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Monday July 6th, 2015 10:32PM

Ball surprised hes surpassed high school teammate Lumpkin

By The Associated Press
<p>In the second game of his brief career at Georgia Tech, quarterback Reggie Ball heard a sellout crowd chanting his name after an upset of Auburn.</p><p>Fans stormed the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium, then grabbed Ball and carried him off on their shoulders. Soon after, a goal post came down.</p><p>At Georgia, tailback Kregg Lumpkin _ Balls teammate at Stephenson High School in metro Atlanta last season _ missed the first two games with an injury. Hes listed No. 3 on the depth chart heading into Saturdays game, and he still hasnt started.</p><p>This wasnt the way it was supposed to work out.</p><p>I was surprised, really, Ball said. I thought Kregg could go anywhere in the nation and start.</p><p>Lumpkin, a Parade magazine All-American as a senior in high school, got hurt early in preseason drills with the Bulldogs (9-2), pulling his hamstring before contact drills even started.</p><p>He later aggravated the injury and didnt play until the third game, a 31-7 victory over South Carolina.</p><p>Meanwhile, Ball hasnt missed a snap, and he likely will be named Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year. After 11 games, hes won the weekly award five times, including three consecutive at one point.</p><p>He had a chance to step up, and he did, Lumpkin said. Im slowly coming along. I wish I could have gotten started earlier, but the injury threw me off.</p><p>Not that everything has gone well for Ball. A season full of ups and downs for him and the Yellow Jackets (6-5) include the victory over Auburn, a close loss at Florida State, a four-game winning streak and an embarrassing loss to Duke.</p><p>Ball has completed 52 percent of his passes for 1,900 yards and 10 touchdowns, but hes also thrown 10 interceptions. Although Georgia Tech is bowl eligible for a school-record seventh straight year, a trip to Idaho for the Humanitarian Bowl isnt out of the equation.</p><p>I dont think Im having that much more success than him, Ball said. Hes got more wins on the board. Thats going to come around, though.</p><p>Now that he has recovered from his injury, Lumpkin finally is getting his chances. He ran for a team-high 55 yards in a victory over Alabama, an effort that included his first touchdown, and in the past three games, hes gained 183 yards.</p><p>He added a 16-yard touchdown on third-and-goal in a victory over Auburn, helping the Bulldogs pull away.</p><p>I think hes done well, but its been a slow development, Georgia coach Mark Richt said. Hes running with more confidence. I like how hes progressing. Hes really going to be good.</p><p>But Lumpkins inexperience showed last week against Kentucky. He missed a blocking assignment on a pass play when quarterback David Greene rolled to his left, and Greene was forced to throw the ball away.</p><p>It was one of the things Lumpkin missed while he was hurt.</p><p>He had no experience to draw from, Richt said. To expect him to do that with no live practice is tough. Hes going to continue to improve as he goes on.</p><p>This week, Ball and Lumpkin wont talk to each other, breaking a routine they followed through most of the season. They went together to a Stephenson game a couple of weeks ago, when Georgia and Georgia Tech were off, and they shared their experiences from their first year of college.</p><p>We were just joking around, having fun, reminiscing about high school, Lumpkin said. We dont talk about college football, really.</p><p>And they wont speak again until after the game.</p><p>Its just better that way, man, Ball explained. Theres going to be some trash talking if we do. They know how I feel. I wish them the best of luck and everything, no serious injuries and whatnot.</p><p>But at the same time, I want to get the win. They know how it is.</p>
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