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September 18, 2013
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Georgia coach Mark Richt took his weekly turn on Wednesday's SEC teleconference but only received one question about his Bulldogs' game with visiting North Texas.
Instead, the hot topic of conversation was Saturday night's game in Baton Rouge between LSU and Auburn where former Bulldogs Zach Mettenberger and Nick Marshall will take center stage as the starting quarterbacks for their respective teams.
"It didn't dawn on me until you said it. I knew we were going to play both of those teams, but I wasn't thinking in terms of them playing each other until you just mentioned it," Richt said. "I will definitely be interested to see what happens. I'll probably be finished with everything by then since our game starts around noon time, but it will be very interesting to watch because I know both of those guys but also because we've got to play both of those teams."
By now, their stories are familiar ones to Bulldog fans.
A former standout at Wilcox County High, Marshall was dismissed by Georgia in Feb. of 2012, along with Chris Sanders and Sanford Seay for what the school officially said was for a violation of team rules.
Reports later surfaced and confirmed to UGASports.com that the trio was allegedly involved in an on-campus theft, although no charges were filed.
Mettenberger, meanwhile, was released from the program in April of 2010 following his arrest in March of that year in Remerton (near Valdosta) where he was charged with underage possession/consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of providing false identification.
After stints in junior college, both players signed with their respective schools.
"I believe in stories of redemption, stories of guys coming back from making mistakes and that kind of thing," Richt said. "If somebody makes a mistake, you want them to turn it around while they're here at Georgia but sometimes that happens at another school, and that's fine with me. I've realized that those kind of comeback stories can happen at schools beside the one they started out at. I'm really happy for these guys. I want all the guys that we sign to realize their dreams."
While Mettenberger came to Georgia as quarterback in the same class as current signal-caller Aaron Murray, Marshall told Bulldog coaches he preferred to play defense so he could play basketball for Georgia after football season was complete.
"Nick, when we first recruited him we recruited him as a quarterback but as time went on through the process he decided it would be better for him to play corner,"Richt recalled. "So we were all for that as well. We just knew he was a tremendous athlete and a guy who could play either position."
Richt said he was impressed watching Marshall lead his team on a last-minute drive to beat Mississippi State Saturday night in Auburn.
"I thought from the very beginning that this guy is going to have a good chance of making some history there at Auburn," Richt said. "I had a feeling they were going to move it down the field with him and put some points on the board."
As for Mettenberger, Richt said the former Oconee County standout deserves credit for pushing Murray to become the kind of quarterback he currently is.
"Obviously, they were pushing each other. Even after both of them had committed to Georgia there was time where either of them could have bailed out and said I'm out of this thing," Richt said. "But they stayed, they competed, before Signing Day even, and once on campus they did the very best job they could to be prepared and prove to Coach (Mike) Bobo and myself that they should be the starters."