There are some encouraging signs from Georgias top two tailbacks so far this preseason.
Georgia’s Richard Samuel is back at running back, where he spent his first two seasons before moving to linebacker in 2010.
File / Staff
"Both of them have shown signs of making good runs and having some speed," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "I’ve seen speed at the tailback position."
Those players are junior Richard Samuel and freshman Isaiah Crowell, not Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, the Bulldogs’ top two rushers the past two seasons.
Yes, the makeup of running backs coach Bryan McClendon’s meeting room has changed drastically since the spring.
Samuel moved back to tailback from linebacker and Crowell arrived from Columbus as one of the nation’s most-watched recruits.
Ealey transferred after two suspensions in the last year. King was declared academically eligible.
Their departures were tough personally for McClendon, he said, because the players he coaches are like family.
"I tried to do everything I can to make sure those guys were on their Ps and Qs and doing everything I can as far as getting them to where they’re supposed to be and things of that nature," said McClendon, beginning his third season as a full-time assistant. "When guys screw up, they’ve got to get the penalty."
McClendon likes the talent he has available, but Samuel spent the last year preparing to play a different position and taking a redshirt and, McClendon said, "Isaiah hasn’t taken a snap of college football yet."
Bobo on Sunday echoed what coach Mark Richt said two days earlier: that Crowell is picking things up at a good pace.
"Isaiah has done a pretty good job for a freshman of understanding what to do, a little better than we thought and hoped, so he’s ahead of the curve, but still has a long way to go to learn," Bobo said. "It’s tough for any freshman coming in and you throw everything on them, but we’re happy with what we see."
McClendon likes that Crowell isn’t resting on his talent alone. He said he’s not taking practice for granted and is focusing on every repetition.
Freshmen flash athleticism
The sample size is only four days, but Bobo knows one thing for sure that this freshman class brings.
"I think we’ve got some very athletic guys at the skill positions," Bobo said after a Sunday practice that included some rain. "They’ve got a chance to be some of the most athletic guys at Georgia since I’ve been here. All of them are green, all of them are learning, their heads spinning, but you see them make plays. I feel good about those guys."
Bobo rattled off the names of receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley, quarterback Christian LeMay and defensive backs Damian Swann, Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders.
"There are some athletic jokers that are making some plays," Bobo said.
Andrews, Lee making strides on line
Offensive line coach Will Friend said center David Andrews has stood out the most among the freshmen.
"He’s grasped it pretty good," Friend said.
With starter Ben Jones a senior, getting Andrews some work this year would help prepare him to possibly take over as a starter next year.
Tackle Watts Dantzler is close behind Andrews among newcomers, Friend said
Dallas Lee, who missed most of the spring with respiratory issues, "has done some very good things in the first couple of days," Friend said. "He’s getting better."
Chris Burnette, Kolton Houston and Lee are all in the mix at right guard.
Nose guard John Jenkins practiced Sunday in jersey No. 66. Georgia says it does not have a No. 6 jersey that fits the 6-foot-3, 351-pounder. It did when the team practiced without shoulder pads, but with them on, he’s got to wear 66.
A bigger No. 6 jersey is on the way.
"I’ve got enough problems," defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. "I’m not dealing with equipment, too."
Kwame Geathers remains the first-team nose guard for now, according to Garner, while Jenkins is on the second team.
"He’s a very talented big man that’s very inconsistent," Garner said of the junior college transfer. "Some things you may have been able to get away with there, he can’t get away with here and be successful."
This and that
Someone asked defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to list his five goals for the defense. "The first one — I want to win. I don’t think there’s any more after that." ? Coach Mark Richt on Sunday’s practice: "The offensive skill guys had a good day. There was very good running, throwing and catching. If we were keeping score today, I think the offensive guys would’ve gotten the best of it." ? Cornerback Brandon Boykin, safety Jakar Hamilton and outside linebacker Cornelius Washington remain out with hamstring injuries. ? Georgia will practice this morning in full pads for the first time this preseason. "I want to see who will strike somebody and who won’t flinch," Bobo said.