ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia is helping make room for one of its top recruits by moving one of its upcoming seniors to a new position.
Bruce Figgins (Shaw) will shift full-time to fullback, coach Mark Richt said on Wednesday. The shift is partly due to a need at fullback, but also the signing of recruit Jay Rome, rated the nation’s top tight end by some recruiting services.
Figgins, a Columbus native, worked at fullback before the Liberty Bowl. Now the move will be permanent for the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder.
“We think that’s going to be a really good move for Bruce,” said Richt, adding that Figgins could still line up at tight end in some formations.
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Still, the spring will be used to train Figgins at fullback, where the team lost Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier to graduation. Zander Ogletree, a rising sophomore, will be back.
As for Rome, he still has Orson Charles, Aron White and Arthur Lynch to compete with at tight end. But Richt indicated that the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Valdosta product will get a chance to play in 2011.
“If he comes in and performs well, he could play a lot,” Richt said.
Both sides now
Richt said Rome’s Valdosta teammate, Malcolm Mitchell, did the best job of keeping his decision secret before announcing two weeks ago. Now the mystery is which side of the ball Mitchell will play:
He looked like a cornerback last year, but now Richt said he’s “leaning towards” using him at receiver.
“He’s certainly capable of doing either one. But don’t tell (defensive) coach (Todd) Grantham or (secondary) coach (Scott) Lakatos that because it probably wouldn’t make them too happy,” Richt said.
Mitchell will also get a look at punt and kick returns. And he won’t be alone among potential two-way players.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said the coaches told Mitchell, Nick Marshall and Damian Swann that there was precedent for using them on both sides of the ball. He went all the way back to Champ Bailey in the 1990s, and Branden Smith the past couple years.
Mitchell looks like he could be offense full-time, while Marshall and Swann will be on defense.
“The way I look at it is if a guy’s got a chance to be productive on offense he doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-time player offensively,” Bobo said. “There are ways to get him the ball. … Whereas if you’re going to be productive on defense you’ve pretty much got to be over there full-time and line up and learn the system and learn techniques.”
Thomas County Central star Ray Drew looks set to play right away. Grantham said Drew projects as a weakside linebacker, the slot vacated when Justin Houston left early for the NFL.
“We’re going to put him out there and let him go, and just let him play and use his athletic ability,” Grantham said.
Bobo said the night Mitchell and Rome committed was the best he’s felt recruiting since Matt Stafford committed. Part of that was the surprise factor, since Mitchell kept his decision close to the vet.
In Crowell’s case, Bobo said he never heard it straight from Crowell, though people close to him did.
“I tried to ask him if I was around him. He’d smile,” Bobo said. “But nobody ever said, ‘Hey you can relax coach.’ ”