LEXINGTON, Ky. - When asked if the Georgia offense missed a beat when starting center Lamont Gaillard went down with an injury, running back Elijah Holyfield shook his head.
“Nah,” Holyfield said. “Trey [Hill] is very talented. He’s been here since January, so when he came in, everybody was fine. We rotate them in practice all the time, so nobody was really worried when he came in.”
Hill is a true freshman, although he enrolled early in Athens in January. In Saturday’s game against Kentucky he received the most extensive playing time of his young career, playing most of the game at center after Gaillard left the game.
It didn’t start perfect for Hill. He had a high snap that caused a lost fumble as Georgia threatened to score, and he had several other snaps that quarterback Jake Fromm had to reach for.
But for the most part, Hill shined in his first big taste of college football. He anchored an offensive line that ran for 331 yards against a Kentucky team that had allowed little more than 100 yards per game on the ground this year.
“What a big game for him, big-time atmosphere didn’t phase him one bit,” quarterback Jake Fromm said. “Even with the snaps and the two fumbles, it didn’t phase him at all. That’s what I love about him.”
Fromm knows Hill better than anyone on the team, as the two played together at Houston County High School. Fromm said he wasn’t surprised at all at his former high school teammate’s ability to come in and fill the shoes of Gaillard, widely regarded as one of the best centers in the SEC.
Head coach Kirby Smart has also been aware of Hill’s talents for quite a while. He said during fall camp, there were times when the coaching staff considered Hill very much in the running for a starting spot.
That never came to be, although Hill has appeared in every game this season as a backup. Smart even said he took some reps at defensive line this week in practice as Georgia deals with injuries to that group.
But Hill came in seamlessly to what Smart called “probably the most injured position in our conference.” Fromm credited that to the preparation by offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
“Coach Pittman gets those guys just on another level as far as mentally and physically playing with the offensive line, and Trey was ready,” Fromm said. “We helped each other out a lot today, and it was awesome to see.”
Smart said after the game Gaillard suffered a hyperextended knee and he is unsure of the severity. It’s possible that Hill might earn his first career start at center in Georgia’s game against Auburn in Athens next week.
But if Saturday afternoon’s events in Lexington are any indication, Hill will be up to the task.