HOOVER, ALA. — Without question, the Georgia Bulldogs’ talented offensive line starts with rising junior left tackle, Andrew Thomas.
The 6-5, 320-pound Thomas has been a starter since the day he stepped on campus, first at the right tackle slot in his freshman season and then moving to left tackle in 2018 after the departure of Isaiah Wynn to the NFL
But Thomas, who was named as an SI.com First Team All-American last season while receiving second team honors from the Associated Press and Walter Camp, hasn’t always been a vocal leader for the Bulldogs, that being attributed to his quiet and laid back nature.
But things have changed for Thomas as the Bulldogs head into 2019 preseason camp in a couple of weeks.
“For me, playing early, I guess it was harder as a younger guy to come up and say certain things so I tried to lead by example,” said Thomas. “But now, being a junior, being a leader on the team I have to be more vocal by calling out people when I see they need something.
“It’s an adjustment for me,” admitted Thomas, “because I’m usually a very reserved guy but at the same time when I do speak up — because I don’t speak a lot — people listen and understand where I’m coming from. During a workout was the first time I did it, just pushing my guys. You get tired, you get fatigued but you have to push to get past that point. That was the first time I stood up and said something.”
Thomas said he would do well to take lessons from junior quarterback Jake Fromm, because he says Fromm is an exceptional team leader.
“It’s just Jake’s knowledge of the game,” said Thomas. “His separation as a player and I think it’s his attitude approaching every day. Every day it’s the same Jake. You never see him sad or upset and like I say, it’s the same Jake. You just see him excited to work and get better. He takes pride in understanding how the offense works. He asks coaches, not necessarily challenging them, but why we do things a certain way.”
Thomas said there’s no way he lets his offensive front, ranked by some to be the best O-line in the country, get full of themselves from all the press clippings.
“I just remind them we haven’t won the national championship,” he declared. “We haven’t gotten to where we want to be. We haven’t won the Joe Moore Award (for best O-line in the country) so there’s a lot of work we still need to do to be the best. As an offensive line we want to be the force. We want to carry the team, that’s how we work.”
Thomas said, even though he’s already received some All-America honors, the Bulldogs’ O-line is so deep he feels the backups are pushing him every day in practice to take over his starting spot.
“Definitely,” he said. “I think that’s what makes our offensive line pretty good, because we have so many guys coming in who are very talented. And if you’re not ready somebody can take your spot.”
And Thomas thinks those Georgia fans who are saying “national championship or bust” for this season sort of have it right.
“We definitely want to win the national championship so anything below that we’re not satisfied with, so that’s why we’re preaching do more,” he said. “I think that’s the way the Georgia program is changing. We’re not satisfied with winning double digit games — we want to win every game! We want to be the best.
“We’ve been doing a lot of workouts this off-season and at the end of workouts we’ll do like a ‘do more’ overtime and I’ve seen a lot of guys just pushing harder and going past the limits we’ve been used to.”
Someone asked Thomas about the Bulldogs being talented enough to soon be able to tame the likes of Clemson and Alabama in the college football playoffs.
“For us, we approach every game the same,” he replied. “We want to win every game and I feel like if we do that, we’ll definitely be in that conversation.”
Thomas said he’s been pleased with the Georgia offense’s development since James Coley was named coordinator.
“Coach Coley brings a lot of energy to the team,” he related. “Just in practices in the spring, we had a lot more energy and scheme-wise, I think we’ll be a little bit more balanced between the running and passing.”