ATHENS - It would have been easy awhile ago to write off Zander Ogletree. And by awhile ago, we mean last week.
As recently as the Kentucky game, the junior fullback, more famous for being the twin brother of star linebacker Alec Ogletree, played a grand total of zero offensive snaps. The player who was the backup fullback all of 2011, and the heir apparent entering this season, was apparently suspended the first four games, then returned to find himself buried on the depth chart.
Then came the Florida game, and through injury Ogletree was thrust back into a major role - and he produced. Playing about 50 snaps, he caught two passes for 13 yards, and coaches said he blocked well, which is the most important thing out of the fullback spot.
"My name got called, and I was ready to go," Ogletree said. "We'd been focusing all week on playing hard and playing physical, and that's what I was ready to go."
There's a good chance he'll be back out there Saturday when Ole Miss visits. Merritt Hall, the walk-on who earned the starting job in the preseason, sprained his ankle on the first play against Florida and hasn't practiced this week. Quayvon Hicks, a scholarship freshman, suffered a concussion last week in practice and has been limited this week. And Richard Samuel, the senior who switched from tailback, just doesn't appear to be a factor.
Ogletree admits he felt a bit lost in the shuffle early on this season. When his brother and Bacarri Rambo returned from suspension they moved right back into starting roles. But Zander found himself buried on the depth chart. And yes, it served as motivation when a walk-on came in and vaulted past him on the depth chart.
"Oh yeah," Ogletree said. "I've always been a type of guy where I don't like stuff to be given to me, and I always want to work hard for what I get. For Merritt Hall - he is a good ballplayer and everything - for him to come in as a walk-on and get a scholarship and just start, that was a blessing to him and me. Because I felt like it made me stronger and made me better. As a man and teammate."
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was asked how important it was to get Ogletree's contribution against Florida.
"It was huge," Bobo said. "A guy that had a little disappointment early in the year, and then when he gets back he's third/fourth team. But I thought he worked through it, and had a good attitude the last couple weeks."
Bobo then pointed out that Ogletree didn't make the 70-man travel roster for the South Carolina game.
"He was down a little bit. We just talked about attitude and practicing hard can get you on the trip," Bobo said. "He had a great week of practice and moved up the week we went to Kentucky. ... And then had an injury in practice (to Quayvon Hicks) and then an injury in the game (to Hall), and just him getting his attitude right, was ready to go mentally. He's always been a physical player and came out there and performed well. It's just a good example of you've gotta be ready when your opportunity comes."