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March 5, 2010Jakar Hamilton has been at Georgia ever since enrolling midway through December.
But Thursday's first day of spring practice was special.
"It was great," Hamilton said in an interview with UGASports. "It was fun just running around, getting to know my teammates a little bit better, getting to know the playbook a little bit better, getting to know the coaches and just see how everything is functioning."
Sure, there was some adjusting to do.
Hamilton said there were definitely some initial moments of trepidation.
"The first part of practice was kind of slow learning the new defense, because with me running a 3-3-5 at GMC and coming to a 3-4," Hamilton said. "But the more reps that I got the better things started coming to me."
Bulldog coaches are certainly expecting the 6-foot-2, 196-pounder to pick up the system quickly.
Although a depth chart will not be released until possibly after the G-Day game April 10, there's little doubt that many are expecting Hamilton to come in and earn a starting role.
Although he can play either of the safety positions, Hamilton and Bacarri Rambo took turns at free safety, although it would not be surprising to see both athletes on the field at the same time when Georgia opens its season against Louisiana-Lafayette.
"Everybody is good. Rambo got to work at free safety with me, but this whole crew is working hard to learn the new season because we know we're going to need everybody once the season starts," Hamilton said. "But right now it's a battle; it's very competitive out there."
But Hamilton has never been scared of a little competition.
Rated as the nation's second-best junior college safety by Rivals.com, Hamilton earned the rank of Captain in the GMC Cadet Corps during a standout career at the Milledgeville military school.
Hamilton knows many expect him to reach similar goals in Athens. So does he.
"I want to impress the coaches and I think I've done that through mat drills. I'm hard-working player, so just learning the new plays," he said. "Once I come back from spring break I'll be out there busting my tail. I'm sure I'm more athletic, so I just try to go out and do my best."
Modesty is apparently one of "The Hitman's" qualities as well.
Recently, several of his teammates bragged on how easily Hamilton was zipping through mat drills.
Or did he?
"It wasn't easy, it got me one time," Hamilton said. "My legs tightened up. It was during Coach (Tony) Ball's shuttle drill. I hate it. I get nervous every time I go through that drill but it's a great experience."
Hamilton said new secondary coach Scott Lakatos has helped ease his adjustment into his current role.
"Coach (Lakatos) is real calm," Hamilton said. "He doesn't really fuss a lot, but if you mess up he tells you what you need to know. I look forward to working with him."
Hamilton laughed that he thought that would be the case with new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Wrong.
"When we messed up today, his voice got raise a little a little bit," Hamilton winked. "I imagine he'll get even louder once we put the pads on. But he's on point with everything he does, and he expects us to be on point, too."
Although it may take time learning a new scheme, Hamilton believes the defense will do just that.
"It's helped that we've had time to study the film before taking it out on the field," Hamilton said. "But we're going to have to keep studying. We've still got of work to do."