Ready to be Back

Jeremy Thomas

ATHENS - Not many Georgia fans enjoyed watching the Bulldogs' nerve-wracking win over South Carolina on Saturday. It was tougher on Jeremy Thomas than most, though. The senior fullback watched from his Loganville home with longtime friends while his team eked out a 20-16 victory. Staying at home on road trips is one of the side effects of the two-game suspension Thomas just finished serving.

"I about made myself sick, just because you feel so helpless," Jeremy Thomas said. "You feel, I don't want to say outcasted, but you do a little bit. I've been waiting a long time to play."

Thomas returns this week as the No. 3 Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 SEC) play Marshall (0-2) in Sanford Stadium on Saturday. He'll take his starting job back from sophomore Des Williams, running backs coach Ken Rucker said.

"He's never lost (the job)," Rucker said. "He was the starter when he left and he's the starter coming back. He's been in the fire. He brings experience, leadership, and he's got a passion for the game."

Coach Mark Richt is excited to have Thomas and his punishing blocking style back in the lineup.

"(Williams) wasn't a devastating blocker," Richt said. "He blocked well (against South Carolina) but not as well as you'd like. Jeremy has always provided some very physical play for us. He's an outstanding fullback."

"He's just a big bull," said running back Kregg Lumpkin. "He's a friendly guy, but he's a big bull on the field."

Part of Thomas' physical play is attributable to his size and strength. He's two inches shorter than Williams but heavier, at 250 pounds. He also one of the strongest players on the team, with a 425-pound bench press and a 565-pound squat. Another factor is seniority, which allows Thomas to be more sure of his assignments and, therefore, more aggressive in carrying them out, Rucker said.

"Through experience, it makes him that way," Rucker said.

Richt is also a fan of Thomas' pass-catching skills. Along with rushing 24 times for 62 yards last year, he caught 17 passes for 174 yards and tied for the team high with five catches in the Capital One Bowl victory over Purdue.

Williams has caught one pass for 11 yards this year and rushed three times for 5 yards.

Thomas isn't sure he will be able to improve on what Williams has done. He simply wants to pitch in, he said.

"I don't want to take anything away from Des," he said. "Des has been playing really good. Hopefully, I can get out there and help out."

He will at least give Williams a breather. Due to a lack of depth, Williams played every snap at fullback in the first two games.

"It'll help Desmond not play as many plays as he had to play against South Carolina.," Richt said.

Williams will improve by watching Thomas, Rucker said.

"It'll help Des to get better to see what's going on out there," he said. "He hasn't had anybody to observe but himself. It'll make us a better football team to have those two guys."

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