Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin seriously considered entering the NFL draft in January before deciding to return for his senior season.
His value at the next level as an explosive kickoff returner may not be as much now after the NFL decided to move kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35. The move was made to curtail collision injuries.
That has some believing that teams won’t keep a roster spot for a kickoff return specialist on the roster. The touchback rate naturally is expected to rise while the number of returns should decline.
“There may be a greater amount of touchbacks, but at the same time you’re still going to need that return man,” Boykin said. “I’m going to continue to work on my craft, and I think when that time comes I’m sure I’ll still be able to return the ball at the next level as well.”
Boykin, entering his third year as a starter for Georgia at cornerback, has returned four touchdowns for kickoffs in the past two seasons. Only Houston’s Tyron Carrier (six touchdowns) has returned more kickoffs for touchdowns among active players.
“I’m a cornerback first,” Boykin said.
Boykin said he fielded about 20 punts in practice over a 10 minute period during Thursday’s windy practice. Branden Smith, who held the punt return job last year, Tavarres King and Carlton Thomas also got work fielding kicks and punts.
“If they want me to return punts, I’m definitely up for it,” Boykin said. “Anytime I can get the ball in my hands, you know I’m going to say yes to it. They’re trying people out. Like coach (Bryan) McClendon said `The best person will win it.’ We’re all our there competing.”
Some Friday tidbits:
–When Georgia holds its first full pads practice on Saturday, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones says he won’t be limited.
“I’m full-out, everything,” Jones said.
Jones transferred to Georgia last summer after Southern California wouldn’t clear him to take part in spring practices last year.
He sustained pinched nerves in his neck, a compressed spine and weakness in his arm after being injured in the eighth game of the 2009 season against Oregon.
–Safety Jakar Hamilton was requested but not made available for interviews on Thursday. Tailback Washuan Ealey also has not talked to reporters since his suspension was lifted prior to spring practice.
– Redshirt sophomore Chris Burnette lined up as the backup center behind Ben Jones in Thursday’s practice. Burnette was sidelined last season with a right knee MCL sprain and patella dislocation.
“Burnette’s actually lined up and practiced these three days and shown some promise,” coach Mark Richt said.
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