Friend focuses on the ones that 'wanted to be at Georgia'

semerson@macon.comFebruary 7, 2013 

ATHENS - The unofficial and unwritten rule among college coaches is to not talk about the ones that got away. Will Friend, the Georgia offensive line coach, was sticking to the script on Wednesday when Laremy Tunsil's name came up.

A reporter prefaced a question by saying Tunsil was a guy everybody thought was coming to Georgia.

"Who did?" Friend said.

Tunsil.

"OK."

But you like the guys you have.

"Uh-huh."

Does that take away from this group, what Tunsil would have meant?

Friend hesitated a moment.

"I'm just ... These guys that we got, we're just excited about them, they're Georgia guys," he said. "They wanted to be at Georgia. They said they wanted to be at Georgia and they never wavered. So we're excited about them."

That the incoming class of offensive linemen - and the line in general - would have been better with Tunsil is obvious. The Lake City, Fla. prospect was a five-star recruit, considered by most analysts to be the top offensive tackle in the 2013 class. Georgia was the favorite until the last week before signing day, when Ole Miss was able to jump in and pry him away.

But Friend did sound legitimately excited about the group that signed. There may not be an immediate starter, but the Bulldogs return all five (actually six) starters from this past season, so depth and building for the future was a bigger concern.

Georgia did that, especially at the three interior positions. Friend pointed out that with Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee - as well as Kenarious Gates - set to be seniors this year, the team needed to restock at guard.

"So that was a big plus to get two guys that we felt like were good players on the inside, like those two," Friend said.

But there's also the center spot. Now that David Andrews (who will be a junior) is basically entrenched as the starting center, the search is on for a backup. Friend said it's very likely that either Josh Cardiello or Brandon Kublanow will end up the backup, depending on which of the two incoming freshmen handles the role the best.

"What I felt was a big need for us (last year) was we played really with one center. And I thought it was important when this class started, that we went and looked at two guys that we felt could be centers, and inside guys, and Josh and Brandon were both guys that we targeted from the get-go in this group," Friend said. "Get some more bodies at the center position, because truly we went through the year last year with one guy, and we were fortunate to be able to get through that. ... They're both strong kids, and tough kids, and played in good programs."

Another signee, Aulden Bynum could be a guard and tackle.

"He's got good athletic ability, he's got a good long frame," Friend said. "He's some growing to do, we kind of look forward to developing him over the years."

Then there's Devondre "Scooter" Seymour, the son of former Georgia defensive end Richard Seymour. While he didn't commit until signing day, Friend said the Bulldogs wanted him for longer, and the interest was mutual. The indications are it was just a matter of numbers, and on signing day Georgia decided there was room for him.

"He was a guy right off the bat at tackle that we were extremely excited about," Friend said. "We felt like he was coming to Georgia for a long time, like everybody did, and he hung true with what he said he was gonna do. So we're excited about getting Scooter too."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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