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Riley Ridley showed flashes of brilliance last season. UGA fans are waiting for more.

Own the East: Georgia WR Riley Ridley

Chip Towers

Editor’s Note: It may be time for the Georgia Bulldogs to take back the SEC East in 2017. We’ve featured the most important UGA players, coaches, fans and staff for the upcoming season in a 20-part video series, which you can binge-watch right here.

ATHENS — Calvin Ridley has caught 161 passes for more than 1,800 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first two seasons at Alabama. Riley Ridley is the younger brother of Calvin Ridley, and Calvin says Riley is just as good as him — maybe better.

If Calvin is right about Riley, that will be a very good thing for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Riley Ridley was one of the great recruiting coups of coach Kirby Smart’s first season at Georgia. Smart managed to sign the Coconut Creek, Fla., prospect and bring him in as an early enrollee despite his older brother starring at Alabama.

Riley didn’t exactly light it up for the Bulldogs the way his big brother did in his freshman season, but he showed enough flashes of brilliance to make UGA folks believe they may have a receiver of the same ilk in their midst.

Ridley finished his first season with the Bulldogs with 12 catches and 2 touchdowns in 11 games while missing two games with injuries.

His leg injury is healed now, but he is expected to miss the first game of the season for violating UGA Athletics’ marijuana usage policy. Ridley was pulled over and charged with misdemeanor possession of pot, and athletic association bylaws call for a one-game suspension.

His off-field issues aside, the Bulldogs saw enough of Ridley’s on-field work to believe he can make them strong where they showed weakness last season. Even though he didn’t catch a lot of passes, Ridley averaged 19.8 yards per reception. Nowhere was his ability to get open deep more evident than on his 47-yard, go-ahead touchdown catch with 10 seconds left against Tennessee. He also had a 57-yard reception in a win over Auburn.

As long as the Bulldogs and quarterback Jacob Eason can deliver the ball to Ridley with more regularity in 2017, he should give them the deep threat they so desperately seek.

Click here to see more of “Own the East,” our 2017 season preview of the Georgia Bulldogs in video form.

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