Moultrie Observer

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May 29, 2010

Former Packer Cuff out to make impact for Dogs

MOULTRIE — Vance Cuff always had plenty of speed and had been clocked at 4.35 as a SuperPrep All-American cornerback and wide receiver at Colquitt County High in 2006.

That time had dropped to 4.28 after he got to Georgia, where he has played cornerback the last three seasons.

But Cuff wanted to drop that time even more his spring when he prepared for his two runs at Georgia’s “mini-combine.”

His first attempt produced an outstanding 4.27, but his reaction was, “That’s all I’ve dropped it in a year?”

His second run was better.

Much better.

With Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt looking on and confirming the time, Cuff ran an attention-getting 4.24, the fastest time ever recorded by a Georgia football player.

When his name was posted atop the list of former Bulldogs whose times he had surpassed, it was hard not to be impressed.

“There was Champ Bailey, Terrence Edwards, Fred Gibson,” Cuff said. “Those are guys I looked up to as a kid.

“It hasn’t soaked in yet.”

Cuff has been back in his hometown for the month of May, spending plenty of time with his mother and visiting with friends.

He also gets up every morning and goes to Snap Fitness, where he works out, getting ready for his senior season. He reports Thursday and summer workouts begin Friday.

The 5-11, 177-pounder wants to continue the work that led to Richt to calling him “the best of the corners in the spring.”

One of his biggest concerns this off-season has been to improve his hip flexibility and is planning to take some yoga classes in Athens.

Cuff is still looking for his first career interception and is expected to get plenty of opportunities at boundary corner. He will play on the short side of the field.

“I’ll play man-up on the Z receiver,” he said. “That’s where you want to be. You have their best receiver. I love that position. It’s so fun.

“But I’ve got to keep working. I just want to make some plays.”

Cuff appeared in nine games and made one start last season for the Bulldogs. He was credited with 21 tackles, including eight against Kentucky. He got his first career start in the victory over Georgia Tech.

But he missed four games with a sprained knee and hopes to be able to stay healthy for his final season of eligibility.

And he will play for a new defensive coordinator and secondary coach this season.

Cuff said he likes the style of play used by both coordinator Todd Grantham, who went to Athens from the Dallas Cowboys, and position coach Scott Lakatos.

“I love Coach Grantham,” Cuff said. “He is deep into it.

“He reminds me of Coach (Dextra) Polite (his seconary coach at Colquitt County High). He wants the ball. He wants you to go get the ball.”

Cuff said the new defense under Grantham and Lakatos suits his style of play.

“This is the style I was recruited to play,” he said. “I just need to go out there and react and make plays.”

Last week, Cuff conducted a camp at the Moultrie YMCA for young players, showing them ways to improve their speed and agility and appeared to enjoy the interaction with the youngsters.

“I know when I was a kid, I would have loved having something like that,” he said.

After his outstanding career at Colquitt County and signing with Georgia, Cuff was unsure about when he would get go to Athens.

There was some uncertainty about whether some of his high school courses would be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Those problems were resolved, and he remembers the support he received during that time not only from the Georgia football staff, but also from the university’s administration.

And he made the most of his time at Georgia, both in the classroom and on the field.

Majoring in housing and consumer economics with a minor in property management, Cuff made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and the Dean’s List for the summer semester.

He was on track to graduate in December, but when he decided to add the minor, it moved his graduation up to next May.

Cuff says he hopes to play well enough to be invited to the NFL Combine next year, but if not, he will leave Georgia armed with a degree.

Asked about his decision to accept the football scholarship at Georgia, Cuff said, “It was a great decision. It’s worked out perfectly.”

He said he runs into a number of former Colquitt County High classmates in Athens, including Tyler Mobley, Matt DeMott, Michael Murray, Marshall Faircloth and Bulldog divers Hannah Moore and Owen Blank.

And he is aware that current Packer offensive tackle Xzavier Ward has a scholarship offer from Georgia. The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder has a number of others as well.

“I told him that’s a big decision and it’s decision you have to make,” Cuff said. “But I know we’d love to have him.”

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