Solomon Kindley has a good chance to jump toward a significant role in his second year at Georgia.
The right guard received a redshirt after the 2016 season after only playing one snap in a victory over Missouri. Months later, the 341-pound lineman was a first-team participant in the spring and will maintain the same role to open preseason practice.
Kindley, a late addition to the 2016 recruiting class, is part of a group in which all of its three offensive linemen signees were redshirted. Smart said Kindley’s on-field miscues, which resulted in almost zero playing time, have diminished to where he will be depended on by the Bulldogs’ coaching staff.
“He struggled last fall camp, he could block most 3-techniques and all of our freshmen, but he really struggled getting the call, going to the line and knowing the snap count, a lot of things that freshmen struggle with,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “Over the spring he erased 70-to-80 percent of those mistakes. Still mistakes, but a lot less.”
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Kindley begins preseason practice at right guard, joining senior Isaiah Wynn at left tackle, sophomore Pat Allen at left guard, junior Lamont Gaillard at center and senior Dyshon Sims at right tackle.
Due to the NCAA’s acclimation policy, Georgia will not practice in full pads until Friday. Smart indicated it will be difficult to have a gauge on which linemen can contend for significant roles before pads are worn. He noted he will be able to determine who is “serious” about the task at hand.
Kindley fits that need.
“He’s a powerful guard. Powerful guards can play because they can get their hands on people and create movement,” Smart said. “He has to continue to do that because he’s got guys coming in behind him. He has potential for tackles to move into guards because we’ll play the best five. If he continues to do what he does, he should be fine. But he can’t relax.”
The progression from the second-year player has also been seen by others on the offensive line. Wynn, the veteran of the group after three starters graduated from last season’s team, has been told he will play left tackle to open his senior season.
But Wynn saw significant time at guard a season ago and served as a mentor to Kindley. Wynn sees potential for the Florida native to emerge.
“He’s progressed well and I expect a great camp from him,” Wynn said. “He’s one to watch this season and I think he’s going to be very good. Having spring under his belt has made him very comfortable. He’s big and physical. He’s very athletic for his size and can move. He can move people off the ball.”
Georgia has 17 scholarship offensive linemen on its roster and Smart indicated there will be reshuffling among the unit due to uncertainty. The Bulldogs only have two seniors up front and continue to make the offensive line a priority on the recruiting trail.
Consequently, Smart and his staff are confident that Georgia has enough quality assets to fill the three vacancies.
“Inexperienced may be a better word, but not necessarily very young. We had 15 days of spring practice to watch the kids on our roster,” Smart said. “A lot of guys have started to come on and help and I have seen both of those guys grow. There’s more depth and competition across the board. It’s not necessarily if you have pieces to the puzzles, it’s where they go. We have to figure that on early on.
“We have to let it happen, and we have a 12-to-14 practice schedule to where when we have a scrimmage we’ll be able to say, ‘OK, game four, this guy is ahead of this guy and let’s get him in the spot.’”