Injuries at safety have apparently caused Georgia coaches to change their mind about Sanders Commings, who is now playing free safety after being moved there from cornerback on Tuesday.
"He played safety when he first got here so it's not like it's a total transition," cornerback Brandon Boykin said after Thursday's practice. "He still has to learn, but for someone who's just gotten back I think he looks pretty good."
Although it's not yet known if the move is permanent (head coach Mark Richt was not available for comment), Commings move was precipitated due to injuries to safeties Jakar Hamilton (concussion), Marc Deas (hamstring) and Bacarri Rambo (sprained MCL).
"The only healthy safety we had was Shawn (Williams)," Deas said. "Although Sanders is sort of new, he's working hard and showing his stuff."
At 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, Commings actually saw action at safety in all 13 of Georgia's games as a freshman in 2009 before moving last fall to cornerback where he tied for the team lead in interceptions with three.
With Commings safety, Boykin and Jordan Love are running 1-2 at the short corner for the Bulldogs, while Branden Smith and Derek Owens are 1-2 at wide.
"We've got a lot of corners who can play, we've got a lot of depth," Boykin said. "That move (Commings) could be good for us; it would be just one more playmaker on the field."
Troupe anxious for final chance
Senior receiver Israel Troupe laughs that it just seems like he's been at Georgia forever.
Actually, it has been a while. With Kris Durham having graduated, Troupe assumes the mantle of being Georgia's "oldest" wide receiver, having signed with the Bulldogs in Feb. of 2007.
During his career, Troupe has seen his share of action, having appeared in 32 games for Georgia, but enters this fall with just 11 career catches for157 yards and one score.
Although those aren't quite the numbers the former Tift County star thought he had have entering this stage of his career, he hasn't given up on finally making the impact he always hoped he would.
"I feel like this is my year. I've been waiting my turn for a long time," Troupe said. "I just take it all in stride. Sometimes, it got a little frustrating here and there, but that's just life. Now, it's my opportunity. I've got to seize it."
He certainly won't get a better chance.
With Durham and A.J. Green having both moved on, Troupe is one of just six scholarship wideouts on hand during spring practice, along with Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten, Michael Bennett and Chris Conley.
"I know I can't be another A.J., because he was great, but at the same time, this is our team now," Troupe said. "It's up to us to make something happen so that's what we're going to try and do."
Linebacker Christian Robinson, Hamilton and linebacker Michael Gilliard joined Deas on Georgia's list of walking wounded as the quartet donned the green non-contact jersey and did not practice with the team.
According to UGA officials, both Robinson and Hamilton are recovering from concussions, while Gilliard was held out due a knee injury, the extent of which is not yet known.
Meanwhile, running back Washaun Ealey missed his fifth straight practice while recovering from a left hamstring strain.
Georgia officials also said that linebacker Alec Ogletree is out with a strained hamstring.
Smith just defense for now
Branden Smith said he's been used exclusively on defense thus far in spring drills.
"Right now it's strictly defense," Smith said. "To tell you the truth, I never really know during a game; they just call my name and put me in there."
The 5-foot-11, 176-pounder has certainly made his mark on the offensive side, although most of that came his freshman year when Smith had 17 carries for 208 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yarder against South Carolina. He also caught two passes for seven yards.
Last season, Smith saw fewer touches on offense, with just six carries for 46 yards while catching two passes for 17 more.
This and that
With injuries to Ogletree and Robinson at inside linebacker, Richard Samuel and Brandon Burrows worked with the first team during Thursday's practice. Samuel missed last Saturday's scrimmage with a rib injury.
Garrison Smith and Derek Lott are currently running with the second team at defensive end. Smith said he's up to 290 pounds while Lott remains at 305, the same weight he played at last year.
Richt said the defense stood out during Thursday's practice. "The defense won today, but I thought it was still a pretty spirited practice from both sides," Richt said. "The guys are starting to get tired out there with this being the 10th practice. But hopefully they will get revived on Friday and then be ready for the scrimmage on Saturday. I really appreciate the effort the coaches and staff have put out this spring. They have worked as hard as they can about every day."
In addition to the regular staff that accompanies the Bulldogs during each practice at the Woodruff Practice Field, approximately 150 more guests were in attendance on Tuesday as Richt and his staff hosted their yearly University of Georgia faculty and staff "Appreciation Day."
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