Georgia coaches gave Greg Pyke the award for the most improved player on offense this spring.
The redshirt sophomore’s upward trajectory actually took off during Gator Bowl practices, offensive line coach Will Friend said.
“He’s always been a very good athlete. He’s a powerful guy,” Friend said. “He’s the best athlete of the whole group and the light started clicking at the end of November … then he had a really outstanding bowl practice, I mean a really good bowl practice. It just kind of carried on over into winter workouts. He was outstanding in the mat drills and had a good spring.”
Georgia will enter preseason practices with Pyke holding down the starting right guard spot. Pyke is one of four players in seemingly strong position to start on the line, joining senior David Andrews, junior John Theus and senior Kolton Houston.
While other Georgia players are being asked to slim down, coaches seem comfortable that the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Pyke from Baltimore carries his weight well.
Coach Mark Richt said in meetings this week Friend seemed fine with Pyke at his current size.
“Coach Friend was like, ‘I don’t care if he loses any weight or not because the guy can move as a big, strong powerful man,’” Richt said. “If he drops five or 10 (pounds) that’s fine, but he doesn’t want to take away from his strength and his ability to move people off the line of scrimmage.”
Richt said Georgia probably will go with one of two starting lineups on the line that both include Andrews at center and Pyke at right guard.
One lineup would also have Theus at left tackle, sophomore Brandon Kublanow at left guard and Houston at right tackle. The other would include senior Mark Beard at left tackle, Houston at left guard and Theus at right tackle.
Senior Watts Dantzler, who missed time this spring with a concussion, could also make a push.
“We think he might could help us,” Richt said. “He might get in the fight in the fall for a starting job.”
Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo were upbeat about the offensive line exiting the spring.
“I think we’re going to be very good up front,” Richt said. “We won’t be this dominating bunch of maulers, but they’re very well-coached, they know what they’re doing, they get their hat in the right spot, they run their feet on contact. They’ve got a little meanness and toughness about them. If you do that, you’re going to create some space for these great backs and create some time for the quarterback to throw it. I think we’re going to be in good shape.”
Pyke’s emergence after playing in just two games last season has seemed to solidify the unit.
“Pyke’s done a nice job,” Bobo said. “He’s been one of the most consistent guys all spring. … You’ve got to stay on Pyke’s butt. We’re going to stay on it because if he’ll do what he’s supposed to do, he’s got a chance to be one of the better players that’s played here.”
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