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091821 Athens: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart confers with offensive lineman Broderick Jones after defeating South Carolina in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 18, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton /”

Broderick Jones takes on greater importance for Georgia football offensive line after Amarius Mims transfer

ATHENS — Better than almost anybody, Broderick Jones understands what Amarius Mims was going through this spring. Like Mims, Jones arrived at Georgia as a 5-star offensive tackle prospect. They both have elite physical attributes and with that comes oversized hype and expectations.

Jones nor Mims played significantly in their first seasons at Georgia, which is to be expected given the difference in physicality between SEC football and that of Georgia high schools. Mims is from Cochran, Ga., while Jones came out of Lithonia, Ga.

Related: Former 5-star OT Amarius Mims places name into the transfer portal

During spring practice of their second seasons on campus, neither seemed to have a clear path to the field either. Last season, Georgia brought back returning starters at both left and right tackle in Jamaree Salyer and Warren McClendon. The latter is back for his third season as a starter, while Jones is now the obvious favorite to man the left tackle position on an every-down basis.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Mims elected to enter the transfer portal on Sunday. He believes he’s good enough to be a starter at tackle at the highest levels of college football. He is almost certainly correct in this assumption. He just isn’t at the level to unseat Jones or McClendon.

So how did Jones get from where Mims was to emerging as one of the key leaders on what should still be a stacked Georgia offensive line?

“You can’t expect always to just go in and do what you have always been used to doing. You have to change,” Jones said. “Life is about changes. If you are not able to make changes in your life, you will not be able to succeed. I knew when I came in that I would be pushed to work harder and better myself as a player. I just came in with that type of mindset.”

With Jones, his athleticism has always made pass blocking easy. He’s impossibly long and his days as a basketball player translate to slowing down opposing edge rushers. But in terms of improving as a run blocker, Jones knew he had to get better if he was going to see the field.

He still knows that, as he recently told reporters physicality is the thing he still wants to improve on this spring. That’s even after playing a vital role for Georgia in its win over Alabama in the national championship game.

“Broderick, he has to work and strain at that,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s a really good athlete, a long guy, so pass-pro is much easier for him. In the run game, he has to get his pad level down, strain, and become a good player, but he’s trying to be more positive than the other guys. He’s trying to encourage them when there are mistakes because years ago he was that guy. He’s growing into his role.”

Jones has also attributed his success to Salyer. The soon-to-be NFL offensive lineman showed Jones the value of hard work and doing things the right way. As was the case with Jones, Salyer didn’t see the field in a meaningful way until the end of his second season in Athens.

That’s despite also being a 5-star prospect from Georgia. Salyer signed with the Bulldogs in the 2018 signing class out of Lithonia, Ga. as well.

“Just sitting back and learning from someone who has done it before me,” Jones said. “Me being able to sit back and not try and rush things. Being able to take coaching and be accountable for my actions. In practice you will want to push yourself because everyone else is pushing. That’s the only way you can better.”

Related: ‘Put it on us:’ Jamaree Salyer position change opens up offense in National Championship win for Georgia

Mims transferring elsewhere all but signals that Jones and McClendon will be the starting tackles for the Bulldogs going forward. Georgia can use Xavier Truss in a pinch at either spot, as he has cross-trained there. But it’s clear Jones is a key pillar on Georgia’s offensive line this coming season.

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