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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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He's a tough guy named Joe
Little else is known about the quarterback who makes his first start for Georgia against UF.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published October 27, 2005
When he was just a little boy, Joe Tereshinski III would hang around Georgia football practices watching intently as the Bulldogs prepared for the week's opponent.
Sometimes when practice ended, he would hand out pictures of individual players that he'd drawn especially for them.
"I'd give it to them and they'd keep the pictures," he said Wednesday afternoon. "They'd write me a letter. I looked up to them and aspired to be like them. They always wrote me a letter back, which was real nice of them and I kept those."
On Saturday, the 22-year-old Athens native and third generation Bulldog will make his debut as the starting quarterback for the team he grew up idolizing, in arguably the biggest game of the season so far.
The biggest game of his career.
The son and grandson of former Georgia players who won SEC titles, Tereshinski will take over for injured quarterback D.J. Shockley. His task: help No.4 Georgia defeat No. 16 Florida to clinch an SEC East title and remain undefeated.
"This game is probably the biggest game, the game that I've thought about the most," Tereshinski said. "Being the starting quarterback now is a big responsibility and I look forward to it. It's not the way I wanted to come into the game, I didn't want that at all. We've (he and Shockley) been real tight and I wish the best for him."
Before Saturday, Tereshinski had never completed a pass in a game. A backup/special teams player who was a long snapper, he earned the respect of his teammates by playing personal protector on the punt team.
"I didn't want to just sit back on the sidelines and watch," he said. "If that meant I had to be out there on special teams, so be it."
"He's a tough son of a gun," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "He's one of those guys who'll do whatever it takes for his team, and he'll do it with a lot of enthusiasm."
Richt said before Shockley got hurt the staff tried to get Tereshinski 50 percent of the snaps in practice, but generally it was closer to 40. He was 5-of-9 for 91 yards with one touchdown and one interception after Shockley went down in the first half against Arkansas Saturday. Although Shockley presented more of a running threat than his backup, Richt said very little will change with the Bulldogs' scheme.
"Everything we have been doing is certainly not too hard for him to comprehend," Richt said. "What is going to be important is how everybody else plays around him. If you protect him, he will have a chance to find some (receivers). If we give him some type of running attack, it will help him."
For Florida, the absence of Shockley presents an interesting situation. Richt has not specifically said Shockley will not play, so the Gators are working under the assumption they might see him at some point during the game.
"We're still practicing as if Shockley were going to play because he is a legit offensive weapon," coach Urban Meyer said. "I haven't been told he's definitely not going to play this week and I think anybody would be making a major mistake to not prepare as if he were going to be the guy taking the snaps."
Georgia players expect Tereshinski to be their man and said they're confident in him.
"Joe's a guy who's been here four years; Everybody wants to act like he's a true freshman coming in who's never taken snaps and been in big games," senior center Russ Tanner said. "He's been here awhile, he knows the system and he's a smart, tough kid. We've got all the confidence in the world that Joe can come in and do a good job for us."
"Everybody asks me "Can he handle the spotlight?' " safety Greg Blue said. "He's a grown man and he's able. He can do it. ... Joe T. will do his thing. He's got a strong arm, he's a physical quarterback, he's tough. He just doesn't have any experience right now, that's the only thing people question, plus we're playing Florida for an SEC championship. But he's got a whole team behind his back."
When he went down with a sprained knee ligament, Shockley was the SEC's top-rated quarterback. Tanner said it's important that Tereshinski remember he doesn't need to be Shockley. He has to be himself. The lifelong Georgia fan said he hopes preparation keep him grounded.
"I think I will feel something, but I think it's going to be more being excited, not nervous, because we are preparing a lot this week," Tereshinski said. "The better I know my assignments, the more prepared I'll feel and the less nervous I'll feel."