Continuing our look at the Georgia football position battles, we look at the interior offensive line:
The swing guard for the Georgia football team for the 2016 season. He played in all 13 games last season and started in two of the last three. Despite the experience, Sims was not the answer to an interior that struggled for much of the year. The line saw no improvement when he came in and despite being 6-4, at only 309 lbs, he lacks the size of many of the freshmen down the list.
The starting left guard last season, While he has good feet, the issue with Wynn is his size. At only 6-2 and 280 lbs, he gets overpowered far too often at the point of attack. His experience gives him the upper hand early, but his lack of size hampers the bulldogs power run game.
The starting right guard for 2016, Gaillard started all 13 games last season. Having won the award for most improved player on the offense during the spring, he struggled like the rest of the line for much of the season. At 6-2 301 lbs, he’s not the most powerful player, but he does have decent athleticism. A converted DT, he will likely play better next to some better linemen in 2017.
the 6-4 336 lbs lineman played one snap in 2016 but ended up getting a redshirt from the NCAA. Kindley has more experience at guard than other redshirt Cleveland but lacks his overall potential. That being said, the two of them could well end up battling each other for a 2017 starting spot.
Originally a tackle prospect in the 2016 recruiting class, Cleveland spent all of the year adjusting to the jump to college. He was incredibly young (only 18 all season) but he’s built to be a dominant lineman. Already 6-4, 341 lbs wrecking machine, he has the size and power to be an impact player on the line. His sub-par footwork will be less of an issue in the interior and he’s a player to watch this spring.
The #7 ranked guard in the 2017 class, Johnson is a big recruit with impressive athleticism. Already more than 340 lbs before he enters college, Johnson is the kind of player who will impress as soon as he arrives. Dawgnation’s Jeff Sentell did a great piece on on Johnson that can be found here and gives you a great idea of the kind of guy he is. The ‘Mummy Rolls’ part is particularly amazing.
More from Dawn of the Dawg
- Georgia Football: Top 5 Nick Chubb Moments at Georgia
- Georgia Football: Know the enemy UAB Blazers
- Nick Chubb is America’s running back, and he will return
- Georgia Football: Should laundry list of injuries be a cause to panic?
- Georgia Football: Report cards for Week 3 game against South Carolina
Shaffer played alongside Johnson at Cedar Grove high school but was much more under the radar than Netori. He’s even bigger than Johnson, weighing more than 350 lbs and despite only being a 3 star, was directly targeted by OL coach Sam Pittman. ESPN’s Edward Aschoff recently named him as the ‘Under the Radar’ UGA prospect to watch.
Much more competition that last year at Guard:
Much like offensive tackle, 2017 is going to be a very different year for the interior of the line. Wynn and Sims will likely go into spring training as the starting guards but after a rough 2016 season, they will be promised nothing. While both of them truly did their best this past year, their overall lack of size makes them poor fits for a power run scheme. One of the biggest changes we should expect to see this year is UGA turning to some bigger underclassmen in this position group.
With so many top offensive tackle prospects coming in, 2016’s tackle recruit Ben Cleveland will likely move inside where he has the size to be dominant. He will compete alongside another redshirted freshman Solomon Kindley in spring training and both have a chance to win those interior jobs. With both players currently coming in at over 340 lbs, they offer much more size than Wynn and Sims and fan should be hoping to see at least one of them win a starting job.
Netori Johnson and Justin Shaffer already offer more size than the current incumbents. Although they are not on campus until the Summer, they will seriously push those players for time immediately. While its’s unlikely that two freshmen will start at guard straight away, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them win out eventually.
Will anyone other than Gaillard try out for Center:
After starting at right guard for much of last year, Gaillard’s best bet to start in 2017 is to move to center. Despite so much young talent come in, none have experience playing center. Having backed up Brandon Kublanow last year, Gaillard currently has the most experience at the position.
Kublanow was the definition of a ‘Darn good Dawg’. A tough player who bled red and black but his physical limitations were clear for much of 2016. Gaillard is not much bigger and could have several of the same issues, but he would benefit from being surrounded by size. His quicker feet and athleticism would be a nice contrast to the power and size of the freshmen.
It’s unlikely that freshmen will learn the center position to backup Gaillard this year. Sims essentially backed up all of the interior positions last year and will likely take the second spot at center. It will be interesting to see if someone like Kindley ends up taking backup snaps here to try and have the inside track at the position in 2018.
Projected Depth chart:
LG: RG: C:
Starting the season, the interior of the offensive line could have more experience than the tackles. We’re only predicting Ben Cleveland to start on opening day, but things will likely change as the season goes on. Kindley, Johnson and Shaffer all look like potential starters at guard and as fans shouldn’t be surprised in Wynn eventually ends up out of the lineup by years end.
Georgia is determined to succeed with the power running game that they struggled with so much in 2016. Big, strong and physical interior linemen will be crucial if they are to achieve that goal. Even with extra experience, look for talent and size to win out later in the season as the freshmen start to take over this position group.