Georgia quarterback Carson Beck earns respect with hustling hit

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Credit: John Amis

Credit: John Amis

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) passes against Vanderbilt during the first quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (Special to the AJC/John Amis)

ATHENS — Georgia quarterback Carson Beck probably spent a little longer in his weekly ice bath Sunday. Some of that was from being sacked twice and hurried three other times in Saturday’s hard-fought win against Vanderbilt. There had to be some lingering soreness, though, from his only tackle of this season.

The Bulldogs’ 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior signal-caller made like a free safety after throwing an interception in the fourth quarter of the 37-20 road victory. Beck’s pass for slot receiver Mekhi Mews was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by defensive back CJ Taylor at the Georgia 36-yard line. Without breaking stride, Taylor headed down the sideline toward the Bulldogs’ end zone.

Beck caught up to Taylor at the 1-yard line. Leaving his feet and turning sideways in midair – presumably to avoid hitting Taylor with his throwing shoulder – Beck blasted Taylor out of bounds.

Taylor actually was injured on the play and did not return. Beck insisted he wasn’t, but appeared visibly shaken as he was helped up by teammates outside the boundary.

“I’m told to cover down if I throw a pick, so obviously I’m going to do anything I can to not let them in the end zone,” Beck said after the game. “A pick-6 is the worst thing you can do as a quarterback.”

Beck’s effort was all for naught as Vandy scored a touchdown on the very next play. But Beck’s tackle certainly earned him credibility with his teammates.

“I was in on that play, and I was NOT expecting him to throw his body at him like that,” Georgia split end Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint said with a grin Tuesday. “That just shows you the type of guy Carson is. It’s that type of toughness and grit that he brings to the offense.”

It’s mostly forgotten at this point, but Beck was an exceptional athlete coming out of Mandarin High in Jacksonville, Florida. He was a Florida Gators’ commitment as a pitcher in baseball before flipping to Georgia as a football prospect. He also played basketball and, yes, once was a defensive back.

“A long time ago,” Beck cracked.

Asked if his hustle on the play was from anger or desperation, Beck laughed. “Maybe a little bit of both,” he said.

The Bulldogs prefer for Beck to stick with offense. Mistakes such as Saturday’s interception have been few for him. He enters the Week 8 bye ranked fifth in the nation in passing with 2,147 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ranks second in the SEC and sixth in FBS with a .736 completion percentage.

Cornerback commits

The Bulldogs received their 27th commitment for the 2024 recruiting class when defensive back Ondre Evans announced he had flipped to UGA from LSU.

The 6-1, 185-pound cornerback plays for Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville. He is rated a 4-star prospect, the No. 2 player overall in the state of Tennessee and the 152nd overall player in the country, according to 247Sports. He’s the third corner in Georgia’s class.

Evans had been committed to LSU since June. He also has visited Alabama, Michigan and N.C. State.

In seven games as a senior this season, Evans has 11 tackles and two pass break-ups. He also plays offense, recording 16 catches for 339 yards and six touchdowns. Evans joins 5-star prospect Ellis Robinson IV and 4-star Demello Jones to give the Bulldogs strong back-to-back recruiting classes in the secondary.

Injury updates

While Brock Bowers’ injury is headline news across the South, the Bulldogs are looking to get some other key players ready in the off-week before traveling to Jacksonville to take on Florida. Coach Kirby Smart had primarily good news regarding those guys:

  • OT Xavier Truss: Initially it was feared the starting tackle had sustained the same injury as Bowers two minutes later in the second quarter against Vandy. Turns out, his ankle sprain was less severe. “It’s not tightrope (surgery) or anything like that,” Smart said. “We think he should be fine. I don’t know if he’ll be good to go by Thursday but should be good to go by Monday.”
  • OT Amarius Mims: The starting right tackle before tightrope surgery sidelined him five weeks ago, Mims is back running and moving around on the sidelines at practice. He has not, however, returned to taking practice reps or been cleared to play against Florida. “I thought he looked much better yesterday,” Smart said. “There’s going to be a timetable on him for the same as everyone else with those injuries. When they’re cleared and they’re comfortable and they can play at a winning rate, they’ll get a chance to go back out there.”
  • RB Kendall Milton: The senior back, shut down in the second quarter against Vanderbilt because of stiffness in his sprained knee, was able to return to practice Tuesday. It appears he will be able to return for Florida. “I feel good about Kendall. It was not a high-rep day for him, no, but he was out there.”

Georgia also is expected to have freshman running back Roderick Robinson (ankle) available next week. The Bulldogs still will be without defensive lineman Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins (foot) and running back Branson Robinson (knee).

‘Dawg Bowl’

All-American safety Malaki Starks was among about a dozen Bulldogs signed up to participate in the Dawg Bowl fundraiser Wednesday night at Showtime Bowl in Athens. The event was organized by former Georgia coach Mark Richt to raise money for Parkinson’s and Crohn’s disease research. Richt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2021 and he has a granddaughter who suffers from Crohn’s.

Starks will be one of the celebrity bowlers on the five-person teams that were assembled based on donations to UGA’s Isakson Center Center for Neurological Disease Research. More than $700,000 was raised before Wednesday night’s event, which was expected to bring in more money.

“It’s such a blessing to give back to people,” Starks said. “When I was growing up, my parents (emphasized) that when God gives you a gift, you always want to give it back. A bunch of people have poured into my life, so I want to do the same for others. So, it’s not much for me to take time out of my life to go bowling and have fun.”

A decent bowler, Starks said he intends for his team to win.

“If it’s a competition and I’m there, I’m planning to come out on top,” he said.