Staff Photo: Brandon Brigman. Former University of Georgia and Atlanta Falcons quarterback D.J. Shockley, a Duluth resident, is part of Countdown to Kickoff, which benefits Georgia Transplant Foundation and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
D.J. Shockley, 28, is a former quarterback for the University of Georgia and the Atlanta Falcons. Shockley works with various charities, including Countdown to Kickoff, a UGA event that benefits the Georgia Transplant Foundation and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Shockley is a 2001 graduate of North Clayton High School and is married to his high school sweetheart, Portia. The couple has a 1-year-old daughter, Milan. While at UGA, Shockley led the Bulldogs to the SEC championship as a senior in 2005. He spent four years with the Atlanta Falcons.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know ...," the Duluth resident talks to staff writer Brandon Brigman about playing football, his involvement with the UGA football program and his passion for bowling.
BB: Tell me about your involvement with Countdown to Kickoff and Gwinnett grads Matt and Jon Stinchcomb and David Greene.
BB: We've all been friends for a long time since I've been at Georgia. I've done a lot of different things with Matt and Greene as well. Matt came to me this year about coming and being a part of it. I said absolutely. It's a great event.
BB: So what are you doing nowadays?
DS: I'm actually doing a lot of different things. I'm doing some part-time work with the IT healthcare recruiting staff company called Atlanta Group. I also train QBs, like high school and middle school kids. It's primarily QBs, teaching them fundamentals. Also I played in the UFL league last year with the Omaha Nighthawks and I'll probably play for them again this year.
BB: Are you officially done with the NFL?
DS: No, I'm not retired. That's the good thing about the UFL league. It gives you a chance to play, get more film. Quarterback position is hard. Only one person can play, so you only have so much time you can get on the field and film work. This gives you a chance to go back and play and get some film for teams to see you. They can actually pick you up once your season is over with. If that happens, it would be awesome. I'm still working hard to get back to it. The NFL is the ultimate goal and the highest level of competition. It's definitely the league I would like to be back in.
BB: Will there be an NFL season this fall?
DS: Whoo, that's tough to tell. There's a lot going on right now with that stuff. It's getting late. Just some friends that are in the league right now, they are starting to get a little antsy about it. It's June and training camp starts in another two months. I think there's a good chance of it happening, but I don't think it will happen anytime soon. I think it will happen around when training camp starts.
BB: How hard was it getting cut by your hometown team, the Atlanta Falcons?
DS: Yeah, it was pretty tough. I put everything into it. I worked hard. Sometimes things don't work out they way you want them to. I know God has a plan and he's going to make it happen. I looked at all the negative parts of why, but I knew I was going to be better for it. I was there four years and a lot of people can't say they made it four years. It was definitely a blessing to be there and I enjoyed my time there.
BB: When Matt Ryan got drafted, was it like 'Oh man, I'll never play now?'
DS: No, not really. When they bring in a guy that's No. 3 overall (in the draft), you kind of understand the business part of it. Being in the league that's what it is. It's a huge business and it's all about winning and winning now. Drafting Matt, I was excited about it, he was great for the team. If my time was called I was going to be ready to go.
BB: What's UGA going to be like this year?
DS: The Dawgs are going to be back. It's a must. I don't think there's any other way to say it. I think the down year last year and I think Coach (Mark) Richt has done a lot of things already to help the program get back to where it needs to be. The guys there have the pride, they are going to make sure it happens. It's hard to go through what happened last year and do it again. Everyone has huge pride for their university and for that team, so they are going to make it happen.
BB: Do you still have a lot of contact with the program?
DS: Yeah, absolutely. One of the guys I played with was Bryan McClendon and he's the running back coach. Coach (Mike) Bobo and Coach Richt, I talk to them on a weekly basis. We just had a QB competition with some of the former QBs a few weeks ago and it was a time to bond with the current quarterbacks that are there. I've made a real good relationship with Aaron (Murray) and a couple of other guys there, so I enjoy it.
BB: What's your fondest memory of playing at UGA?
DS: Oh man, I have so many. But I think the biggest would be winning the SEC championship in 2005. It was such an up and down year with us not getting much respect coming into the year. We were supposed to be third in the SEC East. The main part of it was because they didn't know who was going to be quarterback. That drove me, it drove my teammates. It put them behind me and we all just played well that year. Each time we got so many people against us, we always showed up and played. Once we finally got to the championship game, people said we're not good enough to be here. It only drove us more and our whole team went out there and had a ball that night and ended up winning.
BB: Your dad Don was your head coach at North Clayton. Is that something you ever thought about pursuing?
DS: Yeah, but it's kind of weird. At first, I kind of thought, I don't think I could be a coach. There's just so much into being a coach. Then I started training these quarterbacks, I thought maybe this is something I could do. I actually enjoy it. I look at it like I've been taught so much that I could pour into some kids. It's definitely in my mind I could be a coach some day. We'll see.
BB: What do you like to do when you're not preparing for football?
DS: I'm a huge bowler. I love to bowl. That's a hidden fact that people don't know. I love to bowl and you would think a bowler would like to spin it, but I don't spin it. I go straight for the pins. I'm trying to knock them down at 100 miles per hour. As bad as I am at golf, I like to play golf. It's the one sport I can't seem to get. It's so frustrating. I hit one or two good shots and I'm hooked again.
BB: Have you ever bowled a 300?
DS: Never hit a 300. I've had some 200's here and there with some nice good scores. Never anything perfect. I'm usually nine or better on every frame.
BB: Do you ever watch it on TV?
DS: Oh yeah, absolutely. I've watched the championships all the time. I watch them and they spin it and it makes we wanna spin it. I love watching bowling and when I'm not watching bowling I like to watch National Geographic. I like animals. I took my daughter to the aquarium and I found myself checking out the animals more than she was. That's actually where we got married.
BB: How did you meet your wife, Portia?
DS: High school. We've been together since high school. She's been with me through it all. We definitely had our ups and downs, but it's been awesome. We're going on two years for marriage, but we've been together since high school. It's going almost 10 years now. I know she's with me. (laughs)
BB: What's your future football plans?
DS: I'm 28, I'm getting older. I definitely feel like I have plenty of more years to play. I don't know if anybody can be a Brett Favre playing until 40, but I definitely feel like I have plenty of years to play. Like I said, as long as someone wants me to play for them and someone likes what I'm doing I'm gonna keep playing, which hopefully is the ultimate level of getting to the NFL.