Looking for a leader on the line

ATHENS – Georgia knew Fernando Velasco wasn't going to be on this year's team, but the truth of that really hit home watching Saturday's scrimmage, head coach Mark Richt said.

The Bulldogs still are desperately seeking a leader on the offensive line, Richt said after reviewing tape of the team's first spring practice scrimmage. Velasco filled that role last year as the team's center, but he has graduated.

"It helps when the offensive line has a real strong leader, but right now it's not there and it's hard to be outside of that group and try to lead them," Richt said. "You want at least one guy in there who can do it. There are a couple guys trying."

Georgia has only one scholarship upperclassmen on the offensive line, and that's junior Vince Vance, who has only been in the program one year. Redshirt sophomore Chris Davis, who is trying to take Velasco's place at center, has as much experience as any of the offensive linemen, but isn't quite ready to be a leader yet, he said.

"I'm trying to lead by example before I open my mouth at all," Davis said. "I've never been in a leadership position in my life to tell you the truth. I've always had somebody who has been able to lead me. For me to be a leader, I have to step my individual play up. My effort as an individual has to get better if I even want to think about being a leader." Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is hoping a leader will emerge as the offensive linemen have more time to grow comfortable with their roles.

"It takes time, but you have to have a bell cow in that group that's going to hold them together," Bobo said. "Line coaches, they grind those guys and they have to stay tight with each other and play for each other. Right now we're looking for that."

The coaches can't pick who the leader will be, Bobo said.

"We've got some (candidates), but I don't want to mention who they are," he said. "I don't want to put that much pressure on them or anoint someone a leader. If you get into anointing one or trying to tell a team who its leader is, that doesn't work. The players have to naturally follow that player."

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