Washington tries to hold onto backup spot

ATHENS - If everyone has forgotten about Marcus Washington, that's O.K. with him.

"I look to my family when I get down," Georgia's junior linebacker said.

There have been down times since a knee injury sidelined him with two games left in the 2006 season. He missed spring practice and his weight ballooned to 254 pounds.

"When I got injured there were a lot of things that ran through my mind, first of all would I be able to come back and if I came back, would I see snaps," Washington said. "It's been tough, but I'm trying to live right, trying to pray, keep God first in my life."

Washington's knee fatigued early in the preseason but he began making it through complete practices without a problem this week, he said.

"Thankfully, (the knee) is responding right now because we really need him," Coach Mark Richt said. "He's got his weight down, he looks good."

Washington, who is down to 240 pounds and hopes to be 235 by the time the season begins, is holding off true freshman Charles White for the backup middle linebacker position and hasn't given up on earning the starting spot from Dannell Ellerbe, he said.

"We've got to keep practicing and see what happens," he said, "see if I can make a move."

Washington played in 11 games each of the last two seasons and had 11 tackles as a true freshman. That number dipped to four last year.

"Every once in a while you look back and say, ‘We should have played so-and-so more,'" Richt said. "He should have played more last year. We need to make sure he gets in the game. He's a very good football player and really understand what we're doing."

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