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Freshmen await first Uga encounter.


SacFalcFan
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Fans who show up for Georgia's Picture Day today at Sanford Stadium aren't the only ones that will miss out on having a photo snapped with Bulldogs mascot, Uga, this weekend.

Freshmen on the Georgia football team didn't get to pose Friday for portraits with the English bulldog.

That preseason perk under coach Mark Richt had to be postponed after Uga VI died of a heart attack on June 27. His replacement, Uga VII, will be unveiled in a pregame ceremony prior to the Aug. 30 game against Georgia Southern.

The first fan last year in line to get 125 group tickets for a photo with Uga got there 13 hours early. Vance Cuff didn't have to wait for his moment.

"That was my first time ever being that close to Uga," said Cuff, now a sophomore cornerback.

"It was kind of like a celebrity. That was a big deal. That's a good thing for a freshman to come in and learn the Georgia way and take a picture with Uga."

Each of this year's freshmen - which includes highly-touted receiver A.J. Green and kicker Blair Walsh - will sit down for their own photos with Uga VII the day before the Georgia Southern game, said Swann Seiler, whose family has provided the mascot from the same line of pure white English bulldogs to Georgia since 1956.

"It's tradition," freshman safety Sanders Commings said. "You've got to go out there and do it."

Tailback Richard Samuel agreed.

"I'd like to get a picture taken with him," he said.

"Uga has a history behind him," Samuel added. "It will be a pleasure to take a picture with him."

Since Richt came to Georgia, newcomers to the program have had one-on-one time with the dog in front of the camera.

"It was usually right after they had gotten their freshman uniforms and it was the first time they had gotten dressed," Swann Seiler said. "It was like an incentive thing. They also had the opportunity to send (the photo) back to their high schools. It was like, 'Here's this dog, here I am with this outfit.' It was to make them feel important and spirited and it certainly worked. This last Uga, he was a tough guy and those are tough players."

Redshirt sophomore center Chris Davis from Jefferson grew up a big Bulldogs fan, but never had a brush with the famed canine until his personal audience with Uga VI two years ago.

"It was the first time I've actually ever touched an Uga," Davis said. "As long as I've ever been a Georgia fan, I don't know if it's been my initiative or just wasn't able to. It was pretty special to be with the symbol of UGA."

Uga made the cover of Sports Illustrated - Uga V to be precise in 1997 - long before Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and Dannell Ellerbe did.

"He was one of the first things I knew about Georgia football," said Walsh, a Boca Raton, Fla. native.

Stafford, a junior, who should be one of the most in demand Bulldogs at today's event, wants to get in on posing for a photo with the newly selected Uga.

"It's pretty cool, man," Stafford said. "Especially because VI was such a winning dog. I want to get a picture with him, too - No. 7 jersey and Uga VII."

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