August 11, 2011

Swann raising eyebrows

Freshman cornerback Damian Swann continues to make a positive impression on head coach Mark Richt, who Thursday said the Atlanta native is working his way toward some early playing time this fall.

"If he keeps going we're going to find a way to get him in the game. I don't know if he's going to take anybody's position quite yet but he's sure working on grabbing some playing time in my mind," Richt said following practice. "I haven't sat down with Coach (Todd) Grantham or (Scott) Lakatos but from what I've seen he's making plays and seems to be making very few mental errors."

Swann admits he's even surprised himself.

At 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds, the former Grady High standout didn't think he was going to get much of a look.

"For a second, I wasn't expecting so many reps. But as I started learning more I got more and more reps, more and more reps. I think since the first day of camp my reps have increased every day," Swann said. "I'm getting a lot of time on the practice field."

The more reps he's received, the more his confidence has grown.

"No question. It (his confidence) went from a 2 to an 8, to a 10," he said. "I'm very confident in what I've got going on."

From a physical standpoint, Richt said his mere stature might not stand out, but don't let that fool you.

Swann, Richt said, is a physically tough player.

"He's kind of skinny. He's been a two-sport guy his whole life and he hasn't been living in the weight room, you can see that, but for a guy who hasn't been doing that he's got physicality to him that's good," Richt said. "He's not either one of the Ogletrees or anything like that but he doesn't shy away from contact. I think he'll help us this year and with another good offseason, there's no telling what he'll be able to do."

Swann said he takes great pride in that aspect of his game.

"A lot of people think that because I'm so small that I can't get physical. But you have to be physical to play DB," he said. "I try to be as physical as possible and I think that's going to better my game."

Herrera right place at right time

One of the highlights from Wednesday's scrimmage was a play by freshman linebacker Amarlo Herrera who recovered a Richard Samuel fumble and returned the ball 65 yards for a defensive score.

"We were blitzing. (Jonathan) Jenkins made a pile, Richard tried to jump over Jenkins and hit him while he was in the air," Herrera recalled "He fumbled, I picked it up and they blocked good and I just took off."

Herrera, who is working as a backup to Alec Ogletree at Sam linebacker, said being able to show coaches he's capable of making a key play was huge.

"It's important that they see me as a player and see what I can do," he said. "If they need me to play I can play."

Charles makes impression on Moore

Freshman safety Corey Moore laughed that he was still getting used to the speed of college ball until tight end Orson Charles gave him a quick lesson during a recent practice session.

"It was the first day when we went with helmets and they (the offense) did a play-action," Moore said. "Orson he came in, acted like he was blocking, then came back out, crossed my face and wiped my helmet and I'm like dog … he's moving pretty fast. I kept asking myself where did he come from? But yeah, that kind of woke me up then and I've been on him."

Moore, who has received some early praise from Richt, is working mostly at strong safety, but is receiving a few reps at free.

"It's been a challenge," Moore said.

The Griffin native - along with the rest of Georgia's newcomers - has a different challenge facing them Friday after practice.

"We've got to do a skit, just the freshmen and junior college transfer (Jenkins)," he said. "It's going to be pretty crazy."

Moore laughed, adding that the skit - organized by senior center Ben Jones - will require the newcomers to perform for all the upper-classmen.

"We do what they want us to do. We can sing, do cartwheels, whatever they tell us to do," Moore said. "It's worthwhile. They deserve it."

Gilliard finally confident in 3-4 scheme

Mike Gilliard admits that his head was spinning all last fall trying to pick up and learn the little nuances of Grantham's 3-4 defensive scheme.

Considering he'd never played the position in his life, it's no wonder.

"When Coach Grantham got here and put in this 3-4 defense, my head was going in circles," Gilliard said. "But everything has slowed down and every day I'm still learning. Coach Grantham gets on to everybody, but getting out there and trying to do my best."

Gilliard is apparently making some strides.

During warm-up drills, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior is lining up as the top backup to starting Mike linebacker Christian Robinson.

Gilliard played in 10 games for the Bulldogs last year, collecting eight tackles.

"When he first got here it was crazy, with all these checks and he'd (Grantham) be yelling and screaming, but now that I'm older, it's come a lot easier," he said. "I'm playing faster now."

Commings will see double-duty

Richt said that junior defensive back Sanders Commings - who is practicing at both corner and safety - will play both positions for the Bulldogs this fall.

"There will be certain matchups along the way we may need him to play corner and there may be certain times he'll be good at safety," Richt said. "He's smart and versatile enough to do that."

Commings has been practicing at both spots thus far in camp.

"He's been playing a little of both. He'll probably be spending more time at safety here pretty quick, but he's doing a good job," Richt said. "He's having a good camp at corner, too. He's having a real good overall camp."

Richt also gave some brief updates on some of Georgia's other DBs.

• On Shaun Williams: "I like what Shaun is doing. You talk about guys flipping the switch and start to take stock and doing things the Georgia Way, taking a real serious attitude toward getting the job done, being physical … you're seeing that in him," Richt said. "He's gotten real serious about wanting to win a job and play good football. He's bigger, stronger, faster, tougher, smarter and I think he's more mature. I think he's going to do well."

• On Bacarri Rambo: "Rambo has had a good camp.

• On Corey Moore: "Corey is going to be a good player. I think he's moving in a good way.

• On Marc Deas: "Deas is getting better but I'm not sure he's ready to be a starter. But I think he's improving."

This and that

Brandon Boykin (hamstring), Jakar Hamilton (hamstring), running back Brandon Harton (mild concussion) and Cornelius Washington (hamstring) were still in green Thursday but went through warmup drills with their teammates. … Outside linebacker T.J. Stripling had to leave Thursday's drills for an undisclosed injury and sent to a stationary bike. … Fullback Ken Malcome, cornerback Nick Marshall and cornerback Jordan Love did not practice Thursday. … Freshman Quintavious Harrow said besides safety, he's receiving reps on Georgia's kickoff and punt teams. ... Richt praised sophomore Alexander Ogletree for his work around the goal line during Wednesday's drills, particularly for one block which had the Bulldog head coach practically gushing during his post-practice press conference. "I tell you what, he had a great scrimmage yesterday, especially on the goal line, a lot of physical shots all across the board but I tell you what that isolation block," Richt said. "I would say that's probably the toughest one to do over and over, running downhill. Just two rams, two bulls, running downhill then pow! Nobody's flinching and Zander got the best of it yesterday. He did his job better than the other guy."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]