He’s arguably the most pivotal piece of Georgia’s 2012 recruiting class.
Recruit John Theus said he is ready to contend for a spot on the Bulldogs' offensive line.
The only Bulldogs commitment named to the USA Today All-USA team or the Parade All-America team.
Offensive tackle John Theus could start as a freshman and already has spawned a fake account on Twitter.
Among the followers is a big redhead: the real John Theus.
“I saw it when I was on my official (visit),” Theus said. “I’m pretty sure it’s one of the fans. It’s pretty funny. They had some amusing tweets. It’s pretty neat. Of course, Isaiah Crowell and some of the coaches have them. I love reading it every day and seeing what they have to say.”
Theus, from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, is rated the No. 7 overall prospect nationally and
No. 1 in the South by Scout.com. He is also Georgia’s highest-ranked commitment by Rivals.com.
With offensive line coach Will Friend losing three senior starters — including both tackles — the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Theus could be a fixture on the line for the next several years.
“My goal is always to compete for a starting job,” Theus said. “I think if I do my part and bust my behind, I’ll have a good shot at it and that’s kind of what Coach Friend’s been telling me.”
Theus isn’t sure exactly where he’ll line up, but he is preparing to compete for the starting left tackle job.
“That’s what I played my high school career,” Theus said. “I know that position pretty well. Then again, I also feel pretty prepared on every position on the O-line. I played all of them except for center.”
Theus played left guard in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this month in San Antonio.
“I think he’s mentally and physically ready to play as a true freshman,” Scout.com recruiting
analyst Chad Simmons said.
“Anytime you can sign a guy that can play right away, you’ve done great,” Georgia coach Mark Richt, who under NCAA rules can’t comment on specific recruits, said during bowl practices. “That’s what you’re hoping for. But somebody’s going to play tackle for us. I just don’t know who yet. I don’t think any one man has got a starting tackle position nailed down here and I don’t want to say anything about the class at all because I don’t want to overstep my bounds.”
Simmons thinks Theus’ spot could be at left or right tackle.
“If you’re smart, you’re going to want to start him off on the right side and not on the left side,” said ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill, who believes Theus will contend immediately. “You certainly don’t want to overload a young offensive tackle prospect. … You never want to thrown them to the wolves.”
Theus is physically capable of playing immediately — just like Ben Jones was when he started as a true freshman at center, Luginbill said.
Theus committed to Georgia last July, but didn’t rule out looking elsewhere if there was a coaching change in Athens.
When Georgia started off 0-2 and there was uncertainty about Richt’s job security, schools increased their pursuit of Theus.
“The coaches were still on me hot,” Theus said.
He even took an official visit to Notre Dame just to be safe, he said. Florida and Texas, where former Georgia assistant Stacy Searels is offensive line coach, also stayed on him.
“I told Coach Richt as long as he was there I’d be a commit,” Theus said. “I had faith in Georgia and I told people around the area that Georgia would win out the rest of the regular season and they did.”
Theus was there for many of the wins, road-tripping to Athens where his brother, Nathan, redshirted this season as a freshman Bulldogs’ long snapper.
John Theus went to all the home games but one.
In the midst of a locker-room celebration following the Bulldogs’ 45-7 win over Auburn, Theus was there.
“It was a lot of fun,” Theus said. “That was a big game for them, especially after all the stuff that happened the previous year to come out and beat them like they did. … It was crazy.”
The brothers hung out last week on John’s official visit.
“Having my brother up there was definitely a plus,” Theus said. “We’re very close.”
Theus has also bonded with tailback Keith Marshall, an early enrollee who he may room with when he arrives on campus in June.
Until then, he plans to use the months ahead to get ready for what’s coming in the trenches in the Southeastern Conference.
“I definitely have to get stronger,” Theus said. “The SEC is a whole other level. I’ve got to bust my butt this offseason and bust my butt this summer to try and give me a shot to (start).”