The quarterback news of Wednesday was not all that surprising given what we know about Stetson Bennett and JT Daniels.
Related: What latest Georgia quarterback news means for 2022 team
Maybe what we saw from Jermaine Burton shouldn’t be all that surprising either, given the current state of college football and what has happened in the Georgia wide receiver room in recent seasons.
Among Georgia’s wide receivers, Burton led the group in receiving yards with 497 on just 26 receptions. Burton showcased his talent in the win over Michigan, hauling in a 57-yard touchdown pass.
Instead, Burton will now in all likelihood look to play elsewhere. There’s a very real chance he ends up at Alabama, especially when you consider the success of Jameson Williams this year.
It’s safe to say Burton did not have the 2021 season he thought he should’ve. Some may be quick to point to the quarterback play of Bennett but the reality is that injuries kept Burton from ever taking off this season. He was slowed for much of fall camp with an ankle injury and then missed the game against Auburn due to a groin injury.
Add in that Burton missed spring practice with a knee injury and he becomes the poster child for Georgia’s wide receiver room in 2021. Loaded with potential that made its way onto the field at times, but never to its fullest extent because of a variety of injuries.
Burton’s departure also represents another trend for Georgia in the mass exodus of talent from the wide receiver room. Over the last two seasons, eight Georgia wide receivers have entered the transfer portal.
- Matt Landers -- Toledo
- Trey Blount -- Old Dominion
- Makiya Tongue -- Oregon State
- Tommy Bush -- North Texas
- Demetrius Robertson -- Auburn
- Justin Robinson -- Mississippi State
- Jaylen Johnson -- East Carolina
- Jermaine Burton -- unknown
The wide receiver position hasn’t been a picture of stability. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why Cortez Hankton is now the wide receivers coach at LSU. Hankton received a $350,000 raise in going from Georgia to LSU, with the Tigers envisioning Hankton as their own version of Dell McGee. Like McGee with Georgia, Hankton has ties to the state of Louisiana and is going to be an integral part of Brian Kelly’s vision for LSU in the future.
Hankton deserves credit for his time at Georgia, as he did recruit the likes of Burton and others while developing Ladd McConkey and AD Mitchell into early contributors. But going forward, Georgia needs a more steady pipeline of talent at the receiver position, or at least the incoming talent to match that which is leaving.
In the last two recruiting cycles, Georgia signed five wide receivers, with the Bulldogs holding a commitment from 2022 prospect Dillon Bell. The eight transfer portal players plus George Pickens’ declaration for the 2022 NFL Draft leaves Georgia in a tricky spot from a depth standpoint. Dominick Blaylock and Arian Smith will be counted on in 2022 but neither has been able to consistently stay on the field in the past two seasons.
The same could said for Arik Gilbert, who Georgia landed out of the transfer portal last offseason, only for him to step away from the team in August. Gilbert was spotted at the celebration on Saturday and has remained on the Georgia roster throughout the 2021 season.
There is a bit of randomness when it comes to injuries and perhaps that changes for Georgia next season. It’s hard to imagine the injury situation getting any worse than this year when depth was very much tested at times.
Georgia was probably already looking to upgrade the talent in its wide receiver room through the transfer portal this offseason. The Bulldogs will be even more inclined to do so now, even if Burton is the exact type of player they would be looking for in the portal.
Much will be made of Bennett’s return and the impact that will have on the wide receiver room. Georgia does have perhaps the best tight end room in the country though with Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington on the roster. The Bulldogs also signed Oscar Delp in the 2022 recruiting cycle, and he too could help carry some of the pass-catching load.
Georgia though once again finds itself in a position where the wide receiver room does not match the talent level of the rest of the roster. That was the case during the 2019 season and we saw firsthand how that deficiency weighed down the offense.
The Bulldogs and Smart need to rebuild the wide receiver room, much as Hankton did early in his time in Athens. Only now Georgia needs to hire someone to replace Hankton and land someone who can recruit, develop and keep wide receiver talent in Athens.
For more on the GEorgia wide receiver room, check out what Terrence Edwards had to say about all the comings and goings on Thursdays DawgNation Daily.
Terrence Edwards discusses Jermaine Burton, Georgia wide receiver coach opening