ATHENS – As Georgia coaches continue to give offensive linemen a chance to impress, at least a couple are taking advantage. Including one of the more high profile ones.
Ben Cleveland, who redshirted last season while working mostly at right guard, has been concentrating more at right tackle lately, with good results.
“We were probably unfair to Ben early on because we asked Ben to play guard and tackle, again, to see where these guys fit,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. “After week one, we came back and said, okay let’s put him at just tackle. He had a better week. So this is the start of Week 3, at just tackle, so we want to see where that takes us.”
Cleveland continues to work mostly on the second team, and he’s got a ways to go before he would truly threaten for a starting spot this fall. But the coaches clearly want to see what the 6-foot-6, 340-pounder can offer.
“Because he gives us a little different element at right tackle. He’s a big man. He’s a mountain of a man,” Smart said. “We want to get some movement, some run blocking.”
Allen makes bid to start at guard
Another player making a push is Pat Allen, and in his case it does appear to be for the first team. Allen, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall, has been working at left guard.. Both of the guard spots are open right now, and Allen (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) and redshirt freshman Solomon Kindley (6-4, 341) were getting first-team reps on Tuesday.
“With Solomon and Pat, let’s just say it like it is, there’s a lot more mass at the guard positions,” Smart said. “And we’ll see if it pays off or not.”
Smart was complimentary Tuesday night of how the O-line has done this spring. That’s a hopeful sign for a unit that was the weakest on the team last year, and has three starters to replace.
Offense line overhaul
Right now it looks like there will be a new starter at each spot, with Isaiah Wynn (last year’s left guard starter) close to entrenched at left tackle, and Lamont Gaillard (last year’s right guard) playing center. Those are the only two returning starters.
Dyshon Sims, a rising senior, continues to practice at practically every position, but especially right tackle and left guard. He’s also getting reps at left tackle and center to see if he would be the top candidate there.
It’s all part of the mixing and matching that the coaches are doing this spring, trying to enter fall with a firm plan. Smart also mentioned redshirt freshman Chris Barnes and walk-on transfer Sean Fogarty (who sat out last year) as coming along well.
“The goal, obviously, is to get the best five out there,” Smart said. “And you say what’s the best five, is that pass pro, or is that run blocking? Because some guys are better at other things.”
G-Day is scheduled for April 22. Georgia’s spring game kicks off at 2 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network.