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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Touch of Gray

As Georgia's new starting quarterback, Joe Cox is a popular man these days. Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray arrived in Athens just two months ago amid much fanfare, and the media and fan curiosity has followed.

Flying well beneath the radar is Georgia's other quarterback -- Logan Gray. But while his teammates are getting the hype, it was actually Gray who stole the show during the Bulldogs' first spring practice.

"It was very obvious Logan knew what to do," head coach Mark Richt said. "It was very obvious his footwork was right. It was obvious he knew exactly how to play fake or run the boot or whatever it was. He threw the ball very well."

Although 2009 will be Gray's third at Georgia, he still has plenty to prove this spring. A year ago, he worked on all of the Bulldogs' special teams units, despite his role as the third-string quarterback.

While the QBs met, Gray was often in special teams meetings. While the QBs warmed up before practice, Gray was working on returning punts. While Cox was busy earning a stranglehold on the job of heir apparent to Matthew Stafford, Gray's progress was stunted.

"We do a lot of our quarterback stuff, warming up, throwing the ball and going through our passing reps while special teams practice is going on, so missing that every day, when you're losing out on reps it just kind of catches up to you," Gray said. "I think that's why, I don't know if I regressed, but I wasn't getting better at the rate I wanted to last season."

That won't be the case any longer. As of this spring, Richt has removed Gray from all special teams play for the foreseeable future. While Gray said he'll be happy to return to action as a punt returner when called on, the coaching staff appears intent on getting him as many reps at QB as possible.

"We said, this guy needs to get all of that to really get a gauge of how he's progressing," Richt said.

The decision to keep Gray as a full-time quarterback was as much about Georgia's future as it was about Gray's present. Cox is a fifth-year senior, and in 2010 the job will be open once again. Gray has the most experience, but because of the distractions of special teams duty, Murray and Mettenberger figured to catch up quickly and push Gray for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

"Any time you have guys behind you, it definitely makes you want to push harder and compete more to get better every day, so I'm sure that's on his mind, too," Cox said.

Whether it's the added competition, the new opportunities or the extra preparation time, the changes have had a quick impact on Gray, who Cox said had perhaps his best day of practice in his career Tuesday.

"He's finally getting to just concentrate on quarterback instead of all the special teams stuff, and I think that really helped him out," Cox said. "He threw the ball good, made good decisions, and you can tell that he's excited about his opportunity, too. We were really proud of him today."


reese said...

David Hale,

This is off topic from this post but i was wondering about CJ Byrd. i havent seen anything saying that he is even participating in the Pro day on friday. I know he isnt a great prospect but he did start for 2 years and should have some decent measuables. has he just given up hope at any attempt at the nfl?

David Hale said...

Haven't talked to CJ since the bowl game, but he is in Athens and is working out tomorrow for Pro Day. I'll chat with him then and get you some more details.

Anonymous said...

...I will survive.