Ekeler Pushing Forward

ATHENS – Mike Ekeler was unfamiliar to most of the current players at Georgia when he was hired after a season at Southern California to coach Georgia's inside linebackers.

Tim Kimbrough said he already had a good relationship with him because Ekeler recruited Kimbrough when he was co-defensive coordinator at Indiana.

Kimbrough, from Indianapolis, chose to go to Georgia, not to stay home, but now Ekeler is his position coach.

"He kind of made a little joke, `You thought you were going to get away from me,'" Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough was excited when recruited by Ekeler to Indiana, but not so excited about the team.

"I didn't want to go to IU because they were just a bad college football team and I felt like going to a good school where I could compete," Kimbrough said.

Ekeler also coaches senior Ramik Wilson.

"He's passionate, real passionate," Wilson said. "He's hyper, very hyper, but he's a really good dude, really good coaching. He's going to help me improve on the things that I need to improve on, all of us as a group and he's going to make."

Positions up for grabs

Safety Corey Moore said, yes, there is a depth chart that the defense is working from under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, but players aren't making much of it now with the way practice reps are going around.

"Nobody knows about playing time," cornerback J.J. Green said. "Coach Pruitt says nobody is a starter right now. He's just playing guys places where he can just look at the whole film. Everybody's going 1s, 2s, and 3s, they're going at the same time so he can look and watch and evaluate every player."

Green said he worked with the ones with cornerbacks Damian Swann and Brendan Langley at the star nickel back position but didn't put much stock into that.

"They're just seeing who can ball out," Green said.

Even the SEC's leading tackler from last year.

"Everybody's up for the position battle," said senior Ramik Wilson, who had 133 tackles last season. "Everybody's going hard. Everybody's got new life."

Working with the ones on the defensive line, at least for now, were Chris Mayes, Ray Drew and Toby Johnson, a player said.

"Everybody is competing for a first spot," safety Quincy Mauger said. "There should be no one that is comfortable with their spot. (It's) pluses and minuses. Whoever gets the most pluses is who we're going to see on the field."

Moore was skeptical when he was told that pretty much every player would get the same amount of reps under the new practice format.

"I didn't believe him at first," Moore said. "Sure enough everybody's getting the same amount of reps. It's crazy, man, because everything is so fast-paced now. I'm still getting used to it."

Keeping a lid on it

A change in the defensive coaching staff hasn't kept Georgia from still turning down media requests for players, particularly defensive backs.

Thursday was designated as a day for defensive players to be available upon request, but cornerbacks Sheldon Dawson, Shaq Wiggins and Brendan Langley were all scratched off despite multiple requests from media members.

Georgia also isn't making available the four players—Tray Matthews, James Deloach, Jonathan Taylor and Uriah LeMay – who were arrested Monday night on multiple counts of theft by deception for "double-dipping" UGA-issued tuition checks to scholarship athletes

Georgia has opened practices for two "periods" totaling 10 minutes, but reporters were asked to head towards the exit with about four minutes left on clock of a 10-minute total viewing period.

This and that

Wider receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who practiced in a limited capacity on Tuesday but didn't finish, was not on the practice field on Thursday. Coach Mark Richt said Tuesday that Mitchell "got a little sore." Mitchell had surgery for an ACL torn in the opener last season at Clemson.

Cornerback Reggie Wilkerson (knee) and tailback Keith Marshall (knee) practiced in non-contact jerseys. Tight end Jay Rome (foot) didn't practice.

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