June 7, 2010

Position Breakdown: Offensive tackles

Experience is always a blessing when you're talking about members of the offensive line, especially at tackle where quite often a quarterback's well-being is in the palm of their collective hands.

Georgia has a had a history of producing tackles of All-Conference quality, although keeping them healthy has been that easy for the Bulldogs in recent years.

Perhaps this year will be different.

Today, UGASports continues its breakdown of each position with a look at Georgia's offensive tackles.

Potentially, it's a solid mix, but the Bulldogs will need to get healthy.

Senior Clint Boling (6-5, 310) is Georgia's most versatile offensive lineman and at least for the start of fall camp will work as the starter at left tackle.

Of course, all eyes will be on Trinton Sturdivant (6-5, 320) who is coming off his second operation for a torn ACL. Although head coach Mark Richt says that Sturdivant is rehabbing right on schedule, it remains to be seen how effective he can be and that question may not actually be answered until the season begins.

Boling has been injured as well.

The Alpharetta native recently underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery and is currently wearing a walking boot but will be ready to go 100 percent once preseason drills begin.

Redshirt sophomore A.J. Harmon (6-5, 310) is back and ready to go after suffering a high-ankle sprain in March.

Before the injury, the Wadley native received extra looks at left tackle and will provide quality depth at the position, along with redshirt sophomore Jonathan Owens (6-4, 294) who was listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind Boling at the end of spring drills.

Senior Josh Davis (6-6, 310) may be the Bulldogs' most improved lineman and will once again be the starter at right tackle.

Of the freshmen, Kolton Houston (6-5, 280), Brent Benedict (6-5, 290) and Kanarious Gates (6-5, 300) are all slated to begin working at tackle when preseason drills begin.
Benedict was the highest -rated of the O-line recruits and projects as a future starter, although he is coming off a torn ACL that he suffered last October while playing for Bolles High.

Left Tackle
60 Clint Boling 6-5 310 Senior
77 Trinton Sturdivant 6-5 320 Junior
70 A.J. Harmon 6-5 310 Redshirt sophomore
67 Jonathan Owens 6-4 300 Redshirt Sophomore
Brent Benedict 6-5 290 Freshman

Right Tackle
78 Josh Davis 6-6 310 Senior
66 Kolton Houston 6-5 280 Freshman
73 Austin Long 6-5 295 Redshirt Freshman
Kenarious Gates 6-5 300 Freshman

Do people really understand how good Clint Boling is?

Probably not. You've got to go a ways back to find a lineman who's not only as versatile, but as technically sound as the senior from Alpharetta.

Boling has played four of the five positions on the offensive line and no doubt could play center if asked.

It's ironic that left tackle was probably the least position coaches figured he would play when he signed with Georgia four years ago, but as he approaches his senior year, Boling is arguably one of the SEC's best at the position and a player with a bright NFL future.

What can we really expect from Trinton Sturdivant?

That seems to be the million dollar question.

From all accounts, Sturdivant's rehab has gone just fine but until he actually gets on the field and starts working himself into game shape, it's just impossible to tell.

Bulldog coaches are approaching it like this: They're not counting on Sturdivant to be the player he was before the injury and aren't shouldering him with any expectations whatsoever. They just want him healthy. Whatever production they get from him this fall will be gravy as far as they are concerned.

Can Bulldogs withstand any more injuries?It just depends on how many.

Hopefully, there won't be any to speak of, but just in case, Harmon has made enough strides where coaches would feel comfortable him in to help fill a hole. The big man who starred at Jefferson County High still has the potential to be a dominating performer. If Sturdivant can play with some semblance of his old self the Bulldogs will be all the better.

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