It seems like only yesterday that Mike Bobo left for Colorado State, taking offensive line coach Will Friend with him. I can't speak for others, but for me the loss of Friend was a really distressing development. Obviously Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb had a lot to do with the success of the Georgia running game in 2014. Either could be classified as a singular talent but for the fact that, you know, there are two of them.
But make no mistake, a lot of credit for the success of Gurubb/Churley should go to the Bulldog offensive line, and by extension Will Friend. For one the same five guys started every game of the 2014 season. That was an accomplishment both rare and crucial. It occurred because of generally excellent injury luck, and because Will Friend developed those guys over the course of a couple of years. But also because he recruited 3/5 of that group (Theus, Pyke, Kublanow).
And that's the portion of the program where I was already starting to worry. We won't know anything about Rob Sale's ability to coach offensive linemen for several months, at a minimum. One could argue that with the guys he inherited 2015 is essentially a freebie. But we knew within days of Friend's departure that Sale was going to have to showcase his recruiting chops immediately.
Almost as soon as Friend left five star prospect Chidi Valentine-Okeke eliminated Georgia (considered by some to be his leader) from consideration, and just committed to LSU. And tackle commit Patrick Allen, who'd already been wavering a little, went public with his decommitment. This meant that a Georgia class which needed to include some heft on the line was starting to look pretty thin. JUCO pledge Devondre Seymour had planned to enroll at Georgia in January, but still has not gotten clearance to do so. Marist lineman Sage Hardin was looking like he might be the only offensive lineman in the class of 2015 to actually make it to Athens, a truly distressing development for long term depth.
But just as quickly as they fell apart, things seem to be improving. Of course there was the recent commitment of mammoth New Jersey tackle Sam Madden. Madden hadn't even really been on the radar for the Red and Black until Sale took the reins. The 'Dawgs have also been making a late push for Dunwoody guard Nick Buchanan, a Cal commit who also visited Florida over the weekend. The 6'4, 280 pound prospect has great feet and a frame to add more weight. I project him at guard, but could see him providing depth at tackle. And Georgia remains among the choices for Allen, who will now make a Signing Day decision. The fact that Georgia remains so strongly in the mix speaks pretty well for Sale's ability to sell both his vision for recruits and the fact that the offense under Brian Schottenheimer isn't likely to look that different from the offense under Mike Bobo.
In short, while Georgia's recruiting efforts on other fronts have hit serious turbulence since December's offensive shake up, the offensive line is one area looking like it might come in for a smooth landing. It will be interesting to see what Sale can do both with the offensive line in 2015, and with a full year to recruit for the class of 2016. Until later . . .