Georgia's newest commit, Faton Bauta, might be very new to the Dawg family, but he said he is just as excited about its post-season prospects and very optimistic for what the team is capable of.
"It means a lot winning the SEC East, I'm pumped. I mean, I just jumped on the boat a week before, but I'm happy,” Bauta said. "It's my team now, I represent my school, and I'm happy for them and I hope they beat LSU in the SEC championship, and I think they will."
The 6-foot-3, 223-pound quarterback verbally committed to the Dawgs less than two weeks ago after his official visit Auburn weekend. He said the weekend couldn't have gone much better, and he knew right away it was the place for him.
"Well obviously it went great. Even once I got there, I just felt a good vibe from the whole trip. Then the game, it just made it an even better experience. I just fell in love with the atmosphere of the whole game, the fans. I even got to talking with some of fans that have been around the program for so long and actually know the players well too and it was good to talk to them," Bauta said. "I got to go out with the guys and hang out with them after the win, and they were excited and stuff like that, just seeing the whole locker room and the whole team and, just really the whole place, I just thought it was beautiful. I guess that's the only thing I can say. It's just when I got there, after the win, and everything I was just like, 'oh man, this is the place, and that's it.'"
Originally from the north, Bauta had mentioned before about weekly Friday phone calls with a fellow northerner in coach Kirk Olivadotti, getting filled in on his new appreciation the south's love of football.
On his official, the native New Yorker said he bonded with the sole northerner on the team, which was nice, but spurred some good-natured trash-talking for obvious reasons.
"I was hanging out with Artie (Aurthur Lynch) because I met him in the summer time when I went there and it was good to meet him because he was like, 'You know, I'm the only Northern guy here.' It was pretty funny, we got to talking, it's obviously two different worlds; north and south. We got along well, but the only thing we didn't get along well was he's from Boston and I'm from New York so that's, ya that's a big problem," Bauta said. "But we were just joking about it because I was wearing a Yankee hat and he was wearing a Boston hat, obviously, so we were just going back and forth. It was all in good fun. But I really connected with him as well, he's an awesome guy, a really great guy and I got along with him as well, he made me laugh the whole time."
His host was long-snapper Nathan Theus, who Bauta also said he got along with very well, which meant he also had time to hang out with Theus' brother and future Dawg, John Theus.
"He was there and I got to talk to him all night and I still talk to him, I talked to him yesterday," Bauta said. "He just was checking in, seeing how everything was going and stuff. He was real excited to hear about me committing there and I'm real excited to have him hopefully blocking for me for the next few years. I think I'll develop a real good relationship with him because he was a great kid as well, and huge too, by the way. I was amazed by his size."
Beyond the atmosphere of the campus, and the bonds he made with the coaches and teams, Bauta insisted there was only one loose string he had to tie up before being 100 percent sure Athens was it for him.
"As I'd said before, I was just looking for a team that believed in me that I could come in and play quarterback because I probably told you that I had a lot of teams saying 'Hey, I want you to play quarterback, blah, blah, blah,' but they weren't really honest about it. So I got to talking to a few of the coaches and a few of the players and people that have been around the program and they all said that coach Richt is probably the most honest guy you'll ever meet in your life, especially when it comes to kids and positions. They said he'd never change a kid's position," Bauta said. "So I sat down with coach Bobo and coach Richt one-on-one, and my dad was with me so I told him, I was like, 'Listen pops, I want to talk to them one-on-one, man-to-man, to see if they actually believed in me to be a quarterback there, to be their quarterback and to lead them to great things.' So that is literally what I did. I sat them down, and we talked about a lot of things, but the most important thing I asked them was whether they believed in me to come and play quarterback. They said 'Absolutely,' they said that the fact I play other positions is good for me because God forbid something happens and I'm just not good at quarterback anymore, I can still play successfully at a different position. But I said to them, 'I want you to really fully believe in me as a quarterback,' and they said 'We do. That's all we are looking for.' So as soon as I heard that I was like, this is the place. I'm not going to get a better opportunity than that, plus, the honestly that the whole coaching staff has here, you aren't going to get that anywhere else. I was like, this is the place, I'm coming."
What Bauta said he was coming into wasn’t just a school or a program, but a conference with the tools to get him to the next level when that time comes.
"Obviously it's huge, I guess you could say I'm blessed, definitely blessed to get to join the SEC, to get to play in the SEC because a lot of people get to play college football but everyone says that the SEC is the best college football that there is. Even just watching games you can see 100 percent that it's just so much bigger and stronger than all these different teams in other conferences," Bauta said. "I mean, the SEC is about as close as you are going to get to National Football League ball. I mean, if you really have aspirations to play football like I do to go and be a quarterback in the NFL and to be successful, then the SEC is the way to go. I mean, it sets you up the best for success, and then again it's all about what you can do in the SEC. You are going to have the best tools in the SEC and now you just gotta go use them, that's how I see it. I’m just blessed to get to play in the SEC, and just for Georgia because it's such a great team and such a great school."
In his first season playing solely quarterback, Bauta has been 65-of-120 for 1097 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions with his arm, and 92 carries for 424 yards and six touchdowns using his legs.
Though he has progressed in his abilities at quarterback, Bauta was reluctant to get into them. The dual-threat quarterback said he doesn't pay attention to those kinds of things. Bauta said what matters to him is the bottom line, which is a 10 game win streak after their sole loss on neutral territory to kick-off the season.
"I'm not going to sit here and talk about myself because I don't really care about stats and all that stuff. My success is because of my team. I give it to my offensive line, and to my defense. The defense on my team is unreal, I think they are unbelievably good and if they keep doing what they do, then my offense is going to keep succeeding and then there's no stopping us. It's just a team effort. My team keeps me look good, but it’s just a team effort. What I do is my job, I don't see it as anything other than that. I'm not trying to impress anybody, I'm trying to get wins and we've been winning so I guess that means I've been doing something right," Bauta said. "My receivers out there are progressing, and my Oline has made the biggest improvement since the start of the season. They have improved tremendously and I think that is why I am improving, and you gotta improve to keep up with everybody. We've all been improving and we aren't going to stop improving because we want to bring back a state championship to Dwyer. I guess you could say I've fit into becoming my own quarterback because obviously I'm getting more comfortable. I know I'm getting better and better every week and every day because I make sure I do that because that is how I work, that is how I function every day. That's how my life works. I make sure I get up and become better and become a better person every day and I guess I've been doing that because we've been winning, everyone is getting better, and if that's happening then I'm happy.”
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