August 11, 2010

Hebron's final opportunity at hand

Ok, admit it. Akeem Hebron's name was not the one you expected to see listed as Georgia's leading tackler for Tuesday's opening scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.

But after leading the way with six tackles, Hebron is showing signs that he might finally make the contributions most envisioned him making from the very beginning.

"I think everything went well," Hebron said. "It was a good first scrimmage for the defense. We're still learning, but everybody is working hard. We gave up some big plays and still have some work to do, but we're on the right track."

Sure, Hebron sometimes wonders "what if?"

What if he didn't get suspended in 2007 after two arrests for underage possession of alcohol? What if he didn't fracture his left ankle in Week 6 against LSU in 2008?

Yes, Hebron has asked himself those very questions.

Unfortunately, those answers may never be known. But as the seldom-used senior prepares for his final season in a Bulldog uniform, he does so with few regrets.

"I've definitely had my ups and downs, but really, there's been a lot more good than bad," Hebron said. "I'm going to graduate in the fall. I've just got two more classes so that's going to give me more time to focus on football instead of school work. I actually think my career has ended up good in that sense considering the way it started."

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

When Hebron signed with Georgia in 2006, he did so after earning several National Awards, including a selection to the prestigious Parade Magazine All-American team.

But his career soon took a downward turn.

After redshirting in 2006, Hebron enrolled at Georgia Military following his two arrests before returning to Athens in time for the 2008 campaign.

However, following his ankle injury against LSU, it would be well over a year before Hebron saw the field again where he only appeared in three games, collecting three tackles.

Now, with one more year to try and get on the field, Hebron is trying to fit in where he can.

"I'm just trying to squeeze in and see where I fit," Hebron said. "The coaches haven't had much film, coming in, to look at me for evaluation, so I'm trying to show what I've got now to see if I can move up higher on the depth chart."

It won't be easy.

Even with Darryl Gamble's move to Sam linebacker, Hebron is competing for time with the likes Christian Robinson, Marcus Dowtin, Richard Samuel, Michael Gilliard, and eventually Akeem Dent.

Hebron said he's spending most of his practice time at Mike linebacker.

"I feel like it (Mike) gives you more freedom," Hebron said. "It gives us the opportunity to use our athletic ability more."

But even if Hebron has trouble breaking in at inside linebacker, he's apparently going to get other opportunities to get on the field.

Hebron said he's currently seeing time on special teams, including kickoff coverage and kickoff return.

"I just want to get on the field, it doesn't matter where it is," Hebron said. "For me, anywhere's a good thing."

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