Georgia's DeAngelo Tyson had a strong finish last season at defensive tackle and was a logical choice to start had the Bulldogs remained in a 4-3 scheme.
They have switched to a 3-4 under new coordinator Todd Grantham, however, and there are no safe bets up front.
"Basically I'm having to learn how to play all three positions," Tyson said. "Everybody on the defensive line has to learn all three positions. The nose is pretty fun, but it's pretty tough trying to learn all of these."
The 6-foot-2, 294-pound junior from Statesboro has come off the bench the past two years in relief of Geno Atkins, Jeff Owens and Kade Weston, a trio readying for next month's NFL draft. His highlights so far include blocking an extra point that affected the conclusion of Georgia's 41-37 win over South Carolina last year and collecting four tackles in the win at Georgia Tech.
Adjusting to a new look that features one less body in the defensive interior has been a challenge for the former Parade and USA Today All-American this spring.
"I think DeAngelo has shown flashes and has shown he has the ability," defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. "I think he can definitely be a really good player in this system. He just has to get a better grasp of everything we're doing, just like all of them do."
The Bulldogs returned to practice Tuesday, and head coach Mark Richt ranked it ninth out of the nine spring workouts. Receiver Marlon Brown sat out again (shoulder), and backup tackle A.J. Harmon is out the rest of spring after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Saturday's scrimmage.
"The tempo fizzled on us a little bit," Richt said. "I have been pleased with that all spring long, but today it kind of gave way a little bit. I think we've got to learn to push through when we're tired."
Richt is attending every quarterback meeting this spring, which he did his first several years at Georgia but stopped around the time Mike Bobo took over play-calling duties late in the 2006 season. He felt the return to these meetings is important considering the quarterback race among Logan Gray, Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray.
Tyson has been working mostly at the nose, which has become more crowded than the quarterback derby. Sophomore Abry Jones (6-3, 290) and redshirt freshman Kwame Geathers (6-6, 326) also are at that spot, and former offensive lineman Justin Anderson (6-5, 330) is scheduled to practice there this summer after missing this spring with a shoulder injury.
Competing at a crammed position is preferable to one of the end spots for Tyson, who admits he isn't as comfortable lining up outside an offensive guard.
"As long as I'm doing something to help the team out, I'm willing to play any position," he said. "There is a lot more space as an end. It's like you're on an island out there by yourself, but as long as I can get used to it and learn what I'm supposed to do, I think I can have fun there, too.
"I think I finished on a good note last year and carried that over through the offseason workouts, so I'm hoping that it's all coming around."