ATHENS — If I’m Pat Allen, I’m mad. If I’m Sam Madden, I’m ticked off. Kendall Baker, Sage Hardin, Dyshon Sims, they probably aren’t real thrilled right about now either.
Those guys are all offensive linemen at Georgia. Specifically, they’re the waiting-in-the-wings type of linemen, which is what most linemen are. Each was fairly highly-touted in his own right in recruiting, each arrived knowing they’d need a year or two of “seasoning” to get bigger and stronger and learn the ropes. And each of them figured they’d be moving up in the ranks.
But that’s not the message Kirby Smart and Sam Pittman and the new regime are sending them. Their message is “we need offensive linemen right now,” and “we need them to contribute right away.”
Hence, you have developments like we had this week. Georgia got a commitment from Tyler Catalina. Catalina is a 6-foot-5, 315-pound (or 298 pounds based on his current school bio) rising senior from the University of Rhode Island. He’s coming to UGA as a graduate transfer, meaning he’ll be immediately eligible to play this season.
Our own Jeff Sentell described Catalina as a “plug-and-play tackle,” meaning he’s ready to step right into the lineup as a starter. He’s being hailed far-and-wide the Bulldogs’ answer at left tackle this coming season.
And maybe he is. He was a three-year starter at Rhode Island, where he was named team captain as a redshirt junior this past season. And he started every game he played there, one season at right tackle and the last two at left.
But I did notice that Catalina did not make first team in the Colonial Athletic Conference. That’s in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), which is a level below the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and well outside the “Power 5.” He did make the coaches’ second-team All-CAA, for what it’s worth. Here’s some video (he wears 72):
And, lest we forget, Georgia already has a left tackle. Rising junior Isaiah Wynn (6-2, 278) unseated John Theus and started the last five games there. Those were all wins, by the way. And the primary backup at the left tackle, redshirt junior Aulden Bynum (6-5, 268), he’s back, too. So is Baker at right tackle and Sims at left guard. And Brandon Kublanow and Greg Pyke.
Hey, I’m not naive. I understand that Georgia’s line did not perform up to snuff last season. I know there’s a new sheriff in town in Smart and new deputy of the line in Pittman, who favors the bigger-is-better philosophy for linemen.
What we don’t know is how much of this is just recruiting rhetoric to build depth and increase competition heading into the next season. At the end of the day, that’s good for everyone concerned.
Meanwhile, Pittman knows who these guys are he’s inheriting. In fact, he offered Allen — a 4-star recruit out of Maryland and the top linemen in that state — while he was coaching at Arkansas. Allen told me when I interviewed him last year for the “Next Generation” series that he almost went to Arkansas because of Pittman. And the 6-6, 346-pound Madden would appear to be a protypical Pittman lineman.
What we can be sure of is all of this has gotten the attention of the other dozen or so linemen who were already enrolled at UGA and have been going to classes and busting their backsides every day in strength and conditioning and grappling with each other in practices the last year, two years, three years. I’m sure they’re thinking, ‘hey, what about me? Suddenly I can’t play now? We’ll see.'”
For them, spring practice can’t get here quick enough.
*GEORGIA’S 2016 O-LINE
- Pat Allen (6-4, 297, RFr.) — Former 4-star from Maryland
- Kendall Baker (6-6, 310, RSo.) — Former 4-star out of Marist.
- Chris Barnes (6-3, 294, Fr.) — 2016 3-star signee is listed as 6-5 270 recruiting profile
- Aulden Bynum (6-5, 268, RJr.) — Former 3-star was backup LT and part-time TE
- Tyler Catalina (6-5, 315, Sr.) — 2nd-team CAA as LT at URI, where he weighed 298
- Ben Cleveland (6-6, 345, Fr.) — 2016 4-star signee and early enrollee from Toccoa
- Jake Edwards (6-4, 284, RSo) — Former 3-star arrived injured, DNP LY
- Lamont Gaillard (6-2, 298, Jr.) — Former 3-star DL converted to OL, played 2 games
- Sage Hardin (6-6, 281, RFr.) — Former 3/4-star signee out of Marist
- Mirko Jurkovic (6-5, 275, RFr.) — Transfer and former Ohio State signee
- Solomon Kindley (6-4, 370, Fr.) — 3-star signee was listed as 6-5, 330 in recruiting profile
- Brandon Kublanow (6-3, 282, Sr.) — Returning starter can play guard or center
- Sam Madden (6-6, 346, RFr.) — 3-star signee out of New Jersey in 2015
- Greg Pyke (6-6, 313, Sr.) — Returning starter at guard but could play tackle
- Dyshon Sims (6-4, 293, Jr.) — Backup guard was 4-star recruit out of Valdosta
- Isaiah Wynn (6-2, 290, Jr.) — Went from starting at LG to starting LT. Also can play C.
* Does not include walkons.