Little-known Bussey catches Gators' eye


Published: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 23, 2005 at 6:17 p.m.

College recruiting classes are usually defined by the number of five-star, blue-chip recruits signed by a school, but only so many can be in each class. What makes a strong recruiting class, however, is the role players and less heralded athletes.

Fred Bussey, from Upson-Lee High School (Ga.), is one of those players.

At 6-foot-1, 225-pounds, Bussey played quarterback for Upson-Lee during his three-year highschool career.

In college, though, he is projected as a linebacker or fullback.

"He did an outstanding job for us for three years," said Mike Majors, head coach of Upson-Lee. "He was our best athlete."

Injuries throughout high school have kept Bussey from being ranked highly by the major recruiting services, but offers from Florida, Auburn and Georgia Southern are signs that he is better than his ranking.

GatorCountry.com ranks him as the 68th overall linebacker.

"He is a big kid who can run over players," Majors said. "He will help out a college team eventually."

Bussey runs a reported 4.7-second 40-yard dash, which has been hurt by ankle injuries.

In his junior year, Bussey injured his ankle, which has slowed him down.

"He needs to work on his speed, get it back after the ankle injury," Majors said.

Though Florida and Auburn, among other schools, would have him play either linebacker or fullback, he has been offered a scholarship to be either quarterback or a feature back by Georgia Southern.

Bussey has stated that he would like to play safety, but will do whatever he is asked to do.

"We made him a quarterback out of necessity and ability," Majors said. "He is just a natural athlete who passes the look test for sure."

Former Gator head coach Ron Zook, who is now coaching at University of Illinois, was the one to offer Bussey the scholarship.

Majors is hoping that new head coach, Urban Meyers honors the offer.

"Fred's first priority is to get a good education, and UF is a really good one," Majors said. "He is an excellent student who has fulfilled all of the academic requirements."

Though not highly ranked as a recruit, Bussey is a natural leader who can help a team's energy out.

"He has a lot of drive and initiative," Majors said. "He is a leader by example, but can also get in peoples faces when he needs to, to pump them up."

Bussey will most likely need a year of redshirting to fully recover from his ankle injury, adjust to new environment and learn a new position, if he decides to go to a school that will switch him.

"He defiantly will need some work, but he will work hard, as usual, and succeed towards his goal," Majors said. "His goal is to be a great student, he does not look too far ahead."

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