ATHENS, Ga. — When Fred Gibson made the transition from football to basketball in January, he struggled at first with the different conditioning required for the two sports.
The 6-foot-4 Gibson seemed surprised, for instance, that he could barely dunk after working other muscles in his freshman football season. On Tuesday, Gibson began making the transition back to football as he was back in pads for the start of the second half of Georgia's spring practice. This time, he made the adjustment look easy.
"Fred seemed to remember everything; he remembered how to catch it,'' Coach Mark Richt said after the Bulldogs returned after 11 days off for spring break. "For a guy who hadn't had any work, he looked really good today.''
Added receivers coach John Eason: "No dropped passes.''
Gibson was still with the basketball team for the Southeastern Conference tournament and the NCAA tournament when Georgia began spring drills the first week of March. Georgia basketball coach Jim Harrick said he had never had a football player join one of his teams as late as January and make the impact that Gibson made as a top backup shooting guard.
Gibson — also a high school all-star in basketball at Ware County — calls basketball his first love, but he says he understands that football will be his best path to a professional sports career.
As a freshman, Gibson caught 33 passes for a team-leading 772 yards. Gibson matched Terrence Edwards for the team lead with six touchdown catches. Though Eason has Edwards, Damien Gary, Michael Johnson and Jarrett Berry back as experienced receivers, and Reggie Brown should return from a knee injury in the fall, Gibson is Georgia's most potent player at the position.
Gibson didn't catch a pass until the fourth game of the season, and he started only three games last year, but still he was the difference-maker the rest of the way. He was involved in four of Georgia's five longest plays from scrimmage, and his 201 yards receiving against Kentucky set a school record. Clearly, Richt and his staff were glad to see Gibson's No. 82 back for the second half of spring drills as the Bulldogs head toward their April 6 G-Day spring game.
"Fred was a little winded during one passing drill, and we limited what we did with him,'' Eason said. "We didn't want to rush him along, but he did a nice job.''
Gibson had to rush to a class after practice and did not have time to comment on his return to football.
NOTES: Redshirt freshman cornerback Bama Adams of Charlton County High School plans to transfer to Valdosta State. He will complete spring semester at Georgia but will not participate in the rest of spring drills. Adams informed Richt of his decision Monday.
"He felt like he had a better shot at playing there, and I think he's hoping to play some offense there,'' Richt said. ...
Georgia coaches spent last week on a Bulldog cruise to the Caribbean on the Princess cruise line. "It was a great, great time for the coaches and their wives to spend time together and relax, and to get to know a lot of the friends of the program that chose to come,'' Richt said.
The spring cruise was an annual tradition when Richt coached at Florida State, and he said last week's trip was such a big hit that "we may have to turn some people away next year.''
Richt said two assistant coaches had falls on mopeds during excursions. "One got a little scraped up and one needed 18 stitches,'' Richt said before adding with a smile: "I'll let you figure that out.''
Quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo had one foot wrapped up Tuesday and apparently was one of the coaches to suffer a spill on the bikes.
Charles Odum can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com