Georgia coach Mark Richt knows that taking his team to the Ramsey Center pool just a week before the Sept. 1 first season-opener may cause some to raise a few eyebrows
However, apparently there's a specific reason it's done.
"It's team building; it's fun, it's making memories," Richt said. "We try to do it on a day that they know it's going to be a tough day, kind of here we go again. They've done so well all along; it was just a good day to do it."
Jumping off the 10-meter dive, some 35 feet in the air takes a certain amount of trust, something Richt knows every team needs to be able to have.
"Just about everybody jumps off the 10-meter, that's kind of the big highlight of it and we try to get every single freshman to do it," Richt said. "I kind of threaten them where if they don't do it I'm going to make them run in the morning, stuff like that. They believe me and they jump."
Take freshman defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, for example.
"Taylor he doesn't know how to swim but he put on a life preserver and jumped, so he jumped off the 10-meter before he learned how to swim," Richt said. "When he came up, he was just kind of moving his arms around but he wasn't moving, just kind of sitting in the same spot so four guys had to swim out there and bring him in, which was good."
Senior Cornelius Washington and junior Kwame Geathers also put aside their own personal fears to get into the act.
"I don't know if it was because of an injury, or he slipped through the cracks, but Cornelius never did jump," Richt said. "So on his own he went and got a life jacket on and wanted to make sure he had no regrets at Georgia not jumping off the 10-meter, so he jumped today."
The sight of the 350-pound Geathers take the plunge was worth the trip to some.
"I've been waiting to see that for a while and it was well worth the wait," offensive lineman Austin Long said. "It was pretty funny."
Richt held up his end of the bargain, once again doing a back flip into the water below.
"The older you get the higher it gets and I know if I land wrong something is going to get hurt real bad," Richt said. "I see these guys land awkwardly and I say to myself if that happened to me I'd dislocate a shoulder, but thankfully I hit it pretty good again and it's one more year."
Starters appear set for opener
Although he didn't give out any names, Richt said the starting lineups for next week's opener are set.
"I think we know who's starting at every position," Richt said. "Some of that on defense just depends on what personnel group we start with first, but I'm pretty sure."
However, some positions on special teams still need answering - like who will return kicks and punts?
Branden Smith, Malcolm Mitchell, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and Sheldon Dawson have each been mentioned as possibilities to return kicks, with Smith and Mitchell among those returning punts.
"The first couple of games we may want to see more than one guy," Richt said. "There's a couple of positions, punt or kick return where there's two or three guys, that I'd like to see maybe all of them in a game just to see how they'd do."
Wide receiver Michael Bennett was the only new name who appeared on the Bulldogs' post-practice injury report, the first released since Wednesday.
According to the report, Bennett remains limited due to a left quad contusion.
Others listed include running back Dominic Bryan (right shoulder contusion), backup punter Cody Johnson (right groin strain), offensive lineman Hunter Long (left foot fracture), tight end Jay Rome (right hamstring strain) and tight end Cole Trolinger (concussion).
Richt praises Malcome
Richt had high praise for running back Ken Malcome, expected to start next week against Buffalo.
It was just over a year ago that Malcome quit the team for a day before deciding to return. Apparently, the change has been a poignant one.
"I'd say one of the big things is he's just refused to miss a practice, refused to miss a rep in practice because when you play tailback, you do get stung and you can easily take yourself out for five-10 minutes if you got hit," Richt said. "But he was determined no matter what happened he was going back in the huddle. The same thing with practice - he was going to practice the same way, every day. He's very mature in the attitude toward his assignment, his job his responsibility to his teammates. It's been night and day."
Some tough love apparently helped make a difference, too.
"When he went through that stage of wanting to leave, decided he wanted to come back, one of the things I said was is "Ken, have we seen the best Ken Malcome, have we really seen the best?'" Richt recalled. "I said that before he left. I said do this and then decide, and he was like 'No, no I want to go' so I was like, 'Ok, go then.' When he wanted to come back I told him to come back but I just wanted to see the best Ken Malcome, and he has been."
This and that
Richt said he's not sure who would replace left tackle Kenarious Gates in the event the junior would go down with an injury. It's a scenario he'd rather not have to consider. "If God-forbid it was an injury and Gates could not play anymore, we might move (John) Theus over there - but I don't know what we'd do," Richt said. "It could be Long, it could be Theus. I don't know what we'd do, that's a good question."
according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, Tavarres King, Bennett, Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten and Chris Conley will go into the season as the Bulldogs main rotation at wide receiver. As for Justin Scott-Wesley and freshman Blake Tibbs: "Justin is trying to get into the mix and will play, but we feel real good about the first five and I think Justin is going to have a good year," Bobo said. "(Tibbs) is still a freshman. He's in the same boat as Conley was last year so we're just trying to get him ready and don't know where we are yet, but we're preparing to play him."