ATHENS – Georgia inside linebacker Ramik Wilson has made some preseason All-American teams. In order to do that, however, the senior first has to secure a starting spot on his own team.
After missing 10 days with a concussion, the coaches aren’t committing to putting Wilson in the starting lineup.
“We’ll have to see,” inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler said after Friday’s practice. “It’s too early to say. We’ve got a lot of capable guys, a lot of guys that have been practicing the whole time.”
A few days ago head coach Mark Richt said Wilson was playing “catch-up” after his time away. Ekeler said Friday that “we’ve made some moves, and so (Wilson) is trying to battle his way back right now.”
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Amarlo Herrera, the other returning starter at inside linebacker, appears more secure. Ekeler pointed out that Herrera “has been out there every time. He’s busting his tail, and he’s got good command of everything.”
Wilson has appeared to still be with the first team, but during Tuesday’s open practice Tim Kimbrough and Reggie Carter were getting a lot of reps.
Ekeler hedged on how much subbing they’ll do with the inside linebackers, saying Clemson’s offense may prevent that.
“It all goes based on the game and who earns it,” Ekeler said. “I mean I’d love to play them all. But as coach Richt says it’s not the YMCA. You’ve gotta put your best out there and roll, and once you get into the flow of the game, especially a game like this, to keep on rolling guys in and out gets more difficult. Because they’re not a very stagnant offense.”
Ekeler is also in charge of the punt return unit. He said he would prefer to have one punt return specialist, rather than rotate, but hasn’t settled on who it would be. He did indicate that freshman Isaiah McKenzie and sophomore Reggie Davis are the top two candidates.
“We’re still evaluating them,” Ekeler said.
There are more candidates at kickoff return. McKenzie and Davis are in the mix there too, but assistant coach Tony Ball, who handles kick return, also mentioned the players who have done it in past seasons - Todd Gurley, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley.
“Everyone’s a possibility,” Ball said.
Still, Mitchell and Scott-Wesley aren't healthy right now, and it seems unlikely the team will put Gurley, its star tailback, on special teams.
Georgia has added Nicholls State, an FCS school, to its 2016 schedule, according to a game contract provided by UGA. No date for the game has been set yet.
Other than the annual Georgia Tech game, it’s the first non-conference game for the 2016 game to be scheduled. In SEC play, Georgia’s non-division games are at Ole Miss and home against Auburn.
Just keep dieting
Offensive line coach Will Friend is noticeably skinner these days. He has been dropping pounds steadily this year, but doesn’t know exactly how many since he refuses to weigh himself.
“It’s like not looking at the scoreboard during a game: You just keep playing,” Friend said. “I just keep dieting.”