Reaction to Lumpkin's ACL

ATHENS — Georgia got the news on Kregg Lumpkin's knee injury Tuesday, and, in keeping with the early tone of preseason camp, it was bad.

The sophomore running back, entrenched as the Bulldogs' starter, tore his left ACL and will miss the entire season.

"We're all very disappointed because he's a great player and a great person, but that's part of the game," Coach Mark Richt said. "We still have enough guys who know how to play, but Lumpkin was No. 1 for a reason."

Lumpkin will have surgery on Tuesday and should be 100 percent in time for next fall, Richt said. He probably won't be able to go full speed in spring practice.

The news just added to what has been a tough beginning for the 2004 Bulldogs. Starting linebacker Tony Taylor (knee), starting offensive lineman Bartley Miller (shoulder) and reserve defensive lineman Marcus Jackson (illness) already were lost for the season, and

All-SEC linebacker Odell Thurman was suspended Sunday for the first three games of the season.

"Everybody is going to feel snake bitten when you're losing great players, but you've got to rally as a team," linebacker Derrick White said.

Lumpkin, walking on crutches and wearing a large leg brace, visited his teammates during Tuesday's practice but declined to speak to the media. He was hurt while running a pass route during a non-contact workout in the first practice of the season Monday.

Lumpkin played as a true freshman last year so he can redshirt this season and not lose a year of eligibility.

"He's upbeat," said his father, Tony Lumpkin.

Lumpkin's absence forced the Bulldogs to shuffle their lineup, moving wide receiver Tyson Browning back to his original position at running back and moving freshman Brannan Southerland from linebacker to fullback.

"Losing Lump is a big jolt for our team, but I don't think we'll lose a beat at all," Browning said. "Even though I hate to be back under these circumstances, it's good to be back."

Southerland moved because Danny Ware has now taken over the No. 1 tailback spot and can no longer practice at both tailback and fullback.

Michael Cooper is now the No. 2 tailback.

Ware rushed for 1,009 yards as a senior at Rockmart High School in 2002. He signed with Georgia that year but failed to qualify academically and went to Hargrave Military Academy, where he averaged 11.7 yards per carry last year.

Ware was sad to see his teammate injured ("Lump was like my role Dog, my mentor," he said.), but happy to see a chance at more playing time.

"I love the opportunity I've got," he said. "I'm definitely ready to step in."

Cooper, the team's leading returning rusher, started eight games last year and finished with 673 rushing yards, with a high of 93 on 22 carries against Vanderbilt.

Tony Milton, who started three of the first five games last year before being sidelined by a leg injury, is only 80 to 90 percent healthy but could figure into the mix later this season. Richt declined to put a timetable on Milton's return.

"The moment he is (healthy), I think he'll make a big statement for us," Richt said.

Freshman Thomas Brown also has a better opportunity to play now, Richt said.


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