Tate Ratledge-Georgia offensive lineman-mullet
Georgia offensive lineman Tate Ratledge (51) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

Georgia offensive lineman Tate Ratledge showing why he’ll be known for more than his mullet

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Tate Ratledge: ‘He’s a guy that needs 1,000 reps and we’re trying to get him there as fast as we can’

If you only took note of what was being said about Tate Ratledge on social media this spring, you’d find a lot more discussion about his majestic mullet more so than his on-field play.

When you’ve got quarterback JT Daniels asking if he should rock a mullet similar to that of Ratledge, that is going to get a lot of attention.

At most schools, being the No. 38 overall player in your respective recruiting class would likely make you a household name. Georgia though is not most schools when it comes to offensive line recruiting. There are four offensive linemen that had a superior ranking to that of Ratledge and that doesn’t include veteran starters such as Warren McClendon or Justin Shaffer.

When you factor in fellow 2020 offensive line signees Broderick Jones and Sedrick Van Pran, it seemed at the start of spring practice he was the farthest of the three — who were all top-60 overall prospects in the 2020 signing class — from seeing the field.

Kirby Smart though did not at all make it seem that way when asked about Ratledge following Georgia’s second scrimmage.

The Bulldogs won’t be able to get Ratledge to the 10,000 hours needed to become a master at playing guard —as per the popular Malcolm Gladwell theory – but this spring is an encouraging sign for the redshirt freshman. His first year in the program was during the pandemic and with the loss of non-conference games, he likely lost out on valuable playing time he would’ve picked up against the say East Tennessee State or Georgia Tech.

Playing against a Georgia defensive front that’s led by perhaps one of the best defensive lines in the country is another great way to help you improve as a player. Ratledge might not have to block a better SEC defensive lineman than he does in practice every day than Jordan Davis.

“Experience is the greatest attribute you can get when it comes to the SEC,” Smart said. “You can’t simulate what you get in there on third down and the speed of the game.”

Related: Kirby Smart: Georgia football puts trust in Xavier Truss at left tackle for now

Barring an injury, it’s hard to imagine Ratledge winning a starting spot for the season-opener against Clemson. Bryan Breese and Tyler Davis also aren’t the type of defensive linemen you want to go up against in your first major college action.

Georgia though has rarely used the same offensive line combination it did at the beginning of the season that it would at the end of the year. Cleveland was famously inserted into the starting lineup late in the 2017 season, as he sparked a run to the national championship game.