ATHENS, Ga. — John Theus thought he knew what Georgia would be getting out of Leonard Floyd this season when he saw the 6-foot-4, 235-pound freshman this summer.
Turns out Theus was wrong.
The Georgia offensive tackle saw firsthand in preseason practices that Floyd is not only tall and lanky, but he is quicker than Theus imagined.
“The kid don’t stop,” Theus said. “The kid has a motor for days.”
Floyd has made plays in practices as a pass rushing outside linebacker that has made him perhaps the biggest story of any player this preseason.
“He comes out and he’s explosive,” Theus said. “He’s going to be fun to watch. He’s fun to watch at practice. If in practice he doesn’t stop, I know he’s not going to stop in games.”
Coaches plan to find out Saturday night against Clemson.
“I think Leonard has practiced well enough to feel like we’ve got to get him in the game,” coach Mark Richt said. “Whether he’s a starter or not, exactly where he plays, that may change as the games go along, but we’ve got to get him in the game.”
Floyd has been giving James DeLoach a push at strongside linebacker but is listed No. 2 on the depth chart there.
“I’m accepting my role whether it’s a one or a two,” Floyd said last week. “I’m bringing speed all day, every day.”
Well, not just speed, nose guard Mike Thornton said.
“Speed, aggressiveness, power, everything,” he said. “He’s all over the place, man. He just flies around. He likes to play ball.”
Said DeLoach: “I enjoy watching him out there, too.”
Georgia identified Floyd as someone who could be a difference-maker when he attended a summer camp while playing for Dodge County High School.
“Everything he’s done so far is what we thought it would be,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “We have to wait and see how the games play out, but I like the way he works, he’s conscientious, he’s going to do nothing but get better and we’ve just got to continue to develop him.”
Floyd developed his own game after spending last season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., after signing initially with Georgia in 2012.
“It was pretty limited watching the boys play last year,” he said. “I only watched like three games last year. Before prep school, I used to watch the games every weekend. I was pretty much mad that I couldn’t watch my team play. I’m glad I’m out of prep school.”
Floyd said the military academy required him to do running or push-ups, keeping him plenty occupied when college games were on TV.
He said the prep school competition — going up against other college prospects on a regular basis — helped him prepare for Georgia.
“All of our special teams coaches love him, too,” Richt said. “He can run. I don’t know exactly what he thinks about all the time, but when you watch him, the perception he gives you through his body language and his energy, is he really enjoys football. He enjoys practice. He can’t help but practice hard and try to do what coach says to do. Just a really neat kid.”
Former Georgia All-American defensive end David Pollack, who remains close to the program, already has touted Floyd on Twitter.
“Leonard Floyd is a freshman OLB who will be the next great pass rusher at UGA,” he tweeted. “Long, lean & explosive.”
Wait a minute. Isn’t sophomore Jordan Jenkins supposed to follow Jarvis Jones and Justin Houston as the next sack master?
“I don’t know,” Theus said. “It will be a good competition between the two of them. It will be a healthy competition for sure.”
Game on, Jenkins said.
“He’s a future playmaker,” Jenkins said. “He’s got a lot of skill sets I don’t have and he forces me to work to keep up with him sometimes. He’s a hungry guy. He practices hard non-stop. He’s a fun guy to watch.”