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Ga. star turns circus skills into circus catches
Question of the Day
ATHENS, GA. (AP) - When A.J. Green soars for one of those amazing catches _ you know, the ones where the Georgia receiver seems to defy gravity _ he’ll stroll back to the huddle like it’s no big deal.
Considering his other talents, it’s easy to understand why he’s so nonchalant.
What’s so tough about jumping over two guys to grab a football when you’ve juggled bowling pins, or metal rods, whatever _ all while riding a unicycle?
“You have to be real coordinated to do that,” Green said with a shrug and a smile. “It took me a while, but I got it.”
Green started juggling when he was in second grade and, to this day, he can still keep four of just about anything spinning through the air with only his two hands. Around fourth grade, he added unicycle riding to his repertoire, just to make things interesting.
Welcome to A.J.’s Funhouse!
“Wow, that just takes so much concentration,” fellow Georgia receiver Kris Durham marveled. “Think about the body control it takes to ride one of those, and then to turn around and have that sort of hand-eye coordination (for juggling), well, that’s just unbelievable.”
Green doesn’t ride a unicycle anymore, but he keeps heads spinning on the football field.
From a purely physical standpoint, he has just about everything that’s needed in a top receiver: Size (6-foot-4), leaping ability and deceptive speed. But he stands apart because of his intuitive skills when the ball’s in the air, the instincts honed at an early age when circus acrobat appeared his most likely career option.
Green has this knack of maneuvering his body into just the right position to make the catch, no matter how many defenders are trying to get in his way. He always seems to make the reception when the ball’s at its highest point, giving him a distinct advantage against mostly shorter cornerbacks.
“I don’t think words can really describe it,” said Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin, who’s often assigned to defend Green in practice. “You never know what he’s going to do. With a lot of receivers, you can kind of guess what route they’re going to do based on how they’re running. With A.J., it’s really tough to know what he’s going to run. He has so many elements to his game. He can position his body. He’s fast. He’s long. Going against him every day is definitely a challenge.”
Hey, at least it’s only practice. When Boykin gets burned, it doesn’t cost the Bulldogs a game.
“The guys on the other side, I feel bad for them,” he said, “because A.J. is going to make them look bad.”
Green has made a lot of defenders look bad during his first two years at Georgia. He had 56 catches for 963 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman even though he was getting by largely on talent. Last year, he finished with 53 catches for 808 yards and six touchdowns _ despite missing all or part of five games due to two separate injuries.
Heading into his junior season, Green is ready to put it all together: A healthy year with a full knowledge of college schemes.
By Orrin G. Hatch
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