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Tony Walsh / UGA Sports
Georgia receiver Kearis Jackson looks to be one of JT Daniels' top targets this spring.

Georgia football dons pads: Kirby Smart evaluating ‘character and demeanor’

ATHENS —   Georgia football puts the pads on Saturday, and Kirby Smart indicated that’s when the true separation of players begins.

“It’s just hard to measure guys in shorts,” Smart said earlier in the week, asked about the Bulldogs’ opening practice.

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“They always seem to start with a lot of energy, we (haven’t) had pads on yet to it’s combine Olympics out there. Who runs the fastest, looks the prettiest, doesn’t like to hit anybody — they tend to look the best.”

There’s nowhere to hide once the team dons full equipment, with 7-on-7 run drills and scrimmage action taking place, pads popping in earnest.

“We’ll put the pads on Saturday and we’ll start to take on more character and demeanor with our team,” Smart said.

 

The sixth-year Georgia head coach has said more than once the offense is ahead of the defense, pointing out the continuity and carryover JT Daniels brings to the offense.

The Bulldogs have already seen part of the payoff with the NCAA allowing for 10 hours of football-related walk-through training this offseason, up from eight.

We get a lot of football time with our players to walk through, and they’ll choose to go throw on their own,” Smart said.

Those routes, however, were on air.

Starting Saturday, there will be a defensive back or linebacker waiting for receivers and backs to make the catch.

If tradition holds, Smart will allow for the players to go head-to-head in Oklahoma Drill-style action.

The video from those battles is topically among the most anticipated of the spring session.

It’s a chance to see which players have gotten stronger and which mid-term enrollees are up to the physical challenge.

“The biggest discrepancy in our mid-year enrollees and our young players is usually strength and point of attack — they’re just not strong,” Smart said. “We have a lot of guys out there that are mid-year enrollees that may be talented enough but they’re not ready to take on a Justin Shaffer or a Jamaree Salyer or a George Pickens or whoever it is, Jordan Davis.

“They’re just not ready for it. They’re not going to be able to walk out there and be able to do that.”

Smart used second-year players Tate Ratledge, Zion Logue and Nazir Stackhouse as examples of players who have grown stronger in year two.

The most important barometer, however, is on the field when football is being played.

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