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Chestatee grad Vasser gearing up for healthy run in final season at Georgia

Bulldogs linebacker coming off shoulder surgery that cut his 2012 season short

POSTED: June 26, 2013 6:31 p.m.
For The Times/

Georgia linebacker Chase Vasser, a Chestatee High graduate, makes a tackle in the game against Vanderbilt last season at Sanford Stadium in Athens.

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Chase Vasser feels like he still has a lot to prove in the one short season remaining in his career as an outside linebacker for the University of Georgia. First, the fifth-year senior out of Chestatee High wants to prove he can make a full recovery from an arthroscopic surgery that fully repaired his left shoulder late in the 2012 season.

Given his production has improved each of the last three seasons, Vasser also wants to show he can step up and become a leader with a linebacker group in need of a strong veteran presence.

Most of all, though, Vasser, who recorded 19 tackles in just five games as a junior, wants to show that the Bulldogs are just as deep as the 2013 season nears and can give defending national champion Alabama a run for its money for the Southeastern Conference title.

With a clean bill of health, Vasser knows he’ll have every opportunity to be a leader on the field, after two of its leaders at linebacker in 2012 went in the first round of the NFL Draft.

“I know we have a lot of naysayers out there that doubt our defense is going to be as good,” Vasser said. “But I love to prove people wrong.”

At linebacker, junior Amarlo Herrera and sophomore Jordan Jenkins are almost guaranteed to start for the Bulldogs. Vasser knows he’ll have a chance to also claim one of the starting jobs, across from Jenkins, in training camp.

“To be in a position to earn a starting job in the SEC and the University of Georgia is not easy,” said Matt Mays, his mentor and position coach at Chestatee High. “Chase is a great athlete who has all the physical tools.”

In 2012, Vasser says his shoulder aggravation started early when he had a season-best seven tackles against Florida Atlantic in Athens.

The pain continued to escalate and took a 1-2 punch when he tore the labrum against Kentucky, then chipped his rotator cuff against Florida in Jacksonville, Fla. He sat the first two games of the season as punishment for an offseason arrest for driving under the influence.

Vasser had surgery on the ailing shoulder the week of Thanksgiving. The good news is that Vasser says that it was a complete success after extensive work with the athletic training department and implementing different training strategies, such as yoga, into his workout routine.

However, he had to pace the sideline for some of the biggest games of the 2012 season, most notably an ever-so-close 32-28 loss to the Crimson Tide in the conference title game at the Georgia Dome.

“Missing that Alabama game crushed me,” Vasser said.

After such a strong end to the season, and coming so close to an appearance in the national championship game, all the expected feelings of not feeling involved with the team manifested in Vasser.

While the rest of the team was preparing for big games down the home stretch, like Georgia Tech and a bowl appearance against Nebraska, he was assigned to the training room with his arm resting in a sling for a six-week period following surgery.

Before surgery, Vasser also had to cut off his trademark shoulder length hair to prevent any chance of infection to his surgically-repaired area.

“I know having such a significant injury was very frustrating to Chase since he hasn’t had a history of it before,” Mays said. “The main piece of advice I had for him after surgery was to listen to the training staff because they have one of the best around down there at Georgia.”

Vasser had to start basic in his rehab, just doing forearm grips at first. He received go-ahead to resume full activity in May. Vasser’s only apprehension now is to get the first contact in full pads under his belt to know that his shoulder is fully mended. After surgery, Vasser is also leaner at 219 pounds, down from 235 pounds prior to surgery.

With just weeks remaining before the start of practice in Athens, Vasser is amazed that his time in Athens has passed so quickly. He knows it’s his role, along with other veteran position players, to take the younger linebackers ‘under their wings’ and show them the ropes.

“We have so much talent on this defense,” Vasser said. “I’m excited to see what we’re able to do.”


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