ATHENS — Warren McClendon is Georgia’s starting right tackle. Amairus Mims is his backup. McClendon is Georgia’s most senior starter to this point, manning the right tackle position for 28 consecutive starts.
Mims might have the highest upside of any offensive lineman on the Georgia team, with his massive 6-foot-8, 320-pound frame being the most obvious reason.
“Mims is an extreme talent,” offensive lineman Tate Ratledge said. “Just looking at him you can tell that. Playing next to him he’s definitely grown with his physicality and understanding the game. He brings a good attitude.”
Yet despite their standing on the team, with Mims pushing for playing time and regularly rotating in at right tackle for Georgia, the biggest reason for Mims’ internal improvement is McClendon.
The fourth-year offensive tackle has taken it upon himself to make sure Mims maximizes his talent at Georgia.
“Amarius is like my little brother,” McClendon told reporters this week. “We sit next to each other in the meetings. We talk every day. I push him, he pushes me. When he’s getting better, he’s pushing me to get better. It’s a good little bond we have.”
Ratledge says that McClendon tries to have some sort of relationship with every Georgia offensive tackle. It’s who McClendon is as a person. But the Georgia offensive guard recognizes that there is something different about the bond Mims and McClendon have together.
This past spring, Mims flirted with leaving Georgia and entered the transfer portal. It’s understandable given the college football world we currently reside in. Mims is good enough to start on a lot of offensive lines in the country.
Related: Amarius Mims on his time in the transfer portal: ‘Georgia was the best place for me’
He also recognized that wasn’t the case with Georgia because of McClendon.
“He’s the most technically sound offensive tackle I’ve ever met in my life,” Mims told reporters last week. “I learn so much from him. I may be bigger than him but I watch his game more than anybody I know. I ask him for tips, like what can I do to get better. Sit down in the film room together.
“I’ve modeled my game after him more. Like that big brother role.”
Mims has taken first-team reps in every game, normally entering in the third series of the game, with the exception of the Kent State game where he came in at right tackle for McClendon for the fourth drive of the game.
Much like an ever-proud brother, McClendon lights up when he talks about the improvements made by Mims.
“I’ve seen him grow a lot,” McClendon said. “Talking more, seeing more stuff before it happens, make calls. Let everybody else know that we may have a backside pressure coming or a front side pressure coming. Just talking more and seeing stuff better.
Mims’ day in the sun will no doubt come. McClendon will be in the NFL when that happens and given the tips he’s passed down to Mims, he’s likely not too far behind McClendon.
For as much as Kirby Smart preaches competition, there’s also a very tight connection throughout this team. The bond between the veteran McClendon and the younger Mims might illustrate that better than anything.
“Warren is a great leader,” Ratledge said. “He doesn’t show it as much vocally out in front of everybody but behind the scenes he’s really a vocal leader trying to help everybody. Their relationship is very close.”
Warren McClendon discusses his relationship with Amarius Mims
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