Georgia’s offensive line has been well-stocked with former top recruits. Broderick Jones and Amarius Mims were both 5-star prospects. Tate Ratledge, Sedrick Van Pran and Earnest Greene all ranked among the top 60 overall prospects when they were recruits.
But not every starter on the offensive line for the Bulldogs has been a star-studded recruit. Warren McClendon was a multi-year starter for Georgia despite being ranked outside the top 200 in the 2019 recruiting cycle. Xavier Truss is poised to start again for Georgia at left guard after arriving at Georgia with a comparable recruiting ranking to McClendon.
It’s with that in mind that you should seriously start to consider the possibility of Austin Blaske as a starting offensive tackle for Georgia in 2023. He was a 3-star recruit in the 2020 recruiting cycle, a late add under then-offensive line coach Matt Luke.
But Blaske has proven to play well above the ranking he was assigned as a high school prospect.
“Austin Blaske has played a lot of football,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s worked at tackle. He worked while Warren McClendon was out there for a while, he got a lot of reps at tackle. He competes at tackle. He’s really athletic. He can flip over and play at center, so I’ve seen him and know he’s a very vital candidate to compete for one of the starting jobs.”
Related: Georgia guard Tate Ratledge explains how deep, talented line has grown closer
Blaske may not have the other-worldly physical tools that a Mims or Truss have, but he’s still a capable athlete at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. His versatility has clearly left an impression on Georgia’s coaches, as he’s perhaps the only offensive lineman that can play all five positions for Georgia.
With Van Pran returning at center, Blaske’s best chance at starting would appear to be at left tackle. He’s battling Greene and in the early part of spring practice, Blaske seems to have an edge. That can be chalked up to Blaske’s experience edge, as well as the fact that Greene is still working his way into football shape following back surgery last fall.
Greene was the higher-ranked recruit of the two and has earned endorsements from both McClendon and Jones as far as what he could possibly become for the Bulldogs.
Blaske though has a similar level of respect from current members of the Georgia team. He was a state champion wrestler at South Effingham high school and it’s clear the fourth-year offensive lineman won’t go down easy.
“A lot of toughness. He’s one tough kid,” Ratledge said. “There’s not a day that he’s not giving his all for everybody out there. Like, everybody’s got a lot of respect for him. He brings it every day.”
The left tackle battle likely isn’t to be decided this spring. Georgia will want to see how Blaske and Greene perform as the weather warms during fall camp. Given Georgia opens the 2023 season against UT Martin and Ball State, the Bulldogs could probably afford to split reps in those games to find out which players make up Georgia’s best five offensive linemen.
In the event Blaske though doesn’t crack the top five for Georgia, he’ll be seen as the first offensive lineman off the bench. His versatility and toughness have him ready to be a key piece of the Georgia offensive line in 2023.
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Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff WriterMay 29, 2023, 08:27 PM ETCloseCovers the SEC.Joined ESPN in 2012.Graduate of Auburn University.DESTIN, Fla. -- SEC commission