Former Bradwell Tiger, Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket and current NFL New England Patriot linebacker Gary Guyton was a special guest at the Hinesville Rotary Club’s meeting Tuesday at Western Sizzlin’.
Guyton attended as the guest of local attorney Billy Jones of Jones Osteen and Jones. He was joined by his father, Gary Guyton Sr.
After the meeting, Guyton talked to the Courier’s sports editor about heading to spring training. He is set to report back to the Patriots on March 15.
"I’m excited about going back to work and I’m ready to enjoy the next season," he said. "Basically it’s about getting back to being with my teammates."
Guyton signed on with the New England Patriots last year as an undrafted free agent.
Guyton impressed the coaching staff of the San Francisco 49ers and the Patriots at the 2008 NFL Combine, where he finished on top of the linebackers in the 40-yard dash and other events.
Both teams were looking to sign him and Guyton chose the Patriots. He said the opportunity to play on a championship team made the decision somewhat easy.
He played primarily on special teams until injuries to Patriots linebackers Bo Ruud, Shawn Crable, Eric Alexander, Pierre Woods and Adalius Thomas opened the door and allowed Guyton to slip back into the linebacker spot where he showcased his speed and maneuverability.
After coming in as a reserve linebacker for 11 games, he had his first NFL career start Dec. 7 in the Patriots 24-21 comeback game against the Seattle Seahawks. In that game, Guyton blocked a Seneca Wallace pass intended for Maurice Morris, registered two solo tackles and one special teams tackle.
At the end of the season, Guyton was ranked 126th in the league among linebackers and was credited with 34 tackles, 25 of which were solo tackles and nine assists.
"I want to do better next year and work on my game all the way around," he said about setting goals for the 2009 season. "From tackling to kicking the ball ... Even if they want me to kick the ball, I’ll kick it to them — whatever the team needs from me."
Recalling how rough his rookie season was, Guyton said he plans to take it easy on the newbies being drafted or signed by the Patriots
"I won’t do too much," he said. "They have a lot on their plate already dealing with us and the team and the play book. I won’t do too much ... maybe have them carry my towel and hand me my shoulder pads and little things to get them aggravated."
Guyton said he’s been working out and staying in shape because he knows an NFL career is one that has no guarantees. He said he knows he still needs to earn his job and will work hard to keep his name on the lineup.
"He is definitely hard," Guyton said of Patriot head coach Bill Belichick. "He makes the changes the team needs to win. So, he is definitely hard, and I’m going to do what I can to help the team win and do my best."
Although Guyton is excited to get back to football, he said he was glad to come home during the off season to enjoy the mild weather and some Southern comfort food.
"They don’t have sweet tea up there," he said. "No collard greens and the fried chicken tastes different."