Chris Burnette was sidelined all spring following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
So the Georgia senior offensive guard didn’t directly feel all the shuffling of positions on the line and players moving between the first and second units.
That left plenty of questions for the offensive line heading into summer workouts, but Burnette still sees big things for a group that returns all five starters.
“Man, I think we have the opportunity to be probably one of the greatest offensive lines that we’ve had at Georgia ever, in my opinion,” Burnette said. “I think we have the talent. I think we have the guys that want to do it. I think we have the mentality this year. I think last year we had the mentality that we wanted to prove everybody wrong. Still, this year people are still doubting us. We’ve definitely taken those things and put them on the bulletin board for motivation.”
It wasn’t all just outsiders that provided motivation. Offensive line coach Will Friend said the starters didn’t play physical enough or with enough effort on G-Day. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo left spring saying that the best tackle at the time was Xzavier Ward, not returning starters John Theus or Kenarious Gates.
Burnette said he has “no idea” who Georgia’s starting tackles will be.
Asked if he actually thought that Theus, who started every game at right tackle as a freshman but missed time this spring following foot surgery, would be a backup, Burnette said: “I don’t, but we’ll see. You never know. We’ll definitely have the best guys, the guys playing the most consistently. Really, we’re just adding depth. We’re just adding so much depth and that’s great for the offensive line.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt said last month that he feels like “we’ve got seven, eight, maybe even nine guys that I think can perform in our league. I’m not saying they’re the best line in America or the best line in the league, but we’ve got enough guys that can function well.”
He mentioned players like Austin Long and Greg Pyke as pushing to get in the rotation.
As for Burnette, he expects to be ready for preseason practices.
“By the time fall practice hits, I think I’ll be 100 percent,” Burnette said. “If not, I’ll be really close to it.”
Burnette said he will probably sit out some summer workouts with the linemen “just to be safe and make sure I’m strong and ready by the time fall camp gets around.”
Burnette started 12 games last season at right guard, missing two due to his injury, and thinks he can take his game to another level.
“I think I’ll be better, honestly,” he said. “It was good to kind of get some rest for the other parts of my body that were kind of falling apart. The doctors did a great job of repairing my shoulder. It’s just really the idea of getting the range of motion back and the strength. Other than that, I feel like it’s healed up. Once I get all those things together, I’ll be ready to go.”
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