ATHENS — With less than a week to go before the season opener, No. 9 Georgia finally has a starting quarterback.
Coach Mark Richt announced Monday that Greyson Lambert, a transfer who started nine games for Virginia last season, had won the starting job over sophomore Brice Ramsey and junior Faton Bauta.
Ramsey was the backup last season to Hutson Mason.
After a competition that stretched throughout preseason practice, Ramsey remains No. 2 on the depth chart.
Lambert, a junior in terms of eligibility, will start Saturday’s opener against Louisiana-Monroe at Sanford Stadium.
It was apparent in recent days that it was down to Lambert and Ramsey for the starting job. Lambert was told before Monday’s practice that he’ll start.
Richt said all three quarterback continue to battle for the job, and there’s no guarantee that Lambert will be the starter all season. But the coach felt it was important to choose a clear-cut starter heading into the first game.
“There may be others that get in the game, but he’s the starter,” Richt said. “It’s been a very, very close competition and it’s still being contested. But at this point, we felt it was wise to name the starter and get him the reps with the No. 1 unit.”
Richt said he continues to have faith in all three quarterbacks.
“They all can get us in the right plays, they all can get us in the right protections and they all can function well and help us win,” the coach said. “That’s what made it so tough.”
Asked what separated Lambert from the pack, Richt responded, “It was just a cumulative grade so to speak, a cumulative performance.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer told the quarterbacks of the decision before Monday’s two-hour practice.
“Coach Schottenheimer and I were pretty sure on Saturday,” Richt said. “This morning, we talked about it one last time.”
Richt called one of the toughest decisions of his coaching career.
“It’s a big deal because it’s a big position, and it’s one where normally you don’t roll guys in and out,” Richt said. “Every other position you do that, but quarterbacks tend not to do that. It was a tough decision because they’re all extremely hard workers, they’re smart and they’re talented. They’ve all done well in our opinion.”
Ramsey and Bauta came out of Georgia’s spring practice as the co-leaders for the quarterback job.
Then Lambert got into the mix after losing his starting job at Virginia during the spring. Because he is a graduate, he could enroll at Georgia and be eligible immediately, without having to sit out a year.
At Virginia, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder was beaten out by Matt Johns. Coach Mike London said the competition “wasn’t close.”
The Cavaliers finished 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. Lambert, who missed three games with an ankle injury, threw for 1,632 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
For his career with at Virginia, Lambert completed 187 of 336 passes (55.7 percent) for 1,972 yards with 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Lambert’s big edge was his experience, even though he is new to Schottenheimer’s system.
Ramsey and Bauta have combined for only 44 pass attempts in their careers.