ATHENS, Ga. — Media members were waiting for Georgia football coach Kirby Smart’s post-practice presser on Tuesday evening when Dyshon Sims walked in.
“OK, I’m ready to talk to y’all — nah,” Sims said, smiling and turning and walking out the door.
Actually, Sims probably could have handled the media conference, at least when it came to the offensive line questions. The biggest question mark on Georgia’s team remains a unit in flux, as it mixes and matches and tries to find the right starting five.
The one spot that looks closest to being set is arguably the most important: left tackle. Isaiah Wynn said that’s where he expects to be when the season begins. Smart appeared to echo that, saying Wynn has “done great at left tackle,” and downplaying the notion that he’s too small (6-2 and 305 pounds) to play there.
“The book says he can’t play it. But people do it all the time,” Smart said. “He’s a leader on our team, and he’s got a chip on his shoulder that he wants to prove everyone wrong.”
Then Smart pointed out that Wynn — who has started at left tackle seven times over the past two seasons — has been tested blocking Georgia’s lengthy outside linebackers, Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy, during practices. All in all, it sounded like Smart knows who his left tackle will be.
“I’ve been very pleased with what he’s done so far,” Smart said. “He’s the one guy that’s been kind of rock solid.”
The other four offensive line positions, on the other hand, mostly remain up in the air and don’t have much continuity in practices.
Sims, who was at first-team left guard when spring practice began last week, was working at right tackle on Tuesday. That gave Pat Allen, a redshirt sophomore who hasn’t played much yet, a chance at left guard.
Sims, the sixth man on last year’s line, is a solid favorite to make the starting five somewhere. It could be anywhere though, even center, where he’s gotten reps.
Lamont Gaillard, who started every game at right guard last year, remains the favorite to be the center, but that’s not set yet.
Then there’s right tackle, where fifth-year senior Aulden Bynum began spring at first team. Sims was getting the look there on Tuesday. Junior college transfer D’Marcus Hayes should figure in the competition at some point, but he appears to be trying to catch up to the veterans right now.
“He’s making a big transition,” Smart said Monday at the Athens Touchdown Club. “He’s been playing right tackle where in junior college he played left. We may look at him at left tackle some as well. He’s a big kid, a large kid. We’ve got to make sure his weight matches his strength and he can move well enough. He’s a massive man and he’s learning all our calls and techniques. Him and coach (Sam) Pitttman are spending an enormous amount of time together. We have high hopes for him, bit he’s got a long ways to go.”
Bynum may not be the glamorous choice – that would be one of the newcomers, Hayes or incoming freshmen Isaiah Wilson and Andrew Thomas. But Bynum has put in his time, as Bellamy mentioned last week.
“I feel like me and Aulden’s situation were kind of the same,” said Bellamy, another remaining member of the infamous 2013 signing class. “We were guys that behind good people. And just like I, Bynum learned, he was patient, and his time has come. And I feel like when you go through that process, when you finally do get that spot, it’s kind of hard to lose it. So I’m proud of Bynum, and wish for the best for him.”
Running back Nick Chubb, who is very invested in an improved offensive line in 2017, was asked what he thought of the players, outside of Wynn.
“They’re all looking good,” Chubb said. “Dyshon’s in there, and Lamont’s making the calls, and Solomon (Kindley), he never played at all, he’s in there with those guys looking good. So I think overall they’re all standing out.”
Of course, optimism always reigns this time of year. The early word on Georgia’s offensive line: more upside than last year, but so far only one spot appears set, with everything else to be decided. Either this spring or sometime in August.