INDIANAPOLIS — Georgia’s much-hyped offensive line will have a drastically different look to it in 2020.
Gone will be multi-year starters in Andrew Thomas, Isaiah Wilson and Solomon Kindley. They all elected to head to the NFL draft and each one figures to hear their name called at some point during the 2020 NFL Draft.
Those aren’t the only significant losses the Bulldogs will see at the position, as Cade Mays, the projected starter at left tackle, transferred back home to Tennessee. And to top it all off, offensive line coach Sam Pittman left to become the head coach at Arkansas.
But for those expecting Georgia’s offensive line to take a step back and regress under new offensive line coach Matt Luke might want to backtrack on those thoughts.
“If you’re sleeping on them, then they’re going to wake you up,” Wilson said at the combine. “And I can’t wait to watch them wake you up.”
While the Bulldogs must replace some high-profile names, it’s not like they’ve recruited poorly at the position in the past couple of cycles. The Bulldogs have a nice blend of both depth and young talent still returning next year.
Center Trey Hill figures to be the leader of the offensive line as he enters his third year in the program. Ben Cleveland will also provide a boost as he will return for his redshirt senior season.
There’s also Jamaree Salyer, who every Georgia offensive linemen raved about at the combine. He’s a former 5-star recruit and the No. 1 ranked guard coming out of high school. But given the talent he had in front of him, he hasn’t seen the field much.
That began to change when Thomas and Wilson bypassed playing in the Sugar Bowl, which allowed Salyer to earn the start at right tackle. He filled in well for Wilson and played a key role in the Bulldogs coming away with a 26-14.
Now he’s seen as one of the building blocks for this group going forward.
“They’re young kids but they work so hard,” Kindley said of Salyer and Hill. “They’re leaders and if you go around them, they have great character. If you go around them, you’d think they’re one of us.
“We think they could come out this year because of the way they walk and carry themselves.”
Salyer could play at either guard or tackle this coming season, as he worked at both spots in 2019. Georgia could also slide in Justin Shaffer at one of the guard spots now that he’s been cleared to return to the game after sustaining a neck injury this past season.
Thomas also gave media members another name to be on the look out for this coming fall in Xavier Truss. The offensive lineman from Rhode Island redshirted this past season but big things are expected of him as he could possibly fill Thomas’ shows at left tackle.
On National Signing Day, Kirby Smart made sure to highlight Truss as someone who could replace Thomas, while also pumping the brakes on the idea of a true freshman replacing the three-year starter. Thomas himself thinks that now that Truss is adapted to the college lifestyle, he’s got a chance to make a pretty strong contribution.
As for the architect of Georgia’s next wall of offensive linemen, Kindley raved about Luke for his efforts during the bowl game. He came over from Ole Miss where he had been previously the head coach. He might now be the most over-qualified offensive line coach in the country.
Add all of it together and it is understandable to see why the likes of Thomas, Kindley and Wilson don’t expect there to be any drop-off without them next season.
“I think they have a lot of talent and a great coach so they’re going to be good,” Thomas said.
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