Two years, two New Year's Day bowl games. That's the story for Thomson's favorite Georgia Bulldog, Danny Verdun Wheeler.
As a UGA freshman last year, the former Thomson star started two games at strong-side linebacker, and his team went on to beat Purdue in the Capital One Bowl.
During his sophomore season, he started nine games at weak-side linebacker, and the No. 8 Bulldogs will face No. 17 Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl at 11 a.m. on Jan. 1 in Tampa.
"I'm glad we're back in a bowl, a high-quality bowl like that one," Verdun Wheeler said. "I think I'm more prepared this year for the element of a bowl. A bowl is to have fun, but it's also to win. I'm looking forward to taking what I know now and not only have fun but come out with a win."
Georgia spent the past week practicing after having some time off following the win over Georgia Tech. Verdun Wheeler said practice was non-stop in preparation for Wisconsin.
After a standout year on one of the top defenses in the country, his statistics are comparable with the many stars on his team. He was the Bulldogs' fourth leading tackler with 38 solos and 13 assists.
His 51 tackles are three more than Bednarik Award winner for best defensive player in the country and three-time All-American, David Pollack. Verdun Wheeler was even responsible for the team's lone safety this year, but he doesn't let all of that go to his head.
"We're going to compete (for a starting spot) from now until I'm a senior," he said. "My thing in college is trying to focus on my grades, thinking about my degree and trying to get into the business school up there."
Overall, he said the year was a good one. It was one he said could have gone better for the team, but he's not too disappointed with a 9-2 regular season record.
"From my perspective, Georgia had a good season, not a great season," he said. "We had the potential to have a great season, but we let two games slip by us."
With a different and bigger role on the field, came harder practices, not to mention the tougher classes. This year has definitely been busier for Verdun Wheeler.
But it's all part of the adventure that he's enjoying, improving himself physically and mentally.
"For me, I had a great learning experience," he said, adding that he is already eager for spring practice to begin.