Even with Isaiah Crowell still a part of the Georgia football program, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said both freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley were going to get their opportunity to play.
With Crowell now playing at Alabama State following his recent dismissal, playing time is a concrete fact. But how much?
"We knew we needed depth when they were recruited and we told them there would be an opportunity to play," Bobo said during a Friday sit-down with reporters. "Obviously, there's a bigger opportunity for both Marshall and Gurley now."
They won't be the only ones.
Bobo said he's been very pleased with the continued progress of redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome, who even with Crowell still on board, topped the Bulldogs' post-spring depth chart at the position heading into fall drills.
Richard Samuel also returns.
Samuel, who missed the final six games of 2011 after severely spraining his ankle on the final play against Florida, was originally slated to move to fullback. But with no Crowell, Bobo said coaches have decided to move the senior back to tailback for additional depth.
"Richard wants to do whatever is best for the football team," Bobo said. "During the spring game, he was able to run the ball with some success and he told us not to forget about him at tailback, and we won't because he has a role for that. He had some nagging injuries the past two seasons, so he needs to stay healthy. But If he can stay healthy, he can be productive."
But Bobo said just because Samuel is back at tailback, that doesn't mean that Marshall and Gurley are going to be 'babied' when it comes to getting them ready for early playing time this fall.
"It's just going to depend on how much they can handle," Bobo said. "Obviously, they know how to run the football, but we're still going to have to do some things to help them get the most out of their abilities and help them be successful."
At 5-10 and 210 pounds, Marshall missed most of spring while recovering from a hamstring injury, but the fact he's been on campus since January has given him an early leg up on playing time.
"Keith being here the entire spring, even though he didn't practice the whole spring, has been a big plus because he's been able to study the system and knows the verbiage when it comes to understanding what to do, because he's been in the meeting rooms with Coach (Bryan) McClendon," Bobo said. "Todd is obviously a little bit behind but I've seen him, I know he's studying, plus both know the opportunity they have. They both came to play and they will get their chance."
In other news:
• Bobo said walk-on fullback Merritt Hall - who is listed atop the depth chart - is up to 235 pounds and is a legitimate contender for playing time. He also cited Zander Ogletree as definitely being in the mix and said that freshman Quayvon Hicks - who is up to 270 pounds - will also get his opportunity to impress this fall. "He's solid as a rock," Bobo said. "I hope he can pick it (the system) up because physically he's a guy who can help us at that position."
• Walk-on offensive lineman Hugh Williams has been moved to tight end to provide depth and could help the Bulldogs in short-yardage situations.
• In regards to freshman offensive lineman John Theus, Bobo said his position "is not set in stone until we get out there. I can't answer that question right now."
• Bobo said that freshman linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons will be given the opportunity in camp to see if he can "make some plays" on offense.
Although plenty of questions remain as to who will make up the Bulldogs' offensive line, Bobo did say he did learn something about the largely untested group.
"I learned that they will fight you. We did not start our spring particularly well, which happens in spring sometimes against a very good defense. It took those guys a little time to adjust. For some guys on the first team, going against those two big guys in the middle (John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers) made for some tough sledding," Bobo said. "But they got better and improved, didn't quit and we ended up having our share of days at the end. If you've got an offensive lineman that will fight, claw and scratch, you've got a chance to be pretty good."
Bobo said the prevailing notion by some outside the program that Georgia's offensive line will be a weakness, could perhaps serve the team in a positive way.
"You've got the whole world telling them how bad they are, so they're bonding together," Bobo said. "Plus, they've got Coach Friend driving them and that's making them tighter. I think they'll be ready to go this fall."