Sedrick Van Pran never envisioned himself as a center. As a freshman in high school, Van Pran was originally a defensive tackle. When first told by his coach that he needed to learn how to snap a football, he was perplexed and predictably terrible at it in his own words.
Now, he might be the starting center for the Bulldogs when they take the field on Sept. 4 against the Clemson Tigers.
Van Pran eventually became one of the most coveted prospects in the country, as he was the No. 1 overall center prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. He ended up leaving New Orleans to come play for offensive line coach Matt Luke and Georgia.
After redshirting in 2020, Van Pran had been thought of as a candidate to potentially push for a starting spot. Few expected though he would do so due to an injury to Warren Ericson.
The junior started the final two games of the 2020 season at the center position and seemed to have cemented himself as a starter for the opener. Then Ericson suffers a hand injury that kept him out for part of fall camp. Ericson was able to return to practice on Thursday, but did so with a massive club on his snapping hand.
“It will just be a matter of playing with a cast,” Kirby Smart said. “We have had people play with that injury, but we have never had a center with a snapping hand play with that injury, so that will be the key. He may work some at guard with that injury present.”
Related: Warren Ericson returns to Georgia practice
That meant that Van Pran would see a great number of snaps while Ericson recovered. He had ascended to being Georgia’s starting center.
“I don’t think it has been that much of an adjustment,” Van Pran said on making the move to first-team center. “I think that Coach Smart does a great job at getting a lot of guys reps, especially guys that are expected to help. He does a great a great job of rotating guys in and getting them some work.”
It’s not yet determined who will have the unenviable task of trying to block Tyler Davis, Bryan Bresee and the rest of Clemson’s strong defensive line. Ericson is working on being able to snap with his right hand in hopes of being able to start.
The junior though has also been helping the younger Van Pran as he adjusts to snapping at the college level.
“One thing that I love about the dynamic of me and Warren is that we always try to help each other out,” Van Pran said. “It is supposed to be a competition but at the end of the day we all want to win. With Warren, it’s helping him get his snaps correctly, working with him on his opposite hand, and with me getting my snaps done correctly with moves and stuff like that.”
While some may have thought Van Pran was capable of sliding right in as an SEC caliber notion, he downplayed that while speaking to reporters on Thursday. Van Pran admits he needed to improve in pass protection and that the speed of the game really didn’t start to slow down until this past spring.
Van Pran will have another chance to show what he’s capable of this coming Saturday as Georgia holds its second scrimmage. Jamaree Salyer also received first-team reps at center in the first scrimmage held last weekend. With Ericson back on the field, it’ll be pivotal for Van Pran to continue to improve.
He does know what he needs to work on though if he’s going to end up being the starting center for Georgia’s opener against the No. 3 Tigers.
“Playing above the neck, that would be my biggest thing,” Van Pran said. “I think I do a good job of it but you can never be too sure as a younger player. You can always improve. Seeing different things, different safety rotations, that can always be a big help.”
Sedrick Van Pran updates center competition for Georgia football
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