Summer development can be vital

We are officially in the dog days of summer.

The start of preseason practice is still a little less than two months away, but the work never ends.

In fact, the summer months can often times prove invaluable as far as player development.

Georgia coach Mark Richt still marvels at the progress former All-American David Pollack made from the spring following his freshman season in 2001 to the start of his sophomore season in 2002.

“We signed him as a fullback, and he moved to defensive (tackle) his freshman year,” Richt recalled. “Then he moved to defensive end his first spring at Georgia and really wasn’t very much of a factor at all. Jon Stinchcomb was slinging him around. He just wasn’t very good.”

But when Pollack showed up for the start of preseason practice in August, he was a different player.

“(The summer) made an unbelievable difference,” Richt said. “He became the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year, his first time ever playing defensive end.”

Pollack that season became the first SEC defensive player in 14 years to be named by the league as its player of the year. He went on to join Herschel Walker as Georgia’s only three-time, first-team All-America selection.

So, in other words, don’t sleep on how important these summer months can be to a player’s development.

Aaron Murray, the Bulldogs’ redshirt freshman quarterback, has a couple of springs under his belt. But now that everybody knows that he’s the starter going into the season, these summer workout sessions among the players become even more critical for Murray in terms of establishing himself as a leader.

“It’s the one time where there’s no coaching going on, and the players have to organize if they go out there and throw and catch, and the quarterback is the one who usually gets it done,” Richt said. “He’s there every day and encouraging his teammates, and if he’s organized, he’ll gain a lot of respect from his teammates.

“For Murray, the No. 1 guy going in, the biggest thing is taking over the leadership role and getting everybody comfortable around his leadership. That’s the biggest thing he can do to help himself and the team.”