ATHENS - Georgia will have a lot of heralded new defensive players this season. The one who's standing out the most, however, wasn't as high-profile, and is playing a new position.
Natrez Patrick drew plenty of raves this spring after moving from outside linebacker to inside. So it was no surprise that head coach Mark Richt, when asked after Thursday's final practice which rookies had stood out, began by naming Patrick.
"He looks like he's found a home, anyway, there (at inside linebacker)," Richt said, hastening to add: "I'm not saying he's going to start or anything like that."
Maybe not, but Patrick sure looks like he will receive plenty of playing time. The freshman early enrollee had eight tackles and a sack on G-Day, and generally looked very active and physical.
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"He's got good instincts," Richt said. "Sometimes he was just flat out unblocked and made a play in the hold, but he brought the wood. He laid the wood to people. He'll strike. He's a pretty good athlete. He's a pretty sharp kid."
Patrick, listed at 6-foot-3 and 259 pounds, was a four-star recruit out of Mays High School in Atlanta. But he committed very early in the process, and thus was overshadowed by the likes of Trent Thompson, Roquan Smith, Jonathan Ledbetter and Rico McGraw.
All of those players may still end up contributing this year as much or perhaps more. But Patrick leaves the spring as the freshman on defense whose stock has risen the most.
"Again, he's got a ways to go," Richt said. "But if you're asking of the group (of new players), he probably made the biggest impression."