December 10, 2007

Crawford still learning

Redshirt freshman Ricardo Crawford admits he was about as raw as a player can get when he signed with Georgia out of tiny West Columbus High School in February of 2006.

Although he was rated by at the 12th-best prospect in North Carolina, Crawford said his foray into major college football was - and continues to be - a major eye-opener for him.

"I think I'm doing all right," said Crawford. "With me, the biggest thing has been getting my technique going so I can be up to par with guys like Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins and Kade Weston. They're pretty dominant up front. I know I have to get to their level before I'm able to go out and contribute more than I am."

Despite the fact that he remains one of Georgia's more physically-gifted defensive linemen, the 6-1, 297-pounder has only made a few token appearances for the Bulldogs, who resume practice Friday for their Sugar Bowl date with Hawaii.

While he's dressed out for all of Georgia's 12 games, Crawford has only played in five contests and contributed just one assist.

"It's been difficult, but those guys (Owens, Atkins, Weston) try to motivate me every day. They'll be like 'Ricardo watch your hands, Ricardo tilt your hands,' things like that," he said. "I try my best to try to do what they say."

Crawford admits he had hoped to see more playing time than he has after redshirting last fall. However, he also realizes he's got to get more fundamentally sound before those chances occur.

"I have to work on my technique," he said. "Coach G (Defensive line coach Rodney Garner) moved a coupe of D-linemen down to defensive end because they had better footwork and good hands. I have to compete."

He's worked hard to maintain good footwork, but Crawford said his biggest issues have been keeping his body low and using his hand properly.

As soon as he can gain consistency, the Child and Family Development major believes that his opportunities will come.

"Right now it's pretty much my hands," Crawford said. "I still need to get full extension when I'm going against some of these offensive linemen."

If that happens, look for Crawford to add depth to a defensive line which returns intact, plus is expected to add 5-star performer DeAngelo Tyson from Statesboro High to the stable in February.

"Next season I'm going to have to try my best because no one's leaving from the D-line. This summer I have to bust my chops to get some playing time," Crawford said. "But Coach Garner has told me that as long as I work hard to compete, I'll play. I'm going to try my best."

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