No, it’s not that he’s been the best player on the team this year – although his sack of Cox on the first defensive snap of the Auburn game set the tone for how well he and the Dawg defense played in the last two games of the regular season.
It’s just that he’s had a series of quotes in the press this year that have been great to read, some funny, some touching, but all clearly from a football player who cares a great deal about the program and his teammates. What follows is a brief sampling of what I read this year.
From the Macon Telegraph, 12/10:
Gant admits he had mixed emotions when he saw rival Florida end up No. 2 in the BCS standings and slated to play for the national championship.
“I’m happy for the SEC, put it that way,” he said. “I’m not happy for Florida, I’m happy for the SEC. If somebody’s going to win it, I hope it’s our conference.”
Gant’s quotes in David Ching’s blog after the Tech game are priceless:
…This is about trashtalking:
“What we said out there, I can’t put that in the paper, but we said a lot. There was a lot of jawing going back and forth. Especially with Tech. Right off the bat, first play of the game, I’ll see you later. We’ll be back.”
Gant on how he knew they were in Reggie Ball’s head:
“You guys might be able to see the stuff or hear the stuff he says. But any little thing, any time you’re close to him, he’s always got something to say. When he’s doing stuff like that, you know you’re getting to a guy.”
Gant on whether the end of the season erases the middle:
“You definitely can’t erase anything, but in my mind it’s nothing but new memories now. I’ll never think back on Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida. Now I’m thinking back on Auburn, Tech, wherever we finish in the bowl game.”
On how they came out of it:
“Camaraderie, our team sticking together. This is as close as I’ve ever been to 100-plus men in my entire life. Everything, emotionally, physically, everything. It’s like we’re a family – true brothers. That’s what kept us together. No matter what, we weren’t letting the media get to us, we weren’t letting family get to us, pointing fingers. Everytime you call home, family says, ‘Oh, so-and-so can’t catch’ or “So-and-so can’t tackle.’ It’s like, look, ‘That’s my teammate, we do the best we can and hey, maybe I could have did a little bit more. It’s no one person’s fault.’”
Does this prove the seniors were a good group after all?
“I definitely think that it shows that it was a good senior group. We held us together. All the young guys were looking at us. We could have easily tanked it. Quentin Moses, myself, Tony Taylor, Tra Battle, guys like that, we could have easily said, ‘To heck with it. Let’s get ready to the NFL,’ this or that. But we wanted to leave Georgia as winners. We had senior meetings saying, ‘How can we do this? How can we get together? How can we pull guys out of their slump?’ The main thing was lead by example. All they saw from us was positive.”
Gant on Tony Taylor’s fumble recovery:
“He just snatched it and took the ball. It was armed robbery, he just took it from him. I was like, ‘What in the world?’ I thought the whistle had blown or something, he just snatched the ball and I’m like, ‘Are we still playing?’”
Gant on if he saw who Taylor took the ball from:
“I don’t know who it was, I couldn’t really see. All I saw was Tony just snatch it – he stole the man’s ball.”
Gant on what goes on in a pile like that:
“There’s definitely eye gouging and guys grabbing parts they should never ever touch in their entire life. It’s a lot of stuff that goes on in the bottom of the pile. I’m glad I was towards the top of it.”
Gant’s quote after the Auburn game, per the AP:
“I’m definitely not thinking about Vandy and Kentucky,” Georgia defensive tackle Ray Gant said. “That was easily erased from my memory with this win.
“This is the sweetest victory I’ve ever had.”
Two more quotes after the Tech game, courtesy of the AJC:
“It can’t erase anything,” Georgia defensive tackle Ray Gant said. “It’s new memories now. I’m not going to think back on Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida; now, I’m thinking back on Auburn, Tech and whoever we face in the bowl game…”
“…I think [Ball] was definitely rattled, especially toward the end of the game,” Gant said. “He was pushing people, kicking people on the bottom of piles. Hey, he’s 0-5 against Georgia, 0-4, whatever it is. I might have kicked a couple of people if I was 0-4, too.”
A DGD. I wish him the best…