Minter Stepping Up

ATHENS - Georgia's DeMario Minter started last season watching in street clothes and ended it in the starting lineup.

Not surprisingly, he's focused on the more positive part of that experience headed into the upcoming season, in which the 6-foot junior is projected as the Bulldogs' starting short cornerback.

Although Demario Minter's starting spot in the Capital One Bowl had more to do with the Boilermakers' offense than Minter's progress, it was still the highlight of a challenging season.

"I want to keep that momentum going into the season," he said.

Minter missed the Bulldogs' first two games while serving a two-game suspension following an arrest on charges of marijuana possession. By the time he returned, Georgia had moved on without him. Eventually, he was moved to safety, where he played very sparingly.

The supporting role was tough on Minter, particularly after he had showed such promise as a true freshman the year before.

"I came in and played big-time ball as a freshman and then fell off as a sophomore," he said. "I had some off-the-field stuff, and I did some soul-searching. I lost my confidence last year. I lost my swagger."

He's starting to get it back this year as the heir apparent for Bruce Thornton. Tim Jennings has a firm grasp on Georgia's wide corner position, but Minter is trying to hold off a group of young defensive backs that includes Thomas Flowers, Mikey Henderson and Paul Oliver.

"Our young guys are very good," Minter said. "I know they're behind me and they're coming. The position is not official yet, I'm just working with the first team. That doesn't mean it's my job."

With every practice, he gets closer to making it his job, though.

"He's settling back in at corner," Coach Mark Richt said. "He really understands what (secondary coach Willie Martinez) wants. He's doing very well."

The difference is in attitude, Minter said. Last season, when things weren't going well, he completely lost his focus. This year, he's learning to fight through things, he said.

"My bad practices aren't too bad like they were last year," he said. "When they were bad last year, they were real bad and everybody knew it."

It's funny that Minter is playing the short corner position, considering he'll be the team's tallest starting cornerback since 6-3 Jamie Henderson in 2000.

"He's a very good-sized corner," Richt said. "A big part of that position is jamming the receiver and being physical with them."

Minter likes cornerback better than safety for that reason, he said.

"I like going one-on-one with receivers," he said. "I like cornerback, but whatever they want me to do, I'll do, as long as they get me on the field."

Anything's better than standing and watching.

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