ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed after Friday’s practice that true freshman quarterback Faton Bauta is likely in line for a redshirt season this fall.
Bauta is the newcomer in a deep group of quarterbacks that includes All-SEC starter Aaron Murray, junior Hutson Mason, redshirt freshman Christian LeMay and walk-on Parker Welch, so the incoming freshman has not been getting many practice reps this preseason.
“It’s just a matter of learning, and sometimes it is harder to learn when you’re trying to learn with a [small] amount of opportunities,” Richt said. “But we’re not expecting him to have to play for us this year. More than likely he’ll redshirt.”
That would be nothing new for quarterbacks under Richt. Only three Georgia players -- D.J. Shockley, Matthew Stafford and Mason -- have played quarterback as true freshmen since Richt arrived in 2001.
Bauta enrolled at Georgia in January, as Bulldogs quarterback signees often do, and Richt hopes he takes advantage of the learning opportunity the way Murray did when he redshirted in 2009.
“Murray took advantage of that time. He studied, he got better,” Richt said. “And Faton, he may study more than Murray did. Faton, he prepares extremely well so he’ll get better whether he gets a lot of reps or not. But more than likely he won’t have to play this year.”
Many recruiting analysts pointed out that Bauta was a player with positional flexibility when he signed with the Bulldogs, although Bauta was adamant on signing day that he came to Georgia because its coaches promised that he would receive an opportunity to play quarterback.
Richt said after Friday’s practice that Bauta changing positions is not in the cards as of yet.
“Not at this point,” Richt said. “We haven’t even thought of all that right now.”
Packing a punch: One of the big questions facing freshman Ty Smith when he arrived at Georgia was whether the Bulldogs could use him immediately in traditional tight end roles or whether he would be valuable only as a receiving tight end.
Smith played in a spread offense in high school and did not have to block like he will in Georgia’s pro-style attack, so it’s a bit of a change. But he has already gained 10 pounds -- from 225 pounds to 235 -- since he arrived in June and believes he will continue to improve as a blocker as he adds more weight.
“I definitely come off and pack a punch,” Smith said. “As far as getting my weight behind it, I’ve definitely got to build in that area. Once I gain a little more weight, I’m pretty sure I’ll adapt to it.”
Smith is Georgia’s third scholarship tight end, behind junior Arthur Lynch and redshirt freshman Jay Rome, so he is essentially assured of playing this season. But he won’t deny feeling a bit concerned before training camp that he might have to redshirt if he did not block adequately enough.
“It’s definitely something I worried about because I didn’t want to not be able to do it and get redshirted or they move me to a different position,” Smith said. “But once I got up here, I gained 10 pounds already, so I’m like, ‘OK, I came out of high school 225 and I’m already 235 now.’ ”
Injury update: No new names appear on Georgia’s injury report for Friday.
Cornerbacks Branden Smith (bruised shoulder) and Damian Swann (neck sprain) practiced in green non-contact jerseys, while defensive end Ray Drew (concussion) was also at practice in green, but did not dress out in helmet and shoulder pads like Smith and Swann.
Extra points: Richt said he views Connor Norman and Corey Moore as Georgia’s backup safeties behind Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo. Freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons, Richt said, has focused mostly on learning a role at nickelback. … Watts Dantzler is working behind John Theus at right tackle and behind Chris Burnette at right guard. … Richt said of Theus, “I don’t know if I’d name him the starter right now, but he’s definitely the No. 1 right tackle and is getting better every day.”