Lumpkin Tightens Grip on #1 Spot

ATHENS - Kregg Lumpkin probably was the only one surprised when he entered spring practice as Georgia's starting running back.

The sophomore from Stephenson High School started only one game last year, but it was the last one in which he scored the game-winning touchdown against Purdue in the Capital One Bowl. He finished the season as the Bulldogs' second-leading rusher with 523 yards and six touchdowns.

Although leading rusher Michael Cooper, a sophomore from Screven County, also returns to the team, Kregg Lumpkin found his name at the top of the depth chart when practice began last week.

"I didn't know I was going to be the frontrunner," he said, "but all I can do right now is stay focused."

Lumpkin, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry last year, did nothing but tighten his grasp on the spot in the first week of practice. He was the only offensive bright spot in the Bulldogs' Friday scrimmage, taking two of his limited carries more than 20 yards.

Coach Mark Richt hasn't noticed any change in the soft-spoken Lumpkin now that he's the projected starter, he said.

"It's so far from the season I don't think he's even thinking in terms of that," Richt said. "It looks to me like he's just trying to get better."

There are two noticeable differences in Lumpkin this season. First is his number, which he has changed to No. 6. He wore No. 6 in high school but couldn't have it last year because safety Sean Jones already wore the number. After Jones left early for the NFL, Lumpkin ditched No. 28 and picked up No. 6.

He's also filling out that jersey a little more. Thanks to 10 pounds he added in the team's offseason conditioning program, he's now at 220.

"I feel good," he said. "I feel confident. Basically all I have to do is just stay healthy."

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