ATHENS — Tramel Terry’s move from receiver to safety is more than an experiment. The freshman can be considered a member of the defense now, Georgia head coach Mark Richt confirmed Wednesday.
“He’s got a good body type for that. We thought it’d be good for him. He was all for it. So that’s what we’re doing,” Richt said. “Right now we think it’s best for him. And I think he feels good about it.”
Terry did not play this season, his health limited after tearing his ACL in December of 2012. He was considered a potentially dynamic offensive player, mainly at receiver but also with the ability to carry the ball. But Georgia defensive coaches had their eye on the 6-foot, 184-pounder, and Terry signed off on the move.
“The defensive coaches were kind of keeping an eye on him and kind of coveting him and playfully recruiting him,” Richt said. “They liked what they saw and thought it might be a good move for the defense.”
Richt said when he realized the defensive coaches were really serious about wanting Terry, he spoke to the offensive coaches. Richt didn’t say how they felt about it, just saying “we’re a team.” The offense was successful this year despite a litany of injuries, so that might have figured into it.
Terry did not play much defense in high school, but defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and secondary coach Scott Lakatos saw something that made them think he could do it.
“Coach Grantham’s background in the NFL and just how he sees prospects and things of that nature, he really sees him as a great-looking safety prospect,” Richt said. “It was something that the defensive staff was all-for and actually kind of started off the whole conversation.”
Terry has been practicing with the defense since bowl practice began Tuesday. He has not been made available to the media, but junior safety Corey Moore has been favorably impressed.
“He’s a physical-type guy,” Moore said. “He’s got a motor, and he’s eager to learn new things. Every play he’ll come to me, saying, ‘What are you doing right here.’ I like that.”
The move doesn’t preclude Terry from getting some snaps on offense, a la Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith, who were cornerbacks. Terry is also a candidate to return kickoffs, Richt said, with an outside chance of returning punts.
Terry’s switch from one side of the ball to the other is the only such move that is planned, according to Richt.
“Something could happen between now and (spring practice), but right now there’s nothing cooking,” Richt said. “If we were certain of something we would have already done it.”
Richt on Fluker
Terry’s move was unrelated to the departure of safety Shaquille Fluker, a junior college transfer who did not play this season. Fluker announced he was leaving Georgia this week, upset about his playing time and alleging that he could have played despite a seizure in September. Georgia did not let Fluker practice after the seizure.
Richt declined to comment on Fluker’s medical situation, citing privacy.
“Everybody wants to play more, obviously, and I hope wherever he goes he gets to play,” Richt said. “I hope he finds a good home. I like him a lot; he’s a good kid.
“I’m very confident we had his best interests at heart the entire time he was here at Georgia, and we treated him well. There are things that can’t be mentioned that are private, but I’m very confident that we treated him well, and I’m glad he’s gonna find a new home and hopefully find a good one.”
Harvey-Clemons’ role unchanged
Josh Harvey-Clemons played strong safety in Georgia’s base defense this year, and the star position (nickel back) in the nickel defense. And the sophomore is likely to continue that role, according to Richt, even with Terry now in the mix at safety.
Finding a natural position for the 6-5, 220-pound Harvey-Clemons has been difficult thus far. He was listed as an outside linebacker when he signed last year and has been in the safety and star roles thus far.
“When he’s playing nickel he’s about as close as you can get to an outside linebacker. I don’t think he’s an inside linebacker,” Richt said. “We’ll watch his body grow a little bit. ... I think he’s really good in space, creates a great edge out there, and can blow up all those bubble screens. He’s really exceptional at that. But I don’t know if he’s just strong enough to line up on a (tight end). A lot of those tight ends out there are just another tackle. I don’t know if that’s the best matchup for him right now.”
Erickson the No. 1 punter
Walk-on Adam Erickson has supplanted Collin Barber as the punter, at least for now. Erickson was the short-yardage (or pooch) punter for much of the season, but as he excelled in that role, and as Barber punted inconsistently, the roles were re-evaluated. Before the season, Erickson was the early favorite to be the place-kicker while Marshall Morgan was suspended for the opening two games. Patrick Beless, another walk-on, beat Erickson out for that, but Erickson is ending up a starter as the season finishes.
“Now he’s won the punting job,” Richt said. “They’re still competing, kind of on a weekly basis. But he just outright won the job, and I’m proud of him. I think he’s got one more year of eligibility, but Collin’s got his work cut out for him to win the job back, because Adam’s kicking real well.”
LeMay misses practice
Sophomore quarterback Christian LeMay was absent from Wednesday’s practice and is expected back Friday, according to Richt. The reason for LeMay’s absence wasn’t specified, and he wasn’t on the injury report. His younger brother Uriah, a receiver, was at Wednesday’s practice.
LeMay began the season competing for the No. 3 quarterback job but was passed by Faton Bauta and Parker Welch.