Gamble, Santa bring cheer

Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

University of Georgia Bulldogs redshirt sophomore linebacker Darryl Gamble helped Santa Claus bring Christmas cheer to some local youngsters Monday at First Port City Bank.

Gamble, a first-team All-Region 1AAAA football and basketball player at Bainbridge High School, was the 2004 Region 1-AAAA defensive player of the year and 2005-2006 male senior athlete of the year.

He, along with Santa Claus, Bearcats football and basketball coach Kelvin Cochran, and Bearcats football and track coach Larry Cosby, were helping with the Secret Santa program organized by a local radio company, Flint Media.

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Cochran was representing the James Butler Jr. Dream Program, which also contributed to the event.

Butler, a former Bearcat, Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket and member of the New York Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl championship team, provided Thanksgiving dinners for local families as well.

Radio station owner Kevin Dowdy, whose employees, dressed as Christmas elves, helped gather the gifts, said he is truly thankful to everyone who helped make the Secret Santa program a success.

“Our Secret Santa program will make a lot of kids happy and that is what it is all about,” he said.

Gamble had a breakout redshirt sophomore season for the Bulldogs in 2008. The highlight came during the Bulldogs’ 52-38 Southeastern Conference (SEC) victory over the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers Oct. 25 in Baton Rouge, La. He had 40- and 53-yard interception returns for touchdowns in the game.

After the LSU game, Gamble was named winner of the SEC defensive player of the week award and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Bronko Nagurski National defensive player of the week award.

He said he enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in the Secret Santa program.

“I always enjoy working with and encouraging kids,” Gamble said. “I encourage them to stay in school, set their goals high, and work hard to achieve them.”

Gamble will not be able to play in the Bulldogs’ Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl against the Michigan State University Spartans in Orlando, Fla., because of a leg injury he suffered against Georgia Tech.