ATHENS – In college football, it seems the focus is always on what players you have coming and who’s going out. It’s a cyclical business, for sure, and the ingress and egress of talent has a lot to do with how your team does. What often gets forgotten about is the guys who are in the transitional stage in between.
Rashad Roundtree is one such guy. He’s still a Georgia Bulldog and still very much in the Bulldogs’ plans. But because he hasn’t yet been an a breakout star or even everyday starter, it’s almost like he needs to jump up and down and say, “remember me?”
“There are a lot of things people don’t know from the outside looking in,” said Roundtree, a sophomore out of Lakeside-Evans. “They don’t know what goes on in practice and how hard we work and how we compete and how we’re developing the scheme. I mean, I try to explain (the playing-time situation) the best I can but, in the end, I just like to play ball. I like to tackle and hit people.”
You may recall Roundtree as a pretty high-profile recruit. He was. He signed with Georgia to much fanfare as a consensus 4-star prospect – Rivals.com rated him a 5-star – and ESPN had him as the No. 4 safety in the country.
At the moment, Roundtree isn’t even playing safety anymore. Because of a lack of depth at inside linebacker and plenty in the defensive backfield, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound was moved to linebacker during preseason camp.
But it has been hard for Roundtree to stand out so far as the majority of his contributions come on special teams. He is not in the Bulldogs’ primary rotation at inside linebacker but does play defense in special situations. He has appeared in eight of the Bulldogs’ nine games and has four tackles and apass breakup so far.
“He’s very intelligent, very instinctive,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “He has good size for a DB; not great size for a linebacker. But he’s got great toughness. He’s really helped on special teams, which his best role has been. We felt like there was a situation where he was closer to playing at linebacker then playing at safety right now.”
Roundtree insists he’s fine with the situation. His goal remains to just get on the field as often as he can and to contribute however he can.
“I’m just really going wherever Coach tells me to go,” he said. “If I can help at linebacker, I’m going to help at linebacker. If I can help at safety, I’m going to help at safety. I like playing linebacker. I like being in the box, being a lot more physical. I played linebacker my senior year in high school, so it wasn’t that hard of a transition. It was just different learning the different schemes and the different calls. But playing linebacker is fun.”
That said, Roundtree admitted to being a little taken aback when he was asked to make the move.
“A little bit,” he said. “I thought I was doing well. We had some people go down at linebacker. He thought I could be a physical guy that could be there and compete for a spot. I thought I could, too.”
That kind of attitude has bought Roundtree a lot of credibility with his coaches and teammates. And while he’s at linebacker now, indications are he’ll likely move back into the secondary after this season.
“It’s not a move that’s permanent,” Smart said Tuesday night after practice. “He still plays in our dime package as a DB, so he’s still developing as a defensive back. He’s been good for us.”