We arrive at the top five in the summer countdown of Georgia's most important players for 2014. The requisite reminder: This is not a ranking of the team's best players. Rather it's a look at the players who are most vital to the team's success. That takes into account the team's strengths and weaknesses, the depth at certain positions, and the importance of each position.
And next up is another offensive lineman ...
5. JOHN THEUS
WHY HE’S VITAL: Andrews may be the most irreplaceable offensive lineman. Theus is the one who has the best chance to be dominant individually, and take the group as a whole to another level. His play at right tackle the past two seasons summed up the line in general: Inconsistent. But the signs are that Theus, the former five-star recruit, is poised to become an impact lineman. The coaches moved him to left tackle this spring, after praising his offseason work habits. And while it’s not assured Theus will stay at left tackle, O-line coach Will Friend has made clear Theus has one of the starting tackle jobs lined up. Now the question is just how effective Theus will be this year, whether it’s at the left or the right side.
QUOTABLE: “I definitely feel more comfortable being around the building, whether it be weightlifting, mat drills, on the field. I’m a big believer in the older guys leading, and I guess it’s kind of my turn to step up, with Boss and some of the older guys on the O-line. It’s kind of on me, and time to have a gut check and see what I can do, and see if I can be a leader. Because I think it is time for that.” - Theus
BEST CASE: Theus starts every game at left tackle and shows why recruiting analysts thought so highly of him. He keeps Hutson Mason’s blind side safe, allowing the quarterback much-needed time to find the right receiver. And he helps Todd Gurley and company get outside.
WORST CASE: The inconsistency returns for Theus, who shifts between right and left tackle. The line doesn’t settle into a rhythm, and the offense suffers.
FINAL WORD: Left tackle and center are the two most vital spots on the line. Georgia knows what it has at center. If Theus stays at left tackle and becomes even close to dominant there, it will go a long way towards making Georgia’s offensive line a strength this season.