Dantzler still seeking Georgia starting role

photo Georgia offensive lineman Watts Dantzler during last season's opener at Clemson.

In a sense, Watts Dantzler's career as a Georgia offensive lineman was summed up in coach Mark Richt's two news conferences this past week.

"Going into this season, I think his best shot is going to be at guard," Richt said Tuesday as the Bulldogs opened spring practice.

Saturday, Richt said the 6-foot-7, 307-pound senior from Dalton is getting more work at tackle.

"I really don't know where I'll be playing, to tell you the truth," Dantzler said by phone following Saturday's third spring workout. "I've switched back and forth so many times since I've been here that I've lost count. I just do what the coaches ask me to do and do my best at it."

Dantzler has practiced at every position except center for offensive line coach Will Friend. He is currently the backup right tackle behind Kolton Houston, who is holding a first-team spot along with left tackle John Theus, guards Mark Beard and Brandon Kublanow and center David Andrews.

If those five maintain their first-team spots and stay healthy, Dantzler could go through his college career without getting a start.

"I would be disappointed, but at the same time I want to win a championship here," he said. "That's my main goal. Instead of starting, I would rather win an SEC championship and a national championship, so I would rather do what's best for the team. Coach Friend knows what he's doing, and I'm doing whatever he tells me to do."

Dantzler played in just nine of a possible 28 games his first two years, with a high-ankle sprain against Buffalo and a knee bruise against Ole Miss hindering his sophomore season in 2012. He appeared in every game last season on special teams and experienced meaningful snaps on three occasions at right guard.

Though more fleeting than he would have preferred, Dantzler got in two first-half series against LSU, one first-half series at Tennessee and two fourth-quarter series against Nebraska in the Gator Bowl.

"We think he can help us," Richt said Saturday. "In hindsight, it would have been nice if he could have redshirted along the way. It would be nice if he had this year and another, but it didn't work out that way. He's knows what to do, and he's competing hard."

Said Andrews: "Watts and I are roommates and best friends, and I think this could be his year if he wanted it to be. At the end of the day, it comes down to him wanting it, and I am kind of liking what I'm seeing."

Mitchell shelved

Redshirt junior receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who tore his ACL in last season's opener at Clemson, was unable to complete last Tuesday's inaugural spring workout due to a left leg injury. Georgia announced his injury Saturday afternoon.

"We think he'll be ready by summertime and 100 percent by the time camp starts," Richt said.

Odds and ends

Richt expressed a "great feeling as far as organization and detail of coaching." ... Tailback Todd Gurley has been able to do everything so far and is working into better condition, according to Richt, who added that backup tailback Keith Marshall is doing his first change-of-direction running since tearing his ACL last October. ... Richt said Beard's temporary decision to transfer earlier this year was due to a heated moment in mat drills coupled with a lack of playing time last season. ... Junior Quayvon Hicks has been doing good things at tight end, Richt said. ... Georgia picked up a commitment Saturday from Justin Young, a 6-3, 255-pound defensive end from Grayson, Ga.

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