Pregame festivities at G-Day
It has been a challenging month for Greg Pyke.
Pyke played the past three seasons at right guard and earned 23 starts in the process. But with a new coaching staff, came a new request. He was needed to kick out and play right tackle, an unfamiliar position for the veteran.
Pyke took the challenge head-on and has done everything possible to learn the position. Throughout the past five weeks, it was tough having to learn new techniques and go against some talented pass-rushers. But after Georgia’s annual G-Day spring game, Pyke felt pretty good about where he’s at with the new position.
“We were moving the ball well and protection was good,” Pyke said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of quarterback we have back there. We’re going to block the same for all of them. But me, moving out to tackle, it was a little different from being a guard. I’m going one on one against guys like Lorenzo (Carter) and (Davin) Bellamy. It was a lot of fun.”
Pyke had an excellent 2014 season in which he was named a second-team All-SEC player. His 2015 season was up-and-down, however, as he lost his starting job for Georgia’s game against Kentucky. After regaining the starting spot a week later against Auburn, Pyke sustained a knee injury and was forced to sit out games against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.
This spring was a learning process for the Baltimore native as he had to learn how to play on an island at right tackle. He faced many one-on-one battles and progressively got better as spring practice went on.
Carter said Pyke improved tremendously from the first spring practice through the end, to where he was a completely different player at the position.
“He’s grown a lot,” Carter said. “From day one when he slid out there, we were like, ‘What are you doing?’ It’s been great to watch him grow as a player and work with him. We’ll teach him. We’ll beat him and then show him why we beat him. It’s fun to interact our offensive players, especially in a competitive atmosphere. We’re working hard trying to beat them but at the same time we realize they’re our teammates. You need them to block on Saturday.”
It’s unknown at this time whether Pyke stays at right tackle or not when August approaches. Even Pyke doesn’t know the answer to that. Rhode Island graduate transfer Tyler Catalina soon will join Georgia’s offensive line and he figures to be in contention for a starting spot at one of the tackle spots, evidenced by the recent one-day trip head coach Kirby Smart and offensive line coach Sam Pittman made to see him.
If Catalina earns a starting spot, and if Kendall Baker makes another run at one, Pyke could move back inside to guard.
In the end, Pyke doesn’t have a preference on where he plays. He just wants to play and contribute to his team in his upcoming final season.
“I want to leave this place on a very good note and send out my fellow seniors with a lot of wins,” Pyke said.