The Bulldogs are jam-packed with several former Stephenson players – Demario Minter and Kregg Lumpkin immediately come to mind. Those two are potential starters for the Dawgs, but often unnoticed T.J. Gartrell seems to be making steady progress at receiver.
Gartrell has spent the last few seasons in Athens redshirting and sitting out for the most part, but 2005 will likely be a different story. With the departure of Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson, Gartrell could be the surprise receiver in 2005. He received a lot of praise in the spring from Head Coach Mark Richt; now Gartrell hopes to make an impact on the field in the fall.
“Knowing that Coach Richt said positive things this spring just makes me want to go out there and work harder to get ready for the season,” he said. Gartrell is a rising sophomore with time on his side to develop for the future. He said he’s pleased he decided to redshirt in 2003.
“Looking back on it I’m happy I redshirted because I wasn’t quite ready for college football – I was still learning. I didn’t really learn receiver until I came up here,” said Gartrell.
His only career reception is a 27-yarder that came against Georgia Southern. But the lack of receptions has not prevented him from getting within striking distance for some serious playing time in the fall. The development on Mike Moore and Mohamed Massaquoi will likely impact Gartrell’s snaps this fall, but he is one of the most improved players in his class, and is probably the most forgotten Bulldog receiver even though he was named the team’s Most Improved Receiver in 2004.
“I’m just taking it day by day right now – trying to get better every day,” said Gartrell.