On a Georgia football team filled with players looking to atone for last season, Jarvis Jones is better suited for the "happy to be here" category.
Jones sat out a year ago, when the Bulldogs went 6-7, after transferring from Southern Cal, the program he picked over Georgia in 2009. The former second-team All-USA Today selection out of Carver High in Columbus was welcomed home last June by Georgia coach Mark Richt and on Thursday worked as Richt's starting strongside linebacker as the Bulldogs opened spring drills.
"It's a blessing to have this opportunity," Jones said. "I went out there with a mission, and it didn't pan out the way I wanted it to, but thanks to Coach Richt and the University of Georgia, I'm back. To get out here today and play football and do something I love was great. It was time for all of us, including myself."
The Bulldogs worked out for two hours, with Richt describing the debut as a nippy practice that had good organization and tempo.
Jones worked alongside inside linebackers Christian Robinson and Alec Ogletree and weakside linebacker Cornelius Washington as the second spring commenced under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and his 3-4 scheme. Ogletree played safety last season, while the 6-foot-3, 241-pound Jones practiced mostly inside.
"I think moving Jarvis outside frees him up to be really aggressive," Grantham said. "He's very flexible. He can cover tight ends, and he can cover backs. I think he is going to be very productive there."
Jones was a strongside linebacker for the Trojans in '09, tallying 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He played the first eight games that season before suffering a neck sprain against Oregon that knocked him out of the final five.
His main reason for picking USC out of high school was to play for linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., but Norton bolted Los Angeles after that '09 season along with head coach Pete Carroll for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
"I knew when I went out there that I was going to be more than 2,000 miles away from home," Jones said. "I knew what I was doing. Like I said, it just didn't turn out like I thought."
While redshirting last year, Jones said he always kept an eye on strongside starter Darryl Gamble, knowing that position would be open this spring. Jones always figured he was more of an inside linebacker, but Grantham believes he is better suited on the outside.
Jones isn't complaining, and he believes the days of Georgia fans complaining about their defense soon could be over.
"We've got a lot of people coming back, and they know the system," he said. "I think we're much faster than last year. I think it's going to be something exciting to see."
Odds and ends
The university will begin spring break after classes today, so the Bulldogs will not hold their second of 15 workouts until March 22. ... Richt on the effort of junior tailback Washaun Ealey, who was suspended from team activities most of February: "He busted his tail."