Dawgs full of Fullbacks

ATHENS — Georgia went through the 2005 season with pretty much one fullback, one experience-free fullback.

It'll be a different story when 2006 rolls around.

While last year's starter Brannan Southerland stands on the sidelines recuperating from shoulder surgery, his predecessor works on retaking the job.

And Des Williams is adjusting to the contact again. Happily.

"After Wednesday's practice, I felt like a truck ran over me," the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder said Friday. "I haven't been out here hitting since all the way back to last spring. I woke up, and my neck was sore, my back was sore, my leg was sore."

Williams smiled: "But it's all good. I love it. It was good pain."

Williams was done before August practice started, tearing a pectoral muscle while weightlifting in mid-July. "I was repping like 335," he said. "It wasn't like a max set or anything. That's why it was so freaky an injury."

That put the heat on Southerland, a redshirt freshman who suddenly had nobody behind him.

Eventually, tailback Tony Milton began taking snaps at fullback, but the position belonged to Southerland.

And Williams, who only missed one or two games in high school at Dacula, could only watch.

"I learned a lot," he said. "But it was hard."

Williams is joined at the position by senior Stephen White and redshirt sophomore Brett Thomason.

White, a senior from Terrell Academy who has played on special teams, hopes to get some attention this spring.

"I just started at fullback (last) fall," said the 5-11, 220-pounder who moved from the defensive line. "It took awhile to switch to the offensive mentality.

"I played offense in high school, but that was three years ago."

With Southerland sitting, White is getting more action, and getting a close look at Williams' return.

"Des is looking good," he said. "He's not as rusty as you'd think he might be."

Southerland and Williams will both be 100 percent in August, and a quality showdown looms.

Southerland carried 18 times for 25 yards last year and caught eight passes for 57 more, two going for touchdowns.

Williams in 2004 rushed only 13 times for 29 yards after moving to fullback from linebacker during the 2003 season.

"I was excited to see my boy do great out there," Williams said of Southerland. "We needed him to step up like that. It did make me hungrier to get back and work hard."

Williams may not look all that rusty, but he admitted to feeling rusty a little bit.

"I have to get back used to the speed of the game," he said. "(Linebackers) Jarvis Jackson and Tony Taylor coming out full speed, Brandon Miller just flying in.

"So I'm sitting back on my heels like, 'Do I have Jarvis? Do I have Brandon?' I have to get used to the speed of the game and get ready mentally again."

New running backs coach Tony Ball, while happy with Williams' effort and attitude, agreed.

"You can see fundamentally where he's lacking," Ball said. "He's got to learn how to run and get himself in an athletic football position in a hurry. He's got to do that consistently."

When Williams came up short, Ball said he reminded him and the execution automatically improved. Ball would just like to remind less.

"He's like a bull in a china cabinet," Ball said. "And he understands that. He wants to be good. And that's my job, is to try to get him there in a hurry."

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