ATHENS — Michael Chigbu wasn’t the most high-profile of Georgia’s many receiver recruits. He was overshadowed by Terry Godwin, and he played his high school ball in Louisiana, seemingly a world away.
But one week into Georgia’s preseason practice Chigbu is gaining some early plaudits. He stands out among the group with his size (6-foot-2 and 220 pounds), and he’s made an impression during action as well.
“Chigbu’s doing really well,” junior safety Reggie Wilkerson said. “He’s physical. He’s real big and physical. And he’s a good blocker too. I see that a lot.”
The blocking part is notable, as Georgia lost its two best blocking receivers in Chris Conley and Michael Bennett. So there’s a voice to be filled there, depending on what kind of emphasis the new offensive staff puts on outside blocking.
Here are a few of the other freshmen who are getting some early attention:
– When senior Jordan Jenkins was asked which freshman was impressing him, the first one he named was fellow outside linebacker D’Andre Walker.
“He’s really coming on as a player,” Jenkins said. “He’ll run through a brick wall if you tell him to, no matter how many times you want him to run through the brick wall. He’s really been in the playbook, and I feel like if he puts a lot of extra time into it he’ll definitely be a great player for us.”
Walker, listed at 6-3 and 212, has a different body type than Georgia’s other outside linebackers. He’s more wiry than all of them, with broad shoulders.
“He can turn the corner really well, at his age,” Jenkins said. “He can re-direct really well.”
– Georgia’s most ballyhooed freshman is Trent Thompson, the defensive tackle from Albany. So far he’s made a positive impression, and not just for his ability, according to sophomore defensive lineman John Atkins.
“Trent, he’s physical, and he knows the plays, he does whatever coach asks him, and he does it 100 percent hard,” Atkins said. “Trent, he’s going to be a real special kid.”
– Two freshmen defensive backs who are good enough to play right away are Deandre Baker and Juwuan Briscoe, according to Wilkerson.
“They’ve got really good feet, and really fast hands, and coach Pruitt loves that about DBs,” Wilkerson said.
– Finally, how about a special teamer: Rodrigo Blankenship is on the team as a walk-on, but is pushing Collin Barber for the punting job and Marshall Morgan for kick-off duties.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” Barber said. “Me and Marshall are helping him out with what we can. I expect good things out of Rodrigo.”