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Austin Blaske, Earnest Greene and what happens next for Georgia football in attacking tackles
ATHENS – Members of the Georgia media have been assured that Broderick Jones is on his way. Offensive tackle required a number of meetings on its Pro Day because NFL teams that were highly rated in this year’s draft wanted to see what offensive tackle had to offer.
Jones is the youngest offensive tackle in Georgia to lead to NFL success, as Jamaree Salyer, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wynn have done before him.
Before Jones left the building, he reminisced about his time in Georgia. The Bulldogs need to find a new star tackle. It’s one of the biggest questions surrounding Georgia this spring, as the Bulldogs also need to replace the ever-reliable Warren McClendon at the other tackle spot.
Helpfully, Georgia brings back Amarius Mims. He’s an obvious substitute for one of the tackle positions. He towers over the rest of Georgia’s offensive linemen and is one of the more fluid athletes on the team.
The other tackle position is a much more open competition.
“We’re going to have a lot of guys competing in tackle, but we have a pretty high bar for what the standard of offensive tackle is in Georgia,” said Kirby Smart. “These two guys played really well last year and we’ll have good competition this year.”
The most interesting option is Earnest Greene. Both McClendon and Jones praised Greene when speaking before the NFL combine. He inspired for the Bulldogs last spring.
Related: Georgia redshirt freshman Earnest Greene is next tapped by departing OTs
The problem is that he couldn’t continue that until the fall because of a back injury. Smart started spring training by providing an update on Greene’s health.
“Earnest is in a good place. Thank god Ron (Courson) had the foresight to have the surgery. I think it was maybe October 10th or – sometime in October he had the surgery thinking we would bring him back for spring.
“His condition may not be where we need it, but he has been training with the team. He trained with the team off-season. He’s been able to do all the things we ask him to do, so he’s going to go out there and compete.”
It’s important to note Smart’s caution about Greene. While many might want to put him down as a left starter, he still has a long way to go before the opener against UT-Martin. Luckily he has time and plenty of practice to get used to this job.
Austin Blaske works against Greene. If Greene stands for upside and potential, Blaske is the answer of the present. If Georgia played a game tomorrow, Blaske would likely be the team’s left tackle.
Blaske was a late addition to the class of 2020. He lacked the high-profile recruiting profile of either Broderick Jones or Tate Ratledge of Guyton, Georgia. But he got better every year in Georgia, working his way up to the offensive line’s Swiss Army knife.
In addition to fighting for one of the offensive tackle spots, Blaske is Georgia’s backup center. Even if he doesn’t win the offensive tackle job, he will still play a role for Georgia in some ways this season.
“He was working on tackle,” Smart said. “He worked for a while while Warren McClendon was out there. He has a lot of reps on tackle. He competes in tackle. He’s really athletic. He can turn and play in the middle. I’ve seen him and I know he’s a very viable candidate for one of those entry-level jobs.”
Smart also mentioned 2020 co-signer Chad Lindberg as someone vying for the job at one of the tackle spots. A fifth candidate is newcomer Monroe Freeling. He is the youngest 5-star offensive tackle to sign with Georgia as he was the No. 32 overall player in the 2023 squad.
Freeling is raw and needs to add strength if he wants to see the field for Georgia. Thomas and Mims are the only two offensive tackles who didn’t play a redshirt as freshmen under Smart.
Freeling has to be very good very quickly to go down a similar path.
“He did really well in training. He is extremely flexible. He Is hard. He can run,” Smart said. “It’s a great length. He added some weight. But we didn’t see the guy play football so I can’t say what he can and can’t do.”