Dean Legge / Dawg Post

Kirby: Eason's Leadership Improving

ATHENS - Kirby Smart knows that Georgia has a few challenges ahead of it this spring.

First, the Bulldogs need to figure out the offensive line situation. Georgia lost two linemen to graduation, and are waiting for a slew of prospects to come in this fall. 

“Lamont (Gaillard) will open up at center,” Kirby said on Tuesday. “Right guard is completely up for grabs - maybe Soloman (Kindley) or Ben Cleveland (will be there). Dyshon (Sims) is the one guy who has played all three positions.”

Kirby indicated that the offensive line will likely be “musical chairs” this spring. 

"What you see one day might not be what you see the next," he said. 

Second, the second-year head coach said the program wants to improve on special teams. UGA has brought in transfer specialists to help production in the kicking game. 

“Obviously we’ve got some areas we have to improve on - that’s a big area for us,” Kirby said of special teams play. 

“Rodrigo is our kicker this spring, but we are going to have competition. Obviously we have a guy coming in this fall,” Kirby said. “Marshall Long is not available to be out there at the start of spring. We are excited about the transfer place kicker. We plan on putting them in a lot of situations. I am excited to see where the punters are in terms of distance and hang time.”

Third, Kirby said that WR Riley Ridley will receive “internal discipline” for his arrest on March 12 for possession of marijuana of less than an ounce, which is a misdemeanor. 

“We are very disappointed and don't condone what he did,” Kirby said.

Fourth, Kirby noted that the Bulldogs have more depth coming into this spring than last year. 

“I would like to think that we’ve got more players to help us from a depth perspective than this time last year,” he said. 

The Bulldogs are headed into the fall of 2017 with a full load of 85 scholarship players for the first time in recent memory. That’s leading to playing time fights in places like the offensive line and linebacker.

“My biggest fear is that guys think things are OK because they started last year,” Kirby said. “We don’t have have anyone on this team who has arrived.”

Last, and perhaps most critical, Kirby says the continued development of Jacob Eason as a leader of the offense and beyond is critical. 

“From a leadership standpoint Jacob has to do a better job in the huddle,” Kirby said. “I am starting to see that. He’s starting to be more comfortable with that. He’s also in better shape.”

Teammates have also noticed Eason’s uptick in that category. 

“Jacob is starting to speak up more. He’s the guy who is starting things off. It is great seeing him come out of his shell and becoming a vocal leader,” senior TE Jeb Blazevich said of Eason. “He’s doing little things like telling people where to go and organizing things. I think he did a tremendous job with that.”

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