August 7, 2009

Preferred walk-on makes early waves

Ok, Reuben Faloughi admits it. He told a little white lie when filled out his statistical information for college recruiters and recruiting services while a senior at Evans High.

"I was light," Faloughi said. "I played at 205 but on all my recruiting (papers) I wrote 210."

Faloughi laughed that at the time he thought that the few extra pounds might get him a bit more notice from bigger schools.

But alas: Despite some late interest by Vanderbilt, Furman was one of just a handful of smaller institutions that offered the 6-foot-5 defensive end the opportunity to play college ball.

"I think some other schools, Vanderbilt was one, they didn't think I was good enough, that I didn't cut the mark," Faloughi said. "There are always holes in the recruiting process. I'm not saying there was one with me. I'm not the perfect player and I haven't been playing that long as maybe a five-star recruit, but I work hard. I have a lot of heart when it comes to that. But what does it do for me? It gives me a lot of motivation, of course. We'll see who gets the last laugh."

Oh, Faloughi now weighs 235 pounds.

Credit assistant strength and conditioning coach Clay Walker for that.

"(Walker) and the staff, they did a great job," said Faloughi, who bench presses 345 pounds. "I worked with them, not against them. I bought into their program and I put on the pounds. It's not where I want to be, but I'm getting there."

A preferred walk-on, Faloughi has already grabbed the attention of none other than head coach Mark Richt.

"Reuben looks like a guy who wants to earn a scholarship," Richt said. "From what I've seen of him, he's athletic, smart and very determined."

It didn't take Faloughi long to make that first impression.

During the first day of practice on Tuesday, Faloughi put a move on left tackle Trinton Sturdivant to make a play. Sturdivant wasn't happy, but Georgia coaches certainly took notice.

"That was just me trying to keep up with the older boys," laughed Faloughi when asked about the play. "Trinton's a great player and to go against him, an All-SEC-type player, that's just an honor for me to learn from him and the rest of the older guys."

An honor roll student at Evans, Faloughi graduated with a 3.9 GPA, which earned him a number of academic grants that just about total what he would have received with a football scholarship.

A football scholarship is certainly not out of the future.

"Reuben was one of those guys who we were very close to offering a scholarship. We just didn't have enough to give out, so we were very thankful to get him in," Richt said. "He did have some offers but he was determined, not only to be a Bulldog but to one day earn a scholarship and earn playing time."

Faloughi acknowledges a scholarship would certainly come in handy. But he's not worried about that right now.

There is a more pressing matter.

"I would like to have my education paid for but that's not my focus right now. I'm just trying to play my role. If I have to play scout I'll play scout," he said. "I'll take my role and when I get the opportunity I'll take advantage of it. I'm trying to learn. I've become a student of the game once again. I'm not in high school anymore; I'm not the best at my position any more. Technique, form … I'm just trying to suck it up because it's coming."

Teammate Roderick Battle has been impressed with what he's seen.

Battle said it's easy to see that Faloughi has plenty of athletic ability, and like many, believes the youngster has a chance to one day be a contributor at defensive end.

"Everybody talks about him working hard, being quick and fast," Battle said. "Everybody talks about how small he was, but he has heart. As long as he keeps that he's going to be all right."

Faloughi appreciates all the support he can get.

"The older guys at our position - Roderick and Demarcus Dobbs - they all helped me with that transition. All summer we were doing drills. We watched film every day. We talked about what went wrong and what we could do better and just work at it," he said. "There's no room for error. Whatever I can do I'm going to do to get better. If it's bugging the older guys, all of them have taken the extra strep which is exactly what I'm going to do as well."

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