Georgia inside linebackers relishing the challenge

Georgia inside linebackers relishing the challenge

April 17th, 2015 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Linebacker Reggie Carter makes a tackle during Georgia's game with Arkansas in this Oct. 18, 2014, file photo.

Photo by (Photo by John Kelley)

Reggie Carter is well aware of the weak-link conversation concerning this year's Georgia football team.

Carter is a 6-foot-1, 231-pound junior inside linebacker who is helping fill the void left by Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson, who combined for 225 tackles as seniors last season and 245 as juniors the year before.

"I've welcomed the challenge, and I think me and my teammates have brought the best out of each other this spring," Carter said after Saturday's G-Day game. "With Natrez Patrick, Jake Ganus and Tim Kimbrough, we all understand what has been lost, but we are ready for the challenge to compete and give it our best."

The Bulldogs held their 15th and final spring practice Thursday, working out in full pads for two hours inside Sanford Stadium. Georgia the last several years has conducted two practices after its G-Day game.

"The main reason we do it is to keep a day in between every practice all spring," coach Mark Richt said Thursday night in a news conference. "Whenever you go back-to-back days, you're trying to watch film from the previous day and trying to install in the same meeting, so you kind of get crunched for time. We've had two practices after G-Day to keep a day in between for film study and so guys can have their bodies recover a little bit."

Carter, who is from the Atlanta suburb of Snellville, has played in 20 games the past two seasons, compiling 36 tackles and a tackle for loss. Kimbrough, a 6-foot, 230-pound junior from Indianapolis, has tallied 37 tackles and two tackles for loss in 24 career games with the Bulldogs.

Ganus just completed his only spring in Athens after arriving in January from UAB, where the 6-2, 215-pounder led the Blazers with 70 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss last season before university officials shut down the program in early December. The Bulldogs signed Ganus and Chuks Amaechi from Arizona Western College to bolster their inside linebacker situation, but coaches soon discovered they liked Amaechi more at outside linebacker.

Moving from outside to inside linebacker during the course of the spring was 6-3, 255-pound early enrollee Natrez Patrick of Atlanta, who had eight tackles at G-Day.

"Natrez Patrick looks like he found a home," Richt said. "I think he's got a good body type and a good disposition to play that middle linebacker position."

Being an inside linebacker now at Georgia means being overshadowed by the touted outside linebacker trio of Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Carter -- that and hearing about the weak-link thing.

"We get all of that a lot," Reggie Carter said. "All I can say is that we're going to push through it, and we're doing really well. I'm proud of the group we've got, and we're having a lot of fun."

Summer leadership

Quarterback Hutson Mason was the unquestioned leader of summer workouts last year as a fifth-year senior, as was quarterback Aaron Murray for multiple summers before that. With redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey, redshirt junior Faton Bauta and redshirt freshman Jacob Park continuing to battle for this year's starting role, who will have the leadership responsibilities this summer?

"Faton is the senior man in that group and has the skills to do that, and I think Brice does, too," Richt said. "I'm not exactly sure how we'll get that done. If there is going to be any QB-led meetings or things like that, they will probably rotate those like everything else."

Center still open

Richt was late to Thursday's news conference, admitting to reporters that he was giving junior Brandon Kublanow extra work at center. Kublanow started all 13 games last season at left guard and practiced there through the G-Day game, but he worked Tuesday and Thursday at center.

Sophomore Isaiah Wynn worked through G-Day at center but practiced Tuesday and Thursday at left guard.

"We don't know who the center is going to be," Richt said. "Kublanow is capable. Isaiah Wynn is capable, and Hunter Long is capable right now. Are they game-ready right this second? Probably not.

"Hunter is probably the most able to handle all the calls and everything going on and snap the ball consistently."

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


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