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Davis, Jones vying for chance to fill crucial void.


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No matter who wins the job as Georgia's starting center, the Bulldogs will be undergoing a youth movement at the position where it all begins on offense.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has had the luxury of a senior - Fernando Velasco in 2007 and Nick Jones in 2006 - to deliver the ball to him during his first two seasons.

This spring, redshirt sophomore Chris Davis and freshman Ben Jones are the leading candidates to snap to Stafford.

"(Stafford's) never really had a problem so to speak with snaps, knock on wood," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.

"But the quarterback and the center have to communicate on a lot of what we do in the run and pass game. It's going to be a new guy. Whoever it is, Stafford is going to have to take more of a role in helping the center with blocking schemes. They're going to have to work together."

The 6-foot-4, 292-pound Davis made a smooth transition from tight end as a senior at Jefferson High School to the starter last year at left guard after redshirting in 2006.

Jones, fresh out of Bibb County (Ala.) High School, brings a reputation to Georgia of playing with a nasty disposition, a trait that should serve the 6-foot-2, 306-pounder well in the trenches of the SEC. He came to Georgia already with a reputation of being a "tough son of a gun," from his showing in combine and camp appearances, coach Mark Richt said.

"He's a hard worker, he's intelligent, he's a good guy," Davis said. "I believe he can contribute. The biggest thing about (going from) high school to college is just the pace of the game. That's something I had a hard time learning, just the fast pace of practices because everybody is so much quicker."

Davis calls Jones "a good ole country boy."

"I tell him that he didn't learn what electricity was until he got to Athens," Davis said. "We pick on him all the time and tell him he doesn't have DSL."

Richt doesn't care if his center prefers high-speed or dial-up.

"You've just got to have a guy who knows what he's doing," Richt said.

Davis already should have a good feel after serving as Velasco's backup last year.

"Everybody says the center is like the general of the O-line, the quarterback of the O-line," Davis said. "It's true to a certain extent, but in our offense everybody needs to know what to do. Last year I knew what to do at every position. I have confidence in my team that they know as well."

Stafford isn't overly concerned about how the center competition will shake out this spring. Redshirt freshman Ben Harden and sophomore Kevin Perez are also working at the position.

"I don't think it's a huge deal," Stafford said. "I think we'll have an idea who it's going to be. ... I think we'll find who we need to get in there and it'll work itself out."

If Jones proves a quick study, that would allow coaches the option of moving Davis back to guard, but Davis is fine staying put.

"I enjoy center," Davis said. "I've always said I like having the ball in my hands. The play starts at center. ...I'd like to stay at center, but whatever can help this team out is what I'm going to do. We're going to see what happens."

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