Seniors fight to get on field for Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. --- Spring football is about catching a coach's eye. That's the task for Georgia's young players who have yet to see significant playing time.


This spring also has held particular significance for three Bulldogs who have already played in places like Starkville, Miss., Auburn, Ala., and Columbia.

Caleb King used to be where incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell is now: a touted in-state tailback who many expected to do big things.

King, entering his senior season, still hopes to be a big part of the gameplan even with Crowell on the scene.

"Especially because he's coming," King said. "We're going to have a little stable. Every chance I get with the reps, it's kind of an added bonus that I do have more reps. Work hard so my name can get mentioned on the board when they try do the formations and the plays."

Former Strom Thurmond star Jakar Hamilton went from junior college to a starting safety in the Southeastern Conference to the bench after losing the job last fall. Now he wants to get the gig back.

Cornelius Washington, a standout at Burke County, didn't make much noise last year at outside linebacker in the shadow of All-SEC pass-rusher Justin Houston. He wants today's G-Day game to be a final reminder that he's ready to be the next standout at the position.

"You hope you do well so that way you go into summer (on a good note)," Washington said. "It's all about momentum building. That's just the first step. You take that right into summer doing well and then right into fall camp and from there. You definitely want to be dominant and have a good day."

If Hamilton doesn't earn more playing time in the secondary this season, it won't be because the senior didn't put in the work.

He said it wasn't unusual to find him at 6:30 a.m. this spring watching film before classes.

"It's just the little things that other players might do, I wasn't doing that last year," he said.

Hamilton and Shawn Williams were considered the front-runners entering spring to earn a starting safety job opposite Bacarri Rambo, but Hamilton sustained a concussion midway through spring practices, one of several safeties who suffered injuries.

Washington's move from strongside to weakside linebacker has him excited about the possibilities.

"It's a position for you to make plays," Washington said. "It's the primary position of the defense, I feel like. I'm just glad that coach (Todd) Grantham felt he could trust me enough to put me in that kind of role."

Houston made plenty of plays there last year in his first season in the 3-4 defense. He ranked second in the SEC with 10 sacks and 181/2 tackles for loss.

After Washington made a big hit in practice last week, defensive end Derrick Lott offered encouragement that it could be a sign of things to come.

Lott said he told him, "Cornelius, if you do this every time, every practice, every game, you'll be really good."

Today's G-day game

WHERE: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.

WHEN: 1 p.m., gates open at 11 a.m. Fans can enter through Gates 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6 and 9, and can sit in the lower 100 and 200 levels.

ADMISSION: Free. Fans are encouraged to bring items for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and/or make donations to the Johnathan Taylor Fund