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Broderick Jones ‘has definitely stepped up big time’ at left tackle

Following the 2021 season, the Georgia Bulldogs lost left tackle Jamaree Salyer to the NFL. The good news for the Bulldogs was Broderick Jones was a clear frontrunner to fill Salyer’s role, and he has continued to rise to the occasion.

Fellow offensive tackle Warren McClendon spoke about Jones on Thursday as the Bulldogs prepared to kick off fall practice. When asked about Jones, McClendon — who plays the right tackle spot for the Bulldogs — praised the redshirt sophomore as he prepares for his first full-time season as a starting lineman.

“He has definitely stepped up big time. He has locked in,” McClendon said. “He’s coming in every day, giving it everything he’s got, and getting better every day.”

Jones came to Georgia in the 2020 signing class as a five-star, but he quickly learned the transition to playing for the Bulldogs would be far from seamless. He laughed back on March 31 when discussing his early battles with Georgia’s defenders, saying he was humbled early on thanks to one-on-one battles with the likes of Azeez Ojulari, Jermaine Johnson and Nolan Smith.

On a more serious note, Jones explained those matchups taught him to watch the older linemen ahead of him on the depth chart and study their efforts in order to make recreating it possible. He also recognized the importance of taking coaching as well as being able to be coached.

Jones played sparingly as a true freshman in 2020 with only two appearances before making more strides in preparation for his sophomore season. He saw action in every game for Georgia in 2021 but really stepped up by starting in Salyer’s place in the Missouri game on Nov. 6 and the three regular season games that followed.

Those efforts by Jones were valuable, but they paled in comparison with what he brought to the table in January.

Jones began Georgia’s national title bout with Alabama on the sideline before right guard Warren Ericson was shaken up late in the second quarter of action. Ericson’s exit led the Bulldogs coaches to shake things up by moving Salyer from left tackle to right guard and bringing in Jones at left tackle.

“It was just a huge moment for me to be able to play in the national championship. You know, I was a little nervous, but who wouldn’t be? It’s a huge game. It’s like, the spotlight’s on,” Jones said. “When my name was called, you know, I was excited, but you know, once everybody — you got people like Jamaree, Shaffe [Justin Shaffer], Stetson, coach Monk, coach Kirby — they’re talking. You’re listening, but it’s like, you’ve got to get in there and do it.

“At the end of the day, you know, I was nervous but not to the extent where I couldn’t perform at my best level.”

Jones is part of what looks like considerable depth at tackle for the Bulldogs entering a new season.

In addition to McClendon—who has 24 starts under his belt at Georgia—the Bulldogs have Amarius Mims, the former five-star who briefly flirted with leaving the program this April before deciding to stay for his sophomore season. There’s also redshirt freshman Micah Morris and true freshmen Earnest Greene and Aliou Bah at the position.

When asked about comparing the depth at offensive tackle compared to the depth at offensive guard — where the Bulldogs have two battles this camp — Smart didn’t hesitate to give the upper hand to the tackles.

“I feel great about the depth at tackle. We’ll probably be more concerned about guard than tackle,” Smart said. “If I had to pick one, I mean, we’ve got two guys who have played consistently winning football. We’ve got two young guys we feel good about that we think can play good football, just haven’t had as much experience.And then we got to figure out who the best guards are and what the depth is at guards.But I feel good about the tackles we have. And if anything, we got to generate some more power out of those positions.”

Georgia would be in a very different situation if Jones didn’t have the experience from 2021 then backed it up with reliable play this spring. Now, with Jones set to start at left tackle, the Bulldogs can focus on finding their two interior linemen to complete what they hope is a formidable five-man front.

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