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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Practice Notes -- Hill, Baldwin Leave Team

Walter Hill and Donavon Baldwin have both left the Georgia football team, head coach Mark Richt announced Wednesday.

Baldwin had been suspended since being involved in a fight at a downtown Athens bar just days before fall camp opened. Richt said he would not characterize Baldwin's departure as a dismissal from the program, but said the two mutually agreed that the junior defensive back would benefit by transferring to another school.

"We felt like it would be in his best interest to finish at another school," Richt said. "He's going to transfer out, and I'm not sure where yet."

Richt said Baldwin would have one year of eligibility remaining after his transfer, but that football was not the overriding reason for Baldwin's departure.

"He has a better chance to graduate somewhere else other than Georgia right now," Richt said.

Hill, a redshirt freshman, has suffered from numerous injuries this season, including a broken hand in fall camp and a foot injury in recent weeks. He had not played in a game this season.

Hill was a top basketball recruit out of high school and had considered playing at Georgia, but Richt said that did not play into Hill's dismissal.

"Walter just we'll give the usual breaking team rules, but he really just didn't live up to the standards of doing things the Georgia way," Richt said. "I do think he's going to want to continue on, but I'm not certain where that might be right now."


Richt said Hill's dismissal changes the number of wide receiver recruits he'll be looking for this year, adding that the Bulldogs would need a minimum of two. With the departure of Hill and three seniors at year's end (Mo Mass, Kenneth Harris, Demiko Goodman), Georgia could open spring camp with just five healthy wideouts. (Tony Wilson's ankle surgery could keep him out through the spring.)

"I think it gives a greater sense of urgency to sign receivers, and I think receivers out there will see a much better picture of their opportunity to come in and play early on," Richt said.


After getting his first action of the season on special teams against Alabama, fullback Brannan Southerland will finally return to offense this week. Southerland, a senior, missed the first five games of the season while recovering from his second foot surgery in the past year. While he said he's anxious to return to action, he won't let the excitement take away any focus.

"I'll definitely be very excited and be giving it everything I've got on every play," Southerland said. "But that's one of those things I really don't have an issue with. I always stay focused and no matter how excited I get, I always bring it back in for every play and make sure that I'm focused."

Despite the fact that he has yet to play a down on offense this season, Southerland has been named an offensive captain for this week's game against Tennessee.
Southerland will compete for playing time with Shaun Chapas, but he said he'll be ready to play as many snaps as he is needed.

"I believe I'll be able to go as many snaps as I'm called upon," Southerland said. "I won't be limited to 20 reps or anything like that. I'll be able to go the whole game and do everything I need to do."


Richt confirmed Wednesday what linebacker Darryl Gamble speculated earlier in the week: Dannell Ellerbe will not play Saturday against Tennessee.

Ellerbe has not participated in practice since injuring his knee against Alabama two weeks ago, and Richt said the team is preparing for the game without the preseason All-SEC linebacker.

"He might feel really good by Friday, but he hasn't gotten one rep," Richt said. "We were in shorts (Wednesday), and he's not getting reps because we don't plan on him playing. If we thought there was even a prayer of him getting in, we might let him do the walkthroughs, but we want those other kids to get the reps because we don't think he's going to play."


Defensive end Rod Battle has missed the past three games with a neck injury, and Richt had considered him unlikely to play against Tennessee last week, but the senior has made progress and could see action after all.

"I'd say he's more than 50 percent he will play," Richt said.

Richt said Battle will likely be a bit behind the curve physically, but should be well prepared to play when needed. Battle was listed as the probable starter at defensive end in fall camp.

"In relation to his season, he's been resting his body, so he should be pretty fresh right now," Richt said.


-- Richt said newly converted offensive lineman A.J. Harmon is progressing well since being moved from the defensive line a few weeks ago.

"He's looked fine. He's learning. He's got a great attitude," Richt said. "Coach Searels has got him on the I-don't-expect-the-world-from-you, so he's bringing him along and hasn't quite put the hammer on him. He's doing pretty good."

Richt said Harmon has been working primarily at tackle -- adding that his size and athleticism made him a good candidate for that position -- but said he could move to guard as well.

-- Auburn fired offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on Wednesday, news that surprised Richt -- though he preferred not to proffer an opinion on the dismissal.

"Any time anybody loses their job, it's sad," Richt said.

That likely means a permanent demise of Auburn's spread offense that Georgia had previously planned for, but Richt said the timing of the move was helpful to the Bulldogs.

"The good news is," Richt said, "we're not playing them this week or next week, and we'll know by then."

-- Linebacker Marcus Dowtin will play Saturday, and Richt said he practiced today with no significant limitations after suffering a back injury lifting weights last week.

"He was in the green, but it was a test it out and see how it feels kind of thing," Richt said. "I think he went the whole practice."


brett said...

hey Mr.Hale did you read the rivals write up on what you were reporting? just wandering because when I read it on rivals it sounded as if Mark Richt didnt care and just laid the law today on people ha, maybe its me though, thanks again for your blog everyday, I would love a job reporting on UGA like this, however my grammar is horrible, thats why im majoring in accounting ha.

David Hale said...

Brett, you've probably got a much more lucrative job in your future! Richt was very matter-of-fact in his discussions of Baldwin and Hill today. It was clear there was more that he wanted to say about the Hill dismissal, but he took the high road and simply said it was a violation of team rules. Not sure how much more info we'll get than that, although I will try to talk to a few players about it next week. The Baldwin thing -- I'm fairly certain that was a decision made as much about academics as anything.