ATHENS, Ga. — It took a little longer than expected, but Georgia’s 2009 freshman class is finally complete.
Coach Mark Richt confirmed Thursday that lineman Kwame Geathers was cleared by the NCAA and will be on campus when Georgia holds its fourth day of practice today.
Richt said he was informed Tuesday morning of the decision, but Geathers still won’t be a full participant in the Bulldogs’ practice sessions for a few more days.
The NCAA mandates that players are given five days of acclimation time before participating in contact drills, which means Geathers will be in shorts today when his teammates are in shoulder pads, and he’ll still be in shoulder pads when the team holds its first full-contact practice Monday.
Geathers brother, Robert, played at Georgia and is currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, and his uncle, James, played 13 years in the NFL as well, so Richt said he’s confident Kwame Geathers will be in good shape upon arrival.
“He comes from a family that has a lot of football players,” Richt said. “They know how to work.”
Jones sits out
Safety Reshad Jones injured his hamstring Wednesday and was held out of Thursday’s practice. Although the injury is not serious, Richt said Jones will miss some time.
“It’s too bad because he was really practicing well and leading,” Richt said. “He’ll be healthy enough by the time the season starts and he has enough quality reps and playing time that I don’t think it will be a huge deal, but he quite frankly had a lot of positive momentum coming into this camp.”
Quintin Banks took reps with the first team in place of Jones on Thursday, with Baccari Rambo and Sanders Commings working with the second team.
Defensive ends step up
With Justin Houston suspended for two games and nearly every one of Georgia’s other defensive ends coming off an injury, the start of fall practice figured to be rough at the position. Instead, Richt said the defensive ends have been among the most impressive groups in camp.
“Dobbs is in great shape, (Rod) Battle’s in great shape, Cornelius Washington, we’re getting a chance to see him do some things,” Richt said. “I see a lot of good.”
Sophomore Nick Williams arrived as a safety, moved to linebacker midway through the season last year, then was switched back to safety this offseason when John Knox transferred.
The changes didn’t end there, however, and Williams is back to weakside linebacker yet again.
The change during the offseason was made to strengthen the numbers among the safeties, but now that Georgia’s freshmen have arrived on campus, Richt said the coaches made the decision to move Williams where they thought he would have the biggest impact.
“You want as much speed on the field as you possibly can,” Richt said. “We feel like he’s one of the guys that’s going to make an impact for us, and right now we’re trying to find where he’s best going to be able to do that. I don’t want to give away too much of the game plan, but we think he can help us there.”
Richt wasn’t sure how much Chris Davis would be able to practice before the team took the field for its first practice Tuesday afternoon, but by the end of the day, the junior offensive lineman was back with the first team.
Davis started all 13 games last year, but underwent hip surgery during the offseason and was slow to recover. After three days of practice, however, Richt said Davis is doing much better.
“I don’t think it feels great, but he played with it last year, and he says its better than it was a year ago,” Richt said. “He’s fighting through it, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down.”
Davis joins Trinton Sturdivant, Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn and Clint Boling with the first-team offensive line, bumping senior Vince Vance to the second team. Vance is coming off ACL surgery, and while his knee is close to 100 percent, Richt said he still has a ways to go in terms of conditioning and mentally preparing for the grueling pace line coach Stacy Searels insists upon.
“Coach Searels has a way of getting guys to practice a certain way, and it takes a while to get there,” Richt said.
“I think he was at that point before he got hurt, but he was away from it a while, and now he’s got to get back into that mode.”