With the dearth of healthy wide receivers Georgia has been able to work with this spring, it might be a surprise that rising sophomore Branden Smith hasn’t run a snap on the offensive side of the ball.
But after splitting time with the offense and defense as a freshman, Smith is spending this spring concentrating on his primary job – winning the starting job at cornerback.
“For the most part, he’s been working at corner,” said new defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos. “He’s got some things he does with special teams, but as far as how they’re going to utilize him of offense, that’s to be determined.”
Lakatos said he’s not averse to sharing Smith with the offense, but for now the speedy corner is working on fine-tuning his coverage skills as part of Todd Grantham’s new defensive scheme.
Last year, Smith rushed 17 times for 208 yards and two touchdowns, caught two passes for seven yards and finished with 14 tackles and two pass breakups while playing in all 13 games.
This spring he’s been splitting time between the first- and second-team units with fellow corner Vance Cuff and working occasionally at the nickel position.
“We’re trying to get him exposed to as much stuff as we can,” Lakatos said.
Murray back on his feet
Aaron Murray has collected plenty of headlines this spring as he battles for the starting quarterback job, but it’s his brother who received some good news last week.
Josh Murray, a walk-on defensive back who arrived at Georgia with his brother last year, resumed practicing after missing most of the past nine months with a knee injury.
“He’s rehabbing,” Aaron Murray said of his brother. “He’s getting better. He’s slowly getting back. He started doing drills with the DBs finally.”
Josh Murray was a second-round selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in the Major League Baseball draft in 2007 but after two seasons in the minors decided to give football a try.
A knee injury flared up during fall camp last season, however, and Murray only practiced sporadically before undergoing surgery to clean up the injury. Although Murray is working at practice again, he is still limited but expected to be fully healthy by the fall and will compete for special teams and reserve defensive back duty.
“They pretty much had to get in there and clean it all up,” Aaron Murray said. “Hopefully it’ll be better in the next month or so.”
More injury updates
Tailback Caleb King and wide receiver Marlon Brown, both in green non-contact jerseys last week, are expected to be back to full practices as early as today, giving Georgia a relatively complete roster to work with during the final week of spring drills.
The handful of players who remain sidelined, including linemen Trinton Sturdivant and A.J. Harmon and fullback Fred Munzenmaier, all are expected to be ready when fall camp opens in August, giving head coach Mark Richt reason to smile.
“It is by far the least amount of green shirts we’ve had in a long time,” he said.
The good news spread even further as freshman offensive lineman Austin Long was cleared to resume lifting weights more than a year after undergoing back surgery. Long has yet to practice fully in a Bulldogs uniform.
As of now, Richt said the only player still questionable for the start of fall camp is incoming freshman lineman Brent Benedict, who injured his knee in a game last October.
“That’s still up in the air, but we’re still very hopeful that he’ll be able to practice,” Richt said. “We’re not sure, but we’re hopeful.”