Georgia practice observations: A couple freshmen standing out already

March 21, 2017, Athens: Georgia defensive players run through drills on the first day of spring football practice at the University of Georgia on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Athens. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

ATHENS, Ga. — The second practice of Georgia’s spring offered up a treat for the media: It was allowed in to watch about the final half-hour of practice, which features 11-on-11/offense vs. defense action, rather than the customary 12 minutes at the start of practice, when much less is happening.

Thus, your faithful scribes were frantically making more notes and observations, and (hopefully) making better evaluations than normal. Now, this wasn’t like watching all of practice — it ended up being about 23 minutes — and it was not a full-contact practice. Players were in shoulder pads and shorts, with no tackling.

Still, it was a fairly useful media viewing period. Here are those notes and observations:

  • Freshman Deangelo Gibbs was working with the first team at the star position. It’s only the second day of spring practice so don’t look too much into that, other than the rookie is already being given a long look.
  • The other freshman defensive back, Richard LeCounte, was sprinkled in with the second-team players at cornerback, and had an interception: LeCounte broke up a Jake Fromm pass intended for Jordan Davis, then LeCounte grabbed the ball out of the air and ran with it.
  • OK, so speaking of Fromm … this was a very limited sample, but he did have a few passes batted at the line. He does seem to be adjusting to the size and speed of the defense. At one point Fromm hit Jayson Stanley on a deep pattern, although Stanley had to stop and catch it, rather than on the run.
  • What about Jacob Eason? On consecutive plays during 11-on-11 work, he had a pass picked off by Dominick Sanders, who jumped a route, but then Eason hit Terry Godwin for a long gain. But the main takeaway was continued signs of his better knowledge of the offense and desire to take leadership. After Eason and Javon Wims failed to connect on a comeback pattern, Eason came over and talked to Wims, appearing to talk about the route, Eason pointing and gesturing. Wims nodded, and the two hit it each other on the helmet and prepared for the next drill.
  • Speaking of the receivers, Godwin, Wims and Michael Chigbu were getting the brunt of the first-team work. Freshman early enrollee Jeremiah Holloman saw some snaps, and couldn’t quite pull in a deep pass from Fromm. After the play Holloman ran to retrieve the ball, prompting receivers coach James Coley to yell: “J.J, don’t worry about the ball!” Hey kid, you’re not in high school anymore, they have guys to do that.
  • Jonathan Ledbetter looks much bigger. He sent out a tweet Thursday saying he’s now 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. He’s listed on the roster being 6-4 and 277. Well he’s bigger, and Ledbetter looked unblockable on Thursday, getting the best of Aulden Bynum on several rushes.
  • Nick Chubb was moving really, really well and had no wraps or braces on his knees or ankles.
  • The offense in general was working really fast.
  • The first team offensive line was the same as on Tuesday: LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Dyshon Sims, C Lamont Gaillard, RG Solomon Kindley, RT Bynum.
  • As for the backups, it’s hard to tell what exactly was the second team and third team, based on the drills the media was able to see. Kirby Smart has said that it would be “musical chairs,” so no need to worry too much about it. But for what it’s worth …
  • This is where the other offensive linemen were seen working: junior college transfer D’Marcus Hayes was at right tackle, Michael Barnett at left tackle, Ben Cleveland at right tackle, Kendall Baker at left tackle, Sam Madden at right guard, Chris Barnes at center, walk-on transfer Sean Fogarty at center. Also worth noting, Sims appeared to be making some snaps.
  • As for the second-team defense, it looked like Mecole Hardman and Tyrique McGhee were at cornerback, Jarvis Wilson and Rashad Roundtree at safety, and Tae Crowder and Juwan Taylor at inside linebacker.
  • Senior inside linebacker Reggie Carter, playing first team, blew up a screen pass.
  • Sophomore defensive lineman David Marshall did really well in a 1-on-1 drill lining up the offensive and defensive linemen. Marshall also batted down a Fromm pass.
  • Sophomore tailback Brian Herrien had a very nice cut and run.

OK, that’s a lot, but doesn’t cover everything. If you have further questions, ask away in the comment section and we’ll do our best to answer promptly.

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