March 15, 2011

Anderson 'back home'

Justin Anderson is back as a member of Georgia's offensive line and he couldn't be happier.

After making the move to defense where he spent all of 2010 at nose, Anderson never got the opportunity to show what he could do after a painful turf toe injury KO'd practically his entire junior campaign.

But that was then, and as the Bulldogs get ready to resume spring practice next week, Anderson is just thrilled to be playing the position where he felt most comfortable all along.

"It's back home, I've been playing offensive line my whole life so it's where I feel most comfortable at," Anderson said. "I like defensive line, too but this is probably where I can help this team the most right now. I'm happy about it, the coaches seem happy about it."

Considering both guard spots are open for the taking with the graduation of Clint Boling and Cordy Glenn moving to right tackle, the opportunity is certainly there for Anderson to reclaim a starting job. As a redshirt freshman, Anderson made seven starts followed by five his sophomore year.

Head coach Mark Richt sees no reason why Anderson won't at least push for major playing time.

"Oh yeah, there's no question he retained the skills and he retained a good bit, he really did," Richt said. "He practiced for the first time in a while and did well."

Anderson admits last season was frustrating.

The 6-foot-5, 330-pounder appeared in just one game for the Bulldogs (Louisiana-Lafayette) before undergoing season-ending surgery for turf toe.

Anderson seemed destined for greatness when he first signed with the Bulldogs after spending a year at Hargrave Military College.

Blessed with an explosive first step, many felt that Anderson would develop into that road-grader-type of offensive guard, a sure-fire All-SEC selection.

But so far, it hasn't happened.

Team chatter indicated that former offensive line coach Stacy Searels wasn't pleased with Anderson's consistency, hence his move to defense, although the former Irwin County standout said the switch to defense was all about need.

"At the time we needed a nose tackle and I felt that I could be decent at that position, and so did the coaches," he said. "Before I moved, I prayed about it and asked if this was something for me and if he wanted me to do it then show me the way. But I go over there and got hurt, so that was my sign; this wasn't what he wanted me to do."

That's no longer the case.

With Johnathan Jenkins now on board after signing with the Bulldogs in February, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham finally appears to have the type of player he needs for that position, which will allow DeAngelo Tyson to move to end, freeing up Anderson to move back to offense.

"Between Justin, Kwame (Geathers), and Mike Thornton at nose and you're also bringing in big Jenkins, we talked as a staff that it probably would not be a bad thing for Georgia to have Justin back (on offense)," Richt said. "But before we even talked to him about making a move, I think there was a meeting a while back but when that meeting happened, Bean was hanging out with the offensive linemen, so I guess that was a hint that he wanted to move back to offense."

New offensive line coach Will Friend didn't need persuading.

"Coach Friend took one look at him and said he wanted him, so that's pretty much how it went," Richt said. "But he really wanted to go back to offense."

Anderson laughed that he couldn't agree more, adding that he's over the turf toe injury and ready to re-establish himself as a key member of Georgia's offensive line.

"I'm good. When I got hurt it's my last year, so I probably needed to go back to doing what I'm used to doing as I wasn't up to par with all the techniques on defense," Anderson said. "I was getting better at it, but I still wasn't where I need to be. So being back on offensive line was probably best for me and the team."

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