Joe Tereshinski III has lived his whole life in Athens. He is the son and grandson of former Bulldogs players of the same name. For Joe T, as his teammates call him, being a Bulldog was something he seemed to want more than any other player on the team.
“I can remember growing up in Athens and those weekends being all about the football games,” he said.
“When I got into high school the way (Georgia coaches) looked at me changed. I would come in and work out with my brother, and they would see us. You could tell that there was a change – ‘they are not really kids anymore,’” he said of the time he spent on campus while in high school. His father, Joe Tereshinski II, is the program’s video coordinator and also works with strength and conditioning, so seeing a young Joe T on campus was not rare.
As a senior at Athens Academy, Tereshinski blistered opponents and made a name for himself separate from what his forefathers accomplished on the gridiron. His skill drew attention from several colleges, but it appeared that Georgia would be too difficult to beat out on signing day.
“I wouldn’t say it was a ‘slam dunk’ that I would pick Georgia,” said Tereshinski. “But my dad coaching here as well as playing here and my grandfather’s playing here were definitely factors. I grew up knowing the traditions, and to me that was a big deal in determining where I wanted to play. There is such great tradition at Georgia. You grow up, and on Saturdays everyone goes to the game. You always look up to people wearing red helmets when you are growing up. When I was six, seven and eight the locker room was where the people wearing the red helmets went, so when the opportunity came to me I wanted to take advantage of it. All of the excitement with this program made me decide that Georgia was the place I wanted to go.”
He said going to Georgia was the last thing on the mind of some of his high school classmates.
“I had a lot of friends that wanted to leave Athens for college,” Tereshinski said. “They wanted to go to other places because they had been here all their life. But to me there is no better place.”
Tereshinski’s first season in Athens was one he took very seriously. He said he tried to learn all of the Bulldogs’ offense and attempted to absorb everything at once.
“When I first got to Georgia I took things very seriously. I really did,” he said. “I came in wanting to play a lot. But over the last couple of years I have loosened up – I have learned to play a little bit. I have tried to become more of a player than just trying to go out there and do as I am told. I am trying to just play the game and take advantage of opportunities that open up for me instead of ‘on a certain play you have to go here because this is the coverage that they give you.’”
After his first year at Georgia, Tereshinski started exploring playing special teams for the Bulldogs. Eventually he made his way onto the field as a special teams player covering punts and even snapping them at times.
“I want to play,” Tereshinski said. “I just don’t want to be a third string quarterback. I want to try to get onto the field as much as possible. I do enjoy contact. That’s why I like to sit in the pocket while I am at quarterback.”
Tereshinski, one of the few quarterbacks in the country to play special teams, is not your every day quarterback when it comes to toughness. He has a reputation of being a powerful player – every bit a strapping as some linebackers.
“He’s strong,” said quarterback David Greene, “he definitely gets after it.”
“I’ve never gotten hit by Joe T,” said defensive tackle Kedric Golston, “but I have wrestled around with him enough to know that he’s pretty strong.”
Joe T was not quite ready to anoint himself the ‘baddest’ quarterback playing college football today.
“As far as being the toughest quarterback in the country – I am not sure. I wouldn’t go that far,” he smiled.
“Honestly, I think Joe T can play a lot of positions on this team. I think he can play fullback, and I think he can play linebacker – that’s how physical he is. He is just a hard nosed kind of guy. Once other teams see him on film they know that he is the real deal,” said Golston.
Golston said the similarities between Joe T and his father are striking.
“Just knowing his dad – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The whole family, if you just watch them, is made up of work-a-holics,” he said.
Some have gone as far as to suggest Joe T gets unfair or preferential treatment because of who his father is, but the quarterback does not acknowledge it.
“I haven’t come across a lot of people who have said that I have been given preferential treatment because of my Dad or my family’s tradition at Georgia. I don’t think I have gotten any special treatment. I have gone through everything all the other players have gone through. I have been disciplined just as much as they have. You do get some treatment, just because you are a player, but just because you are a coach’s son or you are third generation (Bulldog) does not mean they are going to see you any differently.”
Next season Joe T will be the backup quarterback for the Dawgs. He is not certain if a rotation will be set for him the way it has been for D.J. Shockley while David Greene was starting, but he wants to get onto the field for some action at quarterback in 2005.
“I want to play, but we have not discussed rotating quarterbacks next year. I am going to compete as best I can this spring to get some playing time. I want to do my best every day,” he said.
Being the backup could, however, cost Tereshinski his position on special teams.
“I am going on what happened in the past; when D.J. got hurt they took me off all special teams. I doubt I will play special teams next year. But if they need me to I would enjoy it. I would miss the contact, especially next year. I would miss being one of the guys that is in there trying to make tackles. It is a different kind of game (playing) on special teams rather than quarterback. It is more of a physical thing, and you don’t have to break everything down as much – you just get to play.”
Entering his final two seasons in Athens, Joe T is able to live out his dream of competing in the stadium he once played in as a young boy.
“My earliest memory was before they closed off the fourth side of Sanford. I remember there were just kind of bleachers there. I used to always play with my brother towards the locker room. We used to throw the football down there and eventually get chased off by the security guards,” he said laughing.
“Growing up in Athens – I knew I wanted to be here all of my life, really,” he said.