ATHENS — Brandon Kublanow wouldn’t get into specifics but said he set personal records in the weight room this summer. So did fellow offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, who said he’s up now to 288 pounds from 280. Meanwhile, linebacker Natrez Patrick dropped 20 pounds at the team’s direction, according to head coach Kirby Smart.
It’s not a whole lot different than most refrains you’ll hear following most summer conditioning programs, but the Georgia Bulldogs claim to have made massive gains in the gym during the offseason.
“This summer was a lot different because we did a lot more strength (work),” Wynn said during the Bulldogs preseason news conference on Monday. “We were in the weight room a lot more. We ran, gradually. Previously it was more running. This year was different because we were focusing more on technique and just getting stronger in the weight room.”
Smart validated that assertion. He said it was the objective for him and new strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair to see the Bulldogs increase their maximum lifts during the summer. While that may seem standard operating procedure, often summer work focuses more on conditioning and less on strength.
The focus was on the latter this summer.
“There’s a theory out there that sometimes it hurts to push a little bit more and lift a little bit heavier,” Smart said Monday. “Some people are willing to do that and some people are not willing to do that. Our guys have shown from spring through the summer that they’re more willing to do that, to get under a bar that has more weight on it, to lift a bar that has more weight on it. Not only are they capable, but they’re more willing. I think that’s really important.”
Nowhere is that philosophy more evident that at the quarterback position, of all places. Freshman phenom Jacob Eason showed up in January at 211 pounds sporting the nickname “Skinny.” He reported to camp Monday with 242 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame.
“I would just attribute it to our offseason,” Kublanow said. “We all worked extremely hard. Coach Sinclair got us right in the weight room. That’s what I would attribute that to. I know a lot of guys have made gains in the weight room. Also, a lot of guys have worked to lose weight if they needed to lose weight. That’s been a huge positive for us.”
Smart lauded Patrick, a sophomore inside linebacker, for taking weight off. Patrick came to UGA from Atlanta’s Mays High as an outside linebacker/defensive end and played at 248 pounds a year ago. Now a likely starter at inside linebacker, he opened camp Monday at 228.
“He’s got to be able to play in space,” Smart said. “He’s a big inside linebacker that can run sideline-to-sideline. He’s had to control his weight in order to play in all situations and create value for our defense. He’s bought into that. He’s been a really good leader and he’s reduced his weight. That’s what we expect to have from him. He’s one of those guys that’s got to command the respect of others by how he plays. He can’t sustain unless he keeps his weight down and he’s done a great job of doing that from January to August 1.”
Smart said the players themselves deserve the credit for the strides that have been made in terms of strength and conditioning. Yes, the coaches design the program and tell them what to do. But without the proper attitude and commitment, players can still just go through the motions and survive a workout as opposed to embrace it.
“There’s a difference between compliant and committed,” Smart said. “For me, compliant is just doing what’s asked. Committed is doing whatever it takes. I think that’s where our kids are going. I don’t know if they’re there yet, but they are much past compliant and on the way to committed on the continuum right now.”