The following was written by Eric Rangus for UGA Today. To view the original article, click here.
Bulldogs fans love their quarterbacks.
Bulldogs fans love all their players. On every team. In every sport. No doubt.
But there really is a special place for quarterbacks, and few Bulldogs who ever played the position are more beloved than D.J. Shockley AB ’05.
He was the first player recruited by Mark Richt. From 2002 through 2005, he played for four Georgia teams that finished in the top 10. Shockley also won two SEC titles, including one in his senior year when he threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third as the Dawgs romped over LSU 34-14 in the title game. He remains in the Bulldogs’ top 10 in several categories, including passing yards, passing touchdowns, and QB rating.
“When you leave, you realize that this is a special place to be,” says Shockley, a native of College Park. “I try to tell the players now how important it is to have that ‘G’ on your helmet or say that you represent the University of Georgia. You take pride in it.”
When you leave, you realize that this is a special place to be. I try to tell the players now how important it is to have that ‘G’ on your helmet or say that you represent the University of Georgia. You take pride in it.” — D.J. Shockley AB ’05, former UGA quarterback and two-time SEC champion
Shockley continues to take pride in the red and black, although he does need to keep a certain professional distance. He’s been a sports broadcaster for more than a decade, and, since 2021, Shockley has served as a sports anchor with Atlanta’s FOX5 news.
But the broadcast booth was not Shockley’s first destination after graduation.
Shockley was drafted in the 7th round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, and he won the third-string quarterback job in training camp. In his second year, while competing for the starting job, Shockley tore his ACL and missed the season. He spent the next two years bouncing on and off the Falcons practice squad before being let go in 2009, four years after he was drafted.
He never got into a regular season game. But that was far from the end of the story.
Shockley had studied speech communication at UGA, in part because he wanted to be a good interview after games. He never expected those skills would come in handy as an interviewer.
While he was still an active player, the Falcons asked Shockley to contribute to their weekly show. For Comcast Sports’ A Day in the Life, he interviewed teammates and handled other features, proving to be a natural in front of the camera.
It made for a smooth transition to a broadcasting career.
He paid his dues. Shockley started by broadcasting high school football on Georgia Public Television.
Then he moved to regional college football games, the Big Ten Network, the ACC Network, the SEC Network, and, finally, debuted at ESPN in 2018. Shockley loved the job but wasn’t sure if the six months on/six months off schedule was sustainable. That’s when Atlanta’s FOX affiliate asked about his availability.
“I never saw a sports anchor job anywhere in my future,” Shockley says. “But I talked to my wife, and she said that this is exactly where God wants you to be.”
Shockley is quick to credit his wife of 14 years, Portia, and their children, Milan, 13, and Mekhi, 11, for their unwavering support.
“We’ve been together since high school. She’s my backbone, my supporter, and my encourager,” Shockley says of Portia. “Without her, there is no way I’d be where I am.”
Anchoring has been a great move and one that has pushed Shockley outside his comfort zone. He’s called basketball games. He regularly talks soccer, NASCAR, and golf. Shockley also served as FOX5’s lead broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves’ World Series title run in 2021.
“I love it because now I’m not pigeonholed as ‘the football guy,’” he says.
Even with all the new assignments, Shockley is never far from the sport—and team—he loves most. He served as on-stage emcee for both Bulldogs’ national championship celebrations.
“Everybody is watching, and you are running the show,” he says. “It goes back to every time that you are nervous or unsure of yourself, but then you do the job and you are successful. To be able to stand on that stage is one of the highlights of my career, and I enjoyed every moment of it.”