ATHENS — When he was on the field last year, Rod Battle usually made an impact. The problem was, he couldn’t stay on the field.
A neck injury sidelined the Georgia defensive end for three games early in the season and then lingered after he returned to action. That was followed by a shoulder injury that required surgery in January. He missed all of spring practice. To call last season frustrating for Battle would be an understatement.
“That was the first time I had really gone through something like that,” Battle said. “But you live and you learn that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and you can never be too in condition and you can always work a little bit harder.”
With voluntary workouts underway and fall practice just six weeks away, Battle is finally feeling back to normal, and he’s eager to get to work. Georgia’s defense, however, may be even more excited about his return.
With virtually everyone on the depth chart at defensive end recovering from injury and Justin Houston suspended for the first two games of the season, the Bulldogs’ desperately need Battle to stay healthy this season. So far, so good.
“I’m feeling pretty good, doing pretty much everything,” Battle said.
But whether he can stay that way remains to be seen, which makes simply being on the field priority No. 1 for the senior. Beyond that, he has a few other goals, but he’s keeping those to himself.
“I have some goals that are kind of personal, but there’s definitely some things I want to accomplish,” he said.
While he’s not talking specifics, it’s safe to say the goals have been set pretty high. It’s Battle’s last season in Athens, and after all the frustrations of his junior year, he wants this season to be a memorable one.
“It’s my senior year, my last time around, and I want to make it special,” Battle said. “When we have reunions, I want to come back around and say this team accomplished something big.”