Which Way Did He Go?

ATHENS – The seating arrangement in the Georgia locker room following games is hardly rigid; but is rather predictable.

Offensive players await reporters on the left side of the room—defensive players flank the right.

That's just the way the assembly shakes out. But in such a situation, where should Branden Smith be sitting?

The rising junior is listed as a corner—and he does always file in with his defensive comrades to the right.

That being said, he would blend in posting up for interviews on either side of the room.

While predominately playing cornerback, Smith still showcased his offensive worth on G-Day, catching two passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball twice.

"It felt good to score and put points on the board," Smith said. "You know, playing offense just feels good to me. Just helping the team win is all I can ask for."

The offensive production wasn't shocking—Smith has wowed with the ball in his hands before, a 61-yard touchdown run against South Carolina and 72 yards rushing against Tennessee Tech in 2009 the most notable examples.

"Well we expect to use him like we did last year," Richt said. "Maybe as much or more."

The "or more" portion of Richt's statement may be encouraging to Smith, who is adamant about playing as much offense as possible.

In 2010, Smith rushed only six times—down from the 17 carries he got as a freshman in '09.

But there's reason to believe Smith will play a more prominent role on offense in 2011—and the G-Day game may have offered the proof.

Since the rosters were split by a player draft, Smith's team lacked for offensive playmakers at receiver and running back. Smith was the natural fill-in, as offensive coordinator Mike Bobo asked defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos beforehand if he could snag Smith for a couple of plays.

"Now, (during G-Day) I don't know how excited (defensive coordinator Todd) Grantham was about one of our corners playing offense," Richt said. "Coach Bobo asked Coach Lakatos if it was OK and he said ‘Yeah.' Of course they were (coaching) on the same team."

The attraction to employ Smith is his speed. With a track and field background, Smith has a certain straight-line afterburner quality that literally separates him from the pack.

With permission, Bobo used Smith on a half-dozen plays during G-Day. And even though all this happened in a spring scrimmage, the lack of proven playmakers at receiver is a very real possibilities facing Georgia heading into 2011.

There are only a handful of wideouts currently on the roster (until true freshmen arrive in June). That lack of depth pushed some to question if Smith could potentially move to receiver full time this offseason.

While that won't happen (proven depth at corner is nearly as shallow), a misplaced injury or other form of attrition could force Smith into increased double-duty.

"They'll just throw me in there," Smith, who says he now weighs 175 pounds, said.

So, Smith is anticipating offense. But make no mistake—he still sits on that right-hand side of the locker room. Defense is his first priority in practice, meetings and games.

"I came in this spring trying to get my defensive back technique down—jamming and just the whole technique," he said. "I feel like I did real good this spring. I've been practicing real hard. You know, hard work pays off."

With the potential permanent move of Sanders Commings to safety, Smith would all but be a lock to start at corner. And his speed and potential to score the football keeps him in the offensive discussion.

With all the potential to impact games from both sides of the ball, again, the question is worth posing—just which side should he be sitting on?

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