The assumption has been that the nose tackle spot is reserved for John Jenkins, once the junior college transfer arrives this summer. But Geathers, who played in eight games last year as a redshirt freshman, is drawing raves this spring.
“I thought Kwame had some nice plays out there,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said after Saturday’s scrimmage, which was closed to the media. “Going against a guy like Ben Jones is not an easy task and Kwame handled it well today.”
Inside linebackers Christian Robinson and Alec Ogletree each singled out Geathers for praise after the scrimmage. Ogletree said Geathers had a big third-down stop. Robinson said he was “really proud” of Geathers, as well as the entire defensive line – which he took to lunch Saturday as reward for a good scrimmage.
“They’ve really stepped up,” Robinson said. “They’re holding their gaps, and letting us get to where we need to get to. We’re eliminating those double teams, and it really frustrates the offense.”
Overall, Richt called the scrimmage “outstanding,” and said both the offense and defense made some big plays. But the offensive players felt they had the advantage.
“It didn’t start out too great, but as the day progressed we picked up making plays, catching the defense out of breath,” tight end Orson Charles said. “Overall I felt like we won, but coach Richt said Georgia won, so it’s all good.”
Richt singled out several offensive players for praise: Charles, receiver Michael Bennett, tailback Caleb King and walk-on Brandon Harton. The coach also credited the offensive line for better physical play, after the defense got the better of this week’s first full-pads practice.
Official stats weren’t provided for the scrimmage. But quarterback Aaron Murray said he and backup Hutson Mason each had two touchdown passes. Murray added that offensive coach Mike Bobo concluded the day by telling his players they were ahead of their pace from last spring.
“You know it’s a pretty good day when he has some good comments to say,” Murray said.
The walk-on star
Of all the established options at tailback, it was a walk-on who played receiver last year who had the biggest scrimmage.
Harton¸ previously an unknown non-scholarship player from Tantnall County, drew raves for his performance on Saturday.
He took advantage of hamstring injuries to Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas and had a couple long runs, including a 65-yarder. The 5-foot-6 Harton said he was a scout-team receiver last year, but served occasionally at running back and asked to try it out this spring. Running back coachs Bryan McClendon agreed.
“Coach B-Mac said just know what to do, be ready to go,” Harton said. “That’s what I did today.”
Fullback Bruce Figgins was held out with a stiff neck. Linebacker Richard Samuel was held out with a rib injury, and tight end Aron White had an unknown injury.
Richt expected all of those players to be back early next week. He was hoping to get Ealey back by the end of next week.
Bacarri Rambo, expected to miss the rest of the spring with a sprained knee, was not in attendance. Richt said the safety was attending his sister’s wedding.