Georgia offensive lineman Kendall Baker and center Lamont Gaillard head into the fourth quarter against Missouri on Saturday, October 14, 2017, in Athens. Curtis Compton/
Photo: Compton
Photo: Compton

Kendall Baker's determination paying off

Senior guard Kendall Baker is perhaps the walking representation of dogged perseverance. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound offensive lineman played in three games as a redshirt freshman and two games as a sophomore. With a talented group of recruits coming along last fall, it seemed as if Baker would spend his third consecutive season watching from the sidelines.

But he earned a start at left guard in Georgia’s second game of the season – remember that 20-19 victory at Notre Dame? – and remained the starter for the next 14 games. 

Baker, who prepped at Marist primarily as a defensive threat, made sure he spent his summer preparing for an active season on the Bulldogs’ offensive line.

“I worked real hard this offseason because I knew what was coming,” Baker said. “I knew I had a lot of stuff to do to make the team better and make myself better. If I wanted to stay out there and do what I had to do for this last season, I had to go ahead and make the most of what I did.  

So me and (senior center) Lamont (Gaillard) worked out all summer and didn’t really take a break and came back. We did have a good summer, and we’ve been feeling it on the field.” 

His summer of labor didn’t necessarily result in a noticeable weight gain (he is the smallest lineman of Georgia’s returning seasoned players), but Baker definitely feels different. 

“I didn’t gain too much weight,” he said. “The weight that I put on was better weight – I’m still at about 305 (pounds). I feel like I transferred my weight from that fat to more muscle.”

Quarterback Jake Fromm excelled as a freshman in the 2017 season, passing for 2,615 yards and completing 62.2 percent of his passes. Running back D’Andre Swift ranked third in rushing yards in 2017 (618) and leads all returning players in that category. Wide receiver Terry Godwin caught 38 passes in 2017, second on the team behind senior Javon Wims. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman caught 25 passes in 2017, ranking third on the team. Wide receiver Riley Ridley caught 14 passes in 2017. He caught six of the 1
Kirby Paul Smart was born Dec. 23, 1975 in Montgomery, Alabama. Smart graduated from Bainbridge (Ga.) High School. His HS coach was his dad, Sonny Smart. Smart played football at Georgia from 1995-98 and graduated with an undergraduate business degree in 1998. He earned a master's degree from Florida State in 2003. Smart was a first-team All-SEC choice as a senior at Georgia in 1998. A safety, Smart intercepted 13 passes while playing for the Bulldogs. Smart intercepted six passes as a junior and five as

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