There is hardly something that resembles an offseason in the life of a college football player at a major program.
Amarlo Herrera and Kenarious Gates have used the 16 weeks between the end of Georgia‚Äôs spring practices and the start of preseason workouts on Thursday, to get into the type of shape that they hope will pay off this season.
Herrera, a junior starting inside linebacker, said he‚Äôs down to 235 pounds after playing in the 245-250 range last season.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been working hard, man,‚Äù Herrera said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve cut weight to try to move better. It‚Äôs just me trying to get better as an all-around player, and just try to produce as much as I can.‚Äù
Herrera credits eating healthier and working out six days a week in helping him trim down.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo ran across Gates, the senior offensive lineman, last Wednesday walking into the Butts-Mehre building. Gates said a few weeks earlier that he was at 315 pounds after playing at 325 last season.
‚ÄúWe gave him a target weight,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think he‚Äôs exactly at that weight yet. We‚Äôll find out when he gets here, but looking at him, I thought he looked really good. His body looked good.‚Äù
Coaches thought Gates ‚Äúhad gotten a little heavy in the spring,‚Äù Bobo said.
Gates is a good athlete who played basketball at Greenville High, Bobo reminded.
‚ÄúThat was one of the main reasons we signed him was his athleticism,‚Äù Bobo said, ‚Äúbut we thought he had gotten a little heavy and become a waist-bender. He looks good to me. It will be interesting to see when camp starts how he looks.‚Äù
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who praised Herrera‚Äôs leadership in the offseason program, said he thinks Herrera can play well at the weight he‚Äôs at now.
Herrera said he didn‚Äôt drop the weight just because he knows he will be counted on to pick up his productivity after Alec Ogletree left for the NFL after last season.
‚ÄúNah, it‚Äôs not that, it‚Äôs really personal,‚Äù Herrera said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm just trying to be the best that I can be. (Losing) the weight allowed me to move better, so I just decided to do that on my own.‚Äù
Herrera, who had 70 tackles last season, said he knows he doesn‚Äôt have the same skill set as Ogletree, a first-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams.
‚ÄúHe used to play safety,‚Äù Herrera said. ‚ÄúOf course, he‚Äôs faster than me.‚Äù
Herrera, though, says what he brings to the position is, ‚ÄúI can hit and I‚Äôm explosive in that area, in the box area.‚Äù
Gates said he spent the summer working with Georgia‚Äôs linemen ‚Äúlearning every position because I don‚Äôt know where I‚Äôll be at.‚Äù
He practiced for the much of the spring at guard, but is listed as the starter at left tackle. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said that Mark Beard and John Theus can compete at that spot. Bobo spoke before Kolton Houston was reinstated Thursday by the NCAA, adding to the line options.
Gates, like Herrera, said he‚Äôs feeling better and moving better after working on dropping some weight.
‚ÄúIt really helps with being lighter on my feet so I can be quicker and be a better athlete,‚Äù Gates said.
Gates tweeted recently about eating healthy, showing an Instagram photo of a turkey burger.
Gates started 12 games at left tackle last season and is angling for it again.
‚ÄúI want that big spot, I want to take that big role, left tackle.‚Äù Gates said. ‚ÄúThe blind side. That‚Äôs a big role.‚Äù