ATHENS — Cornelius Washington, who played outside linebacker last season and moved to defensive end in the spring, has practiced at both positions this month.
So what is Georgia’s plan for him this fall?
Both of the above, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said after practice Thursday.
“He’s going to play both in a rotation,” Grantham said, “and I think he’s going to have a really good year.”
Grantham elaborated: “When he puts his hand in the dirt as a true defensive lineman, you have some athletic ability, a little bit of a mismatch on guards sometime in space, so that’s a benefit. And then because of his body type and athletic ability, he can still play outside ’backer … and give you some pass rush out there.”
When Washington is at linebacker, Grantham mentioned several options at end: Garrison Smith; starting nose guard John Jenkins, who “knows how to play some end too”; and Ray Drew, who “can do some things.”
“We’re going to mix and match those guys to try to get athletes on the field,” Grantham said.
Abry Jones will start at the other end.
Samuel 50-50 TB/FB
Running backs coach Bryan McClendon said Thursday that the competition at tailback “has been probably the stiffest I can ever remember it being around here at that position.”
Freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall continue to compete with sophomore Ken Malcome and senior Richard Samuel, although McClendon noted that Samuel’s practice time is split “about 50-50” between tailback and fullback.
Echoing the previous day’s comments by head coach Mark Richt, McClendon said Malcome likely will start the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo but stopped short of assuring it.
“It’s likely that Ken will be there, but it’s definitely not final right now,” McClendon said. In any case, he indicated that two or three others also will see action at tailback in the opener.
The coaches do not intend to name a pecking order, “especially with us having a few more padded practices,” McClendon said. “You don’t want to put anything out and in three days have to change it, because then that’s a whole ’nother story you’ve got to deal with.”
At fullback, McClendon reiterated that former walk-on Merritt Hall “is going to start the game” against Buffalo but said Samuel “is definitely going to play” that position, too. He said Hall and Samuel could be considered “1A and 1B” at fullback and added that freshman Quayvon Hicks also will see action there.
“We’re going to try to keep [Samuel] progressing at both [tailback and fullback] as long as we possibly can before we have to have him at one spot or the other,” McClendon said.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson attended Georgia’s closed-to-the-media “situational scrimmage” in Sanford Stadium on Thursday afternoon and spoke briefly to the team before the practice. Grantham said he has seen a few of Jackson’s movies and liked them. “I like his temperament,” Grantham added with a grin. . . . Freshman outside linebacker Josh Dawson will get playing time right away, Grantham said. “I’ve been very pleased with his progress,” Grantham said. “I look forward to watching him play next Saturday.” … Branden Smith and Malcolm Mitchell are the likely punt returners, said McClendon, who coaches that unit.
– Tim Tucker, AJC
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