John Theus strode into the designated interview area at the Butts-Mehre football complex Thursday, and it was notable that he did so without the slightest hint of a limp.
The Bulldogs’ regular starting right tackle had just completed his first practice since undergoing offseason foot surgery, and the big redhead was positively beaming after two-plus hours of practice in full pads.
“It definitely felt good to get out there,” Theus said. “No limping. The recovery definitely went well. I’m back out there now, and I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things.”
Theus, a rising sophomore who started all 14 games at right tackle last season, will have to work his way back to first team. He spent Thursday working with the No. 2 offense.
Kenarious Gates, who normally starts at left tackle for the Bulldogs, has spent most for spring as the No. 1 right tackle, and Mark Beard got the majority of the snaps with the first team at left tackle. Redshirt freshman Xzavier Ward also has gotten some snaps at right tackle with the first team.
But it’s reasonable to expect that Theus, who earned freshman All-American honors last season, eventually will settle back into the spot he played all of last season.
“Mainly the big thing today was me just getting back in there and trying to get after it and get back in the swing of things,” Theus said. “Football is a game of repetition. The more you do it, the better you get. It’s just a matter of me getting back into it after the time off.”
Theus had surgery Jan. 23 to repair a fracture in the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot.
Working abroad: Theus hasn’t sat around bemoaning his situation. During spring break two weeks ago he was among eight Georgia players who took two separate mission trips out of the country with his church. Theus joined his brother, Nathan, and fellow offensive linemen Preston Mobley and Hugh Williams on a weeklong excursion to Haiti.
“It was an eye-opening experience without a doubt,” Theus said. “I had a blast, and I’m glad I spent my spring break that way. You hear a lot and you see a lot, especially with the earthquake that happened over there, but you don’t fully understand it until you go over there.”
Theus said their group spent the mornings tilling fields by hand and painting buildings. Afternoons were spent in a Christian teaching setting with Haitian children.
“The kids were just awesome,” Theus said. “They were some of the most loving kids I’ve ever been around. Us bigger guys were human jungle gyms for them. So it was a lot of fun.”
Murray’s a Peach: Quarterback Aaron Murray missed Georgia’s scrimmage Tuesday to be in Atlanta to accept the Peach of an Athlete award from the Boy Scouts.
“It was a fun event,” Murray said. “I got to meet some cool guys. I talked to Champ (Bailey) a little bit and met Calvin Johnson. It was a great event and a huge honor, and I was excited to be a part of it.”
Murray’s biggest concern was missing only his third practice in four years. But he dove into the video from Tuesday’s scrimmage first thing Wednesday and was back on the field with the No. 1 offense Thursday.
“(Backup quarterback) Hutson (Mason) looked good, and the offense played well,” Murray said. “I heard the conditions weren’t great, and you could tell with some of the throws. I saw one get blown all the way across the field. But they did well, and we’ve got to keep doing better.”
He said it: “When you’re a rookie, you drop back and you sling it. He made some nice throws. I think every ball he threw hit somebody’s hands. Three were the defense, but the rest hit the offense, so that was good.”
— Richt on freshman quarterback Brice Ramsey’s scrimmage debut (6-of-10 with three interceptions).
Etc.: The Bulldogs will hold their second full-scale scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning at Sanford Stadium … Dozens of high school football coaches attended Thursday’s practice and dozens more will join them Friday morning as part of UGA’s annual spring clinic. Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden will be Friday’s main speaker. … Linebacker Brandon Burrows sat out Thursday’s practice because of a concussion. Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten also missed the practice with an undisclosed illness. … Injured veterans Michael Bennett (knee) and Chase Vasser (shoulder) are running full speed on the side during practices.