-ranked dual-threat QB according to Rivals.com.
But besides the physical comparisons, it was the way Bauta played the game that have given birth to the Tebow comparisons.
"(The comparisons) haven't really been about the way I throw; I've usually just heard the will to win, the dual threat and our body size because we're about the same size," Bauta said. "Everybody mistakes us for linebackers, and that's all right. That's how it works, but like I said it's definitely an honor to be compared to somebody like him."
It's that "will to win" Bauta said that's helped put him in the position that he currently finds himself in with the Bulldogs.
When many of the schools recruiting Bauta wanted him to play other positions, Georgia agreed to let him give QB a try, despite the presence of Aaron Murray, Hutson Mason, Christian LeMay, and a commit from Brice Ramsey for 2013.
"It is crowded, but no matter where you go you're going to have to beat somebody out," Bauta said. "So that's what I'll work to every day, beat people out. If they're the better guy and they're playing but I'm going to do whatever I've got to do to work and help this team."
Of course, it doesn't hurt to have four older brothers - Luman Bauta ( Bucknell), Lav Bauta (Duke and Villanova), Izzy (Duke and Villanova) and Imer (Villanova) - who played offensive line in college to help develop that mindset.
"It wasn't really pressure, but it was all about making them happy, because when they weren't happy with my performance, I would take that to heart because I just wanted to make my family happy with the way I performed," Bauta said. "Having them as extra guides, I had six parents, my four brothers and my two parents."
It's been a lesson learned well.
"It's (the will to win) is just something that comes over time," he said. "I was lucky to have four older brothers who played college ball, they really instilled that in me which is something kids my age don't always have. I was able to take things from them and learn from them."
The will to win comes from within. It's based on the individual
it's just how much you want it. Some people do want it, some people kind of want it, but you've got to want it. As much as you want to breathe, you've got to want it."
Beard ready for chance to play in the SEC
As a high school senior, Mark Beard said he just weighed 260 pounds.
Between that, and the fact his grades left a lot to be desired, Troy was the only FBS school to offer the Alabama native a scholarship.
So, it was off to Coffeyville Kan., where he developed into the 6-4, 300-pound specimen he is today.
"Nobody really showed me an interest," said Beard. "But I always thought I could play in the SEC, so junior college was just another opportunity to go show out, get my grades in order and prove what I could do."
Beard, who redshirted his first year at Coffeyville Community College, will have three years to play three for the Bulldogs.
He'll work out at both tackle spots for Georgia this spring, but could also see some time at guard.
Marshall's numbers are eye-openers
There's not many players who can claim that their time in the 40-yard dash is lower than their GPA.
But that's the case with freshman Keith Marshall.
At Millbrook High in Raleigh, N.C., Marshall said he was timed at 4.22 in the 40 and at 4.25 in one of the college camps he attended while still in school. His GPA at Millbrook was 4.31.
It was that speed, however, that caught the attention of teammate Malcolm Mitchell when he challenged Marshall to an impromptu best-of-three races recently at the Woodruff Practice Facility.
Marshall won the challenge 2-1.
"It was his idea," Marshall said. "I saw where some people say I challenged him, but we were working out, running routes and we started talking about who's faster, so we went outside and raced."
Marshall smiled that many of his teammate considered him the underdog going in.
"All the guys thought he was going to win," Marshal said. "It was kind of a cool feeling, but we're teammates. It's not a big deal to me."
No word if rising senior Branden Smith wants to give it a whirl.
"Nah, nobody's challenged me," Marshall laughed.
Of course, Marshall's main focus will be the football field where many expect him, along with fellow freshman and good friend Todd Gurley to make an immediate impact.
Running backs coach Bryan McClendon is hopeful.
"They're both competitive guys, they're guys who love to compete, it doesn't matter what it is," McClendon said. "But they're smart guys, guys who want to do it right, they're very conscience and normally when you group that with a talent base, I think they'll be good players."
McClendon also believes their presence will also have a positive influence on the team's veteran running backs, including Isaiah Crowell and Ken Malcome.
"I think it will help everybody. Competition brings out the best in everybody, and the same with depth," McClendon said. "Depth is going to allow you to stay healthy, and stay fresh with the guys who do end up working themselves in position to play. I think it's going to help because everybody is going to have to be on their A-game, no matter what."