Each week, The Athens Banner-Herald sits down with a Georgia Bulldog to talk about topics ranging from favorite foods to football fans. Just before Georgia's big win over Florida, John C. Frierson sat down with former Thomson Bulldog -- and current UGA starter -- Danny Verdun Wheeler.
On the season, Verdun Wheeler has 23 solo tackles, 11 assists, a sack, a forced fumble and recorded the Dogs' only safety since 2002.
Q: In last year's Georgia media guide you were listed as Danny Verdun-Wheeler, with a hyphen. Now, the hyphen is gone. What's going on with the hyphen?
A: (Laughs) There's no hyphen. Sometimes people put one in there, but there's no hyphen.
It's Verdun Wheeler. I was Danny Verdun in high school, but I decided to add my father's name -- my mother and my father aren't together -- to honor both sides of my family.
Q: What do you like to do to relax when you're not playing?
A: Play games on my PlayStation and eat.
Q: What's your favorite game and what's your favorite food?
A: (NCAA Football) 2005, and my favorite food has got to be chicken.
Q: Are you like a lot of people and you wind up sitting and playing games for hours and hours at a time?
A: If I got a lot of free time, like on Sundays, after I come back from church, I'll get on that thing for too long -- at least three or four hours.
Q: What teams do you play?
A: I got a little season started with San Diego State, right now. I like playing Idaho, kind of an underdog team, but I always want Georgia to win.
Q: What's your perfect meal?
A: Fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and dressing. Let my aunt cook up some chitlins for something on the side, and some Kool-Aid.
Q: Can you describe what it's like when you get the chance to hammer a guy on the other team?
A: Once you see your chance and opportunity, you can feel it. You get excited and once it happens, it happens so quick. Once you make contact, and you feel it, you already know. You don't even hear the crowd; you just say to yourself "I know I got him. I know something's got to be hurting." After that, you just enjoy it. Everything after that is just smooth and easy.
Then, maybe you turn and sneak a peak (at the replay on the scoreboard) and see how it looked. Then you go "Ooh!"
Q: Is that as good as it gets for a linebacker?
A: That or scoring a touchdown.
Q: People in the stands and watching on TV can't really hear the sounds of the game that well. How noisy does it get down on the field?
A: It's pretty noisy, but, really, you just kind of play deaf. You don't pay too much attention to the noise. That's why we use so many hand signals to communicate.
Q: What do you want to do when your playing days are over?
A: Owning my own business of some kind. Maybe owning a couple of franchises of something, somewhere.
Q: Are you superstitious at all when it comes to football?
A: Nah, I don't believe in all that.
Q: Are many of the guys on the team superstitious?
A: There's a couple of them that wear the same stuff over and over again. Odell (Thurman) likes to wear the same wristbands, but there's not anything too strange that I know of.
Q: Do you have a unique pregame ritual that you do?
A: Every game, before we go to the stadium, I call my mom, my brother and my family, and we all get on the phone together -- on the three-way.
Q: Do you listen to music before the game?
A: I listen to some Lil' Wayne and some other music that's going to get me going.
Q: What guy on the team just amazes you with what he can do?
A: Reggie Brown. I see the way he works hard. I see the way he goes full speed, stops on a dime, turns and catches the ball, then leaves everybody else behind him.
He just prepares so much harder than a lot of other people, and I love the way he blocks downfield. He's a great blocker. It's amazing.
Q: What's your favorite sports movie?
A: I'd say "Rudy" is my favorite. That kind of inspired me and made me want to play big-time college football.
Q: Did you ever think, growing up, that you'd be where you are today, playing for one of the best teams in the country?
A: I grew up in a kind of "Friday Night Lights" kind of town, and it was always my dream just to play high school ball, and when I did that I'd look around and say, "I can't believe I'm here."
Now that I'm here at Georgia, it's still amazing to me. Sometimes I still sit back, go to my room and thank God that I'm here.
Everybody out here's got some kind of special talent and everybody out here is great in some kind of way. To be on the field with them is really special.