Freshman Isaiah Crowell isn’t the only player from Columbus who could make an impact in Georgia’s backfield next fall.
Georgia’s Bruce Figgins, right, celebrates with teammates Josh Davis (78) and Ben Jones (61) after catching a touchdown pass against Idaho State last year.
Bulldogs coaches are also preparing Bruce Figgins for his new job as a fullback, giving the former Shaw High School tight end a more prominent role entering his fifth season.
“I think I’m adjusting well, doing a lot of learning on the run,” Figgins said after Georgia’s second spring practice on Tuesday. “I’m excited about it. I think I can contribute to the offense a lot more from the fullback position. I’m ready to play.”
Figgins’ role in his first three seasons was as a point-of-attack tight end who specialized in blocking. Along the way, he caught nine passes and scored three touchdowns.
Georgia coach Mark Richt can envision Figgins playing a more valuable role at his new position.
“When you have a fullback that can play that position legitimately and tight end legitimately, it gives you some diversity when he’s in the game.” Richt said. “What it does is defenses, they like to know who’s in the game. By personnel, they want to know what’s going on, and if you have guys who can be more than one thing then when that personnel group is in the game, they’re not sure exactly how you’re going to line up, what it’s going to entail. It gives them less of a clue.”
Figgins’ full-time move to fullback came in January after he worked part-time at the position during Liberty Bowl practices following Shaun Chapas’ ankle surgery.
Now that Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier have completed their college careers, Figgins moved to a position of need – sophomore Zander Ogletree also is there – from a tight end position loaded with Orson Charles, Aron White, Arthur Lynch and incoming freshman Jay Rome.
After the bowl game, Richt asked Figgins how he liked working at fullback.
“I said, ‘I liked it. I thought I did well,’ ” Figgins said.
“We did too,” Richt told him.
The 6-foot-2 Chapas weighed 247 pounds at Georgia’s pro day this week.
The 6-4 Figgins says he has dropped weight and hopes to get down to 260.
“He’s pretty dang big,” Murray said. “Any linebacker he’s going to meet in the hole, I think he’s going to knock him down pretty good. … To be able to move him in and out around the offense is a big thing for us to match him up in certain areas.”
Lynch said the thought crossed his mind to ask to take on an H-back/fullback role like Figgins.
“I think that’s where offense is kind of going right now, that hybrid kind of thing,” Lynch said. “I think that was great for Bruce. He had a great spring last year and expected more and now he’s excited about his role. He obviously did a good job in bowl practice and some games during the year when he did play.”
Figgins went more than three years between touchdown catches before he caught two in November last season against Idaho State and Georgia Tech.
The 3-yard scoring strike from Murray against the Yellow Jackets came in the second quarter of what turned into a 42-34 Bulldogs win.
“As much as it shocked everybody, it shocked me the same,” Figgins said. “On the goal line, just finishing a play. Aaron found me in the back of the end zone and I just didn’t give up. My mom, I know she was crazed. My dad said his whole arm was hurting because she was hitting him she was so excited.”
Figgins’ career – which included sitting out the 2009 season after a six-game suspension for an undisclosed violation and shoulder surgery – is winding down.
“I’m taking it as this is my last go-round,” Figgins said. “The team goal is a national championship, an SEC championship and I’m all for it and I’m willing to contribute anyway I can.”