Quick return expected for Georgia center Warren Ericson

ATHENS – Warren Ericson’s hand injury is not serious and Georgia’s starting center will be back in action well before the Bulldogs’ season opener against Clemson.

Ericson, a junior from Suwanee, hurt his left hand – the one he snaps with – in this past Saturday’s practice, according to several reports. He sat out Monday’s workout -- the fourth of 25 preseason practices -- and possibly could miss a few more. But the injury is not expected to sideline Ericson for a significant time, according to people affiliated with the program, and therefore it shouldn’t radically change the Bulldogs’ plans for the opener.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Ericson entered 2021 as Georgia’s heir apparent at center. He succeeds Trey Hill, who left UGA and was taken in the NFL Draft after his junior season.

Ericson started the Bulldogs’ final two games of 2020 after Hill was sidelined with arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Georgia won both games with him at center, 49-14 over Missouri and 24-21 over No. 8 Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.

The Bulldogs have other options at center. Those start with redshirt freshman Sedrick Van Pran of New Orleans. He was ranked the No. 1 center in the nation, according to 247Sports, before signing with Georgia in 2020. He played in games against Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri, but was able to preserve his redshirt status by appearing in only four games.

There’s reason to believe, however, the Bulldogs might have gone with senior Jamaree Salyer against Clemson. The Tigers feature one of the best defensive fronts in college football and making the right calls on the line of scrimmage – the primary job of the center – is going to be a critical responsibility. That’s an area in which Ericson excels. Salyer, likewise, is very experienced at defensive-scheme recognition, at this point.

Sophomore Clay Webb (6-3, 290) and redshirt freshman Autin Blaske (6-5, 310) also work at center. For now, though, Van Pran is taking the center snaps in practice with the No. 1 offense while Salyer continues to work at both left tackle and guard. But Ericson is expected back soon.