No Spot Safe

ATHENS – The downside to losing two starting defensive backs is that there won't be much foundation for Georgia's secondary in 2009, but defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is looking at it as a plus.

Martinez has told his players that no spot on the depth chart is safe, and the offseason workouts prior to spring practice are already having an impact. Martinez said he has already adjusted his depth chart based on performance in the weight room – although he didn't want to discuss who had swapped spots – and he expects more to come as spring drills near.

"There's no doubt there's more competition," Martinez said. "We have one returning corner, and we lost two from our nickel package."

Asher Allen's departure at cornerback leaves Prince Miller as the only experienced player at the position, but Martinez said there is no lack of potential starters, including newcomers Branden Smith and Jordan Love.

"We're going to try Sanders Commings there," Martinez said. "He's a big kid, but he's athletic. Pugh could be there, too. We've got Brandon Smith and Jordan Love coming in, and they'll have a great opportunity of playing."

Martinez confirmed that Reshad Jones could slide across the field to fill CJ Byrd's duties at strong safety, but the battle for the other safety job is up for grabs. One player Martinez has been impressed by so far, however, is Bryan Evans, who moved from cornerback midway through the 2008 season.

"He feels a lot more comfortable," Martinez said. "He's a smart player. He's got a bunch of experience, and we really liked him at the end of the year playing that position."

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Montez Robinson had already received offers from virtually every Big Ten school, but a quick 40 time at a combine suddenly sparked interest in the defensive end from Indiana around the SEC, too.

It wasn't until Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner had a chance to sit down with Robinson and his coaches, however, that he realized just how special a player the Bulldogs' newest defensive end was.

"Just getting to know him, you really felt a bond toward him, a love for him, and you really felt like he was an outstanding young man," Garner said.

Robinson was born in Alabama, but since he was a young child, he had been a ward of the state. With eight younger siblings, he was thrust into the role of an adult early on, and his hard work and determination on the football field has been just a small piece of what he has accomplished in his life, Garner said.

"Here's a kid that came from a very difficult set of circumstances, but yet he was able to rise up and is going to be able to do something special with his life," Garner said.

Garner said it didn't take long for the Bulldogs' coaching staff to embrace their new recruit, and what finally drew Robinson to Georgia over several other schools was a sense of family he hadn't found before.

"It's not just from an athletic standpoint, but I think we all fell in love with him as a person, too," Garner said. "We're excited about him getting here in June and getting in with this family. We know he's going to have a family once he gets here."

READY FOR THE CHALLENGE

There won't be a lack of competition for jobs on the offensive line this fall with several linemen coming back from injuries and three new recruits – Lee, Chris Burnette and Austin Long – adding their names to the mix.

Lee has been on campus since early January as one of three early enrollees, and he said he's not too worried about the competition.

"Just learn as much as I can and get as strong as I can, just take it one day at a time and figure out how to do it," he said, "then hopefully come spring, we'll see what happens."

Offensive line coach Stacy Searels has a longstanding policy that he plays the five best linemen, regardless of their class or experience, and that opportunity played a big role in Lee's decision to come to Georgia, he said.

"I love that whoever the top five are is going to play," Lee said. "He doesn't really play the whole favorites game just because they're older or he likes them. That's pretty cool."

Prior to Lee's arrival, there was some thought that the 305-pound lineman could move to the defensive side of the ball, but Lee said he's getting the hang of things already, and his head coach said there is no thought of a position change at this point.

"I think we're pretty settled on Dallas being an offensive player right now," Richt said. "He's going to be an offensive lineman for us."

NEAT FREAK

Aaron Murray has already made it clear – in his new living situation, he's the neat one. Murray said the battle over who takes the trash out has surpassed his competition with fellow quarterback Zach Mettenberger for a spot on the depth chart. Lee is the third roommate in the group, and if it comes down to him playing the role of tie-breaker, he said he has to lean toward Mettenberger.

"Me and Zach aren't exactly sloppy people," Lee said. "We're both sort of O.C.D. But Aaron's at a whole different level than us."


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