ATHENS – Tavarres King, Georgia’s top returning receiver, is making the transition this spring from split end to flanker, A.J. Green’s old spot.
“It’s hard not to feel pressure when you’ve got big shoes to fill like that,” King said Saturday. “But I’m looking at it as a challenge; I’m challenging myself to be great.”
The change of positions, although not dramatic, is “a learning process right now for me,” King said.
“It’s a little different,” he said. “You got more space when you play flanker because it’s to the wider side of the field. Playing split end, I think you’ve got to be a little quicker and know how to operate in tight spaces.”
With the loss of Green, a projected top-10 NFL draft pick, and Kris Durham from last season’s team, one of the major projects of Georgia’s spring practice is rebuilding the receiver group.
“Guys are coming along,” King said. “Marlon Brown looks more and more like a great receiver every day. And Christian Conley [a 2011 signee who enrolled in January] looks real good, just coming in.”
Richard Samuel was Georgia’s No. 1 tailback at the start of the 2009 season, was moved to linebacker in spring practice last year and was redshirted last season partly because of a knee injury.
All of those developments have made his head spin at times, he admitted, “but I get focused back to what I need to do to get back on the field and get some playing time.”
This spring, he is settled in at inside linebacker, where Christian Robinson and former safety Alec Ogletree are the likely starters.
“If I practice well and show I can get the job done,” Samuel said, “I feel I’ll get a fair share of the playing time.”
He said he has only fleeting thoughts about his days as a tailback.
“I think about it every now and then when I look at the other running backs and compare [them] to what I would do if I was in their position,” he said. “But that’s about as far as it goes.”
Georgia practiced for about 30 minutes in the rain in Sanford Stadium on Saturday morning before lightning cut the session short. The practice was the Bulldogs’ fourth of the spring and their first in full pads. The next practice is Tuesday. Coaches also were busy on the recruiting front Saturday with Georgia hosting its annual spring “Junior Day” for future prospects.
– Tim Tucker, AJC