ATHENS — As maddening as 2008 was for so many Georgia players, few had more frustrating seasons than linebacker Darius Dewberry.
Preseason practice began amid controversy. His season started with a suspension. His return was barely a blip on the radar, and playing time was hard to find. When things finally began to click — including a two-tackle, one-interception game against Vanderbilt — a shoulder injury cost him the rest of the season.
But that’s in the past. After missing spring practice, Dewberry finally is feeling better. A healthy start to preseason practice still isn’t a sure thing, but, after a turbulent career in Athens, he hopes to make the most of his senior season.
“I’m doing pretty good,” Dewberry said. “I think I’m pretty healthy right now. I’m still rehabbing my shoulder a little bit, but I think it’s going pretty well. I’m definitely getting a lot stronger.”
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The Peach County product hopes he will be cleared to go full speed when preseason practice begins in August, but playing time still may be an issue.
After missing much of last season, Dewberry was dropped toward the bottom of the depth chart. With an influx of incoming freshmen, healthy veterans such as Marcus Washington and Akeem Hebron, the emergence last season of Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble and the quick transition for former safety Nick Williams, a crowd of Bulldogs hopes to crack the lineup at linebacker this year.
The solution may be a position change for Dewberry, who has been rumored as a candidate to play defensive end.
“Yeah, they’ve talked with me about it, and I think I’ll get some snaps there next season,” Dewberry said.
During spring practice, Gamble and Washington were used as stand-up rushers at defensive end. While both players are expected to get reps there, Dewberry’s size and strength make him a natural fit at the position.
“There’s not really that big of a transition from linebacker to D-end,” Dewberry said. “They are really similar. I think I’ll play both positions next year, like Marcus and Darryl.”