June 16, 2009

Bulldog fullback ready to take next step

Shaun Chapas came to a stark realization the other day when Georgia's running backs got together to talk about the start of summer drills.

Suddenly, he was one of the oldest guys in the room.

"That was kind of weird," Chapas said. "Me, Fred (Munzenmaier) and (Justin) Fields, I think it hit us all. It was weird in the sense that it seems like we just got here. It's a different feel for sure but I like it and I'm looking forward to the season."

So far, Chapas likes what he's seen.

With summer workouts now stretching into their second week, Chapas said that participation has been 100 percent, and the freshmen who are there adjusting to the college way of life seem to be adapting quite well.

"One thing I can tell is everyone is very eager to learn," Chapas said. "Everybody is ready to learn and to get the ball rolling. I remember my first pass skel and I was nervous, not knowing what to do. But the guys I've seen, they all seem to be having fun and enjoying it.
"You can tell there's some real talent in that class just by the way they move and run, along with their speed."

Chapas (6-foot-2, 245 pounds), who established himself as the Bulldogs' starting fullback during former teammate Brannan Southerland's injury-plagued senior campaign, didn't pick a favorite when asked about the battle that remains to determine Georgia's starting tailback.

Running backs coach Bryan McClendon has stated on a couple of occasions that the starter won't be determined until August with Caleb King, Carlton Thomas, Dontavius Jackson, Richard Samuel, Kalvin Daniels and Washaun Ealey each receiving equal opportunity to prove that they are the man for the job.

Chapas can't wait to see how the battle shakes out.

"I'm pulling for all of them," he said. "I was telling someone yesterday that every one of those guys who are here is trying to get better and doing what they are supposed to do. As long as everybody keeps working like we are we're going to be fine."

During his May break, Chapas stayed busy working out on his own back in Jacksonville where he lifted weights at The Bolles School, his prep alma mater.

Of course, Chapas made sure he made time for a little R and R, too.

"I worked out with Riley Skinner (Wake Forest quarterback) and Rocky Ross (Central Florida wide receiver) and several other guys from around the area," he said. "After that we'd go to the beach, get some more work in and enjoy some time off."

But playtime is over.

With summer workouts in full swing and the start of fall practice now less than two months away, Chapas said it's time for players like himself to switch their focus to doing what they can to make sure 2009 is a success.

"Anytime you get to the end of the season after the bowl game, you look back and look at all the mistakes and things you did wrong," Chapas said. "Obviously, there are things we all want to correct and fix so next season we can do a better job and not lose those games that we dropped last year."

Chapas admits it really feels different not having Southerland around.

His former teammate received a free agent contract with the New York Jets, but re-injured the foot that hampered him last fall and was cut from the team.

"We've talked a good bit, both before and after he got hurt," Chapas said. "Obviously, we're all pulling for him. If he had stayed healthy I think he would have played in the NFL for a while. But his foot just wouldn't let him."

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