It wasn't exactly how Carlton Thomas hoped to garner his share of the spotlight at running back, but with Richard Samuel and Dontavius Jackson both nursing injuries, the undersized freshman figures to get plenty of carries during spring drills.
"It's going to be kind of rough that the depth is low, but it's an opportunity, and when the opportunity presents itself, you've got to take it no matter how it comes or you're going to get lost in the shuffle."
At just 5-foot-7, size has always been an issue for Thomas, but he said he's far more prepared for the rigors of life in the SEC than his diminutive stature might suggest. HE has added 10 pounds to his frame since arriving at Georgia last summer, and at 180 pounds, he said he's prepared to carry the load this year if called upon.
"I see myself as an every down guy," Thomas said. "A lot of guys just look at the size, but I feel like I can run outside the tackles or between the tackles, so it's basically just giving me the opportunity and I'll prove myself every time."
While his size may be a question mark, his speed certainly isn't.
Thomas ran a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash coming out of high school, and he thinks that could be his biggest asset as he fights for playing time. He said he expects to play a big role on special teams as a returner this season, and hopes that will translate into more carries on offense.
So far this offseason, Thomas said he believes he's made a strong impression with exceptional bowl practices and a quick start to seven-on-seven drills last month.
"I'm really just reacting now instead of thinking about things," Thomas said. "I'm comfortable with the playbook, comfortable with myself, and just comfortable with the ball in my hands."
NO ONE TO BE TRIFLED WITH
For the past two seasons, Troupe has spent plenty of time getting to know Georgia's new starting quarterback, Joe Cox. Both played on the second-string offense while stars like Stafford and Massaquoi took the first-team snaps, and Troupe said he's well aware of the new – and much more vocal – attitude Cox will bring to the Bulldogs in 2009.
"Joe's not the guy you want to mess with when he gets mad," Troupe said. "If Joe wants it done one way, he's going to get it his way, no doubt. Joe brings a different attitude to the table. He's not afraid to get up in your face and yell at you to get you to do right. This is his team now, and it's his year to show what he can do, so he's going to be vocal."
SOMETHING IN COMMON
Georgia's prized defensive recruit, Branden Smith, has plenty of admirers already, but one of his biggest will share time with him in the Bulldogs' secondary. Smith went to the same high school as safety Reshad Jones, and Jones has kept an eye on what the soon-to-be Bulldog has done over the years.
Jones said he knows Smith well and even attended several of his games last season. He said Smith could step in immediately on defense for Georgia, and there's one quality in particular that the incoming freshman should deliver.
"Speed," Jones said. "He's a fast guy, and I know that for sure. He'll bring a lot of speed to our secondary."