March 1, 2010

Figgins ready to write a new chapter

Bruce Figgins is a classic example of how you don't need have a loud and boisterous personality to bring attitude and passion to the football field.

At least that's the way Orson Charles sees things, and why he's excited to have Figgins back on the field for the start of spring practice Thursday after missing the entire 2009 campaign.

"Bruce brings attitude and the passion to love the game," Charles said. "He's going to rub off on all of us. There are a lot of things that we don't know that Bruce knows because he's been here longer than all of us. Just learn from him and he's willing to teach, and we're willing to listen."

Figgins said he'll do whatever he can.

"I try to be very enthusiastic in practice and in workouts. I try to bring that mentality to the other tight ends and the offense," he said. "I know a lot of people think that the defense is supposed to be the guys, the bullies, the guys who get the team going with the big hits, but I'm always the one who says why not the tight ends, why not the offense so I'm trying to bring that to the table."

It's definitely an eclectic group of players that position coach John Lilly has to work with.

From Figgins and fellow veteran Aron White, to the affable Charles and Massachusetts native Arthur Lynch, the Bulldogs boast a group of tight ends that potentially could be one of the better units in the SEC.

"Everybody has their own personality and I think we blend in well together," Figgins said. "We all feed off each other and our personalities bring out a lot of competitiveness within us, but we all work well together."

By now Figgins' story is a familiar one. Suspended for the first six contests for violating team rules, Figgins was eligible to resume play in Week 7 against Vanderbilt but after talking with coaches, opted to redshirt in order to properly prepare for 2010.

Looking back, Figgins believes that was the best decision for all parties involved. But now that he's back, his suspension behind him, the Columbus native said he's ready to make amends - both on and off the field.

"I'm very excited and I'm just glad to be back out there and not worry about suspensions, any injuries or anything like that," said Figgins, who said he's 100 percent healthy following his shoulder surgery a year ago. "I've got a clean slate and I plan on making the biggest impact I can. I tell a lot of younger guys, once you step on campus you begin the writing of your book. You want your book to start good and you want it to end good. Everything you do impacts that book so, this is a new chapter of mine and I'm going to start it of good."

During a recent interview at the team's Butts-Mehre practice facility, Figgins talked about the impact last year's suspension had on his life.

Although he did not go into detail as to what was behind his suspension for "a violation of team rules," Figgins conceded what he did was wrong and expressed great sorrow for hurting so many people along the way.

"It was just how I was living my life outside of the football field. I needed to practice good habits, not only on the football field, but in the dorms, just in the city of Athens," Figgins said. "It was really about me knowing right from wrong and I know right from wrong. It was careless choices, poor decisions, but I've learned my lesson and ready to move on."

Figgins said he was more upset with himself than anything else. The thought of letting his family down also weighed heavy on his mind.

"I was very upset, but more upset with myself than anyone at the University, my family, my friends, anyone. I took all this for granted, and I forgot how much I really do cherish this university and this team," Figgins said. "I hate that I let my family down, my team down, and the people who love me down. But all is forgiven. I've got a clean slate, a new page in my book. I have a great supporting cast. My mom is my biggest fan, we talk every day. My twin sister (Patience Figgins), she encourages me every day, with text messages when she can't call. I'm just very blessed."

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