ATLANTA --- After a long break from the playing field, Georgia Tech All-ACC guard Omoregie Uzzi says he has been cleared to play football again and on the same day was named to the Outland Trophy watch list. Uzzi has been the anchor for Paul Johnson's offensive lines for the last three seasons at right guard and he plans to anchor that line one more time for the Jackets this fall.
"I've been cleared to play and I have been running with the team so I am just really excited to go," Uzzi said. "I just need to take care of my whole body, mainly my knees and ankles and my back. I have maintenance things I have to do now like icing down my body after practice and a lot of other stuff to keep me fresh and ready to play."
Uzzi missed the Sun Bowl and all of spring practice with chronic knee and ankle issues, but through dieting and hard work issue trimmed down and got himself back into a position to compete for the Jackets this fall. Uzzi credits the Jackets new strength and conditioning coach John Sisk and team nutritionist Leah Turner for his body transformation and good health.
"Coach Sisk and Leah (Turner) have been great talking to us about how you can't out train a great diet. I have taken what they give us and put it into my daily life. I have been working on my ankle flexibility and mobility a lot this summer and now I am working on my full body mobility. I have been working to increase my ankle mobility and hip flexibility."
After tipping the scales at nearly 330-pounds, Uzzi has trimmed down to 307 pounds and says he feels better than he has in a long time as he heads into his final season at Tech. Uzzi says Coach Sisk has helped the team put the upcoming season in perspective and that has driven him and other players to get in the best shape of their careers in a few short weeks.
"Every year I have tried to become the best player I can be in the offseason," Uzzi said. "Coach Sisk really put things into perspective and we are focused on 9/3. That is the first game of the season. A lot of times the offseason gets mundane and you kind of just do it, but Coach Sisk does a good job of making us know we do all this for a reason. Every day we know why we are doing this and what we are doing this for. We know this is how hard we have to work to get there."
On top of the pressures of playing his final season on the Flats, Uzzi also has a NFL future to ponder. Several draft projects have Uzzi as one of the top offensive guards for 2013 and some former teammates have given Uzzi advice on how to get ready for that leap if it happens.
"I've talked to Cord (Howard) and other guys who used to play here about the NFL. I used to work with Nick Claytor as part of an internship before he went to Canada to play. Nick had a lot of advice on the future of playing and what he wished he knew going through the process and what I need to work on."
After hearing about being on the Outland watch list, Uzzi took the news in stride and instead focused his comments on the upcoming season and his hopes for a special final season on the Flats.
"I am really excited about it, but I have never been big on awards. I appreciate the attention and support people give but I am a guy who takes things step by step and little by little. I take it one drill at a time, one play at a time and one series at a time. Hopefully that will turn into winning games and championships," he said. "It is crazy this is my last year and it seems like just yesterday I was riding up here in the car with mom. This is my last chance to do something in college that I wanted to. I dreamed about coming to college and winning a championship and I am going to soak up every moment I can from this upcoming season."