ATHENS, Ga. - Despite a break from the 90-plus temperatures of recent weeks, conditioning issues made an impact on Georgia's first day of two-a-day varsity practice.
Senior offensive guard Alex Jackson landed in the doghouse - and out of the first-team offense - when he reported overweight. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 345 pounds, Jackson reported at 333 pounds and will have to drop some more weight to reclaim his starting job.
True freshman Josh Brock worked with the first-team offense at Jackson's split guard position. Jackson started 10 games last season but was slowed by cramping Thursday.
"Jackson was ahead (of Brock), but you come in overweight and you pay the consequences,'' said offensive line coach Neil Callaway.
Callaway would not say how much weight Jackson must lose.
Meanwhile, defensive line coach Rodney Garner was not happy to see that freshman Darrius Swain, suffering from cramping, was unable to complete the morning practice. Bothered by an upset stomach, he did not participate in the afternoon practice.
"We need for some young guys to get in shape and stop acting like freshmen,'' Garner said.
"It's easy to say 'I want to play' when you're being recruited. It's tough to actually go out there and play.''
Swain, a top candidate to play in a backup role at defensive tackle, reported at 314 pounds, about 14 pounds overweight. He did pass his conditioning test given to freshmen Wednesday.
Freshmen are needed to provide depth on both sides of the line. Freshman offensive tackle Max Jean-Gilles struggled with cramping Thursday morning and also had difficulty adjusting to new knee braces - a requirement in practice for all Georgia linemen. He left early in the afternoon practice.
With senior tackle George Foster already out for 12 weeks with a broken wrist suffered in a car wreck on Saturday and freshman tackle Antonio Mercier held out as he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, the additional absence of Jean-Gilles had an effect.
"It's amazing how quickly you can lose depth at offensive tackle,'' said Coach Mark Richt after the afternoon practice. "We went from having a lot of tackles to not having many. ... That's probably the most disappointing thing to this point.''
Another freshman offensive lineman, Randall Swoopes, also needed treatment for cramping.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the fact that Brock was the first choice to fill in for Jackson with the first-team offense. But then Brock left the afternoon practice with cramping in his back.
Brock (6-4, 309) graduated early from Cartersville High School and made a strong impression in spring practice.
Other options at guard include juniors Chris Hewitt and Matt Adcock, who are listed as the top backups to tight guard Kevin Breedlove.
NOTES: Tailbacks Musa Smith and Tony Milton each ran well Thursday in making their return to practice from injuries which kept them out of spring drills. Smith, the projected starter who is coming back from a lingering groin injury, made strong cuts and also looked quick on his straight-ahead bursts through the line.
"It just feels great,'' Smith said. "It's not like last year where every step I took I was in pain.''
Milton, a redshirt freshman, was held out last spring following shoulder surgery. He is a candidate to be Smith's backup at tailback.
Richt called the morning practice "really crisp and outstanding'' and said the heat affected the afternoon session. Georgia won't practice in full pads until Monday.
Martrez Milner, the freshman admitted as a partial qualifier, is working with tight ends in practice. Milner will not be eligible for games this season.
Foster and freshman Marquis Elmore, who is out for about four weeks after having arthroscopic surgery to repair a herniated disk, watched the afternoon practice.
Charles Odum can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com