ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - One of Georgia's most improved defensive players of spring football made a bigger impact on offense in
Saturday's G-Day game.
With the so-called "Dream Team" recruiting class coming in the
fall, Branden Smith just wants to make sure he is in the lineup.
Cornerback Smith scored the game's first touchdown as a pass
receiver in helping the Black team beat the Red team 18-11.
Bulldog Head Coach Mark Richt said that the hoopla surrounding
the heralded recruiting class has energized the veterans.
"I want to emphasize that none of these recruits have been
promised any starting job," said Richt. "Just an opportunity.
"But I think they will make a big impact," he continued.
"They are very talented. I don't think they are coming in here
thinking that I just want to wait my turn. So a lot of the veterans
are already preparing hard in anticipation of those guys showing
up. We have let it be known that no one's job is safe."
Smith received accolades as one of the most improved defensive
players of the spring. On defense Saturday, he had one tackle. On
offense he carried the ball twice for seven yards and had two
receptions for 38 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown reception
when he tight-roped the sideline.
"Branden had an awesome spring," said offensive coordinator
Mike Bobo. "I told him early in the week that if he had a pick on
Tuesday or Thursday in practice that I would get him the ball 10
times. He is such an explosive player. I wish I could have him all
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is in no mood to surrender
Smith to the offense.
"Any time you can make plays, and he is a playmaker, you look
at what he can do to score points," said Grantham. "If there is a
package for him on offense, we will work with it."
Few definitive questions were answered in Saturday's scrimmage.
No tailback emerged as the clear-cut leader, and no wide out
stepped up to fill the huge void left by A.J. Green's departure to
the first-round riches of the upcoming NFL draft.
Carlton Thomas was the leading ground gainer, picking up 48
yards on 13 carries, including a 5-yard TD run in the fourth
quarter that put the Reds ahead 11-10. But Thomas also fumbled
twice, including on the Black 2-yard-line to spoil a 73-yard drive
at the opening of the game.
Ken Malcome, a redshirt freshman tailback, managed 39 yards on
seven carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run that clinched the
win for the Blacks.
As for wide outs, veteran Tavarres King had five catches for 62
yards. Marlon Brown managed four catches for 47 yards, but none of
the receivers struck fear in the hearts of the defense like Green
Quarterback Aaron Murray completed 12 of 17 passes for 122
yards. His backup, pure freshman Christian LeMay led the winning
drive, but Richt stopped short of categorizing LeMay as a
challenger to backup Hutson Mason.
"The only thing that Christian is battling is the playbook,"
said Richt. "Until you know what you are doing, you can't compete
as a quarterback. He has come a long way and has learned a lot. But
I would not even say there is competition now."
The defensive standouts included linebackers Alex Ogletree and
Chase Vasser, who had seven tackles each on opposite teams. Walk-on
safety Connor Norman impressed with five tackles, three passes
broken up and a leaping interception.
"When you watch film, you want to be able to say, 'That guy is
a football player,"' said Richt. "Connor probably caught the eye
of our special teams coaches."
Georgia, coming off Richt's first losing season, 6-7, opens the
2011 season with Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Classic in Atlanta.
"You hope you can show up for a game like that in midseason
form," said Richt. "You can't be a team that is just finding its