ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia wanted to get bigger on the offensive line and accomplished that by bringing aboard four freshmen whose average listed weight is 343 pounds.
There’s adding needed girth and then there’s tipping the scales too much.
“When we say bigger, you start with the fact that you’re going to be at an optimal weight,” coach Kirby Smart said. “What is your optimal weight?”
Football nutritionist Sidney Smith and strength and conditioning director Scott Sinclair try to come up with an answer for each of the players.
“They do bone destiny … they do fat testing,” Smart said. “There’s an optimal weight for every person. Bigger is not necessarily just better. It’s (about) your optimal weight.”
The incoming group “is not near where they need to be … but they’re better than they were when they got here,” according to Smart.
Seven weeks on campus being able to go through offseason conditioning with the program has helped Isaiah Wilson, Andrew Thomas, Netori Johnson and Justin Shaffer, all listed at 334 pounds or more.
“We have tried to cut back each person’s weight,” Smart said. “The way the game’s played now, you can be overweight and not be healthy and not be able to be a productive player. … Each one of those guys has improved; they’ve (shed) a few pounds. I think they’re going to be more prepared for the heat in the fall practices,” which start on July 31.
Wilson, the five-star tackle from Brooklyn, weighed 354 pounds back in January, he posted on Twitter then. Smart said there was discussion in the program about Wilson’s target weight.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “We debated that when he first got here. I don’t know what that number is. All I can tell you, it’s been coming down and it’s almost like when does it stop?” Smart said. “We want it to come down because he can’t sustain if he doesn’t.”
The 6-foot-7 Wilson and the 6-foot-5 Thomas will compete at tackle while the 6-foot-4 Johnson and 6-foot-4 Shaffer give the Bulldogs’ added bulk inside at guard.
Johnson is listed at 334 pounds and Shaffer at 350. Redshirt freshman right guard Solomon Kindley is 6-foot-4 and 341 pounds and redshirt sophomore left guard Pat Allen is 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds.
“For you to be successful at guard in most offenses you’ve got to have some size, you’ve got to have some stature,” Smart said.