published Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Georgia players insist team's leadership has improved

  • photo
    Georgia junior inside linebacker Christian Robinson insists the leadership is better on this year's team.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Christian Robinson insists it's not hollow chatter.

Georgia's junior inside linebacker has been outspoken at times this year about how much better the team's leadership is now compared to recent seasons, and he is aware that such talk must be validated by improved play. After all, when was the last time a college football player talked about how much poorer the leadership was from the previous season?

"It is cliché to say that this year is different," Robinson said. "It's a clean slate, so you can say whatever you want, but I really can notice the change in what's motivating this team as well as the guys giving the time and the effort to do that. The amount of effort we've been putting in on our own without the coaches telling us what to do has gathered this group together in the direction we want to go in."

The four primary leaders of this year's team appear to be quarterback Aaron Murray, center Ben Jones, Robinson and cornerback Brandon Boykin, but Robinson said less-heralded players have assumed leadership roles as well. He cited Connor Norman, a redshirt freshman walk-on safety, as a player who's been teaching others in the meeting rooms.

JONES CLEARED

The NCAA has reviewed Georgia's report on redshirt sophomore linebacker Jarvis Jones and found no violation of NCAA rules, the school announced Tuesday.

According to police records obtained by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, former Columbus Parks and Recreation Director and AAU coach Tony Adams paid for round-trip flights to Los Angeles for Jones in 2009. Jones played his freshman season at Southern Cal before transferring.

"I appreciate the work of our compliance office for its time and effort in providing a thorough, comprehensive report," coach Mark Richt said, "and I'm thankful for the timely manner in which the NCAA reviewed and evaluated all the facts to reach a decision."

"It's just been way different," Robinson said. "This offseason, we did special teams work on our own. It was on our own that we decided to start teaching the freshmen. We have never done that before since I've been here."

Boykin believes this year's leadership has stemmed from a responsibility each player has taken to get better.

"Having that losing season motivated everybody, and I think that plays a part in the leadership," Boykin said. "There have been a lot of player-led meetings and a lot of player-led events, and not just on the field. We'll grill out and things like that, and we've just done more this year to bond and develop chemistry, so we're hoping that can carry over."

Georgia will be put to an early test, as the No. 22 Bulldogs face No. 7 Boise State in Atlanta and No. 12 South Carolina in Athens. This is the first time in program history that the Bulldogs have opened with two ranked teams.

"If we do really well, it will thrust us back on the national stage to where we're respected again," Robinson said. "We haven't been respected very well recently, and we would like to have the opportunity to change that."

Odds and ends

The Bulldogs held their first two-a-day practice Tuesday and will scrimmage for the first time this morning at Sanford Stadium. ... Defensive tackle Jonathan Jenkins, all 345 pounds of him, provided the highlight of the morning session by returning an interception for a touchdown. ... Georgia's picture day has been set for Aug. 20 with football players available from 3 to 5 p.m.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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