Ware ready for starting spot

ATHENS – Georgia sent Danny Ware to Hargrave Military Academy to improve his academics. He did that right away, earning a qualifying SAT score a month after arriving at the southwest Virginia prep school.

In his spare time, he turned himself into a tailback. The Bulldogs recruited Ware out of Rockmart High School never really thinking he would be their primary ball carrier. Although he had always thought of himself as a rusher, Ware was listed on all of Georgia's recruiting information as a fullback.

"We felt like he was a slash," Coach Mark Richt said. "We felt like he would grow into a fullback, a very skilled fullback."

Instead, Ware proved to be a dynamic runner, carrying the ball 56 times for 653 yards (11.7 yards per carry) against competition that included the junior varsity teams of Virginia Tech, West Virginia and North Carolina. When he joined the Bulldogs in December for bowl practice, he made an immediate impression.

"He certainly grew as a man between high school and now," Richt said.

The Bulldogs didn't know then how critical that transformation would come to be. With starting running back Kregg Lumpkin lost for the season due to a torn ACL, Ware is now expected to be No. 4 Georgia's starter when it opens the season Sept. 4 against Georgia Southern. He is taking most of the snaps with the No. 1 offense in hopes of accelerating his understanding of the system.

"If we started today, I don't think he'd start at tailback because he doesn't know exactly what we're doing yet," Richt said. "My hope is that between now and then, he'll learn it."

As with most young running backs, Ware is having the most trouble learning the team's blocking schemes.

"Once I get that down, it's going to be all good from there," Ware said.

Hargrave coach Robert Prunty is confident Ware will put in the time to learn all he needs to, he said.

"Danny was an outstanding kid," Prunty said. "He's one of the best young men I've been around. He's going to work hard, that's one thing about him. He's going to bring that hard hat."

Ware has already proven himself physically. At 6-foot-1, 213 pounds and wearing No. 28, he'll look almost like a clone of Lumpkin, who's 6-foot-1, 210 pounds and wore No. 28 last year before switching to No. 6. According to Ware, the similarities don't end there.

"We're the same runner really," he said. "We both have the same style. We're powerful, bruising runners, and we've got a little speed, too. I'm like his twin coming in."

"Danny's the total package," Prunty said.

When Lumpkin learned Monday night his season was over, he called Ware to give him a pep talk.

"He said, ‘You've got to go out and represent,'" Ware said. "I said, ‘I got it.'"

Georgia's running back depth chart

Fr. Danny Ware 6-1, 213 Averaged 11.7 yards per carry in prep school

So. Michael Cooper 5-11, 236 Leading rusher last season, started eight games

Jr. Tyson Browning 5-8, 161 Small stature, blazing speed make him third-down back

Fr. Thomas Brown 5-8, 185 Mark Richt hopes he's the next Warrick Dunn

(Junior Tony Milton is still recovering from leg injury)

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