MACON - Georgia coach Mark Richt had some good news Tuesday regarding the plethora of the Bulldogs' walking wounded, many of whom still weren't able to get on the field for spring drills.
"We feel like when camp starts we'll have between 95 and 98 percent of everybody ready to go with no limitations," Richt said during the Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. "We've got our fingers crossed."
That list includes the key trio of defensive tackle Jeff Owens, offensive lineman Trinton Sturdivant and offensive lineman Vince Vance, each of whom is coming off surgery on their respective ACLs.
"Right now I'm doing drills, everything," Vance said. "There are no problems."
Losing Sturdivant in preseason, Owens in the season-opener against Georgia Southern and Vance against Tennessee certainly put a crimp in Georgia's effort last fall.
Now that they're back, Richt's excited to see the difference the three are able to make with this year's squad.
"Those guys look great. They're very excited. I'm very excited," Richt said. "Those are three big men who can really play some football. Those are three guys with a lot of experience who can make a big difference for us."
The three aren't the only Bulldogs expected to be 100 percent for the start of fall camp.
Richt said that list includes such notables as safety Quintin Banks (MCL), offensive lineman Chris Davis (hip), along with defensive ends Rod Battle (labrum), and Demarcus Dobbs (shoulder).
Three players that may take a little more time include offensive lineman Josh Davis (shoulders), linebacker Darius Dewberry (shoulder) and defensive end Jeremy Longo (shoulder).
Richt said that although Davis is progressing, it will likely be midseason before he is able to get into a game while Longo is expected to miss the opener at Oklahoma State.
Dewberry's status is a bit more uncertain.
According to Richt, his time frame is a little more up in the air, but said the linebacker who has been mentioned as a possible option at defensive end would definitely miss the first couple of games.
Knox won't be back
Safety John Knox will not be returning to the Bulldogs.
"The chances of that happening are not very good," said Richt. "I've got my reasons. I just don't think he'll be coming back."
Two weeks ago, UGA announced that the Statesboro native would be transferring to Georgia Military College for academic reasons.
With Knox gone, Richt said that coaches will consider allowing Sam linebacker and former safety Nick Williams to work out some at his old position (strong safety), although he's extremely confident in the trio of Banks, Bryan Evans and Reshad Jones to give the Bulldogs solid play at both the strong and free safety positions.
Redshirt freshmen Sanders Commings, Makiri Pugh, Bacarri Rambo, along with true freshman Shawn Williams will also contend for playing time in backup roles.
Team meeting gets points across
Battle and Vance said that last week's team meeting was just a get-acquainted session, and was not some spur of the moment situation in light of the recent suspensions to [db]Bruce Figgins and Justin Houston.
"We basically just talked about the planning for the summer," Battle said. "It was just a time to get acquainted with the freshmen, talk about how practice was going to be during the summer and hopefully get those guys in position to make something happen."
That's not to say that players weren't reminded to watch their P's and Q's.
"We reminded them (younger players) that they're men now," Vance said. "We talked about staying out of trouble and to understand that the Georgia way is different from anything than anything they'd ever done in high school. The coaches demand a lot, we demand a lot, so be ready."
This and that
Vance said he's been told by offensive line coach Stacy Searels to be ready to play any position on the offensive line.
Richt said he wants to include a minimum of three wide receivers, hopefully four, in the upcoming signing class. The Bulldogs received a huge commitment Tuesday from Calhoun's Da'Rick Rogers.
Richt reaffirmed that Caleb King, Carlton Thomas, Richard Samuel, Dontavius Jackson and WaShaun Ealey will each get equal opportunity to prove that the deserve to be the No. 1 running back. "We're just going to roll them out and watch what they do, see who deserves to start and see who deserves the most carries," Richt said. "Of course, the big thing for all will be pass protection. A running back must protect the quarterback or his chances to play are going to be slim."
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