Ray Drew won't lie. Life as a freshman for the Georgia Bulldogs is a lot different from his days as a star at Thomas County Central.
In fact, it can be somewhat overwhelming.
"My first impression at the collegiate level is just the speed of the game, how much higher the tempo is than high school and how much more technical it is than high school, as far as trying to learn the playbook where you may have had one or two responsibilities in high school," Drew said. "You have to do certain things according to the other team's alignment so all these things are running through your mind. Also, you've got all these people yelling at you telling you to do this and do that, it's just a lot to take in. It's a big transition, but one a lot of the guys here are doing pretty well with."
According to head coach Mark Richt, Drew has had his moments.
Currently working at second string Sam in both the Bulldogs' base and nickel packages, Drew has shown the glimpses many expected after earning five star-status during his career at Thomas County Central.
Other times, well, his youth shows.
"Ray's getting a ton of reps. He's getting better. He's kind of like the rest of the freshman. Every once in a while you'll see something and say 'Man, he's going to be a player some day,'" Richt said. "I think all these guys (freshmen) you're talking about by Game 6, they're going to be a whole lot better than Game 1, and even by practice 12 they'll be better than practice 10. So, if they stay healthy and keep working, who knows how good they'll get by the time the season ends."
Drew explains that most of his issues comes from trying to process all the information being thrown at him and the rest of the freshmen by defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
It's come at a dizzying pace.
"We've had a lot thrown at us, basically the entire playbook. I've caught on pretty well for the most part, but some of my biggest things are getting down the alignment, those types of deals," Drew said. "But when the season gets here and they start to dwindle everything down and there won't be as much thrown at me, I believe I'll be OK."
Richt explained that Drew's issues are typical of those faced by freshmen during their first week of preseason drills.
"As you're learning, and when you're not sure, you don't really play very good," Richt said. "You play high, you look confused, guys can roll you off the ball one play, then the next play you might really understand what's going on a little bit better and you're able to play with better level and you start to see what they can do."
Wednesday's scrimmage provided Drew with another eye opener.
As a prepster, all of the 6-foot-5, 263-pounder's games were played in the relative cool of the day. At Georgia that won't always be true, as was the case during Wednesday's scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.
"It was different. It took a little while to adjust to the heat coming out of high school, playing every Friday night when it's kind of cool then coming out and play in the heat of the day," he said. "I think that was the biggest thing for me. But as far as the scrimmage itself goes I feel I did OK. I've got a lot of room to improve, but that's why we go out to practice each day, to work."
Of course, the responsibilities of being a fulltime college student have to factor into Drew's day, too.
Drew said he made a 96 in a Theater class he took this summer and is awaiting his score from Public Speaking, something the ordained minister smiled he "should have done pretty well in."
"It hasn't been as tough as I thought it would be, but it has been tough, just the level of responsibility that you have," he said. "You have to make sure that you're always on time, you have to balance everything between workouts, practice, classroom and everything. You've got to stay on top of things and there's a lot that goes into that, but I believe I've done ok so far."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]