March 22, 2011

Benedict says he's 100 percent

So far, so good.

Those were the words Tuesday of redshirt freshman offensive lineman Brent Benedict, who said he feels as good as new since returning to practice after going reconstructive knee surgery back in October of 2009.

"I'm full go, 100 percent. They have me in an ankle brace, but that's pretty standard," Benedict said after Georgia's second day of spring practice. "But no, I'm 100 percent."

Benedict's injury was about as bad as it could possibly have been.

It occurred during a game on Oct. 18, 2009 while playing for the Bolles School. Benedict was jogging down the field to celebrate a touchdown with his teammates when his knee gave way, tearing his ACL, his MCL and his PCL.

Some wondered if the young lineman would ever play again.

"You never know how a guy is going to recover from some kind of nerve issue, but the good thing on him was there was always something good going on that made you feel like he was going to recover," head coach Mark Richt said. "There was always some kind of flicker, movement and as time went on it just got better. It was slow, but it progressively got better to the point where he is now able to compete. But yeah, when it first happened, we had no idea if he could recover."

Fortunately he did, and as the Bulldogs continue to go through their spring paces, Benedict (6-foot-5, 312) is right there trying to earn the starting role at right guard.

"I did both (tackle and guard) in high school but this is a totally different ball game," Benedict said. "We'll just have to see how it goes but I feel pretty comfortable at guard. I'm getting back into the swing of things."

So far, there have been no issues.

"My knee feels stable, my ankle feels stable," Benedict said. "I can even tell the difference between the bowl and spring practice. It's come back in a short period of time."

Tuesday practice "sluggish"

Richt admitted Tuesday's first practice since the conclusion of spring break was about like you'd expect - sluggish.

"I hate to make it sound like it was a bad one, because it really wasn't," Richt said. "It wasn't horrible, but it was a little bit different than the first one. The first practice was cool, this one was hot. You train in the cool and when go in the hot you tend to be a little sluggish."

Still, Richt did see did see some spark from his defense during the two-hour workout in helmets and shorts.

"Defensively I think we made a lot of progress, guys were making plays. (Jordan) Love picked one off," Richt said. "I think the DBs did a very nice job of defending today."

The Bulldogs will work out in shells for the next practice on Thursday before putting on the full pads for the first time Saturday.

"We're looking forward to the competition," Richt said.

Figgins makes good strides

Richt said Bruce Figgins continues to make a positive transition from tight end to fullback.

"Figgins had a very good day. I would have to think he's beginning to enjoy it and how it could be really good for him and very good for Georgia," Richt said. "I can't put words in his mouth, but I saw him have success today and I think that had to encourage him. It encouraged me."

The Bulldogs decided to move Figgins to fullback following the graduation of Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier.

"He was the most logical guy - a big, strong physical guy," Richt said.

Big plans for Gates

As a true freshman Kenarious Gates made the most of his opportunities, starting three of the seven games at right guard.

Now a sophomore, Richt is expecting the 6-5, 328-pounder to improve even more.

"Considering he was a true freshman he had very few missed assignments or busts. He pretty much knows it, but now we want him to be more physical and a better technician, because you can know the plays and not be a great technician or maybe not be strong enough to finish a block or whatever it might be," Richt said. "He will continue to get more comfortable with everything from a knowledge standpoint. His issue is to just get that freshman body to look like a second- or third-year guy."

No vacation for Richt

During spring break, Richt and some of his assistants took their respective families for a quick vacation to Jamaica.

But when you're the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, it can be difficult to go unnoticed - even in a foreign country.

"I'm not lying, the first time we lay down our stake at the beach and laid it down - I hadn't even sat down yet. I'm just trying to get the chair right, get it lined with the sun and before I sat down two Gators were right where my chair was," Richt said. "We (Richt and wife Katharyn) were trying to face the sun, I turn around and there were two Gators plopped down. Nobody said a word, but I was like, man, I've got to go back to Honduras."

Richt said he did get some good-natured ribbing.

"I got a couple of these (Gator chomps) … I mean, they're everywhere," Richt said. "But I also had a lot of great Bulldogs barking."

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