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Saginaw Heritage graduate Steven Van Tiflin finds role on Georgia football team
This week, we're playing in the only game." Van Tiflin expects to graduate in a year with degrees in finance and real estate and plans on applying for law school at Georgia. "It was pretty cool to see all the notifications on social media from my friends ...
By Hugh Bernreuter
When Steven Van Tiflin decided to walk on to the Georgia football team, he made sure to tell the most important person in the football program.
"I told the secretary in the coaches office," Van Tiflin said"I didn't have any contact with the coaches, just the secretary, who told me what I needed to do to walk on if I wanted to make the team."
The former Saginaw Heritage quarterback made the team as a walk-on freshman in 2014 and has remained a Bulldog since, a move that pays off in a trip to the NCAA college football championship game at the Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia faces Alabama at 8 p.mMonday.
"It was a big faith move, but it was worth it," Van Tiflin said"I made the team through the grace of God, but it has become a great opportunity."
Van Tiflin made the decision to attend Georgia after visiting his brother, Ray Van Tiflin, who lived in Georgia.
"I knew I wanted to play college football," Van Tiflin said"When I was looking at coaches, I knew I wanted to play for a man of GodCoach (Mark) Richt was here, and he was a man of GodThe city loved himThe players loved him."
Richt, however, left Georgia after the 2015 season to return to his alma mater, the University of MiamiKirby Smart, a former Georgia defensive back, left his job as the Alabama defensive coordinator to become the head coach at Georgia.
"I've played through different coaches, different offensive coordinators," Van Tiflin said"When Coach Richt left, I decided to stayI had such good relationships with my teammatesI ended up getting some playing time."
Van Tiflin was listed as a Georgia quarterback in 2014 and 2015 before moving to receiver in 2016He saw his first collegiate action in a 35-21 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov19, 2016.
He played quarterback at Heritage, completing 44 of 86 passes for 653 yards during his senior season, adding 324 yards and seven touchdowns rushing.
Steven Van Tiflin earns SVL Scholar-Athlete Award
"I played some snaps earlier this year on special teams and at receiver," Van Tiflin said"I didn't catch a pass, but I made some good blocksI take the opportunity when it presents itself."
Van Tiflin didn't play in Georgia's 54-48 double-overtime win Monday at the Rose Bowl, but he didn't complain about the sideline view of the win that sent the Bulldogs to the title game.
"I always dreamed of playing in the Rose Bowl," Van Tiflin said"It was the type of game you dream of when you're playing in your backyard.
"I'm just enjoying the momentLast week was the first time I was on the West Coast ,then having the dream of being in the Rose Bowl, then we blocked the kick and then the last touchdownIt was so emotionalI was just holding my hands on my head in disbelief."
Since the win, Van Tiflin has focused on imitating Alabama's receivers and special-teams players.
"Everybody has a role, and I'm on the scout team as a receiver and on special teams, and I simulate Alabama's top receivers," Van Tiflin said"I'm a physical player, so I try to be physical on the scout teamSome people get tired of practicing against me, but it's all for the goodCompetition makes everybody better.
"It's an exciting timeOn the first day of classes after the Rose Bowl, everybody was asking if we're readyYou're playing for a national championshipIt really hits youLast week, we were playing in one of 20 gamesThis week, we're playing in the only game."
Van Tiflin expects to graduate in a year with degrees in finance and real estate and plans on applying for law school at Georgia
"It was pretty cool to see all the notifications on social media from my friends in Saginaw ..I don't get to go to Michigan a lot so it felt good to stay connected," Van Tiflin said"It's been a great journey here, and I have one more year left and maybe another championship game in January again next year.
"But I'll always be a Heritage Hawk."
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