ATHENS — There’s a new linebacker in town, and his name is Rashad Roundtree.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart hinted this past Saturday that the Bulldogs might need to look into moving a player from another position to inside linebacker after senior Tim Kimbrough left the team late last week. Well, that person ended up being Roundtree, a sophomore who came to UGA as a 5-star-rated safety and played that position as a freshman last season.
“Rashad just got there,” said junior Reggie Carter, the Bulldogs’ current starter at middle linebacker. “We’re teaching him and he’s learning pretty fast.”
Asked if he showed some natural instincts for the position, Carter interjected: “Rashad’s a football player. He can play some football. He’s a football player. He’ll picked it up.”
Georgia’s depth at inside linebacker was already precarious before Kimbrough quit over dispute with coaches over his place in the pecking order. A seven-game starter a year ago, Kimbrough had fallen behind sophomores Natrez Patrick and Roquan Smith on the depth chart. However, he remained a regular in the rotation and on special teams.
Enter Roundtree. The 6-foot-1, 205 pound sophomore from Evans played in 12 of 13 games as a freshman last season but mainly on special teams. He finished the season with six tackles.
Roundtree remained buried on the depth chart behind junior Dominick Sanders and senior Quincy Mauger and has been battling with Kirby Choates, Aaron Davis, Reggie Wilkerson and Jarvis Wilson for backup snaps.
“He looked pretty good (with the linebackers),” Sanders said. “He’s a bigger body as a DB. He was one of the big guys back there. But being a linebacker is something he’s got to adjust to. But he’ll improve on that because every day he’ll be spending time learning how to play linebacker. He’s a big, physical guy and I think that position could be meant for him.”
As for Kimbrough, Carter was the first player to comment on Kimbrough’s departure, which was “mutually agreed” upon after a meeting with Smart last week. Carter and Kimbrough both came in as 4-star linebacker prospects in the Class of 2013 and have played a lot together in backup roles behind established starters.
“As a group we wish Kimbrough the best of luck and in whatever he does,” Carter said. “We’ve just got to move forward. … Everybody’s stepping up.”