ATHENS — Georgia’s spring of distractions hit another one in the final week of practice before G-Day, which by the way won’t have a musical act, and it remains to be seen whether they’re able to get 93,000 fans inside Sanford Stadium.
So maybe it hasn’t been the smoothest month off the field. But when it comes to practices and the two scrimmages, a number of players have used these weeks to their advantage. Beyond the expected starters, here’s a look at the players who, judging by what we’ve seen and heard, have made the biggest moves this spring:
- Jayson Stanley: When Kirby Smart was asked on the radio Tuesday morning for a couple players who have emerged lately, Stanley was one of the two guys Smart offered up. (The other one is in the next paragraph.) Stanley, a sophomore who barely saw action last year, was described by Smart as a “track guy,” who has “long speed,” has caught some deep balls this spring and has shown physicality. The media has seen Stanley line up with the first team at receiver in some sets.
- Juwuan Briscoe: The sophomore cornerback has “really improved,” Smart said on the radio Tuesday morning. The coach added that Briscoe “hasn’t arrived,” but has put himself in position to “help at a position of need.” Cornerback wouldn’t actually seem to be a huge need spot, but in any case, Briscoe is part of the equation going forward. In fact he’s been running first team in a lot of packages the media has seen, opposite of presumed starter Malkom Parrish.
- Lamont Gaillard: A former four-star recruit as a defensive lineman, Gaillard’s Georgia career seemed on life support when he was moved to offense last year. Well the redshirt sophomore has really done well under the new staff, in fact so well he’s apparently made the coaches re-think their lineup. After initially going at second-team center, Gaillard did so well there that he was bumped up to first team at right guard. It was basically a message that the coaches wanted him in the first five somewhere, at least for the time being. That move set off a set of dominoes, with Dyshon Sims to left guard and Isaiah Wynn to left tackle, and Kendall Baker to second team. Now, what will happen when Tyler Catalina arrives this summer? That figures to be Gaillard’s next challenge.
- Tae Crowder: The redshirt freshman tailback got an opportunity and has used it. Given all the injuries at tailback, and A.J. Turman’s transfer, Crowder has actually been the busiest ball-carrier during the first two scrimmages, and you could see a lot of him on Saturday. Now does it mean actual carries in the fall? It didn’t for Turman. But Crowder is at least putting himself in the conversation.
- Jonathan Ledbetter: The sophomore has been getting a long look at defensive end with the first team. He was there, next to Trent Thompson, during the pursuit (3-3-5) lineup early in Tuesday’s practice. It’s been a good spring so far except for one night, which has cost him a spot in the season opener. After serving that suspension, however, Ledbetter could be in position for a lot of playing time.
- Davin Bellamy: Fom the sounds of it, Lorenzo Carter has increased his motor. But Bellamy still looks a notch ahead – he was with the first team in that 3-3-5 lineup, with Carter on second team. Both should still start in the regular lineup, but Bellamy has changed the narrative this spring from “Hey, don’t forget about Bellamy,” to “Hey, Bellamy might be in for a breakout season.”
- Reggie Carter and Natrez Patrick: These two look like entrenched first-team inside linebackers heading into the summer. Carter is finally healthy after missing last year with shoulder problems. Patrick picked up where he ended last season, when he started the final two games. Roquan Smith could still have something to say about this if he’s fully healthy in the summer, as could Tim Kimbrough, but for now Carter and Patrick are in very good shape.
- Kickers Rodrigo Blankenship and William Ham: Maybe the two walk-ons haven’t made a huge move yet. But Smart’s public comments have gone from panic-mode to something along the lines of “maybe it won’t be so bad.”
Note: This isn’t to say that players not mentioned have failed to meet expectations or fallen behind. The above are just a few players we know have had good springs. There’s still one more practice, and obviously one more game, for some things to change.
G-Day, Georgia’s annual spring football scrimmage, is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Sanford Stadium. Check back here daily for DawgNation’s G-Day coverage brought to you by Georgia United Credit Union.