ATHENS - Georgia assistant coaches were on the same page publicly when it came to the topic of the week: Tramel Terry's move from offense to defense.
Receivers coach Tony Ball, who lost a player with a chance to be a difference-maker, said he didn't fight to keep Terry.
"Because I understood the situation," Ball said. "He's not the first person who's had to do that. A year ago when Malcolm (Mitchell) had to go over to defense, we understood that. I understood how it was going to stunt his growth at wide receiver because of the things that have to be done there, but I understood that. So that's part of it."
The depth at receiver also contributed to it. Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley are set to return from ACL injuries next season, so Ball's unit can absorb the voluntary loss of one player.
"You can see how we will be OK, with the move," Ball said. "I'm happy for him, you know, if he feels that's the right place for him. You look at when he was being recruited, we saw him as being a dual guy, a versatile guy. And his need is in greater demand on defense and at that position right now. So he felt like that was the right thing for him. The defense felt like he could come over and help them. It was the right thing for Georgia, so I'm happy for him."
So now Terry is at safety, a position where he is new and has a lot to learn.
But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo pointed out that when Terry committed to Georgia on Dawg Night, during the summer of 2011, he played some cornerback during a one-on-one drill.
"He was kind of a hybrid guy in high school," Bobo said. "He didn't play a lot of defense in high school, but he didn't play a lot of receiver either. He was more of a running back. He was an athlete signee. And talking to him and recruiting him, we recruited him as a guy that would probably play both, and just put him where he fit the best. And that's where we feel like he fits the best right now."
Georgia struggled immensely in the secondary this season. But it returns every starter back there and almost every key contributor. So is this move made for 2015 and beyond? Perhaps not.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said that Terry could play as soon as next season, despite having practiced entirely at receiver this season, and not having played much defense in high school.
"I'm excited about him," Grantham said. "He's conscientious about learning his job. He's got some size to him. He's fast. He showed up in a scrimmage the other day being reckless, as far as explosive contact on the ball, and the ball-carrier. Looking forward to working with him."
Grantham described Terry as having the right body type (6-foot, about 205 pounds) to match up with SEC running backs, and also the athleticism to match up with receivers and tight ends.
And the fact Terry has played at receiver, and presumably has good hands, is something particularly appealing to Grantham after this season.
"He can also catch the ball. That creates turnovers," Grantham said. "That's something that we had really been good at up until this year, and a guy like that can really make some plays for you."
Georgia only has six interceptions this year, and ranks near the bottom nationally in turnovers forced.
Terry will have to learn more tackling ability, Grantham granted, especially on the proper angles to take before trying to tackle.
"But as a general rule you can tell if a guy's a willing guy. And he's certainly willing," Grantham said. "He's a guy that can, I think, make the open-field tackles you need to make to be a productive safety in any defense."
Secondary coach Scott Lakatos played down the whole thing, just terming the Terry move as "taking a look" and "seeing what happens." But it's clear this will be an extended look, with Terry now an important member of the defense, rather than the offense.