A year ago, it was game day before Richt had a clear idea of who would return kicks and punts for Georgia. This season, the depth chart is already coming into shape, and it doesn't look a whole lot different from last season.
Richt said Gray has worked almost exclusively on kicks inside the 10, where his primary responsibility is to decide whether to fair catch the ball or let it roll into the end zone. Although Gray is likely to be Georgia's No. 2 quarterback, Richt said the special teams job has few drawbacks.
"It's not a high-risk job back there," Richt said. "Rarely do those kicks get returned. Most of the time they're trying to pooch it. It's high, so it's usually a fair catch or let it roll."
There's a bit more competition for kickoffs, with a couple of new faces joining last year's veterans. Richard Samuel remains a top choice, along with Bryan Evans, but Richt said sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin and freshman speedster Branden Smith are also getting reps.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Despite his special-teams work, Smith said his primary focus this preseason has been on learning the ins and outs of the cornerback position. Along those lines, he said his offensive reps have been minimal, despite Georgia's coaches suggestions that he could see a bit of action at wide receiver this season.
"I'm not really working at it," Smith said of his offensive exploits. "I'm still trying to focus on defense, trying to get my technique down. I still need to improve there, so right now I'm not even thinking about offense."
Of course, that doesn't mean Smith is averse to giving offense a try if called upon – a situation that he admits is still a possibility.
"If they do need me, I'll go over there in a hurry," Smith said. "I'm here to help the team win, whether they need me at quarterback, running back, whatever."
STARTING FROM BEHIND
Kwame Geathers spent nearly three weeks waiting for a phone call to say he could start his Georgia career. He said he would sit in his living room and jump for the phone, even when it was just his grandmother calling.
When the call finally came to let him know he had qualified academically and could report to fall camp, the rest of his teammates were already three days into practice, and it's been an uphill battle for the freshman lineman ever since.
"The first couple weeks were pretty hard, coming in late and seeing all the other guys in pretty good shape," Geathers said. "I was back at home trying to stay in shape, but I've found out you can't be prepared for a college workout. It's a different level."
Geathers said he got some sage advice to keep his head up through the tough times from his older brother, Robert, who played at Georgia and is now with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals. Still the advice has been tough to follow through with, particularly given the demands of his position coach, Rodney Garner.
"He expects me to know all the plays right now," Geathers said. "He looks at me just like all the seniors. He wants me to be the best, and the best have to do it fast and learn it fast."
Geathers earned some action in Georgia's scrimmages last week, however, and while he understands he still has a long way to go, he said that was a good first step in getting into shape for what lies ahead.
"I'm still trying to learn the plays. I got in there and tried to make some stuff happen," he said. "It's tough, but I've been taught to just keep going, keep striving for the best and keep working hard."