Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said on Saturday that the battle for right tackle is wide open, and mentioned that redshirt sophomore Owen Condon is one of the top candidates for that position. That came as a bit of surprise to Dawg Nation because the Oklahoma City native has rarely seen the field since arriving in Athens a couple of years ago, but that could be changing soon.
According to Smart, Condon is finally healthy and has been a “pleasant surprise” through the first two weeks of preseason camp.
“Right tackle is probably the most competitive deal,” Smart said via Zoom on Saturday. “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..”
Condon got his first chance to speak with the media on Monday, and he talked about the opportunity he’s receiving.
“So during quarantine and during this whole offseason I cut about three percent of body fat,” Condon said via Zoom. “So I’ve just gotten a lot leaner. I think I’m moving a lot better and I got a little bit stronger as well. I think that’s really the biggest part of my game and then I’m always working on my feet. You can never get too good with your footwork, being an offensive lineman.”
Condon continued that statement by a giving a shoutout to Georgia’s director of sports medicine, Ron Courson, and his staff for helping him get back on the field.
Condon’s injuries began in high school when he suffered a torn ACL during his senior season at Bishop McGuinness. That injury caused him to get off to a slow pace in his first season at UGA as he suffered several minor ailments. During his second year with the program, Condon suffered a high-ankle sprain early in the year, but quickly recovered. Later in the 2019 season, he endured a shoulder injury in practice and that’s when he was diagnosed with a bruised labrum.
That injury requires surgery and several months of physical therapy. The bruised labrum was the final nail in the coffin and it ended his redshirt freshman season. He had to sit out and miss Georgia’s matchup against Baylor in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Which was a game that the Bulldogs had three offensive linemen sit out because they were preparing for the NFL Draft.
Smart said that Condon spent a lot of time with the first-team offense in Saturday’s scrimmage, but it’s way too soon to suggest that he will be the starter. Warren McClendon is also a name to watch along with true freshman Tate Ratledge. Both Xavier Truss and Broderick Jones are currently getting reps at left tackle, but both could get a shot at the right tackle position as well.
For right now, it seems like he is adhering to Smart’s advice and is working on making himself better.
Condon also admitted on Monday that he is also enjoying working with some of the veteran offensive linemen on the team.
“I consider Ben [Cleveland] someone who has helped me,” said Condon. “I just like the way he practices, and I learn from him by watching him. He’s experienced – he’s been here four or five years – and he’s played almost all of them. I just try and learn everything I can from him in practice, and Justin Shaffer, as well, [and] the way he approaches practice every day and just comes out ready to work. You can never learn enough from those two, so I just try to watch them in practice and film, and I try to learn little tops to make me better.”
Senior outside linebacker Jermaine Johnson also commented on Condon’s progress.
“Oh yeah,” Johnson said when asked if he sees a difference between Condon from 2019 to 2020. “I can see that. We went up against each other last year just like we are this year. Just like he is, I’m getting better, so I think he’s gotten a lot better because I know I have. For him to be able to match me up sometimes, it’s quite impressive. I know he’s come a long way off his injuries. Just to persevere and fight for that spot, it’s respectable.”