FIVE QUESTIONS WITH LAMONT GAILLARD
ATHENS – It’s incredible the amount of humility one can encounter in an elite athlete from time-to-time. Take Lamont Gaillard, for instance.
First of all, whether or not this 6-foot-2, 288-pound junior is an elite athlete has long since been established. Not much question that he is considering he came to Georgia from Fayetteville, N.C., as a consensus 4-star defensive tackle, then got moved to offensive line, then became a 13-game starter at guard, and now is the undisputed starter at center. And just beginning his junior season, so we haven’t yet determined whether Gaillard has found his ceiling yet.
In any case, at this point he probably deserves to have his name pronounced correctly. And that’s where the humility comes in. For going on four years now, media and fans have been pretty much butchering that. Though his French-derived name is spelled G-A-I-L-L-A-R-D, since his recruiting days one generally hears his name pronounced GAL-yard.
Heading into the fourth week of his four preseason camp with the Bulldogs, a reporter finally bothered this past week to ask Gaillard, “have we been pronouncing your name right?”
“No,” Gaillard said flatly. “It’s GILL-yard.”
So there you go. No matter what you call him, Gaillard is a starter on Georgia’s offensive line and arguably at one of the most important positions. The center position makes the blocking calls for the rest of the line before every snap, then has the rather important responsibility of delivering the ball safely to the quarterback, which will be in the shotgun a lot this season.
Gaillard, like every other individual on the Bulldogs’ No. 1 line, is new at his position. But he likes what has seen in camp and is eager to take the field against Appalachian State next Saturday to silence the refrain that Georgia’s offensive line is the team’s weak link.
“All of us just want to be better,” Gaillard said of group. “I’ve said that plenty of times, but it’s up to us to bring that pride back to Georgia that our offense can block and we can run the ball. … (The goal is) is not give up big plays, not give up sacks, for our running backs to have 100 yards a game. That’s what we want.”
Gaillard is the subject of our regular weekly DawgNation feature in which we ask five questions of one of the Bulldogs’ players. Here’s his answers:
1. What have you seen out of sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason?
Gaillard: “He’s stepped up a lot. He’s been a good leader to all of us. He’s getting his right, getting us on the same page. We’re following each other, whether it’s the Mike call, where we’re going (with the football), what’s the protection, he’s stepped it up a lot.”
2. How do you feel about playing center?
Gaillard: “I believe I’ve stepped it up. I’ve learned a lot and I feel I’ve gained a lot over the last few months. I’ve worked hard on my craft, my technique. I’m trying to get everybody in the right place so they can follow me and know that they can trust me with my calls.
3. How do you feel about snapping the ball in the shotgun?
Gaillard: I’m comfortable now. Before it gave me a lot of trouble. I had my ups and down. But after a while it’s just muscle memory. I’ve gotten it down. I just use the spiral and try to get it back there. We work on it every day, sometimes after practice. We’re trying to perfect it.
4. Your career has featured a lot of transitions, from playing D-line to playing O-line, to playing guard and now center. Are you surprised how it has turned out?
Gaillard: “To be honest, I didn’t know where I was going to (play). As long as I’m on the field somewhere I was going to be happy with it. When I made the move to offense, I wasn’t excited about it, but obviously it worked out for the best. So I’m just going to keep doing my best as I go along.”
5. What are your thoughts on your opening opponent, App State?
Gaillard: “They’re a good team, especially their defense. We’ve been looking at them a lot. … We know they’re going to come to play and we’ve got to get right. If we’re not it’s going to be a long game.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.