ATHENS -- Georgia is helping make room for one of its top recruits by moving one of its upcoming seniors to a new position.
Bruce Figgins will shift to fullback, head coach Mark Richt said Wednesday. The shift is partly due to a need at fullback but also the signing of recruit Jay Rome, rated the nations top tight end by some recruiting services.
Figgins, a Columbus native, worked at fullback before the Liberty Bowl. Now the move will be permanent for the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder.
We think thats going too be a really good move for Bruce, said Richt, adding that Figgins could still line up at tight end in some formations.
Still, the spring will be used to train Figgins at fullback, where the team lost Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier to graduation. Zander Ogletree, a rising sophomore, will be back.
As for Rome, he still has Orson Charles, Aron White and Arthur Lynch to compete with at tight end. But Richt indicated that the 6-6, 250-pound Valdosta product will get a chance to play in 2011.
If he comes in and performs well, he could play a lot, Richt said.
Both sides now
Richt said Romes Valdosta teammate, Malcolm Mitchell, did the best job of keeping his decision secret before announcing two weeks ago. Now the mystery is which side of the ball Mitchell will play.
He looked like a cornerback last year, but now Richt said hes leaning towards using him at receiver.
Hes certainly capable of doing either one. But dont tell (defensive) coach (Todd) Grantham or (secondary) coach (Scott) Lakatos that because it probably wouldnt make them too happy, Richt said.
Mitchell will also get a look at punt and kick returns. And he wont be alone among potential two-way players.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said the coaches told Mitchell, Nick Marshall and Damian Swann that there was precedent for using them on both sides of the ball. He went all the way back to Champ Bailey in the 1990s and Branden Smith the past couple of years.
Mitchell looks like he could be offense full-time, while Marshall and Swann will be on defense.
The way I look at it is if a guys got a chance to be productive on offense he doesnt necessarily have to be a full-time player offensively, Bobo said. There are ways to get him the ball. Whereas if youre going to be productive on defense, youve pretty much got to be over there full-time and line up and learn the system and learn techniques.
Drew looks set to play right away. Grantham said Drew projects as a weakside linebacker, the slot vacated when Justin Houston left early for the NFL.
Were gonna put him out there and let him go and just let him play and use his athletic ability, Grantham said. Hes got length, hes got pass-rush skills. The position that hes going to play is going to allow him to utilize his athletic ability in space.
Bobo said the night Mitchell and Rome committed was the best he has felt recruiting since Matt Stafford committed. Part of that was the surprise factor, since Mitchell kept his decision close to the vet.
In Crowells case, Bobo said he never heard it straight from Crowell, although people close to him did.
I tried to ask him if I was around him. Hed smile, Bobo said. But nobody ever said, Hey you can relax coach.