The Georgia Bulldogs will reach the midway mark of spring practice this morning with their first scrimmage, which will serve as the biggest test yet for sophomore Alec Ogletree as an inside linebacker.
After starting the last four games of last season at safety, where he resided 10 to 12 yards back from the ball when it was snapped, Ogletree was moved to linebacker before spring workouts by second-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. The 6-foot-3, 233-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of Newnan now is four yards back on every snap, though he occasionally finds himself somewhere in between.
"Sometimes I'll start thinking like I need to back up," Ogletree said following Friday's 90-minute workout. "It's going pretty good, but I'm still adjusting to being closer to the ball and knowing where to fit on the runs."
Ogletree was the most touted member of Georgia's 2010 signing class, rated by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 3 safety and No. 40 prospect overall. He was also the most productive, amassing 34 tackles, including 16 in the final two regular-season games against Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Grantham said early last month that moving Ogletree to linebacker would allow him to make more plays, and he said earlier this week that the move has gone well.
"You are taking a guy who played in the secondary, so he kind of knows the rotations and where guys fit," Grantham said. "He kind of knows where his help is and those type of things, so even though he didn't play that position last year, he's familiar with the calls. I think that has allowed him to come up to speed quicker."
The biggest difference in the positions for Ogletree is having to deal with linemen now on almost every play, but there were occasions late last season when he came down in the box to help out.
"I did it a lot against Auburn because sometimes I would be spying on Cam [Newton] in a coverage that he called," Ogletree said. "I still kind of want to play safety, but I'm just trying to help the team out. I'm enjoying this spot at linebacker, and it's going pretty good right now."
Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo were the starting safeties at the end of last season, but the Bulldogs don't have either at the position now.
Rambo sprained his right MCL earlier this week and will miss the remainder of spring practice. A 6-foot, 211-pound junior from Donalsonville, Rambo finished second on the team in tackles last season with 82 and shared the team-high in interceptions with three.