ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s offensive line has finished runner-up for the Joe Moore Award in each of the last two seasons. Not bad at all, but the Bulldogs believe that they’ve got the nation’s top unit in 2023.
“Oh, man, this line this year is very special,” Amarius Mims said. “We’ve got a two deep that I feel like is real good. Like, all five positions up front, the ones group and the twos are just a good group of guys. We just accept Coach Searels’ challenge every day of just coming in with the right mindset, playing with effort, having the right attitude. When we’re like that, it’s just watch out. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Defensive lineman Warren Brinson would agree. Going up against the group every day, he doesn’t envy opposing defensive lines that’ll have to do so in games this fall.
“Oh my gosh. That’s, bruh, they’re amazing. I don’t think I’m going to play against a better offensive line then them. That’s my honest opinion,” Brinson said. “They’ve been snubbed the last two years for that award but I think they’re going to win it this year. That’s the best offensive line in the country. The best two offensive lines in the country. Our ones and twos, they give it to us every day in practice. They’re going to get us prepared for sure. They make the games easier for us.”
For the unit, it all starts in the middle at center. Sedrick Van Pran decided to come back for a third season as a starter having helped Georgia to back-to-back national championships. Van Pran is one of just three players still on the team to have started and/or recorded a stat in both title games.
“Sed means [a lot] not just to the offensive line but the team. Like, I feel like Sed is our team leader in my opinion just because he’s the vocal guy,” Mims said. “When things aren’t going good or when things are going good, he’s going to be the first guy to step up and be like, ‘Hey, y’all, we need to do this better’ or ‘We’re doing this good. Keep it up.’ I feel like that was like one of the biggest pieces in my opinion on our team — that he came back. I’m just proud. I’m glad that he did because he’s one heck of a player. I’ll say that.”
Van Pran has seen his name appear on All-SEC and All-American lists the last few days. Outside of him at guard are a pair of players who were also included on the Coaches All-SEC squad announced on Tuesday, Xavier Truss and Tate Ratledge.
“Me and Tate got that tight connection and I know that he’s going to have my back and I’m going to have his back,” Mims, who plays the majority of his snaps on the right side beside Ratledge, said. “I feel like this connection grew in recruiting all the way up to now. Like I said, at the end of the day it’s just going from I’ve got his back and he’s got my back … I appreciate Tate because he makes double teams and blocks. He makes games very easy. His hard-nosed play just makes it easy, like especially in the run game, it’s just him firing off the ball on a 3 technique or a 2i and just making my job easier — just push the hip and I go to the linebacker. I love it.”
Then there’s the tackles. While Mims – Georgia’s fourth Coaches All-SEC pick on the offensive line – is all but certain to start on the right side, the left tackle spot was up for grabs in fall camp. Earnest Greene and Austin Blaske are both expected to play with Greene likely to get first crack at it, assuming he’s healthy.
“I saw a guy that’s just growing mentally and physically,” Mims said about the redshirt freshman Greene, a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school just like him. “Just going into every meeting, taking notes, asking questions — which is important. Like, freshman year, you’re just trying to find your ways in and out of the program. With him, just seeing him mature mainly more off the field, it’s just big — especially with him.”
Of course there’s Mims too, and while he wasn’t going to be hyping himself up like he did the other offensive linemen, Brinson took care of that for him.
“Best tackle in the country. If that explains everything you know, that’s the best tackle in the country,” Brinson said, having seen what a pair of NFL Draft picks at the position looked like last season with Broderick Jones and Warren McClendon – plus Jamaree Salyer the year before. “You don’t see people beat him clean at all. His length, his strength, everything that he has. He has all the intangibles to be a hall of fame offensive lineman. Amarius, he’s a guy. I see him every day when I line up against him in 4i. When he touches you, you feel it, honestly.”
The six offensive linemen named aren’t the only ones that’ll see the field this fall. The depth, something that was spoken about this spring, is an advantage that they’ve got. Feeling confident in the likes of Dylan Fairchild, Micah Morris, Jared Wilson and others, Georgia has several capable offensive linemen ready to come off the bench if called upon.
“I feel like building like a two-deep depth, it just comes with like Coach trusting in you enough that you can go out there and get the job done,” Mims, who was a part of that rotation last season as a sixth man of sorts, said. “I feel like we have that. It’s just really, like, you’re not supposed to get tired like the coach says, but if you do it gives Coach the faith that, OK, if he’s tired, that guy can go in and [there’s] no fall off. So that’s very important.”
Georgia kicks off its season a week from Saturday on September 2nd against UT-Martin. Kickoff time at Sanford Stadium is set for 6:00 p.m. ET, streaming exclusively on ESPN+ and SEC Network+.