What Georgia will look like in 2021 Part 15: Right Tackle
Warren McClendon took possession of the starting job at right tackle in the second half of the opener at Arkansas. After that, he wouldn't let it go.
Does that mean he's automatically locked into the role come 2022?
While the safe money certainly would be on McClendon, we know there's going to be competition at the four other spots on the offensive line. Right tackle will be no different.
Historically, right tackle has been the spot the Bulldogs have worked in their most elite newcomers, as they did four years ago with then-freshman Andrew Thomas before he ultimately moved to left tackle for his sophomore and junior campaigns.
Broderick Jones and Amarius Mims will each have the opportunity to take over for Jamaree Salyer, allowing him to move from left tackle to left guard. But if that doesn't happen, both will have shots at breaking into the lineup at right tackle. They're expected to cross-train at both positions regardless of where Salyer ultimately plays.
Other names to watch include Owen Condon, who started the opener at Arkansas, and redshirt freshman Austin Blaske.
Xavier Truss and perhaps even Tate Ratledge will get an opportunity to rep at right tackle. Depth will not be a problem.
Do not sell McClendon short. That would be a huge mistake.
The Brunswick native earned Football Writers Association of American (FWAA) Freshman All-America Team honors for last year’s effort, after starting the final nine games at right tackle for the Bulldogs (8-2), who finished No. 7 in the final polls.
McClendon graded out at 81 percent for the year and had 10 “knockdown” blocks. He allowed only seven hurries and two sacks for a 2020 Georgia team that started three different quarterbacks during the season.
While beating him out for the starting job will not be easy, McClendon will have to earn the job.
If either Jones or Mims turned out to be the one to do that, nobody should be particularly surprised.
We understand that Jones has made excellent progress and gotten stronger since the end of the season, and has the athleticism needed to be a multi-year starter.
The same is definitely true for Mims, who in the short amount of time he has been on campus, is already showing observers he has that “it factor.”
Ultimately, one of those two young men figures to be the starter at left tackle. But until then, it's certainly conceivable that one, or both, could see their first action on the right side of the line.
Blaske, meanwhile, has found favor with coaches for his versatility, and is expected to rep at both center and right tackle.
Truss, Condon, and Ratledge can also play the position, meaning position coach Matt Luke will have no shortage of options.