Ex-Shaw standout enters on high note
By SETH EMERSON
Auburn week is always an interesting one for former Shaw standout Bruce Figgins. The Georgia junior tight end grew up in Columbus, a city with allegiances to Georgia and Auburn, not to mention other schools.
This year, Figgins enters on a high note: He caught his first touchdown pass in three years and nine games Saturday against Idaho State. The first came in the 2007 season opener, when he became the first Georgia freshman since at least 1964 to start a season opener at tight end.
Since then, injuries and the recruitment of Orson Charles and Aron White have relegated Figgins to third-string duties. But he remains a factor for the Buldlogs and has played in every game this season.
Figgins spoke Monday about his career, his touchdown catch and the Auburn-Georgia rivalry.
Q: How cool a feeling was that to be in the end zone? I saw your teammates mobbed you after the play.
A: Yeah, it was great. I hadn’t been in there in awhile, since ’07, my freshman year. It was a blessing. I thank God for allowing me to be in that situation and to be able to get a score.
Q: You’re a guy that could be starting for a lot of other teams¸ but they’ve got Orson (Charles) and Aron (White) here. How difficult can that be?
A: It’s a little discouraging at times, to be honest. Because I think, as an athlete, as a competitor, you always see yourself being able to do a little bit more. But besides that, I love my team, I love my teammates. I always got the best attitude, and I’m always willing to help out when I can and play my role out on the team.
Q: You’ve played in every game. Has some of that been on special teams, or have you been getting a snap or two at tight end too?
A: I’ve been getting, probably averaging around eight plays a game at tight end. Been on some reps on kickoff return, taking some time when (Demarcus) Dobbs needs a breather (on) PAT-field goal.
Q: Growing up in Columbus, how would you estimate the breakdown of Georgia and Auburn fans? Is it 50-50, or tilt one way?
A: I want to say it’s 50-50. You’ve got just as many Auburn as you’ve got Georgia. I graduated from Shaw High School, and there were a lot of Auburn alumni that was teaching in the faculty. And Auburn was my first offer coming out of high school. So it was kind of a little expected that Auburn had an upper hand in the whole recruiting thing. But it’s always exciting for (playing) Auburn, being my location. You know Orson, he’s excited to play Florida. Some of the guys from Augusta are excited to play Carolina. Mine just happens to be Auburn being 30 minutes away, so it’s always exciting.
Q: Who’d you grow up rooting for?
A: Honestly, me being a tight end, I watched Georgia a little bit. I didn’t watch too much of Auburn. Auburn always came on every weekend. I remember ’04, the year they had a great team. Auburn always had a great team, ’04 especially a great team. I was more of a Florida State fan. I don’t know why. I was always trying to find that game, but I grew up watching both Auburn and Georgia.
Q: Do you know some guys on Auburn?
A: I actually don’t.
Q: This game has some similarities to ’06, when Auburn was No. 5 in the country and Georgia wasn’t ranked. You were a high school senior at that point; were you already committed?
A: I had already committed, but I actually went to that game as an Auburn (invitee). Because I wanted to see that game and being that it was in Auburn. I remember that game. I think it was a little rainy-day game, and Georgia played good. I think Tre’ Battle played his best game. Martrez (Milner) had a good game. Everything was just clicking. Coaches have been reminding us, especially today (Monday), so hopefully we can make plays and have everything go our way.
Q: So you were there with Auburn, even though you were a Georgia commitment?
A: Just watching the game. I didn’t have on (any colors). I wasn’t disrespectful in any way. I just had my ticket and went to the game, sat down.
Q: A lot of recruits do that, where they’re committed somewhere else but go to another school for a game on an official visit. Is it your experience that they’re going just for the free trip sometimes?
A: Yeah, I think it’s just for the atmosphere. Like you said, Auburn was a great team that year, and I think Georgia had a good team that year too, just a lot more losses than expected. So it was really the atmosphere. I know Auburn has great fans, a nice, big stadium, and I just wanted to be a part of that.
Q: Lastly, what can this game do for you guys? It hasn’t been the season you all wanted, but does this game have a chance to redeem it in some way?
A: Yeah, this season hasn’t gone our way. We have more losses than what we worked for in the offseason. We’re not bowing down, and we’re not just taking this game like we have two more games and let’s just roll on through and we’ll be done.
We’re still fighting for a bowl game. We’re still fighting for our respect as a team, as Georgia. We respect our opponents, and we want to be respected. I think if you look back on our past games, we’re losing by a little bit here, a little bit there, a play off or a catch, a fumble here or there. We’re right there. You could easily switch two plays in each game we’ve lost and we win the game. But we’re not bowing down to Auburn.