ATHENS - The expectation was that a couple freshmen cornerbacks could vie for immediate playing time, and so far it's looking that way.
Shaq Wiggins and Brendan Langley were among the players that head coach Mark Richt has been impressed with over the first two days of practice. Wiggins and Langley have been working with the second-team defense, and Wiggins had an interception on Friday.
"He's learning how to defend without holding, and grabbing and snatching and all of that," Richt said. "But he's a very fiery competitor."
There's playing time available at cornerback. Reggie Wilkerson, a freshman who impressed in spring practice, is out for the season after knee surgery. And with Josh Harvey-Clemons suspended for the Clemson game, that could move top cornerback Damian Swann to the nickel back, leaving the No. 2 cornerback job open.
Richt also pointed to a couple other newcomers, outside linebackers Davin Bellamy and Leonard Floyd, as getting off to a good start.
"Just long, rangy athletes that can move," Richt said. "You get excited about that."
Floyd has done well in some drills that emphasize raw ability.
"You see a really good upside with him," Richt said. "Just long and athletic, and he seems to be in great condition. And he's got some good strength for a big, long, lean guy like that. So he's got really some nice potential for us."
A few veterans also bore mentioning: Swann had a couple interceptions in Friday's practice. And inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera, who lost weight over the summer, has shown some quickness and stamina that stands out.
And on offense, Richt mentioned a familiar name: Aaron Murray.
Kolton Houston may have been in good physical shape, but practicing somewhere other than scout team is still new to him.
"Kolton hasn't played football for three years, and I think for that he looks pretty good," said junior center David Andrews, who is also his roommate. "I was talking to him last night laying in bed, and he was saying he's gotta get used to the speed of it, which I understand. He's practiced, but he did scout team, which is a little slower pace. He hasn't seen this live speed in awhile. But I think he looks great, and I'm glad to have him back."
"He's competing for playing time and a starting position," Richt said. "We're trying to find the best five, and where to put them too. You could ask me on any given day who's in the top five, I can't really tell you right now."
So is the emphasis on finding the best five, and sticking with them in games? Or will they legitimately try a rotation? Richt indicated it was more about finding the top five.
"I think we'll sub some. I don't know if you can sub a lot on the offensive line and keep that cohesiveness," Richt said. "It's such a big communication game, guys playing side-by-side. If you're constantly changing that every game, every series or so, you worry about your continuity."
Last year the O-line did well with their assignments, according to Richt, and he worried that too much subbing would affect that.
"You've gotta be careful in how you sub. My guess is we'll sub more than we did a year ago," Richt said.
Dawson moves down
Sophomore Josh Dawson is working with the defensive linemen, after working with the outside linebackers last year.
"He's put on some really good weight. Very strong," Richt said. "But he'll be capable of doing both, but right now his primary position will be end."
Dawson played in 13 games last year, mostly on special teams or at the end of blowouts.
Quarterbacks and tight end drills: