Spring Lessons: Tailbacks

Georgia spring practice concluded with its annual G-Day game. Here is a look at the Tailbacks:

In what was supposed to be the number one battle for playing time this spring, Kregg Lumpkin outperformed his competition to take hold of the starting running back spot for 2004.

It's not just that Lumpkin played better, which he did; it was that he was actually practicing this spring. Two of his competitors, Michael Cooper (Migraines) and Tony Milton (Leg), did not practice for the majority of spring ball. It appeared that Cooper and Lumpkin were in a battle for the starting spot but the migraines did not allow Cooper to continue and Lumpkin never looked back after the start of April.

Tyson Browning moved from being a full time running back to wide receiver this spring in order to prepare for his role this fall where he will play both.

Albert Hollis II made his comeback to contact drills early in the spring practice period. Hollis had not been in contact drills in three years. He received a standing ovation during the G-Day game. Still, Hollis has a long way to go before jumping past Lumpkin and the rest of the running backs for carries.

Danny Ware exploded onto the scene and all but wrapped up the number two spot for the fall. He will have to compete with Cooper and Milton when they return but Ware made a name for himself this spring. He is ready to play now. Look for him to go into the fall tied for the number two running back spot or holding it exclusively.

The mild surprise of the spring was walk on Jason "Chi-town" Johnson. He impressed Richt, who didn't know much about him, so much that the head coach mentioned him many times in post-practice press briefings. Johnson will likely get few carries this fall but he will help with depth and could be a star on special teams.

Keys to this position:

Have injuries propelled Kregg Lumpkin so far past the other running backs that the starting role is his for good? Who will be the third down back? How, if at all, will Thomas Brown effect the running back situation? Will Tyson Browning be effetely moved back and forth from wide receiver to running back in his new role as the "X"?

Depth chart shuffle:

Nothing official was made after spring ball but it the running backs appear to be in this order (without Browning): Lumpkin, Ware, Cooper, Milton, Hollis, and finally Johnson.

2004 Prediction:

Lumpkin will probably be the starter at Georgia for at least the next two years. This spring was the knock out blow to the other running backs in terms of that title. But Cooper, Milton, and Ware all bring something different that Lumpkin does not. Cooper is tough between the tackles; Milton can block well; and Ware seems to have the ability to break one long. Lumpkin is the best overall running back and the Dawgs have always done best when one running back is established (Herschel Walker, Musa Smith, Robert Edwards, and Garrison Hearst). But it is not clear if Richt will give Lumpkin all of the carries even if he is the clear number one. Richt says that he likes that he has many talented running backs.

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