ATHENS - The Georgia football team's roster is basically set for 2012. So in the time between now and spring practice, coaches are thinking about whether to tinker with the lineup and make some position moves.
The possibility that's been discussed the most is Malcolm Mitchell possibly shifting from receiver to cornerback, thanks to the losses in the secondary. But while head coach Mark Richt indicated on Friday that will be explored, he didn't sound too crazy about the idea of losing perhaps their top playmaker on offense.
Here are some other position switches that could - or apparently definitely will - take place:
- Ray Drew is moving to defensive end, or at least he is according to incoming recruit Jordan Jenkins.
"He's gonna get moved to end next year, so it'll be me, (Josh Harvey) Clemons, Jarvis (Jones), Cornelius (Washington) and Leonard Floyd at OLBs," Jenkins said. "Me, Jarvis and Cornelius are the heaviest of the OLBs."
Drew was a five-star recruit in 2011 but only saw action in six games, stuck behind Jones and Washington. Moving to end would seem to enhance the chances he'll see the field, especially with the glut of OLBs joining the program. Drew also has a build (6-foot-5 and 263 pounds) that will make the move easier.
(Incidentally, Jenkins said that he is definitely an outside linebacker.)
- Harvey-Clemons, the ballyhooed recruit from Valdosta, could get some time at safety. That's also according to Jenkins.
"Clemons, he might get moved to safety, and he can also play Sam linebacker," Jenkins said.
The possibility makes sense, given Harvey-Clemsons' size (6-5, 200). Last year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham shifted Alec Ogletree (now listed at 6-3, 236) from safety to inside linebacker.
It also makes sense from a roster standpoint, as Georgia is loaded at the edge rush spots, while both of the starting safeties will be leaving after this year. And Harvey-Clemons is athletic enough that Richt has talked about having him play some receiver.
Of course, Grantham likes to move people around, so some of these position switches could happen on a week-to-week basis. Grantham stressed that when I asked him about it on signing day.
“I think your defense has to be structured in that you don’t pigeonhole yourself into you have to play a certain guy at a certain position," Grantham said. "I think you have to be flexible and multiple in order to get the best players on the field relative to who you’re playing. I think the best example of that (is) you’re gonna watch the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and they’re probably as versatile as anybody, whether they’re playing 4-3 or 3-4. I think that’s the way you have to play defense: You recruit good players, you develop them, you get them to play hard, and then you mix and match where you play them based on who you’re playing.”
- Richard Samuel to fullback remains a possibility, though a distant one. Samuel told a fan on Twitter last week that "you never know" when asked if he could go to fullback. Samuel also said he was putting on a lot of weight.
But Richt said he told Samuel recently that he's still a tailback and isn't moving to fullback.
“That’s not our plan right now, although he’s in that meeting room every day and could learn what to do," Richt said. "We’re losing (Bruce) Figgins, and we don’t have a tremendous amount of depth there right now, as far as guys that have played. But Richard’s the kind of kid who would do whatever he could to help the team. If that’s in the best interests of the team I’m sure he would do it. But it’s like I told him, you’re a tailback right now.”
- Almost everybody on the offensive line could play multiple spots. Spring practice will be interesting to watch on the line, as the offensive coaches mix and match players to see where they best fit. Chris Burnette, who started at guard in 2011, will get a look at center, where he was a backup in 2010. Kenarious Gates, who also started at guard in 2011, will get a look at both tackle spots. Mark Beard, the junior college transfer who enrolled this spring, will also play guard and tackle. And don't be shocked if a guy like Watts Dantzler, who played sparingly as a freshman and is assumed to be a tackle, gets some snaps inside.