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August 5, 2012

Color Grantham impressed

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham isn't prone to hyperbole.

After spending 11 years in the NFL, he's basically as straight-forward with his assessments as a coach can be.

So when it comes to the freshmen linebackers Jordan Jenkins, Josh Dawson and James DeLoach, hearing Grantham echo what's already been said about the trio lends one to believe there may be some substance behind the praise.

"In recruiting, you evaluate a recruit's athletic ability to play the position, but also their character and we felt very strongly about that with all three of those guys," Grantham said after practice Sunday. "Really, since they've been here they're really exceeded a little bit from maybe you might have expected."

That includes DeLoach, who despite being a three-star player at Jenkins County High, appears just as ready as Jenkins and Dawson to make an impact this fall.

"He committed way back so everybody kind of forgets about him and focus on the guys who haven't made a decision yet. Here's a guy that committed to Georgia because he loved Georgia," Grantham said. "He's a big, physical man and he's going to have a bright future. We're going to get him ready to play also."

But Grantham reserved his highest praise for Jenkins, who the coach said can play either outside linebacker position.

"Jordan is one of the most explosive guys in the country coming in as a freshman. He's got really good work ethic and all the tools you look for in an edge rusher as far as burst, hips, ability to get a guy on the edge," he said. "Because of his size he has the ability to convert to power when needed and that's what really separates the really good pass rushers, plus he's got a feel for how to do it."

Dawson, meanwhile, has been very quick to pick up the Bulldogs' defensive scheme.

"Josh is probably as good a technician as there is for a young guy with his hands," Grantham said. "He's got some instincts on what's happening when sometimes maybe you haven't gone over it, but he applies concepts, gets in the right place and has done a good job."

Grantham also had this so say about sophomore Damian Swann and freshman Sheldon Dawson.

• On Swann: "He's awesome. He's a guy that's worked his tail off in the weight room to get bigger, he studies the game and has the ability to play man coverage and go in the slot. When you play in the slot things happen a little quicker but when you have his instincts and his preparation, he's going to make a lot of plays in there."

• On Dawson: "He's very quick, explosive and good in transition. He's got ball skills for a defensive player. He's obviously young guy certainly a guy who can help us as he develops."

Young backs "ahead of schedule"

Georgia's freshmen outside linebackers aren't the only young Bulldogs receiving some early praise.

The Bulldog backfield trio of Keith Marshall, Todd Gurley and Quayvon Hicks is as well.

"They're asking all the right questions and preparing extremely hard. As freshmen they know a lot more and are a little more conscientious on the front end of things," running backs coach Bryan McClendon said. "I do think they are ahead of schedule."

That applies to their work in the film room.

"All three of those guys have come in and they ask all the right questions. They're not scared to ask questions," McClendon said. "They've been doing extremely well and preparing well so far."

Currently, McClendon said Gurley, Marshall, Ken Malcome and Richard Samuel are each getting their opportunities to run with the first-team offense.

"I want everybody to get a lot of reps," McClendon said.

The 270-pound Hicks has made a quick impression.

"You look at Quayvon and there's not an inch of fat on him, he's just a big kid, a big athlete," McClendon said. "We're going to get him ready to play, too."

So far, McClendon said the vibes he's received from this year's backfield corps have been nothing but positive ones.

For once, everyone seems to be on the same proverbial page.

"As far as the mindset our room is having, it's very positive," McClendon said. "Everybody is working and everybody is excited to be there. You do not have to spend time on a lot of negative things that's going to take away from the main goal of what you have as a team."

Drew "working all over"

Sophomore Ray Drew is officially listed as a defensive end on Georgia's fall roster, but apparently he's not going to be a one-trick pony.

"I'm not sure how you would describe it ... hybrid, outside, outside," Drew said. "I'm just playing, working hard each day."

Drew, who played outside linebacker in his seven games as a true freshman, was moved inside the box to defensive end during the spring, where it was thought he would primarily get to play with his hand in the dirt, something the former five-star player concedes he's more comfortable doing.

"At times I will, but at times I won't," Drew said. "I'm just going to go where they need me and be ready to make an impact."

This and that

Georgia returns to practice Monday morning, putting on the full pads for the first time this season. …Grantham said there's a good chance fans will see John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers in the game at the same time. … Grantham said John Taylor will probably be the only defensive freshman to redshirt this year. … According to offensive line coach Will Friend, offensive guard Chris Burnette was held out of practice Sunday due to an illness. He is expected to return on Monday. … Secondary coach Scott Lakatos said freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons is playing both the free and strong safety positions.



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