McKinzey: Now is the time

ATHENS – Three-and-a-half years ago, Zeb McKinzey was considered one of the top offensive linemen in Georgia. So far, he's not been able to crack the offensive rotation, much less the starting line up. That may change this season.

McKinzey, who was ranked as the 14th-best offensive lineman in the country by while he was at Parkview, is fighting for the starting strong guard spot against Fernando Velasco, who is coming off a redshirt season. The task of overtaking Velasco will not be an easy one, as he was named Georgia's Most Improved Offensive Lineman last spring.

"Fernando has played a lot of football. He redshirted this past year, but you can throw him into the depth chart," offensive line coach Neil Callaway said of the player in front of McKinzey on the depth chart.

"All of us are fighting from playing time out there," McKinzey commented on the competition. "Me, Cheese (Chester Adams) and Fernando are juniors and it's come down to crunch time for us. We only have two years left. Hopefully we will all three rotate and help out during the season."

The Bulldogs will have to replace All-American Max Jean-Gilles and the combination of Ryan Schnetzer and Russ Tanner in the middle of the offensive line. That task is not lost on McKinzey, but Callaway has said McKinzey will not move to center, as had been suggested by some early in his career.

"They are all gone, and it's a lot different because they have been here every year I have been here until now," he said of replacing those three players. "Nick, Dan and Shack are the seniors this year, and they have stepped up. It is a little different not having those guys inside, but I think we started to get used to it during the spring."

According to offensive line coach Neil Callaway, McKinzey must stay focused to win the starting job. The veteran coach said the contest will go deep into the month.

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