Golston, Davis move up as starters

While cautioning that no final decisions have been made, Coach <b>Mark Richt</b> said Monday that redshirt freshman rover <b>Thomas Davis</b> and true freshman nose tackle <b>Kedric Golston</b> have been promoted to starters.

ATHENS, Ga. - While cautioning that no final decisions have been made, Coach Mark Richt said Monday that redshirt freshman rover Thomas Davis and true freshman nose tackle Kedric Golston have been promoted to starters.

Davis, from Randolph-Clay High School, has gained notice with his big hits through preseason drills, but it was his consistency in practice that pushed him past Sean Jones.  "We've got to have guys that will come up and hit you, and he will do that,'' said Richt of Davis. "He will give great effort.''  Added secondary coach Willie Martinez: "When he has been in there in scrimmages, he has been productive. (Free safety) Kentrell Curry has been consistent. (Davis) has been consistent. Sean has been inconsistent.'

Kedric Golston (DT)

Meanwhile, Golston - who has impressed varsity players and coaches with his maturity - has moved past Ken Veal and onto the first-team defensive line.  Golston is making a dramatic return from a broken femur he suffered in a car wreck that shortened his senior season at Sandy Creek High School. Complications following the surgery to put a rod and pin in his right leg kept him hospitalized for three and a half weeks.  Despite dropping from 288 pounds to 275 pounds during two-a-day drills, Golston moved past Veal, a junior who moved into the starting lineup late last season.  Richt noted it is "very unusual'' for a true freshman to earn his way onto the starting defensive line so quickly.  "It just goes to show the lack of depth we have at that position,'' Richt said. "For him to even be second team at this time is probably not a good sign. ... We ought to have at least two-deep (with veterans) but there was really not that much experience ahead of him.''

Lack of depth on the defensive line is such a concern that after Monday's practice a staff member asked the school newspaper, The Red and Black, to encourage any student who started at least two years on the defensive line in high school to come out for practice as a walk-on.

Georgia has just under two weeks to prepare for its Aug. 31 season opener against Clemson, and it is not unprecedented for coaches to use depth chart changes like Monday's as motivational tools for veteran players. Jones and Veal could reclaim their starting jobs by outperforming the younger players in the next 10 days. "None of them have it made in the shade,'' Richt said. 

Richt also confirmed that redshirt freshman Tony Milton has the lead to be the top backup to starting tailback Musa Smith. Richt said Milton and two freshmen - Tyson Browning and Michael Cooper - were the top three backs in a tight race behind Smith, the established starter.  Milton limped off the field after taking a helmet to his right thigh Monday, but he said he doesn't expect to miss any practice time. 

Richt is still working to develop depth at offensive tackle. With seniors George Foster (broken wrist) expected to miss at least seven games and Kareem Marshall (sprained neck) out for almost a week, backup tight guard Chris Hewitt was given a look at tackle Monday.  Also, true freshman Max Jean-Gilles has moved up to second-string status at offensive tackle.  Richt said he hopes Marshall can return in the next few days. Marshall and Jon Stinchcomb are still expected to start at the two tackle spots, but if Marshall can not return to practice this week, Richt will have to consider such options as redshirt freshman Dennis Roland, Hewitt and Jean-Gilles. 

NOTES: Richt said he was "just disappointed in the overall execution'' Monday but he noted the first day of classes often produces a letdown on the practice field. Monday also was the first day players were assigned to scout teams, and he said "you had some just feeling sorry for themselves.''  Said Richt: "I can honestly say I've never seen that first Monday (of classes) to be worth a hoot.'' ... Richt said quarterback D.J. Shockley is struggling with a tired arm and likely will be held out today. The fatigue was "visibly keeping him from throwing well (Monday),'' Richt said.

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