All eyes have been on Georgia’s quarterback competition this summer, especially between transfers Jamie Newman and JT Daniels. Although, according to fifth year head coach Kirby Smart, that’s not the only position battle happening on the offensive side of the ball. If you asked him, he would try and reason with you saying every position is having a dogfight for playing time. However, the starting spot at right tackle is garnering a lot of buzz amongst fans and the media.
Last season, the Bulldogs lost both right and left tackles to the NFL Draft. Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson were both taken in the first round, and the player that practiced behind them at different points during the year, transferred out of the program. Currently, it seems like Jamaree Salyer has an advantage over anyone else at the left tackle position, but the right tackle spot is up for grabs.
Smart spoke with reporters after the team’s first preseason scrimmage on Saturday, and he noted that the competition for that right tackle spot is wide open.
“Right tackle is probably the most competitive deal,” Smart said via Zoom. “Owen Condon has stepped up. Owen hasn’t been healthy since he’s been here and he’s been a pleasant surprise from the standpoint of competitiveness, intelligence and toughness. We’d like him to play with a little more power to be able to move people, and then Warren McClendon, are probably getting the most reps there. Tate Ratledge has come along.
“Since the pads came on, Tate Ratledge has come on and played well. We’re trying to find the best mix, and as you always know, it’s not three guys trying to get one spot, it’s can one of those guys go in and play guards better than our guards? So, we’ve got a little bit of musical chairs going on there but Matt (Luke) is handling it well.”
The news of Condon becoming a major factor is in fact a bit of surprise. He became a second thought because he’s been battling injuries over the past couple of years. Many thought that the competition would feature two redshirt freshman in Xavier Truss and McClendon, but freshman Broderick Jones and Ratledge also came to mind.
The Bulldogs are just a month away from the season opener at Arkansas on Sept. 26, so the battle for right tackle is far from over. Still, to hear Condon’s name from the head coach is important to remember. It will be interesting to see what happens from here.
Smart suggested that the left tackle and center positions are pretty much locked up. As mentioned before, Salyer is the favorite to win that left tackle spot and Trey Hill seems to be a lock at center after starting all 14 games there last season. Justin Shaffer is the most experienced at left guard while Ben Cleveland is working at right guard. Smart also mentioned Warren Ericson, Netori Johnson and Clay Webb as players who are battling for time at the guard positions.
“We have good, quality depth there, we don’t have the elite players that we did last year,” Smart said.