ATHENS, Ga – It’s finally here.
Yes, College football is in the air as the Georgia Bulldogs took the practice field for the first time in the fall in preparation for the 2011 season Thursday afternoon.
With 30 days left until the season opening game versus Boise State in the Georgia Dome, what’s left of the 2010 team was joined by the ‘Dream Team” to kick off fall camp with their first practice.
Senior cornerback Brandon Boykin is expected to be one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball, and is excited to see what the incoming players can bring to this football team.
“I definitely want to see what big Jonathan Jenkins can do today and how he moves.” cornerback Boykin said. “Chris Sanders, Damian Swan, and I want to see what Malcolm Mitchell is going to do. I have seen him on the 7-on-7s, so I want to see what he can do.”
Another veteran on the defense, junior linebacker Christian Robinson is also expected to take a leadership role, and with the responsibility of playing the Mike linebacker, he will essentially be the quarterback of the defense and he is ready for the upcoming season.
“It’s an exciting feeling knowing that the season is right here and what we’re playing for,” said Robinson. “I’m really excited for the freshman to get out there. I’ve been here and I’m ready to get prepared, but I also want to see these young guys that are going to help us contribute this year.”
Running back Isaiah Crowell, junior college nose John Jenkins among many other incoming players took the field, and head coach Mark Richt has a message for them.
“I told all of them, ‘Your goal is to learn what to do.,” coach Mark Richt said. “I want all of them to contribute; I hope they do in a big way. But I don’t want them to feel pressure to carry the team on their backs.”
The day started off with the USA Today Coaches poll being revealed, and despite coming off a 6-7 season, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 22. A total of eight SEC teams were ranked.
“It’s nice to be mentioned without any doubt,” Richt said. “It’s more important where you are at the end. I think it’s a good sign for the program. It’s a good sign of respect if coaches feel like Georgia is a Top 25 team.”
Several players were available to the media, and the majority of the players were a bit surprised by the ranking, but say that it ultimately doesn’t mean that much.
“That’s an honor being ranked in the top-25,” said quarterback Aaron Murray. “Just looking forward to that first game vs. Boise St. I know we worked really hard this offseason and we have a lot of talent coming back, so I’m shocked, but I can’t wait. It’s just going to make us work that much harder today in practice.”
“At the end of the day, teams can start off not ranked and can win a national championship.” said Robinson.” I think that if we win our games in this conference, that’s what could happen. We have the tools to have a really high ranking and to beat a lot of good teams, and ultimately, if we take it one game at a time, we can be that top team.”
During the off-season much has been made of the unexpected attrition the entire team has had to deal with in regards to players declaring for the NFL Draft, transferring, or getting injured, but Richt said that Grantham isn’t too concerned about that.
“Grantham is so used to playing with a 53-man roster. When you look at a college depth chart, you’re thinking, ‘Man, we might be thin.’ And he (Grantham) says, ‘Coach, I’m used to playing with 53 guys.”
Georgia will next take the practice field on Friday afternoon at the same time, and then starting on Saturday practices will be held at 8:45 a.m. ET.
The Bulldogs will begin the 2011 season Sept. 3 in the Georgia Dome against No. 7 Boise State at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
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