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Tate Ratledge might be the most exciting option at guard, but he is not the only one for Georgia football
At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised by Tate Ratledge anymore.
First, he broke into the starting line-up at right guard at G-Day in 2021. An encouraging sign for the redshirt freshman in his first spring practice.
Then last fall he had perhaps the best fall camp out of anyone and started Georgia’s season-opener against Clemson. For a player who arrived at Georgia with a lot of promise, the offensive guard from Rome, Ga., looked well on his to living up to the lofty expectations that come with being the No. 37 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class.
In the early stages of fall practice this go-around, Ratledge looks like the player we saw last August. He seems to have great strength, as evidenced by some of his impressive lifts in a recent video put out by the Georgia football Twitter account. He’s also taking first-team reps at the right guard spot once again, appearing to have a leg up on one of the more-contested position battles this fall.
Related: Georgia football practice observations: Kirby Smart, Todd Monken not holding back in coaching Georgia freshmen
What makes all of this surprising is that Ratledge is making his way back from a foot injury he suffered on the opening drive against Clemson. Ratledge’s grand opening turned out to be his grand closing for his second year in Athens.
Georgia has been cautious with Ratledge, in terms of both workload and praise. For someone as large as Ratledge — 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds— a broken bone in your foot is not an easy injury to come back from. With all the pushing and stomping that comes with playing on the offensive line, it’s easy to see it getting re-injured.
One only has to look a Dominick Blaylock to see what happens if a player re-injures themselves, as the junior wide receiver missed most of two seasons after tearing the same ACL twice.
That power aspect certainly plays into Ratledge’s hands. He’s a good bit bigger and stronger than Warren Ericson, who started 14 games at right guard last season. Devin Willock and Xavier Truss are the veteran options who both have builds closer to that of Ratledge. Redshirt freshman Dylan Fairchild might be as strong as Ratledge, though he is a year younger and is even less experienced.
Right now, Ratledge seems to have the inside edge on the right guard spot. Obviously, he’ll have to keep working throughout Georgia’s scrimmages and fall practices in order to once again become the starting right guard.
Doing so would pair him with McClendon, one of the best tackles in the SEC.
“He’s looking better and getting better day by day,” McClendon said of Ratledge. “He’s getting healthy. He has to get back in shape but he’s getting better day-by-day.”
Georgia’s offensive line has a nice mix of proven contributors and potential. If Ratledge can take the necessary steps forward, he could really help tie the offensive line together, much like the Big Lebowski’s rug.
But Georgia, as it stands, doesn’t feel the need to rush Ratledge back out there. As last season showed, you don’t get extra points for being at your best in the first game of the season. It’s about being able to help the team win in the last game of the season. Consider Broderick Jones didn’t start at the beginning of 2021, but proceeded to get better over the course of the year so that he could play a big part in the win over Alabama.