February 11, 2009

One Nasty Lineman

Not that Stacy Searels needs any help walking down the mean streets of Athens, but redshirt offensive lineman A.J. Harmon has his position coach's back just in case.

"I just want him to know that I'll always try my best for him and never let him down," Harmon said. "If he ever needs me to walk down a dark alley with him, I'd do it. I'll do anything for him."

That's not all Harmon wants Searels to know.

Since he made the switch to offense from the defensive line toward the middle of last year, Harmon has been doing whatever he can to learn as much as he can as quick as he can so he can make an impact this fall.

"I want to be that lineman that he's (Searels) always been looking for, a nasty SOB," Harmon said. "I have heard him talk to other people about that. I know he probably doesn't think I listen, but when he gets that little whisper in his voice, he sounds just like my dad."

Georgia fans might not recognize Harmon when they see him during the G-Day Game April 11 at Sanford Stadium.

When he arrived in Athens last June, the 6-foot-5 native of Wadley showed up weighing 345 pounds. Today, Harmon is proud to announce that he weighs a trim 318.

"At first I wasn't sure if I was going to make it the way the coaches were running me," Harmon said. "I'd be doing extra cardio after practice, extra cardio on the weekend, extra cardio at other time. I'm not lying, it was hard. But once I saw the weight start to drop I realized they knew what they were doing."

Harmon said he's currently penciled in at left guard behind starter Cordy Glenn, although like all of Georgia's linemen, will be expected to learn how to play tackle as well.

"That's the way Coach Searels is. He wants his guys to know how to play the other positions," he said. "If you don't fine, but it's in your best interest. Coach Searels loves to be able to rotate guys in, add new ingredients for his sauce."

Playing different positions on the line - be it offense or defense - is nothing new for Harmon.

During his standout career at Jefferson High, coaches there would often play Harmon according to the strength out of the opposing team.

"Wherever they needed me is where I played," Harmon said. "I always did what's best for the team."

That's the same kind of attitude Harmon took when head coach Mark Richt approached him in the middle of last year and asked if he would consider switching to the offensive side of the ball.

"As God and every else knows, if I could switch back (to defense) I'd do it in a minute but because I respect Coach Richt so much, I trust him, whatever he wants me to do I'm fine with. I trust Coach Richt like I do my own father. So when he asked me, I said 'Sure, Coach, I can do that.'"

Harmon said his job now is to impress Richt and Searels enough to be able to get on the field come fall.

So far, he likes the progress he's made.

"Every day I tell myself that I need to do something to impress the coaches," he said. "But I'll let the coaches decide how much progress I've made. If I don't stress about that I won't mess up, that's how I look at it. All I'm looking at doing now is learning the playbook and concentrate on the guy in front of me. If I can learn where he's weak, I can use that knowledge to my advantage. I think everything is going to be Ok."



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