When Georgia coach Mark Richt announced that Marcus Washington had slipped past Marcus Dowtin on the depth chart at Mike linebacker, many outside the Bulldog football program wondered aloud if this might have been some sort of indictment on the way the sophomore from Maryland had been playing this spring.
On the contrary:
According to Richt, Washington's promotion was more of an indication of how well he's recently played, and not a punishment for something that Dowtin did wrong.
"It was more of that Marcus (Washington) was doing and not something that (Dowtin) wasn't," Richt said. "(Dowtin) has done everything we've asked."
That includes his springtime move to Mike. Last year, Dowtin backed up Rennie Curran at Will.
"I actually like Will better but Mike might give me a chance to play more," Dowtin said. "Basically, I'm trying to learn all three positions so I can get on the field a lot more."
Linebackers coach John Jancek said that versatility is always a key.
Much like assistant Stacey Searels does with the offensive line, Jancek demands that his linebackers cross train to learn each position.
The fact that Dowtin didn't put up a fuss when approached about the move Jancek said says a lot about his maturity.
"I think Marcus has really come on in terms of attitude and work ethic. He works harder than when he first got here, buying into the Georgia way of doing things," Jancek said. "Those are the things that are going to be most important his development and he has made strides in that area. He just has to be more consistent, but he's working hard on that and if he can just show up with the right mentality and work hard every day he can be a pretty good player for us."
Dowtin is actually one of four players the Bulldogs listed as Mike linebacker at the conclusion of sprig drills.
That list includes starter Akeem Dent, Washington and Charles White, who is now 100 percent after recovering from a torn Achilles.
Dowtin said he expects himself to take another positive step this fall. Last year, Dowtin appeared in all 13 games for Georgia and finished as the leading tackler among the true freshmen with 17.
"That gave me some confidence but I know I can still do better," Dowtin said. "I just want to make a difference."
Dowtin is certainly putting the effort into his weight training to make that happen. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Dowtin said he is almost 15 pounds heavier than this time last year, but claims to have not lost a step.
"The training staff has done a good job of lowering my body fat and I've learned how to do some different lifts which have helped me do that while maintaining my quickness," Dowtin said. "They've also got me working on specific speed drills and other explosive workouts that I'm able to carry over and use on the field."
The rest, specifically when it comes to earning the playing time he wants, Dowtin said will be up to him.
"In high school I always was in a position of leadership so I was comfortable with that position," he said. "I just need to keep doing what I've been doing. I know I can go out there and make plays. I just have to do it."
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