The Georgia Bulldogs lost a lot of veteran leadership from the 2006 team, but one outspoken returning player has taken on the leadership role in 2007 with open arms. Senior free safety Kelin Johnson knows he needs to instill his leadership and wisdom in the young Georgia defense this spring if they want to play at the level they are capable of playing at. UGASports caught up with Johnson to ask him about adjusting to the leadership position and replacing seven defensive starters from the 2006 team.
Question: What do you have to do to replace Tra Battle's leadership and playmaking on the field in the secondary?
Johnson: "Tra had a magnificent mind and a wonderful thinker. He always thought everything through on all his tasks and he made sure we understood what we were doing on the field. He explained everything to the younger guys, even to me, and even Paul Oliver. We try to help each other out, but I believe the type of leadership he instilled this past season will be with us this season as well. I believe that C.J. Byrd, Bryan Evans, Ramarcus Brown, and those guys in the secondary on the team need their minds to come together. If they do, we will be ok and that will equal out Tra Battle's mind. I think we will be alright."
Question: What do you expect out of C.J. Byrd this spring as your new partner at the safety position?
Johnson: "C.J. is so physical and quick. His first step is so quick and he is explosive when he hits. I do not see us losing anything having another safety back there with me that has size, is smart, and can cover just like Tra. C.J. has been ready to play since his sophomore year and he helped us out a lot on special teams. I am happy to see him blossom and he is going to blossom this spring. I cannot wait to be playing next to him."
Question: What will it be like for you when you line up in practice and you have six new players in front of you on the defensive line and at linebacker?
Johnson: "It may seem strange, but you have to adjust to your surroundings. The leadership at middle linebacker with Brandon Miller and Oliver on the edge makes me feel comfortable. That is what mat drills are about and that is what fall camp is about, building relationships with those young players and the older guys. I feel like it will be pretty much the same. We are losing some big playmakers Tony Taylor, Quentin Moses, and Charles Johnson so it will definitely be different, but I believe those young guys will step right up and be as big a name as the older guys were. I cannot wait because there are a lot of big names out there that are ready to blossom."
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