Coach's insult preceded Drew's concussion

ATHENS, Ga. -- A coach’s putdown angered Ray Drew enough to go too hard during a practice rep 10 days ago -- and ironically enough, led to the sophomore defensive end sustaining a concussion.

Drew said he had won a rep in one-on-one blocking drills when one of Georgia’s coaches insulted both himself and the offensive lineman he beat. So Drew went after Mark Beard on the next play and the head-to-head collision between them gave him the concussion that kept him out of practice for more than a week.

“One of the offensive coaches said, ‘You let Ray Drew beat you, man. He’s soft, you’re soft. Both of y’all are soft,’ ” Drew said. “So I kind of took offense to that and I kind of went more helmet and hands on the rep later and kind of caught more of his helmet and everything, trying to put him on his behind. It didn’t turn out quite the way that I wanted it to.”

Drew wore a green non-contact jersey in practice all of last week, but returned to full participation at Wednesday’s team scrimmage. He tied for second on the team with four tackles, working with both the first-team and second-team defenses.

Drew said he wanted to prove to the coaching staff during the scrimmage that he can be a dependable performer at his new position, after playing outside linebacker a year ago.

“I think this was more of a statement scrimmage to show the coach that I’m ready, that I can actually play before we get to the point where he’s actually questioning, ‘OK, do I need to put him in or do I not need to put him in? Is he going to be able to play or is he not?’ So being able to get out there and show him that I knew what I was doing and go full speed and actually make plays, I think it helped me out to do that today,” Drew said.

Having already played defensive end in high school, Drew said he already understands how to play the position for the most part. Playing it well, he said, will require him to play with a greater level of toughness.

“[Defensive coordinator Todd] Grantham said the past few years I’ve been out in the glamour world. It’s more finesse and beating them off the edge and everything. But now I’m down where it gets dirty. You’ve got to man up down playing the defensive tackle and defensive end position.

“You’ve got to be stout. You’ve got to play your gap. If you get blown out of your gap or you miss an assignment, you can put the entire defense at the mercy of the other team because of something you did. That’s with every position. You have to know what to do and know how to do it and do it well.”