UGASports - Post-spring position breakdown: Offensive line
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Post-spring position breakdown: Offensive line

If you had to pinpoint one position that’s improved the most during Kirby Smart’s short tenure as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, the offensive line might just be it.

Georgia has had good offensive lines before, but it’s the way Smart and assistant coach Sam Pittman have transformed the group physically in less than three years that’s opened so many eyes.

In case you haven’t noticed, these guys are huge.

Based on what we’ve found in looking at past lineups in the football media guide, Georgia’s potential starting offensive line for 2018 will be the largest (in regard to total weight) that the Bulldogs have ever fielded, with all five starters over 300 pounds, three at 320 pounds or greater.

Of course, more goes into being a great offensive line than just having a lot of size, and that’s the challenge for Pittman moving forward this summer and into fall camp.

Fortunately, the pieces appear to be in place.

Andrew Thomas (71) will be Georgia's left tackle this fall.
Andrew Thomas (71) will be Georgia's left tackle this fall. (UGA Sports Communications)

The Roster

It’s a good-looking group.

Sophomore Andrew Thomas was moved from right to left tackle following the graduation of Isaiah Wynn, which has allowed redshirt freshman Isaiah Wilson to take over at right.

Those – as of today – would be the only changes from last year.

Returning starters Kendall Baker (left guard), Lamont Gaillard (center) and Ben Cleveland (right guard) all topped the depth chart at the conclusion of the spring.

Compared to previous years, there appears to be considerable depth.

Solomon Kindley started seven games at right guard for the Bulldogs in 2017, with Justin Shaffer also seeing some limited action.

The Bulldogs also return redshirt freshman Netori Johnson, as well as a standout freshman line class consisting of Cade Mays, Trey Hill, Warren Ericson, Jamaree Salyer and Owen Condon.

D’Marcus Hayes – who redshirted after transferring from junior college – hopes to be be part of the mix, as will senior walk-on Sean Fogarty, the backup center.

Scholarship Offensive Linemen
Name Class Height/Weight Expectations

Kendall Baker

Senior

6-5/305

Projected starter at left guard but may have to fend off freshman Jamaree Salyer.

Lamont Gaillard

Senior

6-2/308

Started all 15 games at center in 2017 and projected to do so again.

D'Marcus Hayes

Junior

6-5/315

Redshirted last season. Did see some time in the spring as the No. 2 left tackle, but not expected to see much time.

Andrew Thomas

Sophomore

6-5/320

Bulldogs' starting left tackle. Could be in the mix for All-SEC honors.

Justin Shaffer

Sophomore

6-4/335

Missed spring with a meniscus issue but will be back 100 percent for fall.

Ben Cleveland

RS Sophomore

6-6/340

Took over the starting job at right guard against Kentucky. Projected to start at right guard.

Solomon Kindley

RS Sophomore

6-4/330

Started seven games at right guard last year and still pushing Ben Cleveland for the starting job.

Isaiah Wilson

RS Freshman

6-7/345

Held onto the first team spot at right tackle throughout the spring

Netori Johnson

RS Freshman

6-4/325

Redshirted last year while dealing with the effects of diabetes. Healthy now, Johnson saw second-team work at right guard in the spring.

Cade Mays

Freshman

6-6/318

Worked as the second-team right tackle behind Isaiah Wilson.

Trey Hill

Freshman

6-4/330

Possible redshirt, although he did see time as the backup left guard in the spring.

Warren Ericson

Freshman

6-4/315

With Sean Fogarty out, Ericson worked out as the second-team center in the spring.

Jamaree Salyer

Freshman

6-4/325

Former five-star performer who may be too good to keep out of the starting lineup. Left guard is a possibility.

Owen Condon

Freshman

6-7/315

Expected to redshirt simply because Dawgs have enough depth to give him a chance to mature.

Expectations

Smart isn’t a fan of lineup projections. That much is 100 percent true.

What’s equally as true, well, at least pretty close, is that Thomas will be Georgia’s starting left tackle. At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, with long arms and great base, Thomas is everything you look for in a left tackle.

If he can perform with the kind of fundamental excellence that Wynn played with last year, watch out.

Baker’s story is probably underappreciated by most.

Here’s a guy who seemed destined for little or no playing time before his move last year to left guard, ultimately earning the starting role in 14 of Georgia’s 15 games.

Gaillard moved from right guard to center and did fine, while Ben Cleveland made his mark at right guard and played extremely well.

Wilson seems destined to be the starting right tackle.

The redshirt freshman never budged from the position during spring and started there during G-Day. Barring something unforeseen, it would seem safe to pencil him there for the fall.

There is one wildcard, however. If Salyer is all he’s been built up to be, it’s going to be tough to keep him out of the lineup.

The question is where.

The guess here is left guard. That’s not a knock on Baker; it’s just that Salyer might be that good.

Should this happen, Baker is versatile enough to play four of the five positions on the offensive line and could be used in a role similar to the way the Bulldogs used Dyshon Sims.

Keep an eye on Kindley.

Toward the end of spring, we started seeing the Jacksonville native rotate in and out with Cleveland at right guard, leading one to surmise he might not be totally out of the starting picture just yet.

Predictions

There’s not a lot to go out on the limb about when you’re talking about the offensive line.

Except maybe one thing.

We talked about Salyer above, and how he might start sooner than later. He will.

Salyer is a future All-SEC candidate and a potential All-American, and the guess here is he’ll eventually force the issue and find his way onto the field.

Got to love the competition.

Wilson will have to continue to work hard due to the presence of Mays, while Kindley will make sure Cleveland is on his toes.

Hill seems close to being ready, too, after working his way into the second unit with Shaffer out for the spring (knee), but it may be a situation that Georgia can afford to redshirt the freshman because the overall depth appears to be so good.

Speaking of Shaffer, he and Johnson could start for many teams, but because of that aforementioned depth, will likely need to bide their time waiting for their respective opportunities.