Elmore anxious for first game in Sanford Stadium

ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia's April 5 G-Day spring game may be more important for <b>Marquis Elmore</b> than most players.

"I've been waiting for two years for my first chance to suit up for a game at Sanford Stadium,'' Marquis Elmore said Friday. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to finally play.''

Elmore was one of the biggest names in the Bulldogs' 2001 recruiting class, but he had to spend the year at Hargrave (Va.) Military when he did not meet the academic entrance requirements.

When Elmore reported with the freshmen last year, standard medical tests given to all first-year players revealed he needed surgery to repair a herniated disc.

Elmore returned to practice with the scout team defense last season but says he still has not fully recovered from the surgery. He has been told the herniated disc caused a bruised nerve on his hip, and that may take a year to fully heal.

"I'm probably 80 to 85 to 90 percent healthy,'' Elmore said.

Coach Mark Richt said Elmore and redshirt freshman Marcus Jackson "are really improving'' at defensive end but still have to battle such returning players as David Pollack, Will Thompson and Robert Geathers for playing time.

"I just want to go out and compete,'' said Elmore, who will be a redshirt freshman in the 2003 season.   "I have no problem playing a backup role. I still have four more years.''

Holding the line: Georgia entered spring practice with eight scholarship players on the offensive line. The count was down to six after tackle Dennis Roland suffered a severely bruised shin Tuesday and offensive guard Josh Brock left Thursday's practice with a sprained ankle.

Coaches initially feared Roland suffered a broken leg when he was leg-whipped early in the week. The shortage of offensive linemen hinders Georgia's efforts to evaluate other positions, including tailback and defensive linemen.

"It complicates everything,'' Richt said.

Still, Richt had good words for the walk-on offensive linemen. "When practice was over (Friday) we gave those guys an ovation,'' Richt said. Ryan Schnetzcr, a sophomore from Newnan, earned the most praise from Richt. Schnetzcr (listed at 6-3, 296) is a top backup at guard and is the No. 3 center.

"Ryan is more than the normal walk-on,'' Richt said. "I think he's over 300 pounds now and he's one of our stronger guys.''

Richt also named William Koehler of Alpharetta, Ga., and Jake Hooten of Columbus as walk-on offensive linemen who held their own against the second-team defense in Friday's full-pads practice at Sanford Stadium. In a goal-line drill, the walk-ons blocked well enough to allow the second-team offense to win eight of 16 plays.

"Maybe we need to worry about the No. 2 defensive linemen,'' Richt said. Richt said Roland and Brock may return as early as Monday's practice. The team is off this weekend after completing the first five days of its 15-day spring practice schedule.

Thumbs up for Browning: Sophomore tailback Tyson Browning, quick but small, bragged to reporters that he is bigger than his listed weight in the spring media guide.

"I'm 170 now,'' he said."But my heart's bigger than that. That's why I don't worry about 170.''

Browning is listed at 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds. He had 23 carries for 111 yards last season as a freshman. He is considered too small to carry the bulk of the carries as a workhorse tailback, but so far Browning has made an impression on Richt.

"Tyson has really done the best job (of the tailbacks) to this point,'' Richt said. Richt noted that while at Florida State he worried that current Atlanta Falcons tailback Warrick Dunn was too small to be a starter "but anytime we ran the ball 20 to 25 times a game, he did good.''

Tony Milton, who began spring practice as the No. 1 tailback, has been held out of contract drills due to injured ribs. Richt says Milton should be cleared for contact by the last week of spring practice.

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