Amarlo Herrera and Kenarious Gates have used the 16 weeks between the end of Georgia’s spring practices and the start of preseason workouts on Thursday to get into the type of shape that they hope will pay off this season.
Herrera, a junior starting inside linebacker, said he’s down to 235 pounds after playing in the 245-250 range last season.
“I’ve been working hard, man,” Herrera said. “I’ve cut weight to try to move better. It’s just me trying to get better as an all-around player, and just try to produce as much as I can.”
Herrera credits eating healthier and working out six days a week in helping him trim down.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo ran across Gates, the senior offensive lineman, last week walking into the Butts-Mehre building. Gates said a few weeks earlier that he was at 315 pounds after playing at 325 last season.
“We gave him a target weight,” Bobo said. “I don’t think he’s exactly at that weight yet. We’ll find out when he gets here, but looking at him, I thought he looked really good. His body looked good.”
Coaches thought Gates “had gotten a little heavy in the spring,” Bobo said.
Gates is a good athlete who played basketball at Greenville High, Bobo said.
“That was one of the main reasons we signed him was his athleticism,” Bobo said, “but we thought he had gotten a little heavy and become a waist-bender. He looks good to me. It will be interesting to see when camp starts how he looks.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who praised Herrera’s leadership in the offseason program, said he thinks Herrera can play well at the weight he’s at now.
Herrera said he didn’t drop the weight just because he knows he will be counted on after Alec Ogletree left for the NFL after last season.
“Nah, it’s not that, it’s really personal,” Herrera said. “I’m just trying to be the best that I can be. (Losing) the weight allowed me to move better, so I just decided to do that on my own.”
Herrera, who had 70 tackles last season, said he knows he doesn’t have the same skill set as Ogletree, a first-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams.
“He used to play safety,” Herrera said. “Of course, he’s faster than me.”
Herrera, though, says what he brings to the position is, “I can hit and I’m explosive in that area, in the box area.”
Gates said he spent the summer working with Georgia’s linemen “learning every position because I don’t know where I’ll be at.”
He practiced for much of the spring at guard but is listed as the starter at left tackle. Bobo said that Mark Beard and John Theus can compete at that spot. Bobo spoke before Kolton Houston was reinstated Thursday by the NCAA, adding to the line options.
Gates, like Herrera, said he’s feeling better and moving better after working on dropping some weight.
“It really helps with being lighter on my feet so I can be quicker and be a better athlete,” Gates said.
Gates tweeted recently about eating healthy, showing an Instagram photo of a turkey burger.
He started 12 games at left tackle last season and is angling for it again.
“I want that big spot, I want to take that big role, left tackle,” Gates said. “The blind side. That’s a big role.”