Gamble, what he does best
Published 2:18 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008
For a kid born in Rochester, N.Y., with an affinity for basketball, Darryl Gamble has evolved into prominence at linebacker for the Bulldogs—but a review of his background suggests he is where he ought to be, doing what he does best.
When his mother, Tracey Daniels, relocated the family to Bainbridge when he was 9 years old, Darryl found himself surrounded with fans of the Bulldogs. Tracey and former Georgia lineman Phillip Daniels, now with the Washington Redskins, are first cousins. Phillip said, “Man you gotta go to Georgia.”
In nearby Colquitt, he saw a lot of Brandon Miller.
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Miller said, “Georgia is the place to be.”
Charles Grant, also from Colquitt and a starting defensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints, joined the refrain. “Georgia, man, Georgia.”
Darryl happily admits that he grew up a Bulldog and that it would have been difficult for him to enroll anywhere but Georgia. However, he preferred basketball.
“My godfather, Coach Kelvin Cochran, talked me into going out for football,” he says. “I really knew that I didn’t have a future in basketball.”
His brother, Phillip, who plays safety for Marshall, also had an influence on Darryl’s football decision.
“My brother seemed to enjoy football, and I soon was out for football and playing the same position he was playing—safety.”
Further encouragement came from Jeff Page, now the head coach at Rabun County, but it didn’t take Darryl long to discover that he had a natural affinity for the game with basic instincts for defense. All along, he was told he would likely be a linebacker in college, which suits him fine.
“As long as I can hit somebody, it doesn’t matter where I play,” he says. “Defense is defense.”
His name became something of a household word with Georgia fans after the Vanderbilt game last year when he knocked the football from the ball carrier’s grasp late in the game, which led to a Bulldog fumble recovery and a subsequent drive to a winning field goal. There are many who believe that play turned around Georgia’s season.
Two things happened on that play that went unnoticed. First he had to get off a block and sprint to catch up with the ball carrier. When his path intersected with the Vandy back, Darryl overran the Commodore running back, but he instinctively reached back and slapped the ball from the ball carrier’s grasp.
Since that time, he has gotten in more snaps, gaining valuable experience in the process.
“He is playing really well,” says linebacker coach, John Jancek. “And he needs to. We are short of personnel at the linebacker now with so many players out with injuries.”
When Jancek speaks favorably of Gamble’s improved play, he underscores game preparation (“He comes in and spends extra time watching game tape”), leadership (“He wants to win, and his teammates are taking note of his practice field enthusiasm and work ethic”), and focus (“He practices with intensity and determination”).
Something that only a coach would recognize that is an invaluable asset for Gamble is his vision.
“He can see what is happening in front of him and can react to the ball. That is a very special asset for a linebacker.”
Making a game-changing play brings the ultimate high for a football player, but it is not lost on Gamble that he was very fortunate to be in the game in Nashville.
“Brandon Miller and Marcus Washington were hurt and did not make the trip. I was lucky to even be in the game at Vanderbilt last year.”
There is more than luck with Gamble. His work ethic has put him in position to make plays, and Saturday in Baton Rouge the Bulldogs should benefit from his seasoning and leadership.
Something that only a coach would recognize that is an invaluable asset for Gamble is his vision. “He can see what is happening in front of him and can react to the ball. That is a very special asset for a linebacker.”