ATHENS - John Theus was pegged as a potential all-SEC left tackle before he even arrived at Georgia, but spent his first two seasons at right tackle, a less marquee position. Now it appears Theus is set to move into the marquee spot.
Theus will be at left tackle when Georgia begins spring practice on March 18, making him the favorite for the spot. It was a bit of a surprise, as coaches had said for awhile they liked Theus at right tackle.
"Just in talking with (offensive line) coach (Will) Friend and visiting with him on this subject, he feels he's a little more natural on that side, with the way he sets, and maybe looks a little more comfortable kicking to the left, as opposed to the right," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
Kolton Houston will begin spring practice as the first-teamer at right tackle. David Andrews returns as the starter at center, while there is competition at both guard spots, with Brandon Kublanow, Watts Dantzler, Mark Beard and Greg Pyke among the candidates. Beard, who was the top backup to left tackle Kenarious Gates the past two seasons, will begin at left guard, according to Bobo.
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"There's four people right now trying to earn two spots, so there's gonna be a good competition this spring," Andrews said.
Theus' switch wasn't the only one that will take place for spring practice.
J.J. Green, who was the team's third-leading rusher last season and started three games, is moving to cornerback. That's not that surprising given the depth chart at both positions, and that Green originally signed with Georgia as a cornerback.
"We really needed him at the tailback position last year, and now after coach Pruitt looked over the situation and remembered J.J. from the recruiting process, he wanted to see what he could do (on defense)," Richt said. "I think because of that, J.J. has already trimmed down a little bit to help his quickness and his explosiveness. Considering that he’s not going to be carrying the ball, he’ll be playing at a lighter weight, so I think he’s already feeling a little quicker and all that type of thing.”
Green was a cornerback and receiver in high school.
"We're in need of some skill on this team at receiver and defensive back," Bobo said. "We talked about moving him into the slot to help us, but they had a bit more of a pressing need there. ... It was something J.J. wanted to do, when coach Pruitt talked to him about the situation. I think J.J.'s fired up about it, so I'm excited for him."
Quayvon Hicks, who has started on and off at fullback the past two seasons, will move to tight end for spring practice. Hicks should still be considered a fullback, Bobo emphasized, but the idea is to get Hicks ready for more of an H-back role, a combination of tight end and fullback.
The numbers situation at tight end is also a consideration: Starter Jay Rome will miss spring practice as he continues to recover from a foot injury, leaving Jordan Davis, a redshirt freshman, as the only scholarship player at the position.
Hicks is listed at 6-foot-2 and 257 pounds. Bobo said some of Hicks' blocking issues at fullback have been while trying to block in space, so moving him closer to the line, either at tight end or H-back, would help that.
"I'd like to get to more of that, where guys could do both," Bobo said of the tight end and fullback roles. "I'd like to get where you don't have to change personnels, you've got guys that can play both, line up in the backfield and do some of the things we do with our fullback, then shift down and play a tight end that's attached (to the line) or possibly one that's a move guy. It just gives you a little more flexibility offensively."
Merritt Hall, a former walk-on, finished last year as the starting fullback, and will stay in that role for spring practice. His backups will be other walk-ons.
On the defensive side, James DeLoach and Josh Dawson are moving from outside linebacker to defensive end. That's a minor move for the rising juniors, as the two spots are somewhat interchangeable. But when they are different spots, it could help the pair of rising juniors: DeLoach and Dawson have each struggled to see the field their first two seasons, and the return of outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd would have made that harder at that spot.
Perhaps the biggest position switch of the offseason took place before it even began: Tramel Terry, a highly-touted freshman, moved from receiver to safety during bowl practice. Richt said that change remains in place.