Richt talks spring ball

ATHENS – Georgia's spring practices start Saturday and even though the Bulldogs lost only eight players there is a ‘starting over feeling' surrounding the program.

"This spring seems like the first time because Greene and the other leaders are not around any more. With them gone it's like the end of an era," said Georgia head coach Mark Richt Wednesday night.

Georgia lost Greene, David Pollack, Arnold Harrison, Jeremy Thomas, Reggie Brown, Odell Thurman, and Thomas Davis to the NFL. Those are the only players that will not be in red and black next season, but the head coach admits this spring will be different – almost like the first time he arrived in Athens.

"Our leadership is key this season," he said. "We didn't lose a lot of leadership in terms of the numbers of players - we will have leadership by numbers this season. The people that left had a tremendous impact on our program"

Richt also said Zeb McKinzey (Underage possession) and Michael Turner (Possession of Marijuana) will both serve one-game suspensions for their off the field mistakes since the New Year. Richt did not indicate that Darrious Swain would serve a game suspension for driving with a suspended license. All three players were arrested.

In other personnel news:

Richt said Marcus Jackson will receive word of his medical status for the fall in the next month. "We still don't know about Marcus," said Richt. "Sometime this month we'll get some answers. We are going to keep him safe until we know for sure."

Kirby Smart will handle kickoff return responsibilities for the upcoming season. Willie Martinez, Georgia's new defensive coordinator, may or may not continue extra point block and field goal block responsibilities. Richt said the decision was made this morning, but that he has not yet been informed of Martinez's decision regarding the matter. In other coaching news (or lack thereof) there was no mention of Jon Fabris' departure and return at the press conference.

Richt said linebacker Dannell Ellerbe will play at linebacker this spring, but that the staff is confidant that the redshirt freshman can play that position or safety. "Is he Thomas Davis? I don't know," said Richt.

Richt said the team will do what it can to get its best five offensive skill players on the team at the same time. "With the tight ends we have and the running backs, there will be more sets involving them. We want those guys in the game," said Richt.

On the subjects of running backs, Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin might get a look at fullback in some of the offensive sets in 2005 according to offensive coordinator Neal Callaway. "Those two for sure," he said. "We have to decide if Tony Milton and Michael Cooper are guys that will do that also," Callaway said. Ware started the 2004 season as a fullback, but move to tailback soon thereafter.

Chester Adams is at tackle right now, but he may or may not be moved to guard – if necessary. "That is not out of the question," said Callaway. The move seems very unlikely at this moment considering the depth at guard and the lack of it at tackle.

Tyson Browning will stay at running back for 2005. Lumpkin, who is not going to participate in hitting drills, will "ease his way into things" according to Richt. "He's graded out well at matt drills," added the head coach.

Tony Taylor is "at full speed" according to Richt. Taylor, like Lumpkin suffered an ACL, but his occurred a year ago during spring practice. "There is no limitation with Tony," said Richt.

Demiko Goodman, who is listed as the number two flanker behind Sean Bailey, will practice football as much as possible. "He has a desire to get better as a wide receiver – but we don't want to interfere with track," said Richt. The same goes for Albert Hollis, who is also running track and will remain in the secondary for 2005.

Richt said the depth chart was a flowing document and that he is not certain things will stay the same with it through the first few practices. "I don't know that everyone is where they will be," he said.

Another wide receiver mentioned, Kenneth Harris, is said to be improving. "He is continuing to make strides like he did in the fall and during matt drills," said Richt.

Another walk-on player could be awarded a scholarship, said Richt, if a player leaves the team due to a medical condition or a recruit does not qualify academically. "Perhaps by the end of the spring we can address that issue," he said.

Olaolu Sanni-Osomo will return this fall. "He's out for the spring, but he'll be back in the fall. He's really improving," said Richt.


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