ATLANTA — There was no chest-beating after big catches.
He didn’t have to celebrate after barrelling by defenders for extra yards.
And when other Georgia players poured onto Grant Field to celebrate Georgia’s 31-17 victory over Georgia Tech, he just shook a few hands near the bench and wandered out onto the field to find an old high school teammate.
No, Georgia junior tight end Orson Charles doesn’t have to say much or be the center of attention. His actions have said plenty for him this season.
Charles’ six-catch, 95-yard game on Saturday further solidified him as one of the Bulldogs’ biggest — albeit most quiet — threats. He has a team-best 530 receiving yards, five touchdowns and is one of three finalists for the 2011 John Mackey Award, which is given each year to the nation’s most outstanding tight end.
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo called Charles “a warrior,” and Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray, a former Plant High (Tampa, Fla.) teammate of Charles, described him as tireless and focused.
“Even after this past Wednesday’s practice, we were all heading in to get our dinner and he’s like, ‘I want more passes, I want more passes,’ ” Murray said. “So we stood out there and got a couple more routes in while everyone else except for me and the tight ends went upstairs to eat.
“He’s a kid who wants to work all the time, and he and I have been on the same page pretty much.”
Charles was key in the Bulldogs’ early offensive surge on Saturday, grabbing four first-half passes for 64 yards, including back-to-back, second-quarter receptions that set up a Chris Conley score on the following play. He finished the day just 14 yards short of tying his best single-game receiving total on a day when everything seemed to go his way.
Even on a fumble deep in the Georgia Tech zone, he appeared poised as the ball bounced back into him and he covered it up.
The right man was in the right place at the right time, Charles said, yet luck rarely comes without preparation.
“I was just trusting the play-calling, just trusting what coach Bobo calls,” Charles said. “It’s not one of those things that it was a busted defense. It was just that coach Bobo called a great play against a certain defense that they had.”
Saturday’s victory also serves as a benchmark for Charles, who improved to 3-0 against Georgia Tech. But even that celebration was met with restraint and within context.
“It feels good, but you have to remember: Any given team can be beat any given day,” Charles said. “I’m very satisfied and very happy I’m 3-0, but the next time I play them I could lose, so I can’t let my guard down.”
Still, he has had some of his biggest games against the Yellow Jackets and Saturday was no different.
His lone 9-yard catch against Georgia Tech as freshman converted a third down on the opening drive of that year’s game and the possession ended with a field goal.
A year ago, he caught two passes for 67 yards and hauled in one of the two touchdowns he scored that season.
And on Saturday in Bobby Dodd Stadium, he caught passes on three Georgia scoring drives, helping account for 17 points.
As close as Charles came to some personal bests Saturday, he is inches away from Georgia’s all-time tight end records.
Charles and Leonard Pope (2003-05) are tied for the school lead among tight ends with 10 career touchdowns, and Charles finished Saturday’s game 1 yard shy of tying the Georgia tight end career record for receiving yards, which belongs to Randy McMichael (1,327 yards, 1999-01).
With a reception in 11 of Georgia’s 12 games, Charles is likely to break that record next week as the Bulldogs prepare to face top-ranked and undefeated LSU in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
And with the same humble enthusiasm that Charles has used to chip away at school records and earn All-America honors, the Bulldogs are hoping to pull off an upset at the Georgia Dome.
“A lot of people think we can flip the switch on Saturday and beat the No.1 team in the country. That’s not going to happen,” Charles said. “You’ve got to put in the work like we’ve been doing and put in the extra time after practice because it’s going to be a man’s game. The man in you has to step up, and that’s what I feel like we’re capable of doing.”