ATHENS — Georgia begins spring practice on March 20, and a big source of intrigue will be what the offensive line looks like. Both starting tackles and the center have moved on, and both guards could be moved to those spots.
Conceivably, there could be a new starter at every position.
“It will be a very interesting spring in that regard,” head coach Kirby Smart said Monday night during a radio appearance on UGA’s “Bulldog Hotline” show. “Because as much as everyone wanted to complain and fuss about the three (seniors) we had, they’re gone now. OK? So now we’ve got some holes to fill.”
Smart didn’t name any new starters or favorites for the three vacated spots, only saying the spots are “wide open.” He did acknowledge that Lamont Gaillard, who started at right guard last year, has received the most reps at center in the past. Smart also said Pat Allen, a rising sophomore, has had a good offseason. Rising senior Dyson Sims also offers some versatility, with the ability to play almost every spot.
“And everyone’s anointed and talked about the guys we signed, but they’re not here yet. Other than D’Marcus (Hayes), a junior college kid we got in here,” Smart said. “It’s going to be interesting to see who competes, who grows up, who helps us in those spots. That’s going to be a key mix-and-match.”
Smart also offered up a tidbit on offseason conditioning that may or may not offer a clue on the team’s thinking. Guard Solomon Kindley (previously 336 pounds) was asked to drop weight, while Isaiah Wynn (previously 278) was asked to gain some, and both did so. Smart said Wynn adding weight “was important for making him being able to sustain.”
Wynn started every regular season game at left guard last year, then switched to left tackle for the bowl game.
A few other tidbits from Smart’s appearance:
- Mecole Hardman will “absolutely” be a candidate to return kickoffs, Smart said, also indicating that punt returns aren’t as likely for Hardman. He didn’t mention Hardman moving to offense, but some kind of role has apparently been discussed: “It’s been a big offseason project to figure out ways to get him the ball,” Smart said of Hardman. “The easiest way is the kickoff return.”
- Starting inside linebacker Roquan Smith will be out for “parts” of spring practice, Smart confirmed, with a previously reported upper body injury. That will open up practice reps for players like Tae Crowder, a converted tailback who switched over halfway through last year, as well as early enrollee Monty Rice and rising junior Juwan Taylor.
- Offseason conditioning update: Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and D’Andre Walker were asked to gain about 10 pounds in the offseason. Defensive lineman Julian Rochester has dropped about 10-15 pounds, after being listed at 316. Some other defensive linemen were also asked to lose weight.
- Smart also said the use of the new indoor facility has helped, because they’re able to use it for areas that require more space.
- Georgia’s Pro Day is Wednesday. Even though Isaiah McKenzie was the only Georgia player invited to the combine, Smart said he expected a good turnout among pro scouts. That’s because Georgia does have prospects and none except McKenzie were available to see at the combine.
- Spring practice will follow a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday format over those five weeks.
- The situations with receiver Riley Ridley and defensive lineman Trent Thompson were not mentioned on the show. Ridley was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge on Saturday night and is facing an automatic one-game suspension. Thompson has withdrawn from classes this spring while dealing with an unspecified medical issue.