ATHENS - John Theus, the very masculine-looking offensive tackle for the Georgia football team, attended a Beyonce' concern last week. Yes, Beyonce'. Yes, it's not Miley Cyrus or Bieber, and she's married to Jay-Z, but still. So Theus was asked if he was OK with that being out there.
"I could care less. She's awesome. I love Beyonce'. She's fiiiinne, and she can perform," Theus said, smiling. "It was the first non-country concert I've been to, and she can put on a show."
As for Theus, his team goal this year is to put a ring on it, but individually he is still trying to solidify a starting spot. Most signs point to the sophomore re-claiming the right tackle spot he started at every game last year, but the former five-star recruit has still yet to earn the full trust of his coaches.
Theus thought he had turned a corner late last season, after a couple pretty rough games (Missouri, South Carolina). But his blocking in this year's spring game was deemed unworthy enough that he was demoted officially to second-team, behind Xzavier Ward. It might have just been a motivational tactic. So how did Theus react to it?
Never miss a local story.
"I didn't," he said. "No matter what happens, whether I'm first team, third team, second team, I'm gonna work the way I'm gonna work, I know what I'm capable of, in my mind. I know if I bust my butt and do what I'm capable of, I know where I'm gonna end up. It doesn't really effect me. I don't know the reasons behind it. X had a great spring, he deserved it, he definitely deserved it. He did a great job. So it was what it was, I just knew I had to work like I always have, bust my butt, work hard in the summer."
When preseason practice began on Thursday, Theus was back with the first team, at least for most drills. Coaches aren't allowed to watch or participate in summer workouts, so it's not likely that he earned his spot back that way. Officially, there's still an open competition at the right tackle spot, and Theus could also be a candidate at left tackle, though he said his reps the first two days were entirely on the right side.
Then again, back in the spring Theus was suddenly thrown in at left tackle, so one supposes that could happen again.
"You never know. You honestly never know. I guess that's really a question for coach (Will) Friend, because I have no idea," Theus said. "He hasn't said anything to me about it. You never know, I could line up tomorrow at center."
"We'll see," he added.
Much seems to depend on how Ward does. If he proves to be worthy of a starting spot, then the question becomes whether Theus is too valuable not to use at left tackle, where Kenarious Gates and Mark Beard are competing.
Head coach Mark Richt indicated Ward and Theus are both off to a mixed start.
"As I watch it so far, one play (Ward) really looks very good. and the next play he may look off-balance, or he may get lifted out of his shoes a little bit, here and there. But he's definitely competing," Richt said. "Theus, he's so far ahead of a year ago. Obviously he was a true freshman a year ago. But Theus, he still has a ways to go too."
Theus said he agrees with Richt "100 percent" about that assessment.
"(Thursday) out there, Day 1, I was sitting there reflecting on Day 1 last year, and how lost I was on the plays," he said. "This year I feel so much more comfortable, I know what to expect, the zone block isn't a foreign idea to me anymore. I know what to do, I know my steps. Now it's a fact of repping it and getting better. ... And as far as a long ways to go, I agree with that 100 percent too. Because I know my potential, and I know where I can get to. It's just a matter of me working, getting reps and getting there."
When he arrived at Georgia, Theus came with pretty much every credential possible: Parade All-American, USA TOday first-team All-American, Army All-American Team, and of course that vaunted five-star status.
So does he feel any pressure to live up to all that?
"I think that's high school. All those stars are gone, that doesn't mean anything," Theus said. "That was something great to have in high school, but that was high school. This is college, now it's time to bust my butt and be the best that I can be in college. So no pressure as far as that goes."