Your Georgia Bulldogs will take to the practice field in less than a month to begin preparations for the 2017 season. Which players are most likely to step up and shape that season? We’ll be addressing that question in this new feature, counting down 10 ‘Dawgs Poised to Pounce. Today’s spotlight player? Senior tight end Jeb Blazevich.
It might sound strange to say that a senior leader who has been starting off and on since he was a freshman will be a “break out” performer in 2017. But for Jeb Blazevich it’s a real possibility. Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner came to Athens as part of a heralded tight end class in 2016, in some ways overshadowing the talented tight ends already in the Classic City. Nauta in particular lived up to the hype, catching 29 passes for 361 yards as a true freshman. He’s not going anywhere.
Nor is Woerner, who impressed coaches during the spring and caught a long touchdown pass on G Day. That’s to say nothing of fellow veteran tight ends Jordan Davis and Jackson Harris. It’s a crowded meeting room, and there are ultimately only so many snaps available.
So why am I picking Blazevich as a player poised to pounce this season? Quite simply, he’s a savvy veteran with the most well-rounded game of any Red and Black player at his position. The 6’5, 250 pounder is probably the top blocking tight end on the roster, a fact which should come in handy this year as Georgia looks to leverage a stable of experienced, talented (and perhaps most important, healthy) tailbacks unlike any they’ve had in years. Georgia is going to run the dang ball in 2017, and doing that likely means Jeb Blazevich being on the field.
And Blazevich being on the field doesnt mean hom being the only tight end on the field. The other part of the equation is my prediction that with a deep roster of experienced tight ends Georgia will also feel more comfortable utilizing “22” position groupings (two tight ends and two running backs). While 22 personnel is most often associated with an offensive attack skewed toward the run, it’s also a great formation to work the quick passing game if you have versatile tight ends and backs who can catch the ball. Georgia has those things, and I believe Jim Cheney’s offense will function most effectively in 2017 if and when he is able to keep defenses off-balance by throwing out of what looks like a bruising run formation.
Blazevich may not be a huge downfield threat, but he does have the speed to test linebackers down the seam and the size to make himself a target in the short to intermediate passing game. In short, I believe a bet on an improved Georgia Bulldog offense in 2017 is, ipso facto, a bet on a more productive season for Blazevich. My reckless prediction? Jeb Blazevich will at least triple the numbers from his 6 reception, 69 receiving yard 2016 season in 2017, setting himself up as a potential midround NFL draft pick. Until later . . .