BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Though he is included in most preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams, the rap on Jon Stinchcomb in some early 2003 NFL draft forecasts is he lacks the bulk and strength needed for the NFL game.
Stinchcomb has attacked those perceived shortcomings this summer, gaining almost 25 pounds and setting a Georgia team record for offensive linemen with a bench press of 525 pounds.
After playing at 275 pounds last season, the 6-foot-6 Stinchcomb plans to report for preseason practice next week at about 298 pounds.
"I didn't have any summer school — I only need one class to graduate in December — so I ate a lot of mama's cooking,'' Stinchcomb said Tuesday at SEC Kickoff 2002.
Stinchcomb also worked out regularly with trainers in Atlanta and for the first time in his college career worked on gaining weight.
"I wanted to do it the right way,'' Stinchcomb said. "I wanted to be 300 pounds and still move well.''
Stinchcomb will team with fellow seniors George Foster (6-6, 322) and Kareem Marshall (6-6, 325) to form a three-player rotation at the two tackle positions.
Stinchcomb is a first-team preseason All-America pick by The Sporting News. He also is a 2001 first-team Academic All-American.
Said Coach Mark Richt Tuesday of Stinchcomb: "He's the smartest person on the field, including the coaching staff.''
The quarterback question: Richt says he wants to play redshirt freshman D.J. Shockley every game behind starting quarterback David Greene, but he says he can't afford to count on playing Shockley only after Georgia has a comfortable lead in games.
"There is no mop-up duty in this league,'' Richt said. "The game is too close.'' So the plan is to put Shockley in games early.
"We're going to play D.J. every game,'' Richt said. "I have every intention
of playing D.J. every game and playing him early.''
New scholarships: Richt has awarded scholarships to three former walk-ons. Senior rover Burt Jones of Jackson, Ga., senior fullback Braxton Snyder of Lexington, Ky., and junior wide receiver Jarrett Berry of Lyons, Ga., were awarded scholarships.
Richt noted Tuesday that projected starting fullback J.T. Wall came to Georgia as a walk-on, as did 2001 leading rusher Verron Haynes.
"There is a great tradition of walk-ons earning scholarships at Georgia,'' Richt said. "... It's always a pleasant opportunity for a coach to reward players for hard work.''
Watson still king of weightroom: Tight end Ben Watson defended his status as the most accomplished player in the weight room this summer. Watson again led the team with a combined lift of 1,485 pounds in the power clean, bench press and squat.
Watson led the team in the power clean (380) and bench press (535). "He's a man,'' Stinchcomb said Tuesday.
Defensive tackle Gerald Anderson set the team standard in the squat at 660 pounds.
Quarterback D.J. Shockley and Stinchcomb set new position records in the three lifts and the vertical jump.
Two players — first receiver Reggie Brown at 43 1/2 inches and then linebacker Boss Bailey at 46 inches — set the team record in the vertical jump.
Charles Odum can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com