ATHENS, Ga. — History is repeating itself again among University of Georgia quarterbacks.
With fifth-year senior Hutson Mason eager to make the most of his one full season guiding the Bulldogs, there is someone he can talk with who has been there before. In 2005, D.J. Shockley was a fifth-year senior who finally got his chance to run the show.
"We already have the brotherhood of being Georgia quarterbacks, so we know what it's like to be the guy at a big university," Shockley said. "We already have that in common, but for Hutson and I to be in the same situation -- we're both Georgia guys who waited our time and finally got to start in our fifth years -- I think Hutson reached out because he can relate a little more to me.
"He knows I've been in this exact same situation."
The bond between Shockley and Mason is similar to the one between David Greene and Aaron Murray. Greene became the first starting quarterback of the Mark Richt era in 2001 as a redshirt freshman, and the second redshirt freshman to take the reins for the rest of his career was Murray in 2010.
Shockley and Mason talk about twice a month and expect to converse twice a week once the season kicks off Aug. 30, when the No. 12 Bulldogs host No. 16 Clemson. Their relationship actually launched after the 2011 season, when Mason started entertaining thoughts of transferring.
"He could see the writing on the wall that this was Aaron's job and that Aaron wasn't going to relinquish it," Shockley said. "He asked me how to handle sitting back while wanting to play, and we talked about managing your emotions when you're the backup. Then he wondered if this was the place for him, and those were the same thoughts I was having, so our relationship sort of blossomed from how to get over not playing to maybe making a bigger decision in your life.
"I was probably a day away from leaving at one point. My parents and I were thinking about me transferring to Florida State, which was a school I liked coming out of high school, and also Maryland because [coach] Ralph Friedgen was there at the time. It never became a situation where we initiated any talks with them."
Mason talked with Bulldogs coaches about redshirting in 2012, and that wound up putting a year between Murray and him. Though Shockley played significantly more than Mason leading up to his senior year, Mason became the starter more quickly due to Murray's ACL tear in the 11th game last November against Kentucky.
With no more transfer conversations, Mason and Shockley now discuss the challenge of packing a lot into the final four months.
"He really just tells me to ignore a lot of things and not to put too much pressure on yourself," Mason said. "That's what I've been doing. I'm off social media now, and I've really just been focusing on how I can get better and how I can play good enough to help this team win."
The Bulldogs have won 30 games and two SEC East titles the past three seasons. They had won 34 games, two SEC East titles and one league championship in the three years before Shockley took over, but he was certainly up for the challenge.
In leading the Bulldogs to a 10-3 season in 2005 that included a conference crown, Shockley threw for 2,588 yards and 24 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in a surprise 34-14 trouncing of LSU in the SEC title game and had 277 passing yards, 71 rushing yards and three scores in a 38-35 Sugar Bowl shootout loss to West Virginia.
"I was so eager and anxious just like Hutson is to have the opportunity to be the guy to start and show people that I could play," Shockley said. "I was so focused on being the best player I could be for my team that I didn't really focus on just having one year. I knew I had teammates expecting big things from me, and I didn't want to disappoint them."
Shockley, who had a brief stint with the Atlanta Falcons and soon will be doing a studio show on the Big Ten Network and calling Mercer University games on ESPN3, would love for Mason's final season to end with an SEC title. It would be something else they could have in common, and it would end a title drought that has lasted longer than Shockley could ever have expected.
"It's beyond amazing, and I can't even imagine how this has happened," Shockley said. "It's almost like a string of bad luck. I look back at all the talent that has been there since I left and the guys that Georgia has put out, and it's just amazing. It's one of those things that has baffled me just like it's baffled the fans."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...