ATHENS – One decision is having ripple effects at three positions as Georgia’s football team continues spring practice.
The decision to shift Alec Ogletree from safety to inside linebacker bolstered his new position, created competition at his former position and freed Jarvis Jones to play outside linebacker rather than inside.
“The moves we made are good moves; I think we’re going to benefit from [them],” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said this week. “Those guys are doing good jobs in their new spots.
“The reason we made the moves was to create depth [at linebacker] and to get some guys that we feel can make plays closer to the ball. And it’s also created an opportunity in the secondary for someone to step up and take that position. The other thing is, anytime you can show players that [the lineup] isn’t etched in stone and that if you work hard you’re going to play, that’s a good thing.”
At inside linebacker, Ogletree is “a natural fit,” Grantham said, who is picking up the new position relatively quickly because of the knowledge of the play calls that he gained while starting five games at safety as a freshman last season.
“Even though he didn’t play this position last year,” Grantham said, “he knows what he’s doing based on what the safeties did last year.”
Ogletree came to Georgia as a safety but with an open mind.
“I wanted to come in and start out playing safety, but over time I didn’t mind moving to linebacker if the opportunity was there and [the team] needed me to move,” Ogletree said. “Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to happen this soon. But the coaches called me into the office [before spring practice] and talked about it, and I came back with a decision to go ahead and move.”
Jones, who was redshirted last season after transferring from USC, likely would have been needed at inside linebacker if Ogletree had remained at safety. But Jones is now working exclusively at outside linebacker, where Grantham expects big things.
“I’m excited about him,” Grantham said of Jones. “He’ll make plays for us. . . . We’ll be glad he’s out there next season.”
The other offshoot of Ogletree’s move is that it opened up one starting spot in the secondary, where three other starters — corners Brandon Boykin and Sanders Commings and safety Bacarri Rambo — return. Jakar Hamilton, Shawn Williams and Marc Deas are battling for the other starting safety position, which pre-move likely would have been held by Ogletree.
Secondary coach Scott Lakatos said he didn’t resist the move of Ogletree because “it gets a real good athlete in there at linebacker . . . and we do have some guys that have a little bit of experience at safety that we want to get on the field as well. So we made a little room for those.” He said Hamilton and Williams, both of whom made starts at safety last year before Ogletree claimed the position, “just need to continue to get reps and learn. That’s how you learn — you learn by doing things.”
– Tim Tucker, AJC
Click here for notes from Thursday’s practice, including an item on how Ben Jones fired up the offense.