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Dominick Blaylock looked to be closer to his old self at G-Day for Georgia back in April. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Dominick Blaylock at last enters a Georgia football season at his best: ‘Kind of seeing the old Dom’

August has always been a bit of a difficult month for Georgia wide receiver Dominick Blaylock.

In 2019, he was still learning the playbook as a true freshman and summer enrollee. He picked things up quickly, catching five touchdowns and finishing with 310 receiving yards that season, but so much of that first August was spent playing catch-up and then overcoming the proverbial freshman wall Kirby Smart so often mentions.

The next season was even weirder, given the backdrop of the pandemic. Blaylock was making progress from the torn ACL he suffered in December of 2019 and was medically cleared to resume football activities. But to end that month, Blaylock re-tore the very same ACL, sending his second season in Athens into the garbage can.

August of 2021 saw Georgia take a more cautious approach with Blaylock’s recovery. They intended to ramp him up after Georgia’s season-opening game against Clemson, with the hopes of him developing into a contributor later in the season. But a September hamstring injury delayed his return to the field even further, limiting Blaylock to just four games.

So for the first time in his Georgia career, the wide receiver had a preseason where he could fully focus on improving himself as a football player. He didn’t need to focus on rehab or learn the playbook.

Heading into his fourth season in Athens, the month of August at last allowed Blaylock to start looking like the Blaylock we saw way back in the fall of 2019.

“He’s getting his confidence back. Kind of seeing the old Dom,” wide receiver Ladd McConkey said. “Getting that smooth, go make plays (ability). That’s what Dom is and that’s what you saw him do his freshman year. I’m excited to see him get back on the field and see what he can do.”

Blaylock was far from the only injured wide receiver for Georgia last season, as a number of other pass catchers missed time last season. That allowed players such as McConkey and AD Mitchell to soak up extra reps and contribute in meaningful ways.

Heading into the Oregon opener, the room seems to be in a much better position. Only Arian Smith is out for the foreseeable future as he recovers from ankle surgery in August. Mitchell had a strong fall camp, while Kearis Jackson is also healthy and a step quicker entering his senior season.

Related: Georgia football-Oregon game time, TV Channel, how to watch online, odds for Week 1 game (Sept. 3, 2022)

Add in a 100 percent — and noticeably stronger — Blaylock and you have a wide receiver room that should have plenty of options.

“He’s giving his best effort and making our team better and competes every day,” Smart said. “He’s another guy that just works so hard. I don’t think he over-analyzes it and, again, thinks about superstitious things, because those are things he can’t control.

“What he does control is how hard he works for us, how consistent he plays and his toughness. It kind of takes on the personality for our offense, of being a guy that never complains.”

Who starts at wide receiver against Oregon is inconsequential. The Bulldogs will rotate often, with Mitchell, McConkey, Jackson, Blaylock, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Dillon Bell and Jackson Meeks forming said rotation.

There is also the fact that Georgia has perhaps the best tight end room in the country. That should open things up for Blaylock and others downfield, as teams try and double Brock Bowers or Darnell Washington.

Related: Cover 4 on Georgia football: How many touchdowns will the LOADED tight end room combine for this year?

Blaylock’s freshman season was his most normal at Georgia. It was also his best.

For once, Blaylock finally had a normal fall camp for the Bulldogs. It was easily the best of his Georgia career, though that’s a rather low bar to clear. Still there’s real, legitimate optimism about what a fully-developed and healthy Blaylock will bring to this Georgia team.

“He showed a great amount of flashes every single day throughout practice,” cornerback Kelee Ringo said. “I feel like he’s a great player. He continues to help us get better, good-on-good. I feel like he’s going to be able to take care of business.”

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