Cincinnati Bengals rookie tight end Orson Charles comes from the University of Georgia and becomes the sixth former Bulldog currently on the Bengals’ roster.
Charles knows at least two other people currently residing in the state of Ohio, too, though he knows them for very different reasons.
One is Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson, also a former Georgia standout, who’s been both a friend and mentor to Charles over the last two years.
The other is Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who recruited Charles to the University of Florida.
That’s just the start of the story.
Charles was a prized recruit, and though Meyer had never seen him play before Charles came to a Florida football camp in 2008, he had begun recruiting him on the recommendation of a high school coach Meyer trusted. During a break in the camp, Charles and some other potential recruits were given a quick tour of Florida’s football offices.
Prominently displayed were Tim Tebow’s Heisman Trophy and Florida’s national championship trophy from the 2006 season.
“That was my first time seeing (the trophies),” Charles said last weekend. “I was just taking pictures and there was a gap in between the trophies. My butt bumped into the national championship trophy and it hit the floor and shattered.”
“Ever seen that Southwest commercial, ‘Want to get away?’” Charles asked. “I definitely felt like that. It was definitely an accident.”
Multiple accounts place the value of the crystal trophy at around $35,000. Florida had it insured, and it was replaced. Charles said Meyer’s initially told him, “Welcome to being a Gator.”
The story spread via the Internet quickly, and Charles — a native of the Tampa area — said people in Florida still talk about it.
“Everywhere I go, I hear about it,” Charles said.
Charles returned to Florida’s campus for an official visit later that fall. He was half-jokingly kept away from the trophies, and the Gators remained one of his final choices. In the end, though, Charles picked Georgia, which meant he had just one more conversation with Meyer.
Said Charles: “He definitely told me, ‘I wish you the best but you are going to get beat by us every time we play y’all.’”
Florida went 2-0 vs. Georgia in the two years Meyer was on one sideline and Charles was on the other.