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Friday, April 19, 2013
UGA OL to watch: John Theus

By David Ching

ATHENS, Ga. -- Although he started every game at right tackle last season as a true freshman, that doesn’t mean John Theus will remain there this fall.

Offensive line coach Will Friend wasn’t ready to proclaim him a starter at the end of spring practice, at all, but a more reasonable question is probably whether the sophomore starts at left or right tackle. Because it would be a considerable upset if Theus loses a starting spot at any point in his career.

Last season, Theus became the third true freshman offensive tackle to start Georgia’s season opener since freshmen became eligible to play in 1973. And while he wasn’t perfect, he won multiple freshman All-America rosters and validated the excitement that accompanied his signing with Georgia more than a year ago.

John Theus
Sophomore John Theus is likely Georgia's starter at left or right tackle.
A foot fracture kept Theus out of the early portion of spring practice, but Friend tried him out on the left side once he returned. Theus said he would like to play left tackle as soon as possible and that time may come this fall, although the development of other linemen -- namely left tackle Mark Beard and right tackle Xzavier Ward -- could also affect where Theus lines up in 2013.

2012 review: Overall, Theus acquitted himself nicely as a freshman. There were moments where he struggled somewhat against more experienced players or jumped offsides a time too many, but he proved himself as a tough blocker and seldom looked lost. He was one of four Georgia offensive linemen to start every game, along with left tackle Kenarious Gates, left guard Dallas Lee and center David Andrews, on the Bulldogs’ high-scoring offense, so it was not much of a surprise when the Sporting News and Phil Steele recognized his play on their freshman All-American squads.

2013 preview: Friend actually relegated Theus to the second-team offensive line in the post-G-Day spring practices, but it would be a surprise if that held up during preseason practice. He will be a key member of Georgia’s offensive line rotation, almost certainly as a starting tackle.

Spring prospectus: Friend acknowledged that the foot injury had hindered Theus’ progress during the offseason, so he could use a strong summer to get himself in the best possible condition when the Bulldogs open preseason camp in August. Theus actually played left tackle for both teams at G-Day to get extra work at the position in a game-like situation.

Career potential: Since ESPN entered the recruiting business, only two Georgia offensive line signees have been rated as highly as Theus: 2009 offensive tackle Austin Long and 2013 center Brandon Kublanow, who both received the same 83 grade that Theus did in 2012. But it’s possible that Theus is the most heavily recruited offensive lineman to have picked the Bulldogs in that eight-year period because of his potential on the edge. Whether it’s on the left or right side, Theus figures to remain as a mainstay in the starting lineup for at least two more seasons, with the NFL a likely destination in either 2015 or 2016.