Sports

August 27, 2013

A Dawg's life

Fun-loving Dantzler hopes for bigger presence on line

(Continued)

NOW A DOG

As a Bulldog, though, his time on the field has been limited.

In 2011, his freshman season, Georgia finished 10-2 as the SEC East Champions before losing 42-10 to LSU in the SEC title game at the Georgia Dome. Dantzler played in three wins — versus Auburn, New Mexico State and Coastal Carolina.

“Coming in, I really didn’t know what would happen. Freshman year, I got to play some,” Dantzler said. “I thought I would redshirt, but it didn’t happen. As a sophomore, I kind of had that sixth- or seventh-man role.”

Getting accustomed to the speed of the college game was the toughest part about changing the letter on his helmet from a “D” to a “G.”

“Just the speed of the game, and how big and strong the defensive players are compared to who I played against in high school,” he said.

“I had to get meaner and stronger because the skill talent is obviously much bigger in the SEC.”

Entering his sophomore season in 2012, Dantzler was slotted the No. 1 right tackle to begin summer workouts. He was beaten out by heralded recruit and true freshman John Theus but was expected to be one of the top substitutes. Dantzler practiced at all offensive line positions except center. He played in six games, but missed four due to a high left ankle sprain.

“We kind of switched around,” Dantzler said. “John Theus came in and had a really good camp. He came in and ended up starting. He’s a really good player.

“I kind of filled in at positions as I was needed.”

Georgia went 12-2 last season — but it was more about what could’ve been. The Bulldogs earned a spot in the SEC title game in the Georgia Dome and lost 35-31 to the University of Alabama after a late-game drive ended inside the 5-yard line and the clock expired. A win over Alabama could have put Georgia in the national championship game against Notre Dame. Alabama defeated Notre Dame 42-10 to win its second consecutive national title.

“It really was like the worst feeling you could imagine,” Dantzler said. “It happened so slow. All the hard work we put in during the summer and all year, it flashed before our eyes. It really was the worst feeling. I hope to never have to go through something like that again.”

As a junior, Dantzler feels he can do more for the Bulldogs on the field. And his current head coach, Mark Richt, agrees.

“Watts has really been working hard to earn some playing time and he’s made, and is making, a lot of progress,” Richt said through the school’s athletics department. “We’re hoping he’ll earn more and more playing time this season.”

A health and physical education major, Dantzler has received the Bill and Margaret Young Football Scholarship each season and also earned the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll recognition for the fall semester of his freshman year.

One development from last season was Dantzler becoming a “must-follow” on Twitter, according to Sports Illustrated’s college football blog titled “Campus Union.” The media outlet linked to Dantzler’s Twitter status from June 4, 2012 when he tweeted, “Just in case anyone was wondering... My fish Baba Ganoush made it a whole month without food and he is doing great!” The story, published June 5, 2012, mentioned a photo Dantzler posted on Instagram with he and quarterback Aaron Murray “being serenaded by a mariachi band.”

“I’m not on Facebook or anything like that, but he and my daughter on Christmas Eve a couple years ago got me signed up on Twitter,” Mayo said. “So I follow him on Twitter. He definitely likes the attention and he has a great personality. I’ve told him numerous times, ‘Look, if you don’t make it in the NFL, then a sales job would be right up your alley.’ He is a great communicator and has a knack for communicating and speaking with people.”

On Jan. 30, the same blog published a story regarding Dantzler’s tweeting activity with the headline: “Georgia’s Watts Dantzler remains a social media treasure.” Dantzler said, “This is what I say to Tornados,” and linked to a photo of a man holding an American flag and a shotgun outside his farm. The blog initially mistook the man as Dantzler.

“It’s not even of me. It’s just a picture I’ve seen and I thought it was funny,” Dantzler said. “Some tweets will get 50 re-tweets if it is funny. That one got around 500 re-tweets. Then it’s funny when national people start re-tweeting you.”

Dantzler said he tries to use social media as an outlet to show fans his humorous side.

“I think it’s good. I try to do it in a positive way,” he said. “I think I’m funny. I try to give it to the fans with the aspect of, ‘Hey, we’re just college students. We’re just kids and live an average life.’”

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