Georgia starts Spring Football

ATHENS – In college basketball, March traditionally is the month of "One Shining Moment" – the now-famous song that caps the NCAA Tournament championship game.

With all due respect to the Big Dance, Georgia's football team is going to borrow the theme as it begins spring practice this month. The Bulldogs, who will hold the first of 15 practices this afternoon, are expected to be ranked at or near the top of every preseason ranking when the real season rolls around this fall, but for now they are hoping to focus on more immediate issues.

"What we have decided to do is just focus on the moment," head coach Mark Richt said. "We can't control where we're voted preseason. We can't control a lot of things. We can only control how hard we work each mat drill, each weight lifting session, each spring practice. We're really trying to break it down into one day, one play, one moment.."

That won't be difficult despite the hype, junior cornerback Asher Allen said.

"Since I've been here, we've always had the same goals -- beat the first team we play, win the SEC championship, win the national championship," Allen said. "This year is a lot more hyped up, but I think the attitude of the team has been the same since I've been here."

Spring practice will culminate with the annual G-Day game, which will be played April 5 in Sanford Stadium.

There are few tangible questions to be answered this spring. Eight starters return on offense, and nine return on defense.

"The biggest question we have is who's going to be our kicker, and I don't know how much we're going to find out in the spring," Richt said. "That's something that is going to have to wait until the fall (when freshman Blair Walsh arrives)."

Most of Richt's other questions center around leadership and the intangibles that give each year's team its identity.

"I know maybe 70 percent of our team is back, but it has a whole new personality," he said. "It has a whole new leadership component, and it makes it fun. It makes it exciting."

The defense will be looking to replace Kelin Johnson at safety and Marcus Howard at defensive end, and an heir apparent awaits at each position (Reshad Jones and Jeremy Lomax), but minor changes could mean major differences in results, Allen said.

"One, two people coming into the starting team, they can alter everything," he said.

The offense must replace offensive linemen Fernando Velasco and Chester Adams and wide receiver Sean Bailey.

Fullback Brannan Southerland (foot) and defensive tackle Brandon Wood (Achilles' tendon) won't participate in spring practice but will be available in the fall, Richt said.

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