We continue our series on Georgia Bulldog football players looking for breakout seasons with #6, wide receiver Jayson Stanley.
If you’ve paid attention, you may have noticed a certain quiet optimism has begun to pervade discussions of the Georgia Bulldog receiving corps. Seen as a liability for a while now, the group now features both veteran leaders and talented young players who will push for playing time. The unit is bigger and faster than any in recent Bulldog memory, and may go as much as 8 deep with players who could have multi-reception games.
In fact, I anticipate the Bulldogs will play as many as 12 scholarship wide receivers this season. When was the last time that happened? Has it ever?
The paradox of course is that with the exception of maybe Terry Godwin, Javon Wims, and Riley Ridley, none of them are players who have had a true breakout performance. As the old saying goes, potential just means you haven’t done much yet. And right now Coach Coley’s unit is a big ball of potential.
Jayson Stanley may be the first receiver you’ve seen on this list, but he won’t be the last as we finish it out over the next few days. The 6’2, 210 pounder out of Fairburn came to Athens as a four star recruit and a consensus national top 300 prospect. But an ACL injury cost him his entire senior season of high school and appears to have hampered his attempts to break into the lineup as a freshman in 2015.
Stanley nevertheless saw playing time that season, even snagging 2 receptions for 23 yards against Southern. He then quietly made 5 starts in 2016 and played in 9 contests overall. Yet Stanley ended the season without a single reception.
Part of that was a bad case of fumble fingers at bad times. He dropped what would have been a long touchdown pass from Jacob Eason against Ole Miss, then dropped a wide open ball in the flats against Florida without a defender within five yards of him that might have gone for a big gain. Never mind the fact that neither catch was likely to make much of a difference in the ultimate outcome, or that Stanley wasn’t the only player with a costly drop in either game. He remained invisible to most fans except when he caused them to groan.
That will change in 2017. The junior reeled in a 33 yard touchdown from Jacob Eason in the G Day Game which I believe was a harbinger of things to come. Stanley has the size and speed to be a weapon on the outside in a Bulldog receiving corps that is full of big, speedy receivers. He’s also one of the better run blockers in that unit, which should translate into increased snaps.
Stanley isn’t likely to start, but he’s likely to see the field a lot as James Coley cycles through his depth chart to wear out opposing defensive backs. There’s just something to be said for sending a receiver deep downfield who is playing his twelfth snap of the game against a corner playing his fiftieth. Exhaustion exposes players, and Georgia’s receiving corps is deep enough to push any secondary to its limit.
My prediction is that Jayson Stanley ends the season with at least 11 receptions, 140 yards, and 2 touchdown receptions. There’s going to come a game in 2017 when he gets behind the coverage and makes a play that makes you forget all about any past drops. I can’t wait to see it.