Hello, spring practice: UGA head coach Kirby Smart speaks to media on first day of training
Georgia has four spring practices in the books, and that means the team is four practices closer to welcoming thousands of fans into Sanford Stadium for the G-Day exhibition game.
There has been plenty of chatter in regard to the goals that the Bulldogs want to achieve. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart welcomed 14 early enrollees into the fold and has already seen strides from outside linebackers Nolan Smith and Jermaine Johnson.
The returners, most notably redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, have received a fair share of praise from their head coach.
“I thought guys have been pushing really hard,” Smart said Tuesday. “It was a spirited practice where we competed. We’ve had some good days, and we hope to stay injury-free.”
Georgia closed Thursday’s practice to the media due to the coaching clinic that takes place in Athens throughout the weekend. Here are three things to know from the team’s two media availabilities.
Smart addresses rash of legal trouble
Normally, Smart is rather hush on his players’ legal troubles. But after four arrests in the span of a month, the Bulldogs’ head coach opened his press conference with it and was vocal.
Georgia’s last incident came at a bar with early enrolled Tyrique Stevenson and senior receiver Tyler Simmons. This event, preceded by arrests of Jaden Hunter and Latavious Brini, left Smart “very disappointed.”
Smart, referring to the most-recent incident, called for his players to make better decisions in downtown Athens and to be “law-abiding citizens.”
“(They’ve) got to find a way to make better choices and decisions, especially if the young men are going to represent this university,” Smart said. “Those things will be handled, and they’ll be handled the right way.”
Peach County’s Kearis Jackson making impressions
Georgia entered the spring with plenty of questions about its wide receiver corps. A lot of new faces and plenty of wondering who can lead the Bulldogs. Jake Fromm heads into his third season and could have a hometown friend as a go-to target.
Kearis Jackson, a redshirt freshman out of Peach County, is replacing Mecole Hardman as a contender for slot receiver. At 6-foot, 201 pounds, Jackson presents a slightly different frame.
“He’s pretty bulky. He’s a physical guy,” Holloman said. “He’s fluid. He’s a good route runner. He’s just a stronger version of like Mecole (Hardman) in that slot. He’s bigger.”
Jackson recorded only one catch for six yards in his first season, but was in the team’s rotation as early as the Missouri game — Jackson entered on the first drive. He then suffered a hamstring injury, and fell out of a group that was deep with talent.
New year, new opportunity.
“I think Kearis is a guy that’s going to have to come out and compete, and he’s going to get plenty of opportunities,” Smart said. “I’m extremely excited about Kearis’s work ethic.”
David Marshall back from Lisfranc injury
At the end of last season, Smart was mum about the playing status of defensive end David Marshall. His status would be “doubtful” week-after-week, but seeing the Bulldogs’ run stopper on a one-legged scooter as he rolled across campus told a more significant story.
Georgia revealed Marshall’s diagnosis of a Lisfranc foot injury, one more on the severe side of a spectrum. It became a long, grueling recovery process and Marshall’s mobility recently returned.
Marshall is gradually finding his way back to the football field as he’s running some in the spring practice period. As a junior, the Upson-Lee product recorded only six tackles in six appearances. But his loss was felt by a depleted Georgia defensive line, and Smart is ready for Marshall to put last season behind him.
“I’ve just got to stay in that training room, get myself right,” Marshall said. “The challenge is to get my ankle back right . . . Nobody likes to sit, so getting my ankle right, getting my strength right is all I’m trying to do.”