ATHENS — It looks like a fourth freshman will be joining Georgia’s starting offense in Saturday’s game against Tennessee.
A fifth freshman may not be far behind.
Aron White, a redshirt freshman from Columbia, Mo., is expected to start at tight end after Georgia lost senior Tripp Chandler to a shoulder injury in its Sept. 27 loss to Alabama. Another tight end, Bruce Figgins, also suffered a shoulder injury that eventually will require surgery, but he may play a backup role against Tennessee.
Before the injuries, White (6-4, 225) was not making a push for playing time for No. 10 Georgia.
“Aron White actually has taken the bull by the horns,” said coach Mark Richt. “He’s seizing the opportunity. He’s actually blocking better than he’s ever blocked. He’s got more energy than he’s ever had.”
Richt said the emergence of White has been a pleasant surprise.
“When you’re third string you have a certain mentality,” Richt said. “It’s hard to have that eye of the tiger or whatever you want to call it. Well now you’re the starter, you know what I mean? Now, it’s different for him and he’s practicing extremely well.”
Another new name at tight end is Kiante Tripp, who opened the season as a starting tackle.
Richt called Tripp a “full-time tight end.”
“He’s not taking any reps at tackle right now,” Richt said.
“He’s a capable blocker and actually has very good hands as he’s learning what to do.”
Richt said “there’s a very good chance” Figgins will play.
“We’re maybe not as thin at tight end as some people think right now,” he said.
Chandler started the first five games and has three catches for 43 yards.
Tripp, now No. 83, is wearing his sixth different jersey number since coming to Georgia. Tripp began his career as a defensive end, when he was assigned No. 47. Since moving to offense, he has worn Nos. 64, 75, 92 and 94.
Georgia also lists freshmen center Ben Jones, right tackle Justin Anderson and receiver A.J. Green as starters.
Meanwhile, freshman Cordy Glenn could start at left guard ahead of sophomore Chris Davis. Glenn started the first three games at right guard.
Richt said the 6-foot-5, 331-pound Glenn only needs to prove he is “very confident in what to do.”
“He very early on gave us confidence he was going to be ready to play this year,” Richt said.
Richt said defensive end Rod Battle (neck) may play but said receiver Kris Durham (ankle) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (knee) will miss the game.
Battle started the first two games.
Richt rated Battle’s chances to play at “over 50 percent.”
Green leads the team with 22 catches for 388 yards and three touchdowns.
The 6-foot-4 Green had 8 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown in Georgia’s win at Arizona State on Sept. 20 and added six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown against Alabama.
“He’s a stud,” said senior receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. “He’s a guy who’s going to get better and better.”
Massaquoi is second on the team with 18 catches for 228 yards and two touchdowns.
Wednesday’s steady rain forced Georgia to split its roster into two groups for split indoor practice sessions at the Ramsey Center, the on-campus multipurpose facility.
The first group worked out for about an hour on basketball courts while the other players had meetings. The groups then swapped.