Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason is taking all the snaps in practice this week, but that's not the biggest difference for the redshirt junior as he prepares for his first career start Saturday at Georgia Tech.
"I'm taking the same approach, and my preparation steps are the same," Mason told reporters Tuesday in Athens. "You just get a few more text messages and a few more phone calls. That's what has changed the most for me."
Quarterback D.J. Shockley and defensive end David Pollack are among the former Bulldogs players who have sent best wishes to Mason, who became the new starter after Aaron Murray tore a knee ligament in the second quarter of Saturday night's 59-17 win over Kentucky. Murray visited with Mason on Monday night and underwent ACL surgery Tuesday.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said at his weekly news conference that Mason has worked hard for this opportunity.
"In the spring, he's with the second-team offensive line and the second-team offense versus the No. 1 defense," Richt said, "and you've got to try and have some success in that situation. That's not always easy to do, but he's been able to do that. He's been able to make plays and get drives going when maybe other people would have folded up."
Mason didn't fold up but rather bowed up to starting inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera during a practice this spring. The 6-foot-3, 202-pounder from Marietta said he was rolling right when he felt that Herrera delivered a cheap shot.
"I let him know how I felt," Mason said. "One thing led to another, but after practice it was over."
In three games this season, Mason has completed 24 of 35 passes (68.6 percent) for 349 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His appearances have come against North Texas, Appalachian State and Kentucky, with the Bulldogs leading by at least 17 points at the time of his entrance.
Richt discussed two high school prospects by name Tuesday, and he won't get in trouble for mentioning either one.
Under new NCAA rules, coaches can talk about recruits who plan to enroll early and have signed a financial-aid agreement with their school. The agreement, like a commitment, is nonbinding, and prospects can sign them with more than one school.
Josh Malone of Gallatin, Tenn., who is Rivals.com's No. 3 receiver nationally, signed an agreement with Georgia and with other schools as well. Malone is also considering Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and Tennessee.
"I think the guy is a dynamic player," Richt said. "With the knowledge that he would gain in the spring and through the summer and to have a guy like Chris Conley to mentor him, he could take advantage of his skill sets, which I think are outstanding."
Richt also discussed Jacob Park of Goose Creek, S.C., whom Rivals.com rates as the nation's No. 5 pro-style quarterback. Park committed to Georgia in July and took his official visit this past weekend.
"We want guys that are really good passers," Richt said. "He's an outstanding passer."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs practiced Tuesday for two hours in full pads at the Atlanta Falcons' indoor complex in Flowery Branch. ... Junior safety Corey Moore (knee) missed the workout, while freshman safety Tray Matthews (hamstring and shoulder) was limited. ... Richt said there is an open competition this week between punters Collin Barber and Adam Erickson, who got the nod last week and kicked a 51-yarder. ... Sophomore receiver Justin Scott-Wesley underwent surgery for his ACL tear Tuesday after undergoing meniscal repair earlier. ... Arkansas announced Tuesday that its home game next season against Georgia would be held in Little Rock.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...