MACON – From his years as an assistant coach at Florida State sitting high up in the booth, Mark Richt couldn’t quite sense the impact of full-speed collisions on kickoffs.
That changed when he got a sideline view as head coach at Georgia.
That perspective is why on Tuesday he said he would vote to eliminate kickoffs, an idea suggested by Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.
"It is violent," Richt said Tuesday at the Peach State Pigskin Preview. "It is very, very physical. You’ve got a bunch of guys that can run fast and are strong and they are not afraid, it’s kind of a manhood thing. No one’s going to back down."
Rutgers’ Eric LeGrand sustained a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the neck down while covering a kickoff last season.
Back in 2003, Georgia’s Decory Bryant suffered a broken neck when returning a kick, ending his playing career.
That injury, Richt said, leaves him "not all that excited" about kickoffs.
Bryant said athletic association officials unfairly denied him an insurance policy. The two sides settled for $400,000 in 2010.
Schiano proposed instead of kickoffs, that a team would punt from the 30-yard line after scores and at the start of each half. A team could choose instead to go for it in a fourth-and-15 that would serve as similar to an onside kick.
"The part about not kicking off I think if it went to a vote, I would vote for no kickoff also," Richt said. "I would just place the ball at the 23-yard line or whatever the average has been. I’m sure the defensive coaches would want it on the 18. Offensive coaches would want it on the 30."
Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson, on kickoff coverage the past two seasons, wants the play to remain in the game.
"You don’t just want to line up and play," Robinson said. "That first kickoff when the crowd is going wild, that’s part of the game. If you eliminate that, you eliminate part of the game."
Richt said he’s not expecting imminent change.
"I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon," he said. "I really don’t."
‘Dream Team’ joins Bulldogs
Most of Georgia’s hyped freshman class is now on campus.
The hot-shot recruits are now beginning to mesh with the players already on the roster.
"If these guys come in with a good humble attitude, our guys will help them," Richt said. "If they come in thinking they own the place, they might have a hard time proving that they belong."
Freshmen are working out early in the morning separate from returning players, Robinson said.
But he said he took part in 7-on-7 drills with freshmen, including linebackers Ray Drew and Amarlo Herrera, and defensive backs Corey Moore, Damian Swann and Chris Sanders.
"They’re excited about Georgia football," Robinson said. "We’ve heard a lot of hype about them coming in. I hope that all that hype turns into plays on the field."
Still waiting on some to arrive
Incoming freshman linebackers Kent Turene and Ramik Wilson are not yet on campus.
Richt said that’s because the school year in South Florida ended later.
"The goal would be to be here in the second summer session for a couple of the guys," Richt said.
"There’s another guy in the state of Georgia (that hasn’t arrived yet)," Richt added.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported last month that defensive back Devin Bowman from Ridgeland High School needed to pass the English language arts portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test in July.
The only academic casualty so far is defensive lineman Chris Mayes, who is headed to junior college.
As for the others, Richt said, "we expect everybody to be there."
On the team as promised
Georgia’s preseason roster includes the name of James Eunice, the wide receiver from Valdosta High who drowned in January while duck hunting.
Eunice is listed as No. 23, the number on the Georgia jersey that Richt sent to his family after his death.
Eunice was an honor student who was accepted to Georgia and planned to walk-on this season, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
Eunice would have turned 18 on Thursday.
This and that
Two weeks after oversigning was widely discussed at the SEC spring meetings, Richt spoke about the issue again. SEC presidents voted to cap the number of signees each year at 25, down from 28. Richt said "you can still oversign with 25. If you only have 15 and you sign 25, you still sign more than you got. The question is everybody’s integrity. That’s the question. Are we all going to do things in the right way? I think everybody’s trying to do that. It’s not an easy thing to manage. Richt said if you "sign right to the 85 number" by the time preseason practices start in August, attrition could bring that number down to 79. "It’s not as simple as everybody wants to make it," Richt said.
… Coaches have said they would like offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to shed some pounds this summer. He said he’s now at 331 pounds and would like to be at 325 this season. "During spring, a lot of the linemen were heavy," he said. "A lot of us have done a good job of trying to slim down and trying to get more flexible and lose a couple of pounds."