Haywood springing up depth chart at WR

ATHENS, Ga. - From the first day of spring football practice on March 1 through Saturday's practice, Georgia redshirt freshman <b>Cedric Haywood</b> has made certain he won't be lost in the crowd at wide receiver.

As a late addition to the 2002 signing class and as a player who completed his high school career at small Central Fellowship Christian Academy in Macon, Cedric Haywood has at times been overlooked when compared with more experienced receivers at Georgia or even with fellow 2002 signees Bryan McClendon and Mario Raley.

But with one week left in the spring football schedule, Haywood has been one of the most consistent performers on offense and no longer should be classified as a surprise if he breaks into the playing rotation in the fall.

"He's making plays,'' said receivers coach John Eason. "He was not a highly recruited guy, but from the first day this spring when the ball has been in the air he has been there to catch it.''

The 6-foot-1, 183-pound Haywood has impressed the coaching staff by making the tough plays even in wet conditions this spring. On Saturday, Haywood again merited mention from Coach Mark Richt by making several catches, including a one-handed grab near the end of the three-hour practice.

When asked if any receiver ranked as a surprise this spring, Eason said "It would be (Haywood).''

Haywood began his high school career at Northside High in Warner Robins, where he lettered in football, basketball and track. He spent his junior and senior years at Central Fellowship Christian, where as a senior he rushed for 1,703 yards and also was a standout as a return specialist and defensive back.

With good size, speed and especially leaping ability, plus his growing reputation as having reliable hands, Haywood could play a big role in helping Georgia replace 2002 leading receiver Terrence Edwards - even though Eason has other more experienced options.

Fred Gibson, Damien Gary, Reggie Brown and Michael Johnson are returning veterans at receiver. Johnson has been held out this spring after suffering a shoulder injury in mat drills, and Gibson missed the first half of spring practice while playing on the basketball team.

McClendon and Raley played as true freshmen last year while Haywood was redshirted, but Haywood appears to be climbing up the depth chart this spring.

One week to go: With only one week left before the April 5 2 p.m. G-Day spring game at Sanford Stadium, the players picked up the intensity for Saturday's practice.

"I really liked the attitude, the effort and the enthusiasm,'' Richt said. "They really got after it today and had a lot of fun. They played hard.''

Georgia has four practices left in the spring schedule. Teams are limited to 15 days of practice in the spring. Though weather conditions could affect plans, Georgia has scheduled practices for Monday, Tuesday and Friday before the G-Day game next Saturday.

"I'm very encouraged by what happened today, and I think we've progressed about as far as we can at this point,'' Richt said. "There have been some bumps in the road, but the walk-ons have had the chance to really understand their role and what to do, and they're playing a lot better and becoming good competitors.''

Take a bow:  Two sophomores on defense caught Richt's eye Saturday. Richt applauded "some phenomenal plays'' by cornerback Tim Jennings and "big hits'' by linebacker Thomas Davis.

Earlier this spring, Richt grouped Davis with defensive end David Pollack as the defensive players "who can't be blocked.''

Davis, who played safety and outside linebacker last season, is the player to beat at the strongside linebacker spot where Boss Bailey started last season.

Davis recorded two sacks in the Nokia Sugar Bowl win over Florida State. His consistent knack for big plays convinced the coaching staff he deserved a full-time look at linebacker for 2003.

Despite starting only three games last year, Davis recorded 61 tackles with three sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception.

Injury update:  Richt has been discouraged about the lack of depth on the offensive line, but tackle Dennis Roland (bruised lower leg) and center Russ Tanner (neck stinger) returned to practice.

Guard Josh Brock could return from a sprained ankle in time to play in the G-Day game. Guard Bartley Miller is out for the rest of spring after having shoulder surgery earlier in the month.

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