Chaney finally comes to Athens

ATHENS – It will come a year and a half after he expected, but Jamar Chaney finally will make his Sanford Stadium debut on Saturday.

The one-time Georgia signee will start for Mississippi State at weakside linebacker when the two Bulldogs meet at 1 p.m. Chaney signed with Georgia out of Fort Pierce, Fla., in 2005 but was denied admission after the validity of his SAT score was questioned.

He has excelled since landing at Mississippi State, where he is the team's starting weakside linebacker and third-leading tackler with 36 stops, including three tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks.

"I'm very happy for him," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I do really care about the kid. It was a very trying situation as we went through the process here. It's just tough on those kids when they have to change gears. I'm just thankful he's at a great spot with a great coach and playing a lot of ball."

Chaney is trying to treat this week's game like any other, he said.

"Things have been going real good," he said. "I've been playing a lot. I wouldn't change none of it. I love being at Mississippi State."

He hasn't given his situation at Georgia much thought since signing with Sylvester Croom's Bulldogs, he said.

"I don't think he's ever looked back, I really don't," Mississippi State outside linebackers coach Amos Jones said. "He has never at any point in time shown anything other than that he's glad it turned out the way it did. He's done everything this football team has asked of him.

"He's a Bulldog man, just a different shade than when he started."

Chaney's career probably has gotten off to a quicker start in Starkville than it would have in Athens, where the linebacker depth is greater. He played 11 games and had 31 tackles as a true freshman last year.

"You could say it that way," he said, "but I feel I could have played anywhere I went."

Chaney still talks to Richt or Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner at least once a month, he said. Richt recommended Chaney to Croom after the player was denied admission to Georgia.

"(Croom) loves the kid," Richt said. "He's thankful that we had our conversation about him. He says he's doing awesome in school. He's just one of their better all-around guys."

Chaney admitted he's "shocked" Georgia has dropped two straight games heading into Saturday's matchup.

"It shocked everybody, especially when they lost to Vanderbilt," he said. "That's my first time seeing them lose two games in a row. I'm sure they're going to bounce back strong, but we're going to be ready when we play them."

Mississippi State still is looking for its first SEC win. Its only victories this year have come against UAB (in overtime) and Jacksonville State.

"We've had our ups and downs," Chaney said. "We're going through some tough times, but we've still got a chance to go to a bowl game, and we know we have to win out to do that."

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