Richt shares thoughts on newcomers

ATHENS, Ga. -- A college football team’s first preseason practice represents the first time a coaching staff can officially begin working with its most recent signing class. And after Friday’s second preseason practice, it’s so far, so good with Georgia’s 17 newcomers according to Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.

“We actually, after our staff meeting this morning, talked about every true freshman with their position coaches and everybody’s really pretty pleased with the talent base that we brought in and the attitude, the willingness to learn and be coached -- a lot of things that you know are going to be important if a guy’s going to really become a good player one day,” Richt said. “The skill sets are outstanding, the athleticism’s outstanding.”

In fact, while he isn’t guaranteeing playing time this fall to all 17 newcomers, Richt said each of them is capable of playing in 2012 if necessary.

“I think we did a really good job of bringing in some outstanding freshmen and every one of them we felt like had a very good chance of contributing this season,” he said. “Time will tell if all of them will play, but we feel like they are all in the running for helping us win this year. So that was good to hear.”

Yes, it’s still very early in camp, but Richt said he has also been pleased with the businesslike attitude that the freshmen have exhibited. He said that could help some of them contribute on both special teams and scrimmage downs.

“They’re very attentive. They’re really focused,” he said. “I don’t see a lot of messing around out of those kids. They seem pretty serious about wanting to figure it out as quick as they can.”

Richt spent several minutes during Friday’s post-practice media session discussing two freshmen -- safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and offensive lineman John Theus -- in particular, but also touched on several additional newcomers.

Here are some additional early impressions that he shared regarding members of the Bulldogs’ newest signing class:

Tailback Todd Gurley: “Todd is very smooth and athletic. He looks like a natural. He’s of course trying to learn what to do and the first couple days of installation, he’s done well, but third, fourth, fifth day off install usually gives freshmen overload problems and he’ll probably hit the wall here somewhere along the way and then the dust will clear later on in camp. But we’re not in pads, we haven’t done anything, really, that can test what kind of tackle-breaker he is and how will he hit it up in there and everything when there’s live bullets going on. But he looks the part. He does look good.”

Defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor: “John Taylor looks very good, as far as just a body type, quickness, explosiveness coming off the ball. He’s got a lot to learn and he’s got some really good players ahead of him right now, but he’s going to be pretty good, as well.”

Outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins, James DeLoach and Josh Dawson (who he said has gained about 18 pounds since arriving on campus and is listed at 250 on the Bulldogs’ preseason roster): “Jordan looks really good. But you know what? Josh Dawson looks really good, too, and DeLoach looks really good. Those three body types, just talking about outside linebacker right now, and of course Josh Harvey-Clemons was a guy who was going to be an outside linebacker, but he’s more of a safety body type right this minute.”

Offensive linemen Mark Beard and Greg Pyke: “Beard is mature enough physically and athletically and he’s still getting comfortable with the system. He’s a possible. If the light turns on for him, physically I think he can get it done. He’s just got to get better with his assignments. And Pyke is struggling with his assignments right now. He’s got to get better.”