Georgia's Watts Dantzler pushes for playing time

Georgia's Watts Dantzler pushes for playing time

August 20th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Offensive lineman Watts Dantzler works out during a Georgia football practice.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Watts Dantzler has experienced his share of lateral movement along Georgia's offensive line.

Now he's eager to push forward.

The 6-foot-7, 307-pound junior from Dalton worked at every position except center during his first two seasons as a Bulldogs reserve. It has been more of the same this month.

"I don't seem to spend more than a week straight at one position," Dantzler said after a recent practice. "I never really get comfortable. I just kind of learn a position for a couple of days, and you kind of get used to doing that. I like them all. I just want to play."

The ever-shifting Dantzler has been the antithesis of fellow "Dream Team" member David Andrews, who played behind center Ben Jones in 2011 and started all 14 games at center last season. Dantzler has played in just nine of 28 games the past two seasons, but he has not given up on his desire to contribute significant minutes to help the team.

Nor does he believe his constant shuffling is a bad thing.

"I think it has helped me to understand the offense," he said. "Right now, I feel very confident in the offensive play calls, and I think I can play any position if someone goes down."

Dantzler has practiced more at guard during the past few days in what he considers the best of his three camps by far.

"I've just kind of learned to be more physical," he said. "That's one thing I set out to do when I left Athens in May. I wanted to push myself this summer and become someone who is physical and can finish people and dominate people. I feel like I've done better at that this camp and that the coaches have realized it."

Said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo: "I see a guy who is battling. I think he sees the light, and he's competing a little bit, which is good."

The Bulldogs return their starting line: Kenarious Gates at left tackle, Dallas Lee at left guard, Andrews at center, Chris Burnette at right guard and John Theus at right tackle. Kolton Houston, Mark Beard and Dantzler appear, at least for the time being, to be the three most likely to come off the bench for line coach Will Friend.

Friend mentioned late last season that he wished he could have redshirted Dantzler with the benefit of hindsight, but Dantzler is not entering this year with that thought in mind.

"I think there are seven or eight of us that he's going to play," Dantzler said. "He calls us all the first team. There are five starters, but there are other guys who rotate in, too. I'm not sure when we'll play, but we'll definitely get some playing time throughout the season. If the coaches came to me and told me I needed to redshirt, I would do it, but I want to play and get out there.

"I think things are finally coming together for me as far as the playbook and my physicality. It all seems to be connecting for me, and hopefully this year I can earn some important playing time."

Odds and ends

The Bulldogs worked out for 90 minutes Monday in full pads after having Sunday off. Among those missing the workout were starting receiver Malcolm Mitchell (swollen knee), starting safety Tray Matthews (hamstring), backup safety Corey Moore (knee sprain) and reserve cornerback Devin Bowman (hamstring).

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.