Southerland takes move in stride

ATHENS – The suspension of linebacker Odell Thurman affected the playing time of several other players. One player was affected the most by last night's events, a freshman that must now switch positions for at least the early part of the season.

Brannan Southerland, a true freshman from Greater Atlanta Christian Schools, is now in the running to be back up middle linebacker. Last night he was a back up fullback. Thurman's suspension changed everything.

"I found out about moving to linebacker last night," he said. "At about 7 o'clock Coach Richt told me what was happening. He asked me ‘what do you think about moving?' I told him ‘whatever is best for the team.' I just want to play.

"Wherever they want me to play, I'll play. I think there are great opportunities at both fullback and linebacker. They asked me to move, and I am going to whatever is needed to help them."

Southerland has a fellow freshman learning the position with him.

"They are teaching Josh Johnson and me right now," Southerland said. "At meetings we are trying to learn what to do."

Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder spent extra time with Johnson and Southerland during certain drills at today's practice.

"I think that he is looking at us to see what we can handle," said Southerland of the extra attention given. "He has been great so far helping us out. You can tell that he wants to help out the younger kids. He is really giving the younger guys a chance to play," Southerland said.

VanGorder has no choice but to teach the youngsters now. Southerland and Johnson may be talented, but they are inexperienced and are trying to grasp Georgia's defensive scheme in a short amount of time.

"I want to get prepared mentally so that if I need to play I will be ready," Southerland said of his goals for the August workouts. "I don't want anything mental to hold me back from playing."

Southerland, who has gained ten pounds since he arrived earlier this summer, said switching from fullback to linebacker will be a challenge.

"The hardest thing for me right now is trying to learn everything. I am trying to switch my mindset from offense to defense," he said. "I had learned quite a bit of the offense. I had not intention of playing linebacker this fall."

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