Georgia's Ray Drew seeking to regain starting status

Georgia's Ray Drew seeking to regain starting status

April 2nd, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia defensive end Ray Drew sacks LSU's Zach Mettenberger during their 2013 game in Athens.

Georgia defensive end Ray Drew sacks LSU's Zach...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

With an entirely new defensive staff on Georgia's football team, every position is up for grabs.

The Bulldogs are returning nine defensive starters this year, but not all nine are working with the first team. Senior defensive end Ray Drew, a former Rivals.com five-star prospect and top-10 national recruit, is bouncing between the second and third teams during practice.

"I would say he's not kicking tail right now," head coach Mark Richt said last weekend after the team held its first spring scrimmage. "I think he's got a lot of improving to do."

The 6-foot-5, 276-pounder from Thomasville tallied 2.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery in the 2011 win at Vanderbilt, and he made eight tackles in the 2012 win over Georgia Tech. He earned his first career start last season against South Carolina and wound up with seven starts.

Drew compiled 43 tackles last season, and his six sacks are the highest total for any returning Bulldogs defender.

"Until we kick off against Clemson, I don't think anybody is secure in a job or set," Drew told reporters after the scrimmage.

Eight and counting

Georgia practiced for two hours Tuesday afternoon in its eighth workout of the spring.

"We're getting better," Richt said after the Bulldogs passed the halfway mark of their 15 allotted practices. "We just need the guys to keep working and keep believing in their coaches. We need everyone to be all in to have a shot.

"They're working hard, and I'm proud of them."

Guard competition

The Bulldogs have been working this spring with John Theus at left tackle, David Andrews at center and Kolton Houston at right tackle, but the starting guards are anybody's guess at this point.

Brandon Kublanow, a 6-3, 290-pound sophomore from Marietta, is vying with Greg Pyke, a 6-6, 326-pound redshirt sophomore from Baltimore, at right guard.

"It's a good battle," Richt said last weekend. "They're both very capable. Pyke is a bigger man and probably a little better pass protector, while Kublanow is not quite as big but has a better concept as a run-blocker and has to improve on his pass protection."

Mark Beard, a 6-5, 300-pound senior from Adamsville, Ala., was the first-team left guard the first few practices, but getting recent first-team looks there has been Zach DeBell, a 6-6, 273-pound junior from Tarpon Springs, Fla. Beard was practicing Tuesday at tackle in the portion that was open to the media.

Odds and ends

Redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Davis missed Tuesday's workout with a knee sprain, while Kublanow was limited with a hyperextended elbow. ... Former Ridgeland High cornerback Devin Bowman, who got his only start in the 2012 opener against Buffalo, got some first-team work at cornerback, according to reporters who attended the practice. ... The Bulldogs will practice again Thursday and will hold their second scrimmage Saturday morning.

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