Bulldogs Blog

Georgia football notes: UGA safety Shawn Williams still thinks about fire that destroyed his family's home

Richt tops current SEC coaches in APR

By Seth Emerson


ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia sophomore safety Shawn Williams got the call during an evening in July, after a workout. His brother delivered the devastating news: Earlier that day, his family home in south Georgia had burned down.

Ever since then, it’s been on Williams’ mind, even as coaches have been impressed by his play this week at Georgia’s practices.

“My motivation is I guess what’s happened to me lately,” Williams said Thursday. “That’s just strived to make me work harder. My house burned down. I’m working to maybe build another house.”

Williams said he lived in the house “as long as I remember.” The fire, the cause of which is undetermined, happened during the day when no one was home.

The family has been living at his grandmother’s home. Williams said his mother was torn up that a trophy of his was lost in the fire.

“I really haven’t gotten over it yet,” Williams said. “Every time I’m on that field, (if) I’m tired, I just think about my mom.”

Georgia has set up a fund for the Williams family at a Blakely bank, according to a team spokesman.

Williams has been working in a rotation of first- and second-teamers at safety.

“A tragic thing happened with his home and everything,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “But he didn’t let that take advantage of all the hard work he had over the summer.”

Mason or Gray?

Richt made a point of saying he has been impressed with the route-running of new receiver Logan Gray. And he also has liked the command of Hutson Mason, a true freshman who is working as the backup quarterback.

That led to some discussion about whether Gray, the converted quarterback, still would be considered if something happened to starter Aaron Murray — or whether the team would burn Mason’s redshirt.

Richt said it is too early to know for sure.

“We just wanna get (Mason) as ready as possible, and if, God forbid, something happened to Aaron and we had to go to a second guy, we’d have to gauge what (would be the better option),” Richt said.

Coaches’ APR released

Among current SEC coaches, Richt has the top average score (966.83) in the Academic Progress Rate since 2003, according to figures released Thursday.

The NCAA for the first time released the APR by coach, as a way of holding coaches publicly accountable. There are no penalties, however, as there are with yearly program scores.

Bobby Johnson would have had the top SEC coaches’ score, but he retired as Vanderbilt’s coach in July.

“Our academic staff does a wonderful job,” Richt said. “Our coaches do a great job of getting involved with our players academically.”

Quick hits

Freshman offensive lineman Kenariouos Gates sat out Thursday’s practice with cramps, which he incurred at the end of Wednesday’s practice. … The Ogletree brothers — safety Alec and fullback Alexander — continue to impress Richt. The coach said he also has liked the play of freshman cornerback Derek Owens. … No position switches yet.