- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at offensive lineman Mark Beard.
No. 79 Mark Beard
Role in 2012: After enrolling at Georgia in January, the junior college transfer became one of the Bulldogs’ top offensive line reserves in his first season at UGA.
The good: Beard appeared in all 13 games and started twice at left tackle. He initially shuffled between guard and tackle after he arrived at Georgia, but eventually seemed to find a home on the edge. By the end of the season, his improved play had caused offensive line coach Will Friend to develop a three-man rotation on the left side of the line that featured Beard, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee.
The bad: Beard was initially slow to pick things up -- which is not unusual for a player first attempting to learn the Bulldogs’ blocking scheme -- so his early contributions were largely limited to blocking for the kicking units on special teams. Around midseason, however, he began to contribute more frequently on scrimmage downs.
Crystal ball: With Georgia still in the running to land highly recruited offensive line prospect Laremy Tunsil, a 2013 preseason that was already expected to be competitive could become even more so. Reserves Beard and Austin Long played their way into additional playing time down the stretch, and they will probably figure into Friend’s plans next fall. But it’s too early to say how they might fit into the rotation yet.