June 9, 2008

Wood on track

Like every one of his Georgia teammates, redshirt sophomore Brandon Wood can't wait for the 2008 season opener Aug. 30 against Georgia Southern to arrive.

But that's not the only reason he's smiling these days.

A little over four months removed from the Achilles he injured during mat drills, Wood said although the foot still barks at him from time to time, he expects to be 100 percent when the Bulldogs start preseason drills in August.

"No more surgeries for me, I'm injury free," Wood said in an exclusive interview with UGASports Monday.

That includes the left shoulder he injured almost two seasons ago.

"The thing I have problems with there from time to time is my (lateral) movement," Wood said. "But I'm fine. I'm ready to get started."

Wood, along with the rest of the Bulldogs are currently taking part in voluntary workouts and weightlifting, which have been broken down into two sessions - one at 6 a.m. and another at 1:45 in the afternoon.

"I started squatting last week, so that's been good," Wood said. "I don't see any reason why I won't be ready to go in August."

Georgia fans might not recognize the 6-foot-1, 280-pounder.

Physically, Wood already bears a different resemblance to the player that saw action in just five games for the Bulldogs last fall, but one coaches are counting to supplement a talented defensive line.

His body is more defined and his face is more chiseled.

"I lost a lot of fat weight," Wood said. "I think I'm definitely a lot more muscled than I was last season."

Wood's just happy to finally be healthy, and looks forward to becoming an integral part of the rotation on the defensive line.

"It's not easy when you're all the time having to come back from an injury because you're having to work harder than everybody else," Wood said. "Not only do you have to get yourself right, but you have to get stronger than you were before to be able to get rid of the nagging stuff."

The nation's No. 10-ranked defensive end according to Rivals.com his senior year at Haralson County High, Wood played the position until coaches decided to move him to end to tackle, back to end two weeks into the 2007 season and back to tackle later in the year.

Although he did whatever he was asked, Wood admits he's happy to have settled down into one spot.

"That's the thing, I don't have to worry about two positions any more," Wood said. "It definitely makes it easier knowing that I'm going to be in one spot."

He's also excited knowing that he'll have a chance to contribute behind starters Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins and fellow returnees Kade Weston and Corvey Irvin.

"That's a pretty solid group," Wood said. "All those guys are great players and great leaders. I'm learning a lot from them."

Wood is also paying close attention to freshmen DeAngelo Tyson and AJ Harmon.

Although impressed with his new teammates, Wood said the duo also has much to learn.

"They're young. I remember what it was like when I first got here, and right now their technique is not too good," Wood said. "It's good for high school, but not to the point where it needs to be for college. But they will get there."

Wood added that Harmon still has weight to lose.

When he signed with Georgia, defensive line coach Rodney Garner said that Harmon would have an opportunity to play defensive tackle if the freshman could get his weight down to 315 pounds.

According to Wood, Harmon still has about 20 pounds to go.

"He's at 340, 335, he's up there," said Wood, who believes Harmon can still reach his goal of 315 pounds before practice begins. "I think he can do it. Anybody can do it. He's just got to have the will do it."

Wood, meanwhile, is exerting his will in the weight room.

Before hurting his shoulder, Wood maxed out at 400 pounds on the bench press. Healthy, Wood is now maxing out at 465.

"I feel great," Wood said. "I'm stronger, I'm excited. I'm ready to get the season underway."

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