ATHENS, Ga. — There were at least two Pro Bowl-caliber players on the Georgia practice fields Wednesday.
Former Georgia players Hines Ward and Champ Bailey visited practice as the Bulldogs worked in full pads for the last time before Saturday's 2 p.m. G-Day spring game.
Ward, a receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Bailey, a cornerback for the Washington Redskins, had different reasons for attending the practice. Bailey, played at Georgia from 1996-98, leaving after his junior season. He is back in school this semester as he works toward his degree in psychology.
"This is my first year back,'' said Bailey. "Getting that degree is very important to me.'' Bailey said he needs 15 credit hours to complete his degree requirements.
It was suggested to Bailey that, as a former Georgia player, he might need that psychology degree to co-exist with former Florida coach Steve Spurrier, the new Redskins coach.
"It's all right; I actually like him,'' Bailey said. "He's a proven winner. That's who I want on my team.''
In the Pro Bowl following last season, Bailey worked one-on-one against Ward. Ward played quarterback, receiver and running back at Georgia from 1994-97. He has to fly back to Pittsburgh in time for the Steelers' mini-camp on Monday but said he enjoyed watching his former teammate, Mike Bobo, working on the practice fields as Georgia's quarterbacks coach.
"That's cool; I might want to do that myself one day,'' Ward said.
Back injury ends Billue's career: Backup offensive guard Josh Billue, who had been listed third on the depth chart at tight guard, has followed the recommendation of doctors to end his playing career. Billue is suffering from herniated discs in his back.
Billue, a junior from Guntersville, Ala., will remain on scholarship as a student coach.
"He's going to end up doing a lot of work that will aid our coaches,'' said Coach Mark Richt. "He will do everything that a graduate assistant coach does, and we're only allowed two of those so I know he's going to help us a bunch.''
Billue is the second Georgia player to accept a medical disqualification this spring. Safety Cap Burnett had to end his playing career due to a frequency of concussions, and he also will serve as a student coach.
G-Day plans: Defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder and offensive coordinator Neil Callaway will serve as head coaches in the G-Day game. Richt plans to watch the game from the press box.
"The team chaplain and I will be the only two neutral observers,'' Richt said. "Everybody else will have a team.''
Players and coaches on the winning team earn a meal of steak and lobster. "Losers will eat beanie-weanies,'' Richt said.
The game will be split into four eight-minute quarters. "Last year was a scrimmage, but this is really a game,'' Richt said.
Quarterbacks David Greene and D.J. Shockley will play the majority of the game for their respective teams. Cory Phillips and freshman Joe Tereshinski III will be the starting quarterbacks, playing the first quarter and the first drive of the third quarter.
The quarterbacks and kickers will wear green jerseys, making them exempt to contact.
Injury report: Starting offensive guard Alex Jackson suffered a sprained ankle in Wednesday's practice — the last of the spring in full pads before Saturday's game. Because the severity of the injury was not known, G-Day rosters were not released Wednesday.
"If Alex can't go, we may have to change quite a bit,'' said Richt, noting the efforts that have been made to keep the Red and Black teams as even as possible.
The good news Wednesday was that receiver Fred Gibson was able to practice and still has a chance to play Saturday. Richt joked that some assistant coaches are "claiming foul play'' because Gibson was listed as an injured player at the time the coaches drafted players for the G-Day game.
Charles can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com