ATHENS -- Tim Kimbrough wasn’t going to let Todd Gurley spin away.
Gurley, selected 10th overall by the St. Louis Rams in May in the NFL draft, wanted to hit his spin move and turn the play outside and away from the defense. Kimbrough, in position to make the play, said he sized up Gurley and was squared to deliver a crushing hit.
This was two years ago, when Kimbrough was a freshman looking for playing time and Gurley was coming off a brilliant first season.
If it wasn’t practice and -- more importantly -- if it wasn’t Gurley, Kimbrough said he would have hit him hard to the ground.
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“Boom,” as Kimbrough said.
Kimbrough still locked up Gurley and prevented the play from happening, showing the kind of potential the junior inside linebacker has with the 2015 season on the horizon.
“You just got to come out and do your job,” Kimbrough said. “If you know the playbook, you’re going to do your job.”
Kimbrough has become a creature of habit, constantly studying the Georgia defensive playbook downloaded to his team-issued iPad. Wherever Kimbrough goes, his iPad goes along with it. Fellow inside linebacker Reggie Carter said there isn’t a place Kimbrough goes without this piece of technology.
“Tim carries that iPad everywhere, like it’s his cellphone,” Carter said. “I’m talking about everywhere. He’s always watching film. Always.”
“I love football, so all I think about is watching film, making sure I know formations,” Kimbrough said. “Now that I know formations, it’s just making me a better player. I just try to keep my iPad with me.”
The studying has paid off. Kimbrough is working with the first team defense as the Will linebacker in both the base and nickel packages. With Georgia losing the production inside linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson gave the past two years, Kimbrough said he put it on himself to step into that leadership role.
“He’s done a great job. He’s physical,” inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler said. (Strength and conditioning coordinator Mark) Hocke has these guys in unbelievable shape; he’s done a great job with them. He’s done a phenomenal job busting his tail this summer.”
Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he has been impressed with Kimbrough through the first week of preseason practice and that the Indianapolis native has done plenty to make the most of the opportunity that has been presented to him.
“He’s working hard and is getting a lot of reps with the one unit,” Richt said. “He’s taken that responsibility serious. I don’t know if you can compare it to Ramik, but one year Ramik was outside linebacker and not getting much playing time, and then his time came to at least seize the moment. And he seized the moment. I think Timmy’s trying to do that, as well. But there’s a lot of competition, and he’s got to keep working.”
Kimbrough first gained his teammates’ attention with the Gurley play in practice. Kimbrough then made his presence felt on a national stage with a devastating hit on Clemson’s T.J. Green in the fourth quarter of last year’s season-opening win.
Kimbrough, who’s making the calls on defense in practice, is poised to take that next step with this year’s Georgia defense.
“Tim is something special,” Carter said. “Y’all seen it last year with his play on special teams and on the field.”