ATHENS — Tate Ratledge has been a multi-year starter. He’s won two national championships. He took home All-American honors last season.

He’s done almost everything a player could want to do in their time at Georgia. Yet instead of heading to the NFL, Ratledge opted to return to Georgia for another year.

“I think there was a bad taste in our mouth after last year,” Ratledge said. “Of course there’s things I want to accomplish by myself and I want to see this team accomplish. Those things had a big reason why I came back.”

Ratledge’s comments echo what quarterback Carson Beck said. Beck and Ratledge arrived together as members of the 2020 signing class. They’ve been roommates for the majority of their time in Athens.

There’s been a strong mutual respect between the two as teammates. That will now translate as the two are clear leaders for this program.

“That’s probably my best friend on the team,” Beck said. “He always cracks on me and jokes on me, and I do the exact same to him. Not as much as him to me. I don’t really give him too much trouble. He’s a little bit bigger than me so if I give him too much trouble he might take me down. I’m super excited about the season and the things that could be as a result of the season as well.”

Georgia brings back four starters from the Orange Bowl offensive line. Offensive tackle Monroe Freeling should be one of the most discussed players this spring, along with the members of Georgia’s 2024 signing class that enrolled early

But it’s the one absence that will draw most of the attention this spring. Center Sedrick Van Pran was a huge leader for this Georgia program. He was a two-time captain and started 44 consecutive games for the Bulldogs.

Jared Wilson is expected to take Van Pran’s spot in the starting lineup. But with Van Pran gone, Georgia has been working to develop other players at centers.

That includes Ratledge.

“It made me have a lot more respect for what Sed did,” Ratledge said. “I called him and I told him, I was like, I have a newfound respect for what you did all last year.”

About the only thing Ratledge hasn’t done, other than snap, is be a part of the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line. The Bulldogs have been finalists in each of the past two seasons, but come up short both times.

If the Bulldogs are finally able to get over that hump, it will need another super season from Ratledge.

“That’s definitely in the back of our minds every day when we go out and practice,” Ratledge said. “There’s definitely certain motivation from last year that we carry over to this year, wanting to be better in certain areas.”

Of course, the main motivation for Ratledge is another national championship. To avenge the loss to Alabama and win yet another SEC championship so that the Bulldogs once again can end the season with a national championship.

If Georgia does that, it’ll be worth the pain and embarrassment that comes from a few botched snaps.

Tate Ratledge makes it clear SEC championship loss factored into his return