ATHENS, Ga. — Brandon Burrows is eight months removed from shoulder surgery.
T.J. Stripling finally feels fully healed from a knee injury that was sustained on kickoff coverage at Colorado and that ended his 2010 season.
Both Georgia linebackers are now back and working to carve out their roles this spring on Georgia’s defense.
Issues at the position early last season highlighted how important that added depth can be, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.
“At this time last year I’m not sure we would have thought that Mike Gilliard would have been a starter for us,” Grantham said. “He worked hard and became a starter and did a really good job. I was really proud of the way he performed last year and now he’s one of the guys we look to for leadership and to make calls. You’ve got to be ready because we’re one play away from one of those guys getting in the game. It’s really criticial that they prepare and get ready.”
Burrows is working behind Gilliard and Amarlo Herrera at the “Mike” inside linebacker spot.
There could be a chance for Burrows to gain more playing time since inside linebacker Alec Ogletree is reportedly facing a suspension.
Burrows is returning from a torn labrum in his right shoulder that he initially hurt at Walton High in Marietta and reinjured last summer during training.
“I’m taking this spring as both a learning experience and a chance to prove that I’m coming back, I’m here and whenever you need me, I’m ready to go,” Burrows said.
Burrows missed the entire 2011 season after redshirting as a freshman. Georgia now lists him as a redshirt sophomore.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Burrows wants to prove he can handle playing for the defense again after what he felt was a good spring last year.
Knowledge of the playbook is a good first step. Gilliard said he’s not shy to ask questions about the defense if he has any.
“I think Burrows plays a position where you’re young like he was last year, it was probably a little more difficult because things happen fast,” Grantham said. “The closer you are to the ball, the harder it is sometimes. He’s a guy that has done a really good job. You can tell he studies his playbook.”
Stripling, an outside linebacker, saw action in nine games last year, making two tackles.
“I feel a lot better than I did last year,” Stripling said. “I feel like I’m 100 percent and ready to play now.”
The 6-6 junior is getting second-team work and says he has added some 20 pounds since last year to get to 239.
“Making quicker sudden movements are a lot better than it was last year,” said Stripling, who said he favored the knee that was repaired after a ruptured patella tendon. “I had a really good off-season so I’m really looking forward to it.”