Ten at 10: Depth a concern at left tackle for Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are in great shape at left tackle with the return of preseason All-SEC first-teamer John Theus. But depth behind him is a concern. (BRANT SANDERLIN / AJC)

The Bulldogs are in great shape at left tackle with the return of preseason All-SEC first-teamer John Theus. But depth behind him is a concern. (BRANT SANDERLIN / AJC)

THE TEN AT 10:

1. Georgia has a lot about which to be excited when it comes to its offensive line this season. The Bulldogs return four of their five starters from last year’s exemplary unit and it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the impressive sophomore Isaiah Wynn will be the fifth starter, whether it be at center or guard.

But Richt said “good question” on Monday when asked who would be next man up should left tackle John Theus be unable to go for whatever reason.

“Can’t really tell you,” Richt said in a briefing with reporters before the UGA Day event at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. “We’ll have to compete and see. I think a guy like (Greg) Pyke has enough versatility, he could end up playing there. That’d be my first guess. And then we’d have somebody else move into the guard position.”

The 6-foot-6, 321-pound Pyke, a junior, is the Bulldogs’ starter at right guard and is getting a lot of preseason All-SEC mention. Theus (6-6, 313), a senior, is a preseason All-SEC first-team selection.

Georgia could also move right tackle Kolton Houston to the left side.

2. Aulden Bynum (6-5, 276), a redshirt sophomore from Valdosta, enters preseason camp listed the No. 2 left tackle. The Bulldogs recruited junior college transfer Devondre Seymour to shore up depth there, but Seymour quit football shortly after enrolling in classes summer semester.

“Anytime you lose a guy you recruited and signed and planned for, that does change things. But that’s part of college football,” Richt said.

Seymour’s departure caught the Bulldogs off guard, especially considering the trouble they’d gone to to see that he was enrolled and eligible for this season.

We wouldn’t have predicted it going in, obviously,” Richt said, “but nothing really surprises me.”

Georgia recruited three other linemen in the class of 2015 – Patrick Allen (6-4, 285), Sage Hardin (6-6, 270) and Sam Madden (6-6, 330) — any one of whom could develop into the left tackle of the future.

Outside Lorenzo Carter is an exception among the Bulldogs in that he will be one of few playing at a heavier weight this season than last. (JOHN KELLEY / UGA)

Outside Lorenzo Carter is an exception among the Bulldogs in that he will be one of few playing at a heavier weight this season than last. (JOHN KELLEY / UGA)

3. Richt acknowledged Monday night that the Bulldogs have slimmed down as a team for the 2015 season. Georgia players generally will play lighter this season across the board.

“We have trimmed up; there’s no doubt about it,” Richt said. “That goes back to Coach (Mark) Hocke, our strength coach, and the amount of running these guys are doing. We are not a fat team at all. … We are lighter than we’ve been for a while.”

During the Q&A portion of Monday night’s event, a fan wondered if that might hurt Georgia at the point of attack, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

“Just because you trim down doesn’t mean you lose strength,” Richt said. “Size doesn’t always equate to strength. Now it’s harder to move a bigger man, no doubt. But if the guy’s in greater condition and can play harder play-after-play, then you have a chance to sustain throughout the ball game.”

One player who has gained weight, however, is outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter. He expects to play at over 240 pounds this season. He was about 230 last year.

4. Georgia’s preseason camp opens one week from today. It will be the 15th for Richt as the Bulldogs’ head coach, but it will be his 32nd as a college coach, including stints at Florida State and East Carolina.

The 55-year-old Richt said all that experience has done nothing to quell his excitement for this time of year.

“We’re ready to go,” he said. “Everything’s in place and we’re ready to start watching these guys perform and see who’s gonna start and who’s gonna earn playing time. … So it’s just great anticipation right now.”

Malcolm Mitchell and his new friend Xavier Norman check out a display at the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday. (CHIP TOWERS / AJC)

Malcolm Mitchell and his new friend Xavier Norman check out a display at the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday. (CHIP TOWERS / AJC)

5. Georgia’s football team also visited the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday, and they were accompanied by children from the Athens 12-and-under football league. It was part of the “Learn, Play, Excel” community outreach program UGA has employed the last five years.

Individual players were paired with kids who hung out with them for the afternoon as they toured the massive museum. Receiver Malcolm Mitchell was seen cutting up with 9-year-old Xavier Norman and Pat Allen was hanging with Chris Alvarado.

UGA says the purpose of the Learn, Play, Excel program is “to speak with students about the importance of education and college attendance, respecting authority, anti-bullying, perseverance and the pursuit of their dreams.

Asked if Mitchell had tried to sell him his new book on reading, “The Magician’s Hat,” Norman laughed and said, “no, but he told me about it.”

6. Richt reiterated his long-term stance that freshman DaQuan Hawkins will enroll in time to participate in preseason camp and be eligible to play this coming season.

“He’s not here yet, but we plan on him being here,” Richt said Monday.

Hawkins, a 6-4, 302-pound defensive lineman from Atlanta’s Westlake High, reportedly needed to complete some additional coursework in order to meet NCAA admissions standards.

If Hawkins does enroll, the Bulldogs will have added 28 new players to their roster for 2015. They signed 30 in February. Gary McCrae, a 6-4, 220-pound linebacker from Cuthbert, fell short of entrance requirements and enrolled instead at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss.

7. Former Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is beginning to show some of his personality as Colorado State’s head coach.

When Bobo learned of his team’s plans to hold a barbecue in celebration of the end of summer workouts, he and assistant Will Friend commandeered an ice cream truck from Fort Collins and surprised the players by driving it into the party.

8. Richt estimated that the Bulldogs hosted in the neighborhood of 1,000 campers for its annual Dawg Night event last weekend in Athens. That’s including players from the morning and evening sessions. According to other officials, about 600 were on hand for the evening session, which normally is reserved only for the most elite prospects.

Richt admitted that was probably too many, but was glad it has become such a popular event.

“It was a challenge but I think we managed it about as well as we could,” Richt said. “We had a pretty good feeling that it would be a large number. We didn’t know how large, but it was larger than we thought it would be.”

9. UGA’s golf contingent was again well represented on the PGA Tour. Bubba Watson paced the Bulldogs in the RBC Canadian Open as he shot 16-under par to  finish second, one shot back of winner Jason Day. Watson birdied the last four holes and five of his last six to make a run at the title.

Erik Compton was 11th at 11-under, while Brian Harman was 34th at 8-under and Hudson Swafford was 72nd at 1-under.

Compton, Harris English and Hudson Swafford are slated to play this week in the Quicken Loans National in Virginia.

10. This & that: Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox at UGA Day on Monday said his team will be the deepest he’s had in his six seasons with the Bulldogs. He also said that the backcourt should be one of the best in the SEC, “which means it’d be among the best in the country. … Two former Georgia track and field team members finished won gold medals at the Pan Am Games while another also medaled in Toronto. Levern Spencer, who was competing for her native country of St. Lucia, cleared 6 feet, 4 ¼ inches on her third attempt to win the women’s high jump. U.S. thrower Kibwe Johnson also finished first after lifting his fifth of six attempts in the hammer 247-7. Joining Spencer and Johnson on the awards stand was former Lady Bulldog and Canadian thrower Sultana Frizell. Frizell watched her fifth throw in the hammer travel 228 feet and finished third for a bronze medal.


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