ATHENS -- In all his years, growing up big and playing football, Isaiah Wynn had never played center. And yet the whispers began last year, most prominently from David Andrews, who knew his Georgia football team was seeking his replacement.
“He always told me that eventually I probably was gonna get moved to center,” Wynn said.
That ended up being exactly what happened. And now Wynn sits in the somewhat overlooked position battle on Georgia’s offense: Who will replace Andrews, a three-year-starter, as the starting center?
It’s a competition between someone who played center all of his life (fifth-year senior Hunter Long), and someone who hadn’t played it until last year (Wynn). And now throw in another who hadn’t played it until last week (starting guard Brandon Kublanow).
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It’s the only competition that Rob Sale, the new offensive line coach, has to decide, as the other four starters are back. But the one opening happens to be the most important.
“Center’s a lot like a quarterback. There’s a little more weight on those guys,” Sale said. “Right now, we’re getting three guys that I feel confident in. And we’ve got guys signed where I think one could be a fourth guy. So I think we’ll be OK.”
Wynn seems to have the edge right now. He worked with the first team in last Saturday’s first scrimmage of the spring, and Sale said Wynn will probably also be first-team in Saturday’s second scrimmage.
A bright future has always been expected for Wynn, a consensus four-star prospect out of St. Petersburg, Florida. He first opened up eyes last August as a true freshman, and although he didn’t play much -- none of the backups did, thanks to the starters’ play -- Wynn was being groomed for the future.
Sale, who spent last season at McNeese State, immediately saw in Wynn what the previous staff did, and it has held through three weeks of spring practice.
“He’s kept moving forward. He’s on the up climb,” Sale said.
Wynn’s raw power and skills have been remarked on by several defensive players.
“I always knew Isaiah Wynn was a competitor,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “But he shocked me at one point, coming inside to snatch me up real quick.”
It’s the other factors that now will determine if Wynn gets the starting job: Can he do the critical things expected of the center, such as calling out the defensive alignment, and, most importantly, know the play Georgia is about to run?
Snapping the ball is one thing. Wynn admitted that communication is his biggest adjustment to center. He’s used to being at guard, where players do more listening and obeying.
“Really, having to know all the plays and everybody’s assignment,” he said. “Because you’re really not only responsible for the offensive line, but you also have to know safeties and all that stuff, all the blitzes that are coming.”
Wynn said he’s also trying to heed the main advice he received from Andrews: “Stay in the film room.”
There’s still time for Long, who served as Andrews’ backup last year, to make a run at the spot. He offers up experience and strength. Kublanow, who is set as a starter somewhere, could be an intriguing option at center if Sale ends up preferring Wynn at left guard.
But Kublanow is left-handed, which is a consideration. (“It hits the quarterback’s hands in a different spot,” Sale said.)
Wynn seems on track to play soon, and somewhere. It’s only a matter of whether it’s at center this season.
“It is a lot of work, because it is kind of like the second quarterback,” Wynn said. “But other than that, it’s fine.”