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Tate Ratledge might be the most exciting option at guard, but he’s not the only one for Georgia football
At this point, we should no longer be surprised by Tate Ratledge.
First, he broke into the starting lineup at right guard on G-Day in 2021. An encouraging sign for the redshirt freshman in his first spring training.
Then last fall he had perhaps the best fall camp ever and started Georgia’s season opener against Clemson. For a player who arrived in Georgia with a lot of promise, the offensive guard from Rome, Georgia seemed well up to the lofty expectations that come with being the 37th player overall in the 2020 recruiting class.
Going into fall training for this go-around, Ratledge looks like the player we saw last August. He seems to have great strength, as evidenced by some of his impressive comebacks in a recent video posted by Georgia’s football Twitter account. He also picks up first-team reps at the correct guard post, looking to have a head start in one of the most hotly contested position battles this fall.
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What makes all of this surprising is that Ratledge is coming back from a foot injury he suffered in Game 1 against Clemson. Ratledge’s grand opening proved to be his grand closing for his second year in Athens.
Georgia has been cautious with Ratledge, in terms of workload and praise. For someone as tall as Ratledge – 6ft 6in and 315lbs – a broken foot is not an easy injury to recover from. With all the pushing and kicking that comes with playing on the offensive line, it’s easy to see him get hurt again.
One only has to look at a Dominick Blaylock to see what happens if a player gets injured again, as the junior wide receiver has missed most of two seasons after tearing the same ACL twice.
This aspect of power certainly plays into Ratledge’s hands. He’s a little bigger and stronger than Warren Ericson, who started 14 games at right guard last season. Devin Willock and Xavier Truss are the veteran options who both have builds closer to Ratledge’s. Redshirt freshman Dylan Fairchild could be as strong as Ratledge, despite being a year younger and even less experienced.
Right now, Ratledge seems to have the inside edge on the right guard. Obviously, he’ll have to keep working through Georgia’s scrimmages and fall practices in order to become the starting right guard again.
That would pair him with McClendon, one of the SEC’s top tackles.
“He’s looking better and getting better every day,” McClendon said of Ratledge. ” He is healthy. He needs to get back in shape but he is improving day by day.
Georgia’s offensive line has a good mix of proven contributors and potential. If Ratledge can take the necessary steps forward, he could really help tie the offensive line together, much like Big Lebowski’s mat.
But Georgia, as it stands, doesn’t feel the need to rush Ratledge there. As last season showed, you don’t get extra points for playing your best in the first game of the season. It’s about being able to help the team win in the last game of the season. Consider that Broderick Jones didn’t start at the start of 2021, but improved over the year so he could play a big role in the win over Alabama.