ATHENS, Ga.— Andrew Thomas has not let his freshman season become too big for him; he’s been a starter since day one.
The Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy product has not missed one game this year, playing in all seven thus far at right tackle. He was even able to hold off attempts from senior Dyshon Sims and redshirt freshman Ben Cleveland who were trying to win that job.
T Thomas has helped lead a resurgent position group trying to regain the physical form it showcased in 2014. So far, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has liked what he’s seen.
‘’He’s a freshman out there playing in what I think is the toughest conference in the country,” Smart said “He’s holding up, he’s holding his own. We haven’t put him in a lot of really tough positions. We try to avoid that, whether we cover him up, or being able to run the ball helps with that. But he’s mature beyond his years and he’s very understanding of how important practice is, which I think allows him to play well.’’
Thomas was one of five offensive linemen signed to Georgia’s 2017 class. He was the second highest prospect in the group, behind only five-star Isaiah Wilson per 247Sports.com’s rankings.
UGA fans hoped that Wilson would be a starter on the first day as well, but Thomas was the freshman who rose above the rest.
Smart was impressed early during fall camp by Thomas’ practice habit. He liked how the freshman was not overwhelmed by practicing against older players.
“Some of them, you have to push them through it and they kind of hit that wall,” Smart said. “He hasn’t hit that wall. I think the best and most mature guys do. I think the school he went to, Pace prepares him for it. Coach (Chris) Slade over there does a tremendous job preparing guys. Because he’s done it at all levels.”
The Georgia coach was not alone in noticing that Thomas had a different quality about him on the field. Senior outside linebacker Davin Bellamy also could see the freshman was ready to play.
Bellamy says that he still battles Thomas during in-season practices and recalls some humbling moments against him in August.
“I saw that he was something different during camp,” Bellamy said. “When they moved him to tackle and he was a freshman, I expected to have my way with him and I wasn’t. I was like, ‘ok, maybe it was just the first day.’ Then the second, I was like, ‘I’m really going to come at him hard.’ Then I was like, ‘gosh he keeps blocking me.’ I thought it was just me and then started talking to the other guys and they were like, ‘yeah, this guy is for real.’”
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