ATHENS, Ga. -- Every year, Mark Richt takes a few minutes to model the newest Nike coaches' polo shirt design during a photo shoot for the University of Georgia bookstore. He stands in front of the strobes, patiently waiting while lights are adjusted and shadows are removed. Richt never complains but even the casual observer can tell his thoughts are elsewhere.
On Thursday of last week, his thoughts appeared to be on the group of football players who were working out just inches from some of the light stands surrounding Richt. There were indeed some interesting things to see.
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Junior running back Keith Marshall has ditched the knee brace he sported during spring camp. Apparently he doesn't wear it much at all anymore. The speedy running back is just eight months removed from tearing his ACL against Tennessee. As surprising as that revelation was, watching Marshall do a series of high box jumps in rapid succession was even more impressive. When teased that he was still headed for a redshirt this season, Marshall shot back, "That's not going to happen."
Another former track star recovering from a torn ALC has also moved beyond constantly wearing a knee brace. Wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley has been "cleared for activity" without his brace. He was running sprints in the Nalley Multi-Purpose room as Richt modeled a red Nike pullover. Scott-Wesley was sorely missed last year as injuries severely depleted the Bulldogs' receiving corp. His return will force defenses to account for another deep threat besides Reggie Davis.
Speaking of injuries, one of the most galling to Georgia fans last year was the unlikely injury that Malcolm Mitchell suffered. Mitchell is arguably the Bulldogs' most talented playmaker, but he was lost for the year to a torn ACL (of course) while celebrating Todd Gurley's touchdown in the season opener versus Clemson. He appeared to be headed for a full recovery when spring camp rolled around in March, but Mitchell suffered a setback with a second leg injury on the first day of camp. As Richt patiently waited for the photographer to finish up, Mitchell was pushing sleds across the length of the indoor practice. Mitchell looked strong and he too was brace free.
A few more observations:
- Wide receiver Michael Bennett was throwing a heavy medicine ball incredibly high against a wall in the multi-purpose room. Granted, some of the linebackers may have thrown it higher, but only just barely.
- Fellow senior wideout Chris Conley was also tossing the heavy ball. Conley looks skinny until he sets his legs and heaves. At that point Conley looks completely different. Look for he and Bennett to lead a lot of the summer workout sessions.
- Linebacker Amarlo Herrera was wearing a Georgia branded hoodie during his work out. The room was hot and stuffy already as the strength and conditioning staff keep it warm. The voluntary addition of the hoodie and a loaded weight vest just seemed suicidal in those conditions.