ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia's offensive line is loaded with even more seniors than at first believed — and therefore will be even younger next season than feared at the start of the season.
Fourth-year junior Chris Hewitt of Rome, a top backup at tight guard, says he plans to make this his final season.
"I've asked Coach (Mark) Richt if I could declare myself a senior this year,'' Hewitt said Tuesday.
Redshirted in 1999, Hewitt plans to marry fellow Rome native Jessica Roberts in May. Hewitt plans to leave school after completing his business degree requirements next summer.
"I thought long and hard about it,'' said Hewitt, who plans a career in real estate. "I felt it was the best thing for me and my future wife. ... They've given me the option that if I change my mind, I could (return for a fifth year of eligibility).''
Hewitt made one start last season and could be pressed into a significant role at guard or tackle this season.
Georgia started five seniors across the line in Saturday night's 31-28 win over Clemson and is awaiting the return of senior tackle George Foster, who started eight games last year.
Including Hewitt, Georgia will lose seven seniors from the line. With Hewitt considered a senior, there are no juniors or sophomores on the depth chart, so the backups playing this year as redshirt freshmen or true freshmen will be the only experienced linemen on the roster next year.
Three true freshmen — tackle Max Jean-Gilles and guards Josh Brock and Bartley Miller — played in backup roles against Clemson. Center Russ Tanner, a redshirt freshman, was expected to compete for a starting job before suffering knee and hand injuries in the preseason.
Another redshirt freshman expected to see significant playing time, tackle Dennis Roland, did not play against Clemson. Roland and freshman tackle Daniel Inman could join the playing rotation against South Carolina.
"They are going to be good, with or without me,'' said Hewitt of the future line. "(The freshmen) are some good ballplayers, some really good ballplayers.''
Foster is not expected back before the Oct. 26 game at Kentucky or the Nov. 2 game against Florida.
Bailey named Player of the Week: After setting a career high with 14 tackles and adding one big sack for a loss of 19 yards early in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's win over Clemson, senior
linebacker Boss Bailey was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Georgia trailed Clemson 28-21 when Bailey sacked Willie Simmons on a third-and-10 play. The lost yards were a factor in Georgia taking possession in Clemson territory and scoring on a quick three-play drive to tie the game.
"It was huge,'' Richt said Tuesday of the Bailey sack. "The momentum shifted big-time in the fourth quarter because of that very play.''
Greene injures hand: Quarterback David Greene had his right hand heavily wrapped after practice Tuesday but said the sore hand did not affect his play. Greene, a left-handed thrower, had his right hand hit when he was rolling to his right in the second quarter Saturday night.
Greene said there was slight swelling in the hand but said it had not been X-rayed.
Worth noting: Though it does not have a game this week, No. 10 Georgia had its usual Tuesday practice in full pads. Richt termed the session "a good open-date practice'' while admitting "it wasn't exactly what we needed in all areas.''
Freshman linebacker Marquis Elmore, who had been expected to join contact drills this week after having arthroscopic back surgery earlier in the summer, is still wearing a green, non-contact jersey.
"Marquis really hasn't returned quite as full-speed as we hoped,'' Richt said. "He's still not pain-free.''
Richt said "it would be tough'' for Elmore to play in the Sept. 14 game at South Carolina, but said it is too early to say the freshman is more likely to receive a redshirt year.
"I really believe if the guy is healthy, he can help us win this year,'' Richt said.
Redshirt freshman Derrick White, who had been spending most of his time at outside linebacker, moved to defensive end Tuesday. With defensive end Nic Clemons on crutches with a turf toe injury, help was needed at the position.
Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com
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