NEW ORLEANS — Junior defensive tackle Ken Veal has emerged from a crowd of backup players to start seven games for Georgia this season and record 38 tackles.
Veal emerged from the crowd again Friday night during a team dinner at Praline Connection. After the meal, Veal spotted a karaoke microphone and immediately launched into a rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.’’
“It was fun getting the party going,’’ Veal said.
Others followed Veal to the stage, but in this case the opening act was the hit of the night.
“(Veal) acted it and sang it,’’ said fellow defensive lineman David Pollack. “It was hilarious.’’
Added Pollack: “Pooh and Kojak took the cake.’’
Pooh, as in Winnie the Pooh, is Veal’s nickname. He even has a Pooh tattoo — with the bear, not just the words, on his arm.
Kojak is the nickname for freshman defensive tackle Darrell Holmes, who earned honorable mention honors from Pollack by singing a Boyz II Men song.
“We called out freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, grad assistants, trainers and we even called our bus driver up there,’’ Pollack said.
The performance by Veal was not a surprise. Veal always sings around teammates.
“He’s the karaoke king,’’ said linebacker Boss Bailey. “The guy is a show-stopper. He goes up there and just takes over. ... He’ll sing in front of anybody if he’ll sing in front of us.’’
Offensive linemen Alex Jackson and George Foster served as impromptu moderators for the event.
Bryant sick: Cornerback Decory Bryant was one of several players scheduled to attend a Saturday press conference, but he could not attend. It was announced that Bryant has laryngitis, but defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said Bryant is one of several players who have “a little bit of a bug going around with a little bit of a cold and sore throats.’’
Pollack survives bad burger: A green jersey — worn by players too sick or injured for contact — was an appropriate color for Pollack in Saturday’s practice. The sophomore was still a bit unsteady after eating a bad cheeseburger at a Bourbon Street restaurant Thursday night.
Pollack said he was accompanied by several teammates who all ate seafood.
“I didn’t eat seafood because I didn’t want to get sick,’’ he said Saturday, grimacing at the irony that none of the seafood eaters had any problems but he “was on the toilet all night.’’
Pollack said he lost seven pounds but expects to have his energy back by Wednesday night’s game.
Worth noting: Coach Mark Richt would not identify the “one or two stragglers’’ who have missed his 1 a.m. curfew, but freshmen Ray Gant and Preston Pannell — each being redshirted this year — had to run, hop and crawl up and down stadium steps during the first 45 minutes of practice Saturday. ... Richt said players have had a “good businesslike attitude’’ so far in bowl practice. The team worked in shoulder pads and shorts Saturday in their last contact drills before the game. ... Various team officials, including VanGorder, denied a rumor that one Georgia player had been sent home for disciplinary reasons.