Georgia is just three days into fall practice, but already a trio of freshman linebackers have caught the eye of head coach Mark Richt.
"I like the true freshman outside linebackers that we brought in," Richt said in Saturday's post-practice press conference, referring to Jordan Jenkins, Josh Dawson and James DeLoach. "I said this yesterday, but today we put the (shoulder) pads on and it revved up a little bit."
All three, Richt said, could be pushing for playing time this fall.
"They're just really good-looking football players," Richt said. "They're really athletic. You look at Josh, Jordan and James, they're all in that 250-270 range and just eager to strike somebody."
While most hard-core Bulldog fans will recall that Jenkins and Dawson were highly-regarded four-star performers, the three-star DeLoach was considered an afterthought by some.
Richt said those people were wrong, going as far to suggest that the Bulldogs got a steal with the former Jenkins County standout.
"We probably did," Richt said. "I don't know if a lot of people were going after Josh, either, but he's pretty dang good, too. We know Jordan is as advertised."
Stripling feels he can finally contribute
Finally bigger and stronger, junior outside linebacker T.J. Stripling feels he's finally ready to make an impact for the Bulldogs.
"I'm 235, almost 240 now," Stripling said after practice Saturday. "I honestly feel great. It's the first time I can look you in the face and tell you that I'm not hurt. There have been no set-backs at all."
Stripling said the extra mass is allowing him to play faster than ever before.
"Last year I couldn't get the right push off when I wanted," he said. "But now that I'm 100 percent, I'm ready to go."
Richt says starters will be used on special teams
Despite having only 69 athletes on scholarship, Richt said he will not hesitate to use those players on special teams this fall.
"We're calling on more every-down players, really," Richt said. "We're looking for more of those guys, guys who can run and tackle so they're going to have a little bigger responsibility."
Go ahead and pencil Shawn Williams in as one who will play.
"Shawn is very anxious to do it. He's 'Coach, I'd like to play 100 snaps if I could,'" Richt said. "That kind of (attitude) can get contagious and it can pay dividends."
Rain doesn't damper practice
Despite some early-morning showers, Richt was pleased with Saturday morning's workout at the team's Woodruff Practice Facility.
"Today I thought they did a really good job," Richt said. "It started out with a little bit of rain and actually had a strike of lightning, so we were able go indoors for our walkthrough. With the rain we were dealing with quarterbacks having to throw a wet ball and receivers having to catch it and centers having to snap it. That's usually an issue with the wet ball, and it didn't affect them too badly."
Richt was also happy with the way his players were able to respond coming back to practice on short notice Saturday morning after Friday afternoon's drills.
"The fact that we've been practicing in the evenings because of exams and you turn around and do one in the morning there isn't a lot of recovery time, so I think they were a little more tired and a little more fatigued, but they pushed through very well," he said. "The coaches did a great job of staying on them and the leadership of the team did a great job of keeping the tempo up."
Richt also noted that the No. 1 units on both sides of the ball have been impressive in Georgia's first three practices.
"There are so many things going on in practice and there are lot of reps and a lot of guys making plays on both sides of the ball," Richt said. "The majority of the plays that the No. 1 defense is in on, they are really doing a great job, and the plays when the No. 1 offense is on the field, they are doing very well. You can see a big difference between the No. 2 units trying to get something accomplished. It's great effort and so far I'm pleased with what's going on."
This and that
Redshirt freshman linebacker Ramik Wilson said he's working "50-50" between outside and inside linebacker.
Senior Richard Samuel is splitting his time between fullback and running back
Sophomore Ray Drew said he's being worked as more of a "hybrid" defensive end/outside linebacker and that he currently weighs 290 pounds.
The Bulldogs practice in shorts and helmets again Sunday morning before donning the full pads for the first time on Monday.