Dale Dixson, a fifth-year senior, was moved from defensive tackle to the offensive line, where he will be trained at both center and guard, after what may be a serious injury suffered Sunday by guard Zeb McKinzey.
McKinzey, a junior second-teamer, injured his left shoulder in a non-contact drill. It’s the same shoulder he had surgery on in 2003.
Coach Mark Richt said it’s “questionable at best” McKinzey will be ready in time for the first two games of the season. McKinzey was clearly dejected walking off the field Monday and was on his way to visit with an orthopedic surgeon, he said.
“We just don’t know how long it’ll be until he’s ready,” Richt said. “In the spring, the guy held up beautifully, so it’s a little bit of a surprise.”
McKinzey was being trained as a backup center as well. Now Georgia has just true freshman Kevin Perez behind starting center Nick Jones. (Redshirt freshman center Ian Smith has been suspended for the first two games of the season.) Sophomore Seth Watts is the only remaining interior lineman other than the Bulldogs’ true freshmen.
That lack of experience prompted Dixson’s move, and he was clearly uncertain about the change after Monday’s practice.
“It kind of hurts right now,” he said. “I’ve worked five years to get where I am now (at defensive tackle). It’s kind of a shock. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for the team. I have mixed feelings right now. I’ll have to sleep on it and pray about it. I’ll have a better decision in the morning.”
Dixson, 6-foot-2, 308 pounds, was the obvious choice to move, Richt said.
“Dale is a guy that has got a big enough body, and he’s a very intelligent guy and he’s a very unselfish guy,” Richt said. “It’s tough on Dale, though, because Dale has worked really hard to get to where he was. We plan on playing Dale a lot whichever side of the ball he ends up on finally.”
Dixson, who has just seven tackles in the last two seasons, was in line for a starting spot at defensive tackle, defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. Garner gladly would take Dixson back, he said.
“He may be a guy that plays both ways this year,” Garner said. “I’m serious. He’s a smart enough kid to do it.”
Dixson has not played on the offensive line since his freshman year of high school, he said.
“I would like to play d-tackle,” he said.
Starting guard Chester Adams had to be helped off the practice field after the workout was over, but he only had cramps, Richt said.