ATHENS, Ga. — Sliding over to the left side of Georgia’s offensive line has been a piece of cake for sophomore Atlanta native Andrew Thomas.
After starting all 15 games for Georgia last year at right tackle, the former Pace Academy star has found his niche at left tackle, following the graduation of Isaiah Wynn.
So far, so good.
Thomas said the move to left tackle was in the works all along. Even when he was being recruited as a standout four-star, Thomas said he received every indication that left tackle would one day be his home.
“That was in my mind, it was always part of the plan,” said Thomas.
The move was a natural one for Bulldog coaches to make. Thomas earned Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-American honors for Georgia, starting all 15 games of Georgia’s run to the national championship game.
Position coach Sam Pittman announced prior to the game against Alabama that was the plan was to move Thomas to left tackle.
“When I was being recruited he told me if I came in and worked hard I had a chance to play early,” Thomas said. “The plan was to play early.”
Four days into spring practice, he apparently feels right at home.
“If you don’t notice him, it’s probably a good thing. It’s not like there’s popping up sacks and things. It’s very quiet,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “There aren’t a lot of issues there. We haven’t gotten a lot of pass rush off that side. He’s made the transition well.”
Thomas thinks so.
“Basically, the plays and stuff, everything’s the same, you just flip sides,” he said. “The footwork and stuff are what I’m working on right now.”
Left tackle isn’t entirely a foreign land for Thomas.
Along with walkthroughs this winter, Smart said the sophomore actually received some reps there during the team’s playoff preparation.
“Coming down the stretch I probably about half the reps as the second-team left tackle,” Thomas said. “I did some stuff in individual, too.”
Smart seems impressed.
“He’s done a tremendous job,” Smart said. “The challenge for Andrew is, can he become a vocal leader, not just a leader by example? He’s got to learn to push other guys, challenge other guys, along with Lamont (Gaillard). And I think he can be that kind of impact leader.’’
Thomas said he appreciates the confidence Smart has in him to be that kind of leader.
“It means a lot. I’m working on being more of a leader and speaking up more, first with the offensive line and also in the team aspect, being more of a leader.”
Thomas admits speaking up does go against his comfort zone.
“Coach Smart always says being a leader can be uncomfortable for people,” he said. “That’s just something I’ve got to work on.”
Thomas said early enrollees Warren Ericson, Trey Hill and Cade Mayes are learning quickly as well.
In fact, he sees no reason why any of the three couldn’t make a similar impact that he did should the opportunity arise.
“I guess to them, they look up to me and say, 'I can do the same thing.' They’re actually up on me because they are early enrollees; they’re learning pretty fast.”
Thomas is also looking forward to the addition of five-star guard Jamaree Salyer, his former teammate at Pace Academy, who will arrive with the rest of the freshmen in May.
“It’s been a little different playing without him, but we’ll see what he can do once he gets in,” Salyer said. “I expect him (Salyer) to come in and be able to do the same type of things.”