Rundown: First Day of Spring

ATHENS - A rundown of news and notes from Georgia's first day of spring practice.

The Lead:

Even with the absence of Carlton Thomas (who decided to transfer Tuesday), the running back position looked deep and talented compared to where the unit was at the end of last season.

At the head of each drill and repetition taking snaps with the first-team offense? Isaiah Crowell.

"A lot of my teammates told me I've been doing good," Crowell said. "I've been trying to be accountable and be there for my teammates. That's been my main thing and my focus."

Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards as a freshman, missed some workouts in January while recovering from the ankle injury that limited him at the end of 2011.

He is no longer feeling any pain, he said.

Senior Richard Samuel took reps as the backup, with Ken Malcome splitting reps predominately as the third-string back. Richt mentioned Malcome and Crowell as players that were "turning the corner" last week.

"It's starting to feel like high school again," Malcome said. "I've got all the jitters out and the coach is starting to depend on me."

Thomas is out – he decided to transfer for more playing time in his senior season. Highly touted freshman Keith Marshall is in – the early enrollee took reps mainly with the second-team offense Tuesday, spending a great deal of time watching and learning.

"I know exactly where he was coming from," Crowell said of the expectations that come with being a highly rated recruit going through the first day of practice. "That's why I try to help him out as much as I can. I think he's a good teammate. I think he's going to be a real good player. I'm just trying to work with him."

Right now the backfield looks like an offensive coordinator's dream. Plenty of talented, healthy bodies – and that's before Todd Gurley, another tailback from North Carolina, enrolls in June. Samuel is 100 percent after two ankle surgeries last season. Malcome's shoulder is fine after dislocating it in the Outback Bowl. After last season, where Georgia struggled to have any able bodies at the position, the full stable of backs is a welcome sight – even if it is only the first day of spring practice.

"I think having more than two running backs will be good for us," Malcome said. "Having three or four backs, we'll be able to stay fresh. It will help us win more games."

Battle Lines:

Crowell was the No. 1 RB. Marlon Brown took reps opposite Tavarres King at WR with the No. 1 offense. Kolton Houston was a bit of a surprise as the starter at LG. Mike Gilliard and Alec Ogletree were the No. 1 tandem at ILB. Hutson Mason took reps with the No. 2 offense despite intentions to redshirt. Mark Beard, Dallas Lee, Hunter and Austin Long make up the second-team OL. Derrick Lott spent some time at NT.

Injury updates:

Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten practiced without limitations. Wooten redshirted in 2011 after suffering a concussion in a car accident. He said he was cleared for physical activity at a normal rate after suffering the concussion, but struggled with dizziness and fatigue while trying to ride a statinary bike or jogging. By the time he felt well enough to play again it was already late in the season and he was out of shape. That's why the decision was made to take the redshirt. He's now 100 percent and thinks last season was a "blessing in disguise," in giving him an extra season at Georgia.

Wideout Chris Conley was able to run routes and participate in certain drills. He had a cast on his left hand/wrist. The rising sophomore had surgery in January to repair a pre-existing injury to his hand.

Offensive linemen Zach DeBell and Xzavier Ward did not practice Tuesday, but were on hand to watch.

Outside linebacker Sterling Bailey rode the stationary bike while reporters were present at practice.

Linebacker Ramik Wilson missed practice due to an undisclosed family issue.

Mark Richt's Eye on the Sky:

"We had great weather -- probably a little bit warmer than they had hoped, but I think that's better than freezing rain I can tell you that for sure.

"It'd be better if we were on the grass but I didn't feel our grass was quite ready. It's still coming out of dormancy, so we were down on the field turf which is hotter. We had a good bit of cloud cover. We had a good breeze. We're always going to have as many breaks as we can."

Newcomer report: Watching Beard, Marshall and Bouta

Running back Keith Marshall spent a lot of his first practice watching and learning. After a couple rounds in each drill he'd jump in and get a taste for himself. Marshall showed a quick burst and was energetic throughout the practice, showing the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

"(Marshall's) very quick," Richt said. "You can tell he's got very good quickness, very good speed, seems to have very good running instincts. For a guy in his first college practice and considering everybody else knows the system I thought he did a very good job. You could tell he's done a lot of studying since he got here."

Junior college transfer Mark Beard took reps at left tackle with the second team offense. Beard looks more like a guard, but he's currently needed at tackle due to injuries to Zach DeBell and Xzavier Ward.

Faton Bauta is adamant about playing quarterback, and that's where he spent practice Tuesday. There are plenty of signal callers on roster – seven to be exact – making it hard to gauge where Bauta is at currently.

Physically he is impressive. We've yet to see his throwing motion and footwork in the running/play-action game. Time will tell.

Outside the lines...

Mark Richt and his wife Katharyn recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

Their secret to success?

"We're both pursuing God as hard as we can," Richt said. "The closer we get to him the closer we get to each other."

Quote of the Day:

"My first goal is just to be a good teammate and help my team get to the national championship. Second goal -- I'm trying to run for the Heisman." -- Isaiah Crowell.

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