Kirby Smart and his staff return a lot of proven, veteran talent at a lot of different positions in 2019. Wide receiver is not one of them.
With the recent dismissal of JJ Holloman, each of the Red and Black’s top five receivers from 2018 are no longer in Athens. Players no longer on the roster accounted for 73% of receiving yards last season.
Even for a team whose M.O. is unapologeticaly run-first, that’s a dangerous state of affairs. The Bulldogs’ top returning receivers are tailback D’Andre Swift and tight end Charlie Woerner. It’s likely that both of them will be gone after 2019. This isn’t a call for panic. But it is a reminder that if Georgia is going to do much of anything offensively in 2019 and beyond some players are going to have to step up at the wide receiver position. That’s why three of them are featured on this list of the ten players most likely to see their profiles raised in 2019.
The first of these emergent pass catchers is redshirt freshman Tommy Bush. The former five star recruit saw action in only two games in 2018 and was able to redshirt as a result. At 6’5, 194 pounds Bush is the biggest receiver on a Bulldog roster with several tall threats.
That’s both a blessing and a curse. Bush saw a lot of action during this spring’s G Day game, and we learned from that afternoon that he’s still skinnier than he needs to be to become an every snap threat. He has a tendency to get bodied up by aggressive defensive backs and hasn’t fully learned how to get back on his route when that happens. He also had a couple of frustrating drops on the day.
Which sounds like a lot of criticism for a guy I’m saying is going to step up in 2019, right? But the truth is you can’t teach height and you can’t do too much to teach speed. Bush has both of those, he just needs to improve his route running and body control. Those are things a good receivers coach (like Georgia’s Cortez Hankton) can improve, often faster than you’d expect.
I also think Bush is one of those guys who will improve a lot just by getting more snaps. Guys like Jayson Stanley and Tyler Simmons didn’t catch a lot of balls in 2018, but they’re fantastic blockers who knew the offense and as a result were going to get snaps. Bush joins a phalanx of young receivers who are now going to get the full on-the-job training experience.
I expect Bush to improve through the 2019 season, probably still suffering some growing pains and not being a huge part of the passing attack early in the year. But by season’s end expect him to have become a larger part of the offense headed into 2020. Until later...