Bulldogs may have a secret weapon

semerson@macon.comSeptember 1, 2011 

ATHENS -- Michael Tamburo shifted on his stool and finally cracked a smile. For more than 10 minutes, he had been taking questions from reporters, which is about 10 minutes longer than you’d expect for a walk-on quarterback who isn’t eligible to play in the season opener, now days away.

But there’s a reason Tamburo was popular with the media, the same reason -- even if the coaches publicly deny it -- that the Georgia football team’s coaches also wanted to talk with Tamburo.

He spent the previous two seasons as a backup quarterback at … drum roll … Boise State.

Yes, that’s the same Boise State, fifth-ranked in the country, that Georgia opens up against Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

Tamburo knew he’d get more than a little attention for that reason.

“Yeah,” he said, drawing the word out. “I mean, I can’t say I didn’t know it was coming. Just because everyone wants to know. I had a feeling I was going to get some questions like that. I had been hearing it on campus and around my town and stuff.”

Before assuming that Tamburo is a hired gun, consider that he’s actually a Georgia native who played at North Gwinnett. As a junior, he was a highly regarded prospect, but Georgia was on the verge of signing Zach Mettenberger and then Aaron Murray.

So Tamburo, who accounted for 8,476 total yards and 90 touchdowns in his high school career, ended up at Boise State. His coaches at North Gwinnett sent his tape out to various programs, and Boise State was the best program to offer him a scholarship.

“I kind of wanted to go somewhere and experience something new,” Tamburo said. “It was the best football offer I had, so I wanted to give it a shot. And unfortunately at a school like that there’s some really good quarterbacks that beat me out.”

The Broncos had really good quarterbacks like Kellen Moore, who finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting last year.

Tamburo never played a down at Boise State. He transferred after the spring semester, arriving at Georgia during the summer. Of course, the image that is conjured up is of Georgia coaches locking Tamburo in a room, making him go over the Broncos’ playbook, signs and any other secrets.

In reality, according to Tamburo, he spoke to Broncos head coach Chris Petersen before he left and had a “good conversation.”

“I made it clear that I just wanted both teams to be able to play, and I wanted to stay out of that kind of stuff,” Tamburo said. “The coaches made clear that they could see what they want on film. I gave my best look on scout team, but I don’t necessarily get involved in the little details of what they do. They can figure it out.”

Could his presence at Georgia change anything about Boise State’s planning?

“I’m not sure, because I haven’t talked to the coaches about that. I can only wonder,” he said.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt downplayed the presence of a former member of the opposing team being around his team.

“It’s very obvious that we have everybody’s film,” Richt said. “We can study everyone’s film. We can talk to all the coaches that have played them in the league. So that’s where we get our information from. Now (defensive coordinator Todd Grantham) might’ve spent time with him, I don’t know, you’d have to ask him.”

So Grantham was asked. And he said essentially the same thing.

“You know, we really just watch tape and the plays that were run and the way they run them and all that stuff tells them what you’ve gotta know,” he said. “So really it’s just about preparing off the footage that we got. There’s no insights.”

What Tamburo can do is simulate Moore in practice. Tamburo has to sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules, even though he’s a walk-on.

Tamburo calls Moore a mentor. He roomed with Moore’s brother Kirby, a Boise State receiver. Tamburo said he hasn’t spoken to Moore since the preseason started.

“It was kind of a ‘I’ll talk to you after the game’ kind of thing. Mutual respect, but better for both sides to kind of stay out of it,” he said. “I wish them the best. But I’m at Georgia now, so I’m definitely trying to concentrate on that now.”

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