Rhett McGowan said during his high school days, he figured he would be playing basketball in college.
But when the University of Georgia and coach Mark Richt offered the former Calhoun star a preferred walk-on to play football for the Bulldogs in his senior year of high school, his plans changed.
Now, the receiver has earned his way onto the field during his redshirt-sophomore season for the Bulldogs.
McGowan had a big 11-yard catch that moved the chains for a first down in the second half of Georgia’s 24-20 win over rival Florida two weeks ago.
“It was a great feeling to make a play like that against Florida,” said McGowan. “I got in for a play in the first half and it kind of calmed my nerves a little. Then, in the second half, things started moving so fast, I didn’t really have time for nerves.”
The next week he followed that up with a career game against New Mexico State last Saturday, snagging four catches for 51 yards and his first career touchdown.
Mcgowan said that he didn’t really know what he was going to do after high school as far as sports were concerned, but things started to change going into his senior year.
“I knew I wanted to play something in college, and I really thought it would be basketball,” said McGowan. “So my basketball coach (Casey) Baxter helped me out and we got a few looks from some schools, and the same with coach (Hal) Lamb in football, I got some offers from some smaller schools for football too.
“When Georgia offered me a preferred walk-on during my senior year, I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else. It was an opportunity to be at one of the best places in the country to play football.”
Although his decision to attend Georgia seemed unexpected, it was as if several roads were leading him to Athens all along. Both of McGowan’s older sisters attended Georgia, and also former Calhoun teammate and friend Kris Durham played football for coach Richt and the Bulldogs.
McGowan said his mom remembers a certain event specifically that would end up being prophetic.
“We came to visit my older sister here when I was younger, and I kept begging my mom to take me to see the stadium,” said McGowan. “So she finally brought me to see it, and she says she remembers like it was yesterday that I told her ‘I’m going to play football here one day’.”
Then, after Durham came to UGA, McGowan said he started admiring the red and black even more.
“Kris and I basically grew up together, and he’s always been like an older brother to me,” said McGowan. “So when he came here I started keeping up with Georgia more and rooting for Kris.
“We talk to this day, and he’s called several times this year to congratulate me.”
McGowan said it was his goal to improve this past offseason and continue to improve from week to week enough to earn the trust of the coaches.
“I’ve talked a lot to my receivers coach (Tony) Ball about what I need to work on, and I feel like I’ve gotten better,” said McGowan. “It’s my ultimate goal for the coaches to trust me enough to put me in and be confident in me.”
The Bulldogs sit at 7-2 (5-1 in the SEC) and have the inside track to represent the SEC East in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome after a tough 0-2 start to the season.
McGowan said the team stuck together after the rough start and didn’t listen to any of the outside noise.
“Each week, we’ve focused on the team at hand,” said McGowan. “We’ve just executed and come together as a team.
“It would be unbelievable (to play in the SEC Championship Game). It would definitely be the biggest game I’ve ever played in, but right now we’ve got to take care of business each week.”
Next up on the schedule for McGowan and the Bulldogs is a home date with Auburn today at 3:30 p.m.