TIFTON - At first, J.J. Green was a stopgap, emergency tailback. Now it's where he'll play.
Green, a freshman recruited as an athlete, will stay on offense this season, head coach Mark Richt said on Wednesday. The move will help the team as far as depth, but Green also did his part by playing the spot well.
"We've had him at tailback in the spring. And back in the fall he'll be back at tailback again. He actually played pretty well there," Richt said.
Most recruiting analysts had Green listed principally as a cornerback, and the Georgia coaches were leaning that way too.
But when Green enrolled early at Georgia this spring, the team was badly in need of tailbacks: Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall were the only two recruited on scholarship, while former walk-on Brandon Harton was still around. Signees A.J. Turman and Brendan Douglas will arrive this summer.
So Green was put at tailback this spring. He's a bit undersized for the spot, at 5-foot-8 and 171 pounds, but he did play the spot in high school, scoring 16 touchdowns as a senior at Camden County, and rushing for 919 yards. This spring at Georgia, coaches were impressed by his toughness in practices and scrimmages. And in the G-Day game, Green gained 27 yards on eight carries, which may not be too impressive, but he showed good push at the line despite his size.
So rather than move him back to defense this fall, Richt said he'll stay at tailback, and perhaps learn some receiver as well. Richt didn't rule out some defense, but offense is the emphasis.
"We really didn't know for sure (where he would play when he arrived on campus)," Richt said. "I thought he was a very talented guy. I thought he'd be a really good special teams guy, and I thought he'd be a guy that was just a tough nut. I thought he could play corner. I thought he could play running back or receiver, or a tailback-receiver kind of guy. As it turned out we're training him at tailback right now first. We'll probably teach him a little wide receiver stuff before his career is over."