Thornton, Others Working for PT at Nose

ATHENS - Nose guard Mike Thornton was the second name mentioned by defensive line coach Chris Wilson Tuesday when he reeled off some spring standouts of his players.

Thornton has the experience edge on 340-pound junior college transfer Chris Mayes. Wilson can also turn to end John Taylor at the position.

He's looking for more bodies at nose guard.

"I'm kind of greedy," Wilson said. "There's never enough. I want Toby Johnson to come in and be a contributor if he's capable enough."

Johnson, a signee from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, said he was recruited to play end, but Wilson said, like Taylor, he's athletic and strong enough to play both end and nose.

Johnson, who was in town for G-Day, is at about "80 percent," coming back from ACL and MCL surgery, Wilson said. Once he finishes at junior college, Wilson expects him to begin summer workouts in Athens in June.

Defensive end Sterling Bailey and Taylor had the other top spring showings, Wilson said.

Bailey seems to have held off Ray Drew for now at the starting spot opposite Garrison Smith.

"The biggest thing was to see him be healthy and get through these 14 practices," Wilson said of Bailey. "The thing I liked about him every day is he got a little bit better."

Taylor, a redshirt freshman, will be hard to keep off the field.

"Once he knows what to do and how to do it, he's going to be a guy who can help us win some games," Wilson said. "He's a guy with his ability, if he knows what to do, can play all three downs for us."

Bennett working way back

It was only a practice in shorts and helmets, but junior Michael Bennett worked with the receivers early in practice. It was the first time he was seen by the media in position drills.

Bennett is returning from a torn ACL sustained in practice on Oct. 2 last season. He was leading Georgia with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns when he was injured.

Bennett was in a non-contact jersey Tuesday, but was catching passes and cutting. Coach Mark Richt said Saturday he could go without limitations as early as June. Bennett had been running routes on the side in practice earlier this spring.

In other injury news, defensive lineman John Atkins won't need surgery from his G-Day injury, Wilson said. Georgia lists him with a sprained left knee. He didn't practice Tuesday and is expected out Thursday

Linebackers Ryne Rankin (sprained ankle) and Brandon Burrows (concussion) returned to practice in a limited capacity after missing G-Day. Tight end Jay Rome was out with a strained hip flexor.

Dawson's spring progress

Sheldon Dawson has missed a week and a half of practices after pulling a hamstring, but was having a productive spring with three interceptions in two scrimmages.

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos wouldn't say that Dawson had locked down a starting spot at cornerback.

"He was improving like everybody else," Lakatos said. "He was able to get some work last year as a backup so he's got some exposure to some of the things we were doing. Now that the ball's kind of in his court per se, we're going to see if he can handle all the ins and outs of playing in the secondary."

After sustaining the injury, Dawson said: "I'm not satisfied with myself because I know I can get better each day. I feel like I had a good camp and I did pretty good this camp. There's still some mental errors that I can fix up and correct."

This and that

Offensive lineman Watts Dantzler could be a candidate to redshirt this season. The junior from Dalton has played in nine games as a reserve in two seasons. "It would depend on how everybody else came on and what goes on with him I guess in the next few months," offensive line coach Will Friend said. "I haven't really thought about it much right now." Dantzler has practiced at every line spot except center and "done better this spring."

Former Georgia long snapper Ty Frix was one of four athletes initiated into the Blue Key Honor Society on Sunday night. Frix was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll every year on campus. He graduated with a degree in Biological Engineering last May.

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