Mark Richt glad to keep Tony Ball

Mark Richt glad to keep Tony Ball

March 3rd, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia receivers coach Tony Ball began his eighth spring practice in Athens on Saturday after being pursued last week for an opening at Tennessee.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

The spring in Georgia spring football will have to wait.

Georgia's first of 15 allotted practices was accompanied by occasional snow Saturday morning, as the Bulldogs worked out for two hours. Coach Mark Richt was pleased with the opening session in terms of the attitude and tempo of his players.

"We had high energy, but my guess is that it was because everybody was trying to stay warm," Richt said. "We skipped all the breaks and just kept going. Nobody wanted to stand still."

Saturday started Richt's 13th spring drills in Athens and the eighth for assistant coach Tony Ball, who spent three years overseeing the running backs before moving to receivers in 2009. Ball, a former Brainerd High School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout, was pursued by Tennessee this past week but elected to remain in Athens.

"I'm thrilled to death he's still here," Richt said. "Tony is one of the best coaches I've ever been around. He is so meticulous in his work, and he's not taking anything for granted with these kids.

"Tony understands the running game, and he understands the passing game. I think he's a guy who could be a coordinator one day."

Ball's longevity is second only to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo among Georgia assistants.

The Bulldogs were scheduled to resume Monday, but that practice has been moved to April 9. An additional practice was moved from April 5 to April 11, which will leave Georgia with two practices after its G-Day spring game April 6.

Richt said he and his staff get better installation with a day in between practices and the Bulldogs now will have at least one day off between every workout.

Receiver Jonathon Rumph, linebacker Ryne Rankin, safeties Tray Matthews and Quincy Mauger and defensive linemen Chris Mayes and Johnathan Atkins were among the early enrollees Richt cited as looking good running around. He added that Rankin came in on a blitz and put his hands on a quarterback, which he wasn't supposed to do.

Asked after practice about his veteran players, Richt described quarterback Aaron Murray as another coach on the field and said defensive end Garrison Smith and cornerback Damian Swann have emerged as the defensive leaders.

Georgia will practice Tuesday and Thursday before taking off for spring break.