one on one - Getting Shocked: D.J. Shockley
by Rob Sherrell
photo by Rob Saye
First off tell us what one of the all-time favorites
of the Bulldawg Nation, DJ Shockley, is up
to now so everyone knows where to find you?
I’m doing a couple things right now. I’m the
High School Football color commentator for Channel
2. We’ve got playoff games coming up now. I’m
also doing a couple of Georgia shows for CSS and
Channel 2. The Dawg Report of CSS comes on
Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm. Then I also do the
SEC Football Tonight show for CSS as well. Then
the last thing is doing radio for the Falcons post
game show for 790 The Zone.
When Mark Richt came to UGA he said his first
priority was to sign DJ Shockley. He obviously
wanted you pretty bad. So no matter what happens
going forward, you will always be the first
building block of the Mark Richt legacy. When you
think about that, it’s got to be pretty flattering?
It an honor to have been recruited by so many
people. But then to have been recruited by Coach
Richt, his track record speaks for itself as far as
quarterbacks go. I tell people all the time that I
was his first recruit at UGA. I take pride in that.
That’s awesome. And I wanted to play for a guy of
his caliber. Not just on the field, but what he represents
off the field. That’s why we’re still good
friends today. So it’s definitely an honor to be his
first recruit and a guy he really wanted. And the
feeling was mutual.
Everyone knows of your athletic ability, but
not many know you actually were on the SEC Academic
Honor Roll. Can you tell us how hard that
is to do with your schedule and how much it
meant to you?
I took pride in how I represented myself on and
off the field, and I took pride in my education.
There are so many stereotypes of athletes, in particular
football players, about how they don’t do
their work. So I took that personal and I wanted to
make sure when people looked at me they knew
this guy was a student athlete. I wanted to be
thought of as a guy who not only excelled on the
field but also was an intelligent guy in the classroom.
So whenever I go speak to kids, I tell them
the two things no one can ever take from me are
my high school diploma and my college degree.
I know in 2005 you obliterated Boise State accounting
for six touchdowns. For you to be a
Georgia Bulldog, after watching us get whipped
in three phases, especially both lines, of the game
in the Georgia Dome last year, was that embarrassing
for you or is it something where you just
say we have to learn from it, move on, and get
I think it’s a little bit of both. At UGA, we always
look at ourselves as an elite program. We felt
like we could always dominate who’s across from
us. As a spectator and a former player, I was disappointed
because I know the preparation. I know
what goes into it. I know Coach Richt and those
guys prepared so well for it. But at the same time,
our guys did not do enough to get it done. Like you
said, it all starts up front. If the big boys up front
aren’t getting it done, it’s going to be a long day. It
was definitely disappointing, but you have to learn
from it. And I think the guys did learn because they
ended up back in the dome for the SEC.
Well speaking of embarrassing, to me the
game that sticks in my craw during your time at
UGA was the ‘05 Sugar Bowl. I still hurt from that
one. That’s not on you as you had a great game. If
you had one game you could play over again,
which one would it be?
The game I really wish I had back was the
Florida game I didn’t get to play in. Auburn was
disappointing because it went down to the last second.
West Virginia was probably the most disappointing
because it was on the national stage. Then
we got down 28-0. We just didn’t start the way we
should have, especially since it was the Sugar Bowl.
But everybody fought back. It was just a new look
as they did some stuff on offense and defense we
weren’t used to. By the time we figured it out, it
was too late. I talked to Coach Rodriguez after that
game, and asked him why he did the fake punt. He
said there was no way I was giving you guys the
ball back because we haven’t stopped you in the
Well let’s talk about better times. How about
your first game at UGA. You’re under the lights
against Clemson and you showed out. Greenie
was off that night and you really saved the day.
How much fun was Athens for you that night?
When I first got to Georgia and saw how big
the guys were, I said this is ridiculous. I’m not
going to be able to play with these guys. Over
time you gain confidence and you get better. My
first game I’m nervous as all outdoors. So it’s my
first game and I just go out and react. I throw a
touchdown to Terrance. I ran one in as well. I
mean there’s nothing like Athens on a Saturday
night and it was my first game. It’s hard to explain
how good of a feeling it is to be in that environment.
It’s definitely something that I will
You talked about talking to kids earlier. I
know in Athens that you and Greg Blue spent a
lot of time working with kids. Is that something
Coach Richt said you should do, an order that
came from your parents, or just something you
chose to do on your own because a lot of kids
don’t have father figures these days?
It’s really a collection of all those things.
They always put it out there that it good for you
guys to do this. Then growing up, I come from a
family where you always want to help others. But
from my mind frame, it was just we were in such
a good position to be role models for that you
don’t know how much it means to kids. And after
a while it feels real good because you walk in a
room and kids’ eyes light up. You know you’ve
changed their day, which is remarkable.
This is a two-part question. Since the advent
of the reality show, wives are making husbands
watch some truly awful TV. What bad TV are you
currently being forced to occasionally watch
and what TV shows do you currently enjoy
Yeah. My wife watches all those "Basketball
Wives.” All those crazy shows. "Love and Hip
Hop,” this and that. She really loves those shows.
