ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football senior offensive guard Kendall Baker says he’s rolling through the heat of August camp, “just doing what I’ve got to do,” a clear vision of challenges and goals ahead.
The more Baker talked following Thursday’s practice, the more obvious it was by coach Kirby Smart chose him to speak to the media.
Smart hasn’t allowed either of his quarterbacks to speak — a curiosity considering the level of interest and leadership they wield.
Baker, one of four returning starters on the offensive line, is a leader of a different sort.
“I worked real hard this offseason because I knew what was coming,” said Baker, the smallest of the projected Bulldogs offensive line starters at 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds.
“I knew that I had a lot of stuff to do to make the team better and make myself better,” Baker said, “If I wanted to stay out there and do what I had to do this last season.”
Here are 4 interesting things gleaned from Baker’s interview
Some project redshirt sophomore Solomon Kindley as the backup to Baker at left guard, but incoming freshman Jamaree Salyer might ultimately work his way into the mix.
“There’s definitely more competition out there with competition [from] those young recruits coming up pushing us, the older guys, to do what we’ve got to do to get better,” Baker said. “If you don’t, then you get your spot taken.
“[Salyer] is massive, he’s going to play well, he just has to keep his mind caught up to his feet.”
Baker started 14 games at left guard last season, so he’s approaching this season with a more veteran mindset.
“I feel like now I’ve owned it a little bit more, because last year was my ‘wow’ season, [like] ‘wow’ this is a big moment for me” Baker said. “But now it’s like, relax and own what you do, think about your next step, don’t let the moment be too big.
“Lamont [Gaillard], we worked out all summer, didn’t really take a break, and came back and did what we had to do, and we’re feeling it on the field too.”
Baker said he continues to tip the scales at the same weight as last season, but it’s a different 305.
“I feel like the weight that I put on was better weight because I’m still about 305,” Baker said, “so I transferred my weight from that fat to the muscle.”
Baker certainly carries a more chiseled appearance, more athletic than wide. That could come in handy should he be called upon to slide over to tackle.
“I play some tackle every once in a while, right [tackle] here, left [tackle] there, just to see what the vibe is going to be if somebody goes down.”
Andrew Thomas’ progress
“Andrew is a great guy, he’s a great leader and when he’s going, we’re going too,” Baker said, discussing the returning FWAA Freshman All-American who is moving from right tackle to left tackle.
“Anybody can take over at any given time, and when it’s his time and moment to push us as a unit, he’ll step up and do it,” Baker said. “He doesn’t mind doing that at all.”
Clearly, neither does Baker.