ATHENS -- Georgia’s football coaches spent the month after their first losing season in 15 years by remaking their team on the recruiting trail. Then, it turns out, they spent the month after that doing a bit more revamping on the position chart.
A flurry of position moves was revealed Thursday, a week before the start of spring practice. The biggest involved a player expected to be the team’s next star safety who will instead now be expected to be the next star linebacker.
Alec Ogletree, who started four games at safety as a freshman in 2010, is being shifted to inside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said he was intrigued by the possibility of Ogletree at linebacker, even last year.
“I’ve always had it in my mind,” Grantham said. “That’s one of the reasons I played him last year. We were a little bit of a revolving door at safety. Just watching him, he’s a young player, he gets better the more he plays, he’s got some instincts to him. He’s smart. Just watching the way he runs, he closes on people, the way he can blitz, I think he can be a unique player at that position.”
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The move of Ogletree had a ripple effect on the defense:
Jarvis Jones (Carver), the transfer from Southern California who sat out last year, will be an outside linebacker. The coaches had debated for a while where to play Jones, and ultimately decided to put him on the edge, in a more play-making position.
“You’ve still gotta be able to manufacture a pass rush and have guys that make plays at outside backers,” Grantham said. “And I think what we’ve done is we’ve moved two guys that can make plays closer to the ball. Kind of around the action a bit more. So I’m excited by that.”
The other outside linebacker spot, the “Will” position played last year by sack leader Justin Houston, will be a competition between Cornelius Washington and incoming freshman Ray Drew.
At safety, Bacarri Rambo returns for his junior year after finishing second on the team in tackles. Two players who failed to hold the other starting safety spot, before Ogletree grabbed it, are given a chance again.
“This is a good opportunity for Jakar (Hamilton) and Shaun (Williams) to show what they can do,” said Grantham, also listing reserve Marc Deas. “Those guys are gonna get their opportunity this spring to show what they can do with the system.”
On offense, the biggest position switch involves the offensive line. Cordy Glenn, who started every game the past two years, mostly at guard, will be a tackle in 2011, head coach Mark Richt announced.
Glenn is most likely to start at right tackle, since Trinton Sturdivant -- who like Glenn will be a senior -- has only played left tackle. That may be left up to new offensive line coach Will Friend. Center Ben Jones will also be a senior.
“Those guys are going to be the starters unless something crazy happens,” Richt said. “The guard spots are up for grabs.”
Justin Anderson has switched back to the offense and will play guard “to start out,” according to Richt. Anderson shifted from guard to nose tackle last spring and was set to play some nose in 2010 before a turf toe injury sidelined him.
That leaves Kwame Geathers as the only nose for spring practice. Junior college transfer John Jenkins is almost assured the starting spot once he arrives in May.
Christian Robinson has basically been made the captain of the defense. That means making a lot of the calls on the field and being in charge of the defensive huddle.
“I’m expecting big things out of him from the leadership standpoint, from the communication standpoint,” Grantham said.
The captain of the offense can safely be labeled Aaron Murray. Last spring he was competing for the starting quarterback job, but this year he’s the unquestioned starter and hoping to lead the team back from a 6-7 record.
“We’re pumped,” Murray said. “Especially considering our first game is against Boise State (in the Georgia Dome).”