So I watch those. But the ones I like right now
are “Sons of Anarchy” and "Breaking Bad.” I’m
just watching them religiously right now.
When we got thumped in Columbia this
year, it was horrible. We looked inferior in all
phases of the game despite having what many
felt to be better talent. Basically, we were just
flat. We were out coached and outplayed. What
does Coach Richt need to avoid that from happening
I think it’s a couple of things. From being
around Coach Richt and being in a scenario
where we have to go into a hostile environment,
trust me, he had those guys ready. I’m sure they
had a great game plan. But sometimes things
just don’t go right or players don’t come to the
game with the same mentality that they’re going
to take over and be that productive. Not to say
that this was the key part of the game, but that
first series when they throw it deep, There,
Rambo has a chance to intercept it and doesn’t,
That was kind of like the tell-tale sign of how the
game was going to go. We were there to make
the play, but just didn’t make it. It’s not so much
the coaches all the time. They can only do so
much. The players have to go out and they have
to play the game. They’ve got to execute well.
When I played in 2005, guys took it upon themselves
to say, “Hey, we’ve got to play this game.
If we want to make something of our season, we
have to do it.” Once you get between those lines,
you’ve got to do it.
When Coach Richt hit the SEC in 2001, wins
were there for the taking. I think Mike Shula was at
Alabama, Loose Bolts was at South Carolina, Zook
came in the next year at Florida, Chan Gailey was
at Tech, and so on. Now, you’ve got Saban at Bama,
Spurrier back, Johnson at Tech, and Urban Meyer
won two BCS titles at Florida before moving on.
The coaching landscape has changed and it’s gotten
tougher. How would you rate Coach Richt in
the current class of SEC coaches?
I think the most obvious thing you have to start
with is National Championships. That’s what everybody
is pretty much graded on. I know LSU has a
couple, Alabama has couple and Florida has as well.
But if you look at Coach Richt’s tenure, he’s averaging
nine or ten wins a season. And people talk about
getting rid of Coach Richt. I think it’s just crazy for
people to say that. If you bring another guy in,
you’re going to expect him to win immediately. If he
doesn’t win ten games a year, then you’re going to
be like “We should have kept Coach Richt.” Coach
Richt is a coach that gets the most out of his players.
When I was there, players always gave everything
they had for him. To have that kind of respect
is awesome. To go against the guys he’s going
against now, Les Miles, Saban, and Spurrier? I mean
it’s a who’s who of coaching in the SEC because the
SEC is the top conference. Everybody wants to play
in it and the coaches want to be in it. And expectations
are always high. For the most part, Coach Richt
has lived up to them for the most part. The biggest
thing is just trying to get that National Championship
out of the way.
After college everyone knows you ended up
with the Falcons for four years. You never really
got a chance to start early there and then Matt
Ryan took over later in your career. A lot of guys
can’t handle that situation and can disrupt team
chemistry because of a “Me First” attitude. Were
your three years at UGA backing up Greenie something
you could use to stay ready as a backup in
Yeah, absolutely. It definitely prepared me for
that backup role because I knew what it took to prepare
for it. Everyday I prepared just like I was going
to be the starter. When I was at Georgia. I knew I
was always one play away. That was the same way
in the NFL. I knew I had to be ready when my time
was called. You know if you’re not ready, then they
replace you. You had to be ready at all times. I just
had the mentality “I’m going to be the starter so I’ve
got to prepare like a starter.” I did everything a
starter did so when my time came no one could ever
say, “This guy wasn’t ready.”
I know you’re married with a daughter around
the age of three, what was she this past Halloween?
I am married with a daughter. I also have a son as
well. He’s seven months old. My daughter is two and a
half and she was Minnie Mouse for Halloween. She loves
Minnie and Mickey. So she was Minnie Mouse and she
walked around with the outfit on and went trick or treating
One of my favorite stories about you is when
the Athens zoo got that bear and they let the grade
school kids name it. They could pick any name in
the world and they picked DJ Bear, after you obviously.
I don’t know anyone else with a bear named
after them. How proud did that make you feel
when it happened?
Aw, man! That was probably one of the highlights
of my life right there. Some little kids not only
knew who I was, but wanted their bear that was
being moved in to the zoo to be named after me. I
got a good joy out of that. I actually still have the
frame and everything they gave me for naming the
bear DJ. So that was a pretty cool part of my life
There’s lot of great players in the NFL. Many of
them played at some very storied programs. What
is the overall perception of Mark Richt and the
state of the UGA football program by players in the
For the most part, everybody respects Georgia.
Everybody loves their own school, but everybody respects
Georgia, especially in the SEC because everybody
knows the talent it puts out. They know the
type of guys that we are and the type of guys that
they’ve played against. Obviously, you think about
the teams that are winning National Championships,
and they’re kind of put on a different pedestal. And
then you have Georgia and everybody else that’s
sort of right on the cusp of being that National
Championship talk. But they still respect it in that
same class. People know we’re playing in BCS bowls
and winning lots of games. So we’re definitely respected.