March 28, 2011

Will a fit for Washington

A new position has junior Cornelius Washington hopeful of finally being able to fulfill the potential many perceived he'd eventually realize when he signed with Georgia three years ago.

After starting eight games at Sam linebacker for the Bulldogs last fall, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has moved the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder over to Will, the position left vacated by Justin Houston following his decision to leave early for the NFL.

It's a move Washington said he was happy to make.

"I'm definitely looking to do a whole lot better," Washington said. "Although we've just had three practices, I feel like I'm doing real well. But I can still get better."

Physically, Washington would appear to have all the tools, although in two years he's yet to make the kind of impact he thought he would have by now.

Last year Washington started eight of 12 games for the Bulldogs, making 24 tackles, including three for losses of six yards and one sack.

By moving to Will, Washington expects those numbers to improve.

Last year, Houston collected team-high 10 sacks playing the position last fall. Although Washington isn't making any predictions, the opportunities for making more plays will be there for sure.

"With Sam, you're playing the tight end and you have a few more coverage drops. With Will, you do a little more rushing the passer and less drops. I'm definitely looking forward to have some of those same opportunities."

Washington is also interested in seeing what kind of change will be in store for the entire defense come fall.

The Bulldogs scuffled in their first year of trying to pick up Grantham's 3-4 scheme, so much in fact that head coach Mark Richt could not recall a single time last season when the defense played with a total understanding of what was going on.

This time last year, Washington and the rest of the defense were spending each and every day during spring trying to absorb the basics of what Grantham was trying to install.

Although it remains to be seen the kind of difference a season will make on the field, at least from a familiarity standpoint, there is no comparison to what's happening now.

"You have no idea," Washington said. "I didn't really think it would be like it was last year, but now with a season under our belt having studied it like we have, it's amazing how much more comprehensive we are about things."

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