Much has been made about the offensive line since preseason practice began.
But one player who head coach Kirby Smart hadn't been asked about prior to Thursday is junior college transfer D'Marcus Hayes. Hayes, considered a top junior college prospect, enrolled early in January and went through all 15 of Georgia's spring practices.
But Hayes hasn't made the leap Smart and the coaching staff hoped for. With the offensive line mixing and matching up front, Hayes has stayed steady with the second team at left tackle.
“To be honest with you, he didn’t make the jumps in the spring we wanted him to,” Smart said. “But he has played better this fall camp. The cooler days, or the inside days, he seems to play better. The days outside, when he’s fatigued more, he doesn’t. It’s either a mental capacity, as far as being able to keep it going, or it’s mental toughness, pushing through it.”
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With left tackle Isaiah Wynn sitting out the past four practices due to an illness, Dyshon Sims worked in with the first team at left tackle instead of Hayes. And in conjunction with that move, Andrew Thomas moved up to first-team left guard and Ben Cleveland stepped into the starting right tackle role.
When Wynn is healthy to play again, he is assured to go back to his first-team left tackle spot. But Smart is hopeful Hayes can eventually emerge and compete for a role on Georgia's offensive line.
“We’ve challenged D’Marcus because he’s got some talent,” Smart said. “We hope he can help us.”