ATHENS -- Jeremy Pruitt promised he wasn’t afraid to play newcomers and walk-ons, and as the season gets closer, it certainly appears Georgia’s first-year defensive coordinator is ready to do just that.
The first-team secondary during Tuesday’s practice at Sanford Stadium featured two first-year players in addition to a walk-on. There were some new names at new spots.
Freshman Dominick Sanders was at the star position, with sophomore Quincy Mauger getting the second-team reps. Sophomore J.J. Green, long the favorite to start there, was instead at safety, working mostly with the second team -- although Green did later get some work at the star spot.
Shattle Fenteng, a junior college transfer, was at one cornerback spot, with senior Damian Swann at the other.
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Aaron Davis, a redshirt freshman walk-on, was at safety, along with senior Corey Moore.
“They’ve got a good talent base; their issue is experience,” head coach Mark Richt said of the young players. “But there’s some guys that are coached real hard right now because they’ve gotta get ready, and the clock’s ticking.”
The second-team secondary also featured a mix of youngsters: freshmen Rico Johnson and Malkom Parrish at cornerback, with Mauger at the star, and Green and walk-on Lucas Redd at safety.
Fenteng batted away a pass during some 11-on-11 work in the latter part of practice. Johnson had a pick-six during team drills, the result of a deflected pass.
In an unusual move, Georgia opened an hour of its practice Tuesday to the students and media. Here are some other observations:
The inside linebackers were mixing up playing time. Sophomore Tim Kimbrough in particular was getting a lot of first-team reps. Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera still got most of the first-team reps, but the staff appeared to be getting Kimbrough and Reggie Carter ready for game action.
“Even those spots aren’t 100 percent settled on who’s gonna start,” Richt said. “There’s a lot of moving parts.”
Quayvon Hicks was getting a lot of reps, especially at tight end. He also got some fullback and H-back looks, but lined up at the traditional tight end spot much of the time with the first team. He caught a touchdown pass from Hutson Mason out of that formation at one point.
Jay Rome, the presumed starter, has slowly worked his surgically repaired toe back into health. His limitations have opened the door for Hicks and others.
“Quayvon Hicks had a heck of a camp,” Richt said. “(Jeb) Blazevich made some strides. Jordan (Davis) made strides. So Jay’s in there battling for playing time.”
Linebacker Leonard Floyd was in a green non-contact jersey, sitting out many drills, with an undisclosed injury. Freshman Lorenzo Carter was getting first-team reps in place of Floyd. But Floyd was with the first team during a 7-on-7 drill.
Richt said Floyd “will be fine.” But he added, “Either way Lorenzo is going to play. Lorenzo has had a really good camp.”
The first-team offensive line was as follows: John Theus at left tackle, Brandon Kublanow at left guard, David Andrews at center, Greg Pyke at right guard and Kolton Houston at right tackle.
The second-team line had Mark Beard at left tackle, Isaiah Wynn at left guard, Glenn Welch at center, Dyshon Sims at right guard and Watts Dantzler at right tackle.
But Richt indicated after the practice that the line is still a bit unsettled with Wednesday’s scrimmage potentially critical in deciding that.