ATHENS - J.J. Green's move to tailback will become a permanent one, Georgia head coach Mark Richt said.
Green was ticketed for receiver or cornerback when he enrolled at Georgia last January. But he moved to tailback for spring practice, due to depth concerns, and then stayed there for the season and ended up playing a key role, thanks to the injuries to Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
Green started three games, and is Georgia's second-leading rusher entering the Gator Bowl. The 5-foot-7 freshman has 365 rushing yards on 62 carries, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and three touchdowns. He also has caught 11 passes for 97 yards.
"He's a running back. We like him there," Richt said on Saturday.
But Georgia has commitments from two highly-rated tailbacks, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Freshman A.J. Turman redshirted this year, freshman Brendan Douglas looked good this year (337 rushing yards and three touchdowns), and Gurley and Marshall will be juniors next year.
Despite the potential glut of talent at the position, Richt said he hasn't given thought to moving Green to receiver or cornerback.
"That hasn't even been discussed. I don't think so," Richt said. "It hasn't been a topic of discussion at all. Obviously you need to have a few backs in the stable."
Optimism on academics
There doesn't seem much concern about any academic casualties for the Gator Bowl. Final grades aren't due in until Monday, but Richt said he had yet to get any indications that anybody would be academically ineligible.
"I have no cause for alarm right now," Richt said.
Last year nose tackle John Jenkins was the lone academically ineligible player.
Bowl practice begins
Georgia held its first practice of the bowl season on Saturday, braving the rain. Most everybody attended, with the exception of running backs coach Bryan McClendon, who was still on the road recruiting.
It's not the only allowance Georgia is making for recruiting. The team is only scheduled to practice 12 times, and will use extra time to recruit. That's a result of a new NCAA recruiting calendar for the month, with a longer dead (non-recruiting) period later in the month.
"We felt it was more important to have the coaches on the road recruiting a couple more days," Richt said. "And I thought it might be nice to give the guys a little of break."
Reserve tight end Jay Rome will miss the bowl because of his foot injury, which he sustained against Appalachian State and missed the final two games of the regular season.
Rome missed a total of four games this year, and finishes with nine catches for 99 yards and no touchdowns. Next year he will assume the first-team duties as a redshirt junior, with Arthur Lynch graduating.
"He missed a lot. It's a shame," Richt said. "At least it's not his senior year."
Smith expected to play
Senior defensive end Garrison Smith practiced on Saturday and should be able to play on Jan. 1, though Richt said the ankle was still bothering him during early sprinting drills.
Smith injured his ankle in the win over Georgia Tech.