Among the nuggets of information coming out of spring practice recently was the news that earlier this week offensive tackle Aulden Bynum had moved out to tight end just to have enough warm bodies there to practice. It wasn't news that senior starter Jay Rome is out with a foot injury. The new, dire development is that redshirt freshman Jordan Davis, the lone remaining scholarship tight end, is now out of action with a sprained knee.
Georgia has historically had strong tight end play under Mark Richt. It's not even been a result of blue chip recruiting. Ben Watson was a transfer from Duke for pete's sake. Martrez Milner was a tepidly recruited partial qualifier who ended up in the NFL. But it's hard to excel at any position when there is no one there to fill the spot. And Georgia's at that point, due to a variety of circumstances.
For one, the focus of recruiting over the past few years has been on other positions. Davis was the only TE signee in 2013. Colquitt County standout Ty Fluornoy-Smith was the only 2012 signee, and was dispatched to GMC before making any real impact. He's now followed the time-honored tradition of parlaying dismissal by Mark Richt into a scholarship offer elsewhere in the SEC. And Rome was the only tight end member of the class of 2011.
What does all this mean for 2014? Well, it's damned hard to run an effective pro-style offense without a consistent tight end receiving threat. In the latter half of 2012 on through 2013 Arthur Lynch allowed Aaron Murray to stretch defenses by providing a reliable, physical underneath threat who could also get down the field, especially on seam routes. The tight end really completes the puzzle in the Richt/Bobo offense. It would have been really nice for some combination of Rome and Davis to get to work with Hutson Mason this spring.
Instead Georgia is relying on an undersized offensive lineman and Quayvon Hicks, who's shifted into an H-Back role from being a full-time fullback. Hopefully Rome and Davis will be 100% by August. But to be frank, Rome has not stayed healthy long enough to prove his reliability during his time in Athens. Davis is also completely unproven. Freshman recruits Jeb Blazevich and Hunter Atkinson are both exciting prospects but won't get to campus until this summer. Relying on guys who've just gotten to campus is not a recipe for success.
In short, as a Georgia football fan I generally don't have to look very far for things to worry about. But the Bulldog tight end rotation is just making it too easy to be a pessimist right now. Only time will tell how how this tight end situation forces Coach Bobo to alter the Red and Black attack if the injuries persist or reoccur. Until later . . .