It's time to take another look at how the class of 2008 is shaping up. This time we'll focus on the wide receivers.
The Status Quo
Coach John Eason has come under fire the past couple of seasons. He has been in charge of a group of generally highly touted but uniformly underperforming pass catchers. I hate to label any season a "make or break" year for any coach, and especially an assistant. But this year the Dawgs will field 4 senior receivers (A.J. Bryant. Sean Bailey, T.J Gartrell and Mikey Henderson) and 3 juniors (Kenneth Harris, Demiko Goodman and Mohamed Massaquoi). We will have a total of 13 wideouts among the 85 scholarship players on the 2007 roster. That's right. We have almost as many wide receivers as offensive linemen.
Getting back to the "make or break" theme, our offense will take the field with a quarterback who ended the year by coming into his own as a passer. We will begin the season without the dominant tight end we've had since at least, oh, 1989. Not to be too tautological, but 2-3 of our veteran receivers will step up this season because they have to. There's really no one else to do the job.
The downside of having 7 upperclassman receivers is that we will need to replace those warm bodies in this recruiting class and next season's. Of course, we could replace our current receivers' production by inserting Radio, Rudy and Detroit Lions rookie receiver Reggie Ball (damn, I enjoy saying that). So far we've signed up 2 absolute dandies. Summerville (SC) receiver A.J. Green is generally rated the second best receiver in the country behind Foley, Alabama product (and object of Nick Saban's affections) Julio Jones. You can see Green all over the internets. He's on Youtube. He's on Rivals. A.J. is everywhere.
Less heralded is Habersham Central wideout Tavarres King. He's a speedster who looks destined to play the slot, and is dynamite with the ball in his hands. MaconDawg's Blawg correspondent Darius Dawgberry informed me this morning that he had the chance to spend a few minutes with Tavarres this weekend while visiting family in Habersham County. Dawgberry's appraisal: "He's a sharp kid, says 'yes sir' and 'no sir', and looks you in the eye." Dawgberry also reports that King looks to be up to 180-ish pounds from the 165 he reportedly weighed when he committed this spring. Quoth Dawgberry "King looks like a football player."
And the Dawgs are not done. Norcross receiver Devonta Bolton appears to have eliminated UGA. Rumors surfaced that he tried to commit to UGA, but the coaches would not accept it. That indicates to me that we must have at least one other receiver who we feel confident will don the red and black. The possible candidates:
Joe Adams- Rated the top prospect in the state of Arkansas by Rivals, he's a deep threat. At 6'0, 167 lb., Adams is not the big wide receiver Mark Richt and staff have seemed to favor recently. However he catches everything that comes his way and is just plain fast. Reminds me a little of Sean Bailey coming out of high school. Adams did it all last year, rashing for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, while catching 29 passes for 633 yards and 9 scores. He's visited Athens a couple of times recently and seemed to have a great time. Adams is also considering the home state Razorbacks, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. The Razorbacks however have already received verbal commitments from 4 receivers for the class of 2008. Oklahoma will be a factor.
Brice Butler- As I've said before, Butler may be the most game ready receiver we're recruiting for the class of 2008. He has great hands, great speed and good size. The total package. His father, former Atlanta Falcon Bobby Butler, and his mother are both Florida State alumni, and both appear to really want him to go to FSU. Butler's got offers from everybody who's anybody in college football, including USC, Notre Dame, LSU, Penn State and Oklahoma. Much like Eric Berry last year, he will be difficult to keep instate. But it will be a huge coup if we do.
Josh Jarboe- A big athletic receiver in the Terrell Owens mold, Jarboe goes up for the ball and comes down with it more often than not. He seems intent on leaving the state and has been very high on LSU's list.
That's really about it so far as we in the public know. Several other targets have committed recently, including South Carolina receiver Brandon Ford (Clemson) and Tallahassee product Melvin Ray (who surprised a lot of people by shunning Bobby Bowden for Alabama). Some have raised the possibility that Augusta (Westside) athlete Sanders Commings could play receiver. I just don't see it. I think his future is at either the strong safety or sam linebacker spot.
Who We Want vs. Who We Get
Any of the three guys listed above would be great. Obviously however, we still need them to develop once they get to Athens, and that has been the problem these last few years. I think we may have the best shot at Joe Adams, then probably Butler. If you put on your Florida Gator jersey and held an assault rifle to my head, I'd pick Butler because he may have the best hands of any receiver in the class of 2008. Lord knows we need guys who can just catch the darn football.