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Assume the Position: Wide Receivers

The talent is undeniable. So is the inexperience. What, me worry?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 01 SEC Championship Game - Georgia v Alabama

If only Larry Munson were still around to fret about our receivers. It would somehow make everything seem better. And he’d be correct to do so. After all, we’re not talking about the long snappah here. We essentially know nothing about this positional group. We think we know, but anything beyond an educated guess is conjecture. And this is mildly terrifying. Worrying about it ain’t gonna help...

If Georgia has a true weakness, it is the sudden youth and inexperience at wide receiver. After JJ Holloman’s dismissal several weeks ago, the urgency to find a replacement “go to” target for Jake Fromm has everyone’s attention, and no wonder. Gone is the vast majority of production from the seasoned veterans who departed for the NFL, including Mecole Hardman, Terry Godwin, and Riley Ridley. Think about this for a second: That’s PRO talent...gone. Fortunately, there are quite a few candidates from a pool of mostly new players deep on talent. Unfortunately, most are extremely short on experience. They’re going to figure into the offense, right quick. How effective they truly become is the question. And their time is now.

This is the part in the narrative where I’d plunk down a bunch of stats of individual players. You know: Career receptions, touchdowns, averages, etc. When I tell you it just isn’t there, believe me.

With no disrespect to Vandy, Georgia’s schedule does set up nicely for this squad to “acclimate” just in time for a late September 21 date with Notre Dame at home, and then a trip to Knoxville in week 5. It’s not like none of these guys haven’t ever played a down at their position before. It’s just that, except for a few, they’re literally coming in as true or red-shirt freshman and are largely untested. Having said that, receivers coach Cortez Hankton has a lot to work with from a pure talent perspective.

Georgia opens at Vanderbilt and is the least intimidating venue in the entire SEC. Vanderbilt Stadium seats about 41,000 and will probably have as many barkin’ Dawgs inside than actual Commodore fans if the past is any guide. This set up will be perfect to start distributing the ball around, and the following 2 Saturdays against Murray State and Arkansas State will be great opportunities to get the guys going, build chemistry, install some packages and instill some confidence. Imagine if we were opening at Clemson like we did in 2013? The first 3 weeks of the season is about as good a scenario as you could ask for as these guys learn on the fly.

And who, exactly, are we talking about? As far as experience goes, senior Tyler Simmons, is the most experienced player that has been at Georgia his entire career with 14 catches for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns. Graduate transfer Lawrence Cager’s numbers at the University of Miami are: 45 receptions, 681 yards and 10 TD’s over a 3-year Hurricane career, thus making him the most experienced of all receivers.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Georgia
Swatting bees...

Demetris Robertson (Jr., 6’ 0”, 190 lbs.) has an entire year-plus of playbook knowledge and has been in the system now long enough to do what the former 5-Star recruit can do from the slot position. Demetris has 837 career receiving yards - all of them at California. He’s a burner and will be trouble for any one-on-one match-up going forward. Despite playing sporadically last season, he’s yet to catch a ball. That ice will break quickly up in Nashville. Kirby wants him to have a prominent role in the offense this year playing the slot, and he will. He’s had injury issues in the past, so that is certainly something to consider. By most accounts from the limited viewing time the media is allowed during August camps, he has done well.

The Dawgs have a trio 6’ 5” receivers. The previously mentioned Cager is 6’ 5” and about 215 pounds. Tommy Bush (6’ 5”, 195) took a red shirt last season and is as physically gifted as any on the roster. He’s still picking up the offense and will hopefully contribute sooner than later. He has all the tools. That little red light inside his noggin’ just needs to click “on.” Matt Landers is another tall target (6’ 5”, 215) who is physical enough to counter any SEC defensive back. We all saw his potential at G-Day, but inconsistency has kept him from seeing meaningful snaps. How much he plays is totally up to how well he can focus, and from several reports thus far in camp, he’s become a pet project of Coach Hankton. Georgia has never had this much height, at least in my memory.

The time is now if junior slot receiver Trey Blount (6’ 2”, 220, Pace Academy) is going to make an impact, having been in the system yet buried on the depth chart for a couple of seasons now. Kearis Jackson, (6’ 0”, 200) out of Peach County appeared in some games, but technically red shirted and will get into the mix, perhaps sooner than later. I think he’ll have an impact this season.

The true freshman are truly fascinating. George Pickens (6’ 3” 195) is already being described as a kid who is destined to be in the starting lineup sooner than later. Again, the playbook and continued timing with the QB’s is key here.

A small sample size. But what a sample!

He’s physically ready and just needs some seasoning. But this kid is going to play early and often.

Dominick Blaylock is another 5-star, in state recruit that is mature beyond his years and has the kind of versatility every successful team must have. He has a quick burst and is physical. Evidently, he’s studied the playbook and has a good grasp of what’s expected. That’s huge for a true-freshman. Dom will wear #8. That’s been a very good number in recent years. Makiya Tongue (6’ 2”, 215) has had some impressive moments in camp thus far and might factor into the mix later in the season.

The talent is there, but is the timing and precision of route running? Are these guys close to being on the same page as Fromm? Expect some early hiccups as these guys get their bearings, and a pecking order is established. If things go to plan, a formidable rotation of really tall, rangy receivers will be complemented with some thicker, more physical guys. Of all the positions on this team, this group could mean the difference between a great season or, perhaps, the greatest season since...well, you know. I think the calming presence and leadership of Jake Fromm and other senior leaders on offense will greatly benefit this group in particular. Having an A++ running game and the nation’s best (we think) offensive line will absolutely help. How aggressive will James Coley be, especially in September, will be answered soon enough. I don’t think any of these guys will be coddled, or need to be. They’re big boys in a big boy’s league. It’s time they go get it.

As Always, GO DAWGS!