Battle gets his shot in the limelight

ATHENS – The comments never end. By now everyone is painstakingly aware that Tra Battle is not the prototypical size for a college safety. Just take a look at who he's replacing – massive Greg Blue – and that's clear.

"I still go nuts about his size," defensive coordinator and secondary coach Willie Martinez told the Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook.

"But he's able to overcome it because of the way he plays the game. He's a smart, conscientious kid and is very tough. And he plays a lot bigger than he is. He's not very big, but he packs a lot of power when he runs at you," Martinez said.

For his entire career, first as a walk-on and now as a starter, Battle has been forced to deal with people focusing on his size, or lack thereof.

Small or not, Battle is the leader of Georgia's talented, but inexperienced defense. This year the Bulldogs replace three players who departed for the NFL – Blue, DeMario Minter and Tim Jennings. Now Battle must lead a starting group that consists of Paul Oliver, Kelin Johnson, Thomas Flowers and himself. The group has little playing time together, but looks like it could be a steady bunch this fall.

"At safety, I think there is a little bit more of a question mark (at safety). Are we really ready to play the level of ball at that position that we've had," Richt said.

Elevating his game to an All-American level may be a little bit too much to ask, but Georgia's head coach is hopeful that Battle can replicate the play of the Dawgs' last three talented safeties.

"We've been fortunate to have Sean Jones, who was an All-American; Thomas Davis was an All-American; Greg Blue was an All-American back to back to back. Do we have that All-American safety right now? I'm not sure," Richt said. "Tra battle certainly has earned a lot of respect around the league. Maybe he'll have a year that would allow him to be All-American."

All-American or not, this little guy has a big-time attitude and he will be depended on to make game-changing plays in the secondary while he's leading that group.

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