ATHENS — Pearce Spurlin wasn’t going to be an instant contributor for Georgia. In part, it’s because Georgia had Brock Bowers and Oscar Delp ahead of him on the depth chart.

Spurlin also hadn’t played much tight end prior to coming to Georgia. At 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds, Spurlin spent much of his time in high school as a wide receiver.

“Pearce is more of a wide out,” Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley said prior to the Orange Bowl. “We knew that going in. Pearce is still learning how to play tight end.”

Add in a broken collarbone in one of his first spring practices and Spurlin was always going to face an uphill battle to see the field. In addition to learning the finer points of being a tight end, Spurlin was going to have to add weight. That’s harder to do when you’re also trying to rehab from an injury.

Arriving at 230 pounds, he was already the lightest tight end in Georgia’s talented tight end room. That’s what makes this offseason and winter workouts so crucial for Spurlin as he moves into his second year in the program.

“Pearce has a frame to gain a lot of weight and mass,” Hartley said. “And he’ll get there.”

Adding weight during the offseason is quite common, especially in Hartley’s room. Last offseason, Delp and Bowers had a competition to see who could pack on more muscle, with Delp actually edging out Bowers.

Even with Bowers now off to the NFL, there’s still plenty of competition in the tight end room. Spurlin is going to have to continue to work hard if he’s able to see the field for Georgia. Spurlin played in six games as a freshman and when he got the ball, he showed some impressive ability. He finished the year with three receptions for 61 yards, showing he can stretch the field when targeted.

But if Spurlin is going to earn those targets, he’s going to have to show that he can be a capable blocker for Georgia.

“You might not be a good blocker in high school. Most high school tight ends aren’t,” Hartley said. “You got to be willing to do it. If you’re willing, I’ll teach you how to do it. Darnell [Washington] was very willing. Pearce is willing too. Pearce needs to get in the weight room. And he has, he’s attacked it. He’ll get there.”

Washington ended up being a third-round pick, thanks in large part to his ability as a blocker. Charlie Woerner just finished his fourth season in the NFL, earning his role as a blocking tight end for the San Francisco 49ers. He saw plenty of action in the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

If you spend time with Hartley, you can turn into an NFL tight end just on blocking alone.

Delp is back and expected to be the top tight end option for Georgia. Spurlin will compete alongside fellow sophomore Lawson Luckie this spring to emerge as a possible second tight end. Stanford transfer Benjamin Yurosek will arrive this summer, while freshmen Jaden Reddell and Colton Heinrich are already on campus.

Spurlin has a chance to be a contributor for Georgia this fall. He’s just got to work for it, as unglamorous as it might be.