ATHENS — The only thing missing from Andrew Thomas’ press dealings and game performances is a business card.
Georgia’s junior Outland Trophy candidate keeps things on the straight and narrow, and he makes no bones about wanting to make sure his teammates do the same moving forward.
“I try to lead by example first, and if I see anything, I’m stepping in and speaking when I can,” said Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound left tackle who ranks among the most universally respected players on the team and in the SEC.
“Obviously we don’t want anything to hurt the Georgia brand. We represent the ‘G,’ so when something like that (an arrest) happens, you’re not too happy with it.”
The Bulldogs look to have their best shot at a national championship for the foreseeable future this season.
Thomas is one of many underclassmen who will have the option of turning professional early.
Indeed, Georgia’s offensive line has ranked as one of the top three in the nation the past two years as a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, and four of the five projected starters will be eligible for the 2020 NFL draft.
Thomas isn’t hiding from that, but he and his teammates know there’s no room for complacency in Coach Sam Pittman’s offensive line meeting room.
“Nobody can be complacent, because any day somebody could take your spot,” Thomas said. “You always have to be on your game and that makes the whole unit better.”
Of the five projected starting lineman, Thomas’ job is probably the most solidified.
But as Thomas learned last season, he’s one step away from the sort of ankle or foot injury that could force him to miss time.
Thomas returned after the ankle injury he suffered the second game of the 2018 season against South Carolina, but he re-injured he ankle in games against Missouri and LSU and didn’t appear to be 100 percent the remainder of the season.
“He’s had to push through, he’s sill not 100 percent,” UGA coach Kirby Smart said last October. “He has to wear two braces.”
Thomas is healed up and ready to tackle Saturday’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium, the first of three this spring.
As noted, Thomas plans to lead by example.
Leadership is something the Bulldogs are counting on from Thomas, on and off the field now that team captain Lamont Gaillard has graduated.
Georgia’s method of team captains in the past has been to name game captains, and then at the end of the season, appoint permanent captains.
Thomas is no doubt in that mix of captains simply because of his ability to lead by example and the approach he has taken to representing himself and the Bulldogs.
Georgia OT Andrew Thomas