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Bulldogs' Tony Milton competing for starting job at fullback

By by the Associated Press
ATHENS - Down to his last college season, Tony Milton says he will do whatever it takes to get on the field.

For the former starting tailback, that includes moving to fullback for No. 13 Georgia.

Milton, a senior, has joined freshman Brannan Southerland in the competition for the starting fullback job. Des Williams, a junior who was the favorite to start at fullback, was lost for the season last month with an injury suffered while working in the weight room.

Milton was known as the most physical blocker among the Georgia tailbacks. With Thomas Brown, Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin competing for playing time at tailback, Milton's move was not a surprise.

``I'm more than willing to do anything to help the team,'' Milton said Monday. ``The coaches came to me and asked me if I would make the move. It's pretty much the same thing as tailback, the same blocking assignments.''

Milton (5-11, 200) and Southerland (6-0, 235) are sharing snaps with the first-string offense.

Southerland, the more natural fullback, was pushing for a starting job even before Williams' injury, so he remains the favorite to start in the Sept. 3 season opener against Boise State. But Milton continues to rotate every two snaps with Southerland.

``Tony said he had the best offseason he ever had, and he's done real well,'' said running backs coach Kirby Smart. ``He's probably the best pounder we've got as far as just hitting people and moving people. When he lands a blow, it's pretty ferocious.''

Due in part to his experience at tailback, Milton also may be the best candidate to play as an H-back in one-back sets, according to Smart.

Milton has a long history of injuries that caused some concern that he would not be able to withstand the physical demands of the fullback position.

Milton played in all 14 games at tailback as a redshirt freshman in 2002, including one start against Kentucky in which he rushed for 78 yards on 18 carries. He then started three games in 2003 before his season ended with a lower leg injury. More injuries helped limit Milton to three games last season, when he had only 13 carries for 14 yards.

He still says he's not 100 percent.

``What I've got I can go with,'' he said.

Southerland says he and Milton are competing for a starting job without knowing how much the fullback will be used. Georgia plans to blend in some formations with two tailbacks.

``The only thing Tony and I can do is go out and show what the fullback can do for Georgia,'' Southerland said.

``Tony has a great attitude. They asked him to move and he did it. He is always smiling at practice, and we're just out there helping each other out.''

Notes: Three injured receivers Mario Raley (hamstring), A.J. Bryant (shoulder) and Sean Bailey (hamstring) were back at practice Monday. The surprise was Bryant, now listed as probable for the Boise State game. ...

K Andy Bailey will miss four to six weeks with a shoulder injury he suffered in practice Friday. Bailey was Georgia's top kicker most of the 2004 season before losing his job to Brandon Coutu in the final regular season game. Bailey and Coutu again were battling for duty on field goals and extra points when Bailey suffered the injury. Ben Wilson, who saw limited duty on kickoffs last year, now is working behind Coutu. ...

LB Jarvis Jackson, who had offseason shoulder surgery, is back at first-team weakside linebacker. Danny Verdun Wheeler, who had been at weakside linebacker, will compete with Brandon Miller at strongside linebacker. Tony Taylor is the starting middle linebacker.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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