“They can do both,” coach Mark Richt said. “They can play the end position and the outside linebacker position still. They got good working knowledge of that. Their body types certainly would allow them to play the end position as well. They’re getting reps there for a reason.”
Drew, a 6-5, 263-pound sophomore who had eight tackles last season, needs to learn how to play end “with the rate his body is growing,” Richt said.
The 6-foot-4, 269-pound Washington, a senior, started six games last season and was second on the team with five sacks.
“When Cornelius came he was in a 4-3 defense, he was a hand-on-the-ground guy,” Richt said. “There probably was a greater comfort level for him doing that. He has enough of a working knowledge to play (weakside linebacker).”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham cross-trains players frequently.
“We’re looking for guys that have the versatility as much as we can,” Richt said.
Mitchell debuts at cornerback
At his first practice at cornerback for Georgia, sophomore Malcolm Mitchell made a leaping grab with his left hand early in practice that had observers buzzing.
Mitchell, a standout at receiver as a freshman, is working full-time at cornerback this spring.
“It was fun to watch him get out there and compete,” Richt said. “You could tell he wasn’t quite sure what to do every play, but he’s playing with a lot of enthusiasm and certainly can break on the ball and change direction. I like how our cornerbacks looked in general. I thought they did a nice job. You can tell who the veterans are.”
Two veterans, seniors Sanders Commings and Branden Smith, had separate arrests this winter that made Mitchell needed in the secondary.
Commings is suspended two games and Smith is expected to be suspended at least one, but Richt said Smith's discipline has yet to be determined.
“We’ll let you know on that,” Richt said.
Richt said he expected Mitchell to work at both cornerback and receiver this summer, but will likely only see spot duty at receiver the first two games of the season.
Keanarious Gates lined up as Georgia’s starting left offensive tackle, where the now departed Cordy Glenn started last season.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Gates said. “I’ve always wanted to play the position and I just waited and waited. I’ve been patient and now I’ve got an opportunity to play. That’s my natural position and I feel good about it.”
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound junior has lost 10 pounds since last season.
Gates sees himself as a full-time tackle now until at least the fall when prized recruit John Theus arrives.
Georgia’s first-team offensive line early in practice included right tackle Watts Dantzler, right guard Chris Burnette, center David Andrews and left guard Kolton Houston. Dantzler said he also worked first-team right guard when Austin Long worked at right tackle. Junior college transfer Mark Beard worked as the backup left tackle.
Spring in their step
Georgia’s first spring practice came on the actual first day of spring in summer-like conditions of 82 degrees.
“It was fun to be out there and practice football again,” Richt said. “It really was. We had great weather. Probably a little bit warmer than they would have hoped, but it’s better than freezing rain.”
This and that
Redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley caught a deep ball in practice that Richt called “pretty special.” …Linebacker Ramik Wilson missed practice for a “personal issue,” Richt said. …Receiver Chris Conley is practicing in a non-contact green jersey after wrist surgery and will be held out of full contact. Offensive lineman Zach DeBell (ankle) and Xzavier Ward (ACL surgery) were in green but not practicing.