Coach Mark Richt said today."> Coach Mark Richt said today.">">

Ga notes: Tanner, Knight are centers of attention

ATHENS, Ga. -&nbsp; Georgia's most competitive battle for a starting job during two-a-days may be staged at center, where senior <b> Ian Knight</b> and redshirt freshman <b> Russ Tanner</b> are the contenders. "We're not really leaning one way or the other at center," <b> Coach Mark Richt</b> said today.

ATHENS, Ga. -  Georgia's most competitive battle for a starting job during two-a-days may be staged at center, where senior Ian Knight and redshirt freshman Russ Tanner are the contenders.  "We're not really leaning one way or the other at center,'' Coach Mark Richt said today.  

#56 Ian Knight
Photo - Dean Legge

Knight probably is the favorite to win the job, but he also may be needed to play - or possibly even start - at guard.  The loss of offensive tackle George Foster for 12 weeks due to a broken wrist suffered in a car accident on Sunday could cause a chain reaction of moves that ultimately could affect the center position.  If another top tackle - either Jon Stinchcomb or Kareem Marshall - were to suffer an injury, Georgia might have to consider moving Alex Jackson from guard to tackle. Knight then might have to move to guard to fill Jackson's starting spot.  Even if Stinchcomb and Marshall remain healthy, help at tackle might be needed if a freshman does not make a strong impression as a top backup. 

Richt admitted Wednesday that normally the offensive line is the most difficult area for a true freshman to contribute.  Richt said Knight and Tanner "both are intelligent guys who know what to do.''  

#50 Russ Tanner
Photo - Dean Legge
  • Rested and ready: As a true freshman, receiver Fred Gibson went from football to basketball to spring football with no break. Finally, the end of spring football in April gave Gibson the chance to sit back and rest.  "It feels good to be rested,'' Gibson said Wednesday.  Gibson said he does not know if he will again play basketball next season. "I really don't know what's going to happen, but if I play basketball, I don't think Coach Richt or (receivers coach John Eason) would mind.''  
  • New haircut for Gilbert: For most of his career, linebacker Tony Gilbert's trademarks have been his big tackle totals and his long hair.  Suddenly, Gilbert has agreed to a fairly dramatic trim of that trademark hair.  The haircut came when Gilbert, Richt and quarterback David Greene were preparing to attend a media function in Macon last month.  "All I said to Tony is ... we've got hair rules; it can only be so long,'' Richt said. "It can't be out of the helmet. So he put the helmet on and cut it on the helmet line.''  Richt said he also told Gilbert: "I don't want to cramp your style. Just get it as short as you can get it within your style.''
  • Foster on campus: Foster wanted to report to campus with other varsity players, so even though he is still on pain-killing medication following his surgery on Sunday, he is back in McWhorter Hall - the dormitory which houses many Georgia athletes. A sign outside his door alerts visitors that a patient receiving medial care is in the room.  Foster can not qualify for a medical redshirt year - which would give him a sixth year of eligibility - because his first redshirt year in 1998 was not for medical reasons. He is a fifth-year senior this year.  Coaches hope Foster can return in time to play against Kentucky on Oct. 26 or Florida on Nov. 2. Because of the 12-game schedules this year, Foster could still play in one-third of Georgia's games, and he could have ample time to show NFL scouts that he has recovered from his injury. 
  • Also out of hospital: Meanwhile, true freshman Antonio Mercier also is out of the hospital. Mercier's blood sugar level was being watched after he was found to have diabetes earlier this summer. The condition won't keep Mercier out of football, but it could affect his chances of playing this year.  

Charles Odum can be reached here:

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