ATHENS - Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo backed up the idea that Merritt Hall, a freshman walk-on, has a big lead on the starting fullback job.
“Merritt Hall is our fullback. He’s done a nice job,” Bobo said Saturday. “(Freshman) Quayvon Hicks is coming along. (Junior) Zander Ogletree is in there in the mix as well. But I think we’ve got three guys that are capable to play that position. It’s a very good, healthy competition.”
And what about senior Richard Samuel, who has been working at fullback and tailback?
“He’s a go-between guy, an emergency guy at fullback,” Bobo said. “He’s getting reps there. You’ve gotta have at least four tailbacks to play a season. His primary position is tailback. He’s getting a couple looks there but his primary position is tailback.”
After 10 days, Mark Richt’s goatee is gone.
The head coach shaved shaved off his gray, and much-ballyhooed, facial hair before Saturday’s practices.
Sophomore cornerback Malcolm Mitchell joined the crowded injured list at his position. But Mitchell (shoulder contusion) was practicing, so it doesn’t appear to be a concern with the opener still three weeks away.
Similarly, cornerbacks Branden Smith (shoulder contusion) and Damian Swann (neck strain) are also participating.
Georgia needs its cornerbacks to stay healthy, with starter Sanders Commings suspended for the first two games. …
Defensive end Ray Drew remains out with a concussion. Reserve safety Mark Deas (hamstring) and tailback Brandon Harton (hip contusion) are out, and officially day-to-day.
The top six players for the Georgia offensive line have already been named, and tackle Austin Long seems to have emerged as the next viable alternative. Now another name has emerged: Xzavier Ward, the tackle, whom offensive line coach Will Friend said has started to look good. Ward wasn’t able to practice much last year, when he was redshirting.
“He’s shown us things that if he’ll work, there’s been some bright stuff from him,” Friend said of Ward.
On the other hand, redshirt freshman Zach DeBell did not draw praise from his position coach.
“He’s struggling. He’s still got a ways to go,” Friend said. “He missed a lot last year, and he’s behind. If he’s gonna be a college football player he’s got to learn what to do and how to do it.”
Friend also provided updates on a couple other linemen.
On sophomore (and junior college transfer) Mark Beard, who is at guard and tackle:
“Still got a ways to go. He’s still gotta keep working to get it down. He’s still relatively a young player. I think he’s got tools, and I think he works hard, and he’ll get it, because he works hard at it. He’s still got a ways to go.”
On freshman Greg Pyke, who is at right guard:
“He’s shown some good things. Talented kid, but he’s struggling like a lot of freshmen do. But I’ve seen some good things from him as far as his athletic abilities and size.”
On starting center David Andrews:
“He’s played well. He’s had a good camp. He’s worked extremely hard this summer, you can tell. He’s done a good job this summer knowing what to do. … He’s played well, we’ve just gotta keep it going.”
Tight ends coach John Lilly, who oversees the kickers, said freshman Marhsall Morgan is doing "better and better, every day." But he acknowledged the main test is inside Sanford Stadium, such as the next couple scrimmages.
"Particularly the times you go into the stadium and now it's real. it's not visualization anymore," Lilly said. "And in three weeks it's really gonna be real when he looks up and sees 97,000 people in the stands. That'll be a fun time for him, it'll be exciting. And I think he's just gotta keep progressing, man, and I think he's on track to do what we want him to do."