ATHENS -- Early last week, Alec Ogletree was called into the office of Todd Grantham, the Georgia football team’s defensive coordinator. Ogletree was asked (not told, he says) if he wanted to move from safety to linebacker.
Ogletree, who started the final few games at safety for Georgia last year, hadn’t played linebacker since Pop Warner. But Grantham went to the board and showed the freshman what the Bulldogs planned to do with him at inside linebacker. Then he told Ogletree to mull it over.
Ogletree took a couple of days off, discussing it with his parents and decided to agree to the move.
“That’s my goal, just to be a playmaker, whether it’s inside, safety or whatever,” Ogletree said. “I’m just trying to help the team. Coach just felt like I could be a much better player at inside linebacker, make more plays. So I’m just willing to try it out.”
The Newnan native got his first chance to try out the position Thursday, during Georgia’s first spring practice. He’ll get his next chance 12 days later, a product of a quirk in the team’s scheduling.
The Bulldogs have several position switches and story lines this spring. The shift of Ogletree, the team’s most productive true freshman in 2010, is probably the biggest.
Head coach Mark Richt said the move was made because the staff felt the team was “heavy” at safety and “light” at linebacker and felt Jarvis Jones was better suited for outside.
“All of a sudden that position looks a lot more sturdy with Alec there,” Richt said.
Richt said he was confident that Ogletree could be the same kind of impact player at linebacker many expected him to be at safety.
“(We) just want him to learn what to do,” Richt said. “Because no matter where you put him, he’s going to strike people. He’s going to run and hit. If he knows what he’s doing, he won’t make the kind of mistakes that cost you.”
Christian Robinson, the other inside linebacker, said the biggest adjustment would be run coverage, especially Ogletree’s ability to find the right alignments.
“For a first day he did great,” Robinson said. “He made some plays, he tipped some balls down. That’s all you can ask for.”
It was the first practice for Georgia’s two new coaches: Will Friend (offensive line) and Kirk Olividatti (inside linebackers).
Richt said Friend, who was a graduate assistant at Georgia in the early 2000s, accidentally ran the wrong drill at one point. Richt kidded Friend about it.
Ogletree said he got a different look from Olividatti on the practice field.
“He’s got like two personalities,” Ogletree said. “He’s more calm when we’re in the meetings, and stuff like that. When we’re on the field, he coaches.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray showed no signs of the ankle sprain he suffered in February.
“You wouldn’t know (he ever got hurt),” Ricth said. “I asked him before practice and he said he was at 90 percent. Well at first he said 100 percent, and I said, ‘Good answer.’ ” ...
Tailback Washaun Ealey had a good start to the spring, after spending several weeks in February on suspension. Asked how Ealey looked, Richt said: “Actually pretty good. He busted his tail. He gave great effort.” ...
Justin Anderson is fully embracing his move back to offensive line, after spending an injured season at nose guard.
“Back where I belong,” the rising senior said.