Georgia football notes: Bruce Figgins of Shaw High feels 'more natural' at fullback after shift from tight end

semerson@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 7, 2011 

ATHENS, Ga. -- While he is practicing with his fellow running backs now, former Shaw star Bruce Figgins still keeps an eye on what his former position mates at tight end are doing.

“I’m always glancing at the tight ends,” Figgins said Saturday. “I think (freshman Jay) Rome asked me about five questions today, and I was able to answer them, so I’m still good with the tight ends. But I’m starting to get used to it (in the backfield). Of course, I outweigh everyone by about 60 pounds. But it’s good, I’m getting more acclimated with it every day.”

Figgins, listed at 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, stands out among the other backs, whether it’s fullback Zander Ogletree (5-10, 224) or any of the tailbacks.

Figgins, who switched from tight end before spring practice, said it is “starting to feel more natural.” He is going through what he called “exaggerated” running drills that will help his technique.

As for blocking, Georgia head coach Mark Richt said there are enough similarities between fullback and tight end that Figgins should adjust fine.

“I’ve seen fullbacks that weigh 220 that do it well and seen fullbacks at 280 do well,” Richt said.

Don’t forget Harton

Richard Samuel, first on the Georgia tailback depth chart, was listening the other day as the rest of the pecking order was being listed by a reporter: Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome …

“And Brandon Harton,” Samuel interjected.

Harton might be easy for some to forget because he is a walk-on and one of the smallest players on the team. But the 5-foot-6 sophomore is doing enough to hang with the bigger scholarship players.

Samuel and Crowell are the two leaders to get carries in the season opener. But with junior Carlton Thomas suspended for that game and Malcome struggling, Harton has an outside chance to play. In fact, Harton is getting reps ahead of Malcome.

Harton, a cousin of former Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey, was a high school track star in Tatnall County, where he was also a first-team All-Region running back. But he decided to go to Georgia for academics, then walked on. His ascent began this past spring, and he ended up carrying five times in the G-Day game for 15 yards.

He admitted he is surprised to be a factor on the depth chart.

“These guys are big and fast, so I haven’t ran into that very much,” Harton said. “But I’ve been surprised at my talents.”

Malcome in the middle

Crowell is Georgia’s most highly touted freshman, never mind just tailback, and Malcome is a freshman tailback too. But he admitted his progress has stalled: After redshirting last year, he has been dealing with a groin injury.

Malcome agreed that having a walk-on ahead of him on the depth chart is motivation but said he couldn’t worry about it.

“I didn’t come to Georgia to sit on the bench for four years,” Malcome said. “I came to play, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

The competition at the tailback spot might seem intense, but Malcome also thinks there is a place for more than just one or even two carriers.

“All the running backs that are running now can contribute to the team in different ways: Me and Richard are power; Isaiah’s a little bit quicker,” he said. “I think we can all fit in the game, and the coaches can use us right and be a big factor in the first game and throughout the season.”

Jenkins, by a nose

Kwame Geathers had such a good spring that the talk was he would give junior college transfer John Jenkins a run for the starting job. The coaches also talked about playing both at the same time.

Both could still happen. But, for now, Jenkins is with the first team, and Richt said plans to play them together are on the back burner. Still, Richt said there will be time for both to play, to keep each big tackle fresh.

Rather than feel resentful, Geathers sounded like he and Jenkins are getting along fine.

“He’s a good guy. I like him. He’s a good friend,” Geathers said.

Injury updates

Cornerback Brandon Boykin and safety Jakar Hamilton joined the list of players sitting out practice because of hamstring injuries. Linebacker Cornelius Washington missed his second straight day with the same injury. Cornerback Derek Owens was also out with an undisclosed injury. Richt indicated the injuries aren’t serious.

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