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Top Dawgs: the wide receiver committee
Georgia’s situation at receiver is one of the most intriguing story lines of spring practice. The Bulldogs need receivers to step up and be go-to guys, and auditions are open for anyone who wants to fill that role. But it’s unclear how many answers we’ll get to the receiver question before the season starts. So, for now, instead of Jacob Eason keying in on any one particular target as a go-to receiver next season, Kirby Smart said Georgia is opting for the wide receiver-by-committee approach.
For what it’s worth, he said the same thing last season. That approach didn’t garner much for the Bulldogs, as 5 wideouts had more than 100 yards receiving, but only 1 had more than 400, and he’s gone now.
What Georgia is left with is a group of more than 10 wideouts — including 3 freshmen not yet on campus — who could be part of this committee, and there is little that separates one from the other. Which creates a conundrum. As Chip Towers pointed out earlier this week, it’s difficult to get more than 6 receivers involved, even when the quarterback is trying to spread it around to as many guys as possible.
So, which guys will rise above the pack and make that group of 6? Until we have some actual game time to watch these guys compete — whether that’s G-Day or the start of next season — we won’t know for sure. About half will undoubtedly be in the mix, while the other half seemingly remain completely up in the air. Here’s my guess as to who makes it into that group of 6:
Terry Godwin — For the second year in a row, Godwin unceremoniously returned as Georgia’s leading receiver. Even if he hasn’t lived up to his 5-star billing so far, he’s still the most productive receiver Georgia has on its roster and the leader of the young receiving corps. There’s no way he doesn’t see the field a ton, but it’s up to him to make the most of that time and start coming up with some touchdown catches.
Javon Wims — At 6-foot-4, Wims is the exact kind of receiver Smart wants on his team: a big guy who can bully a corner and beat him on the post or catch a fade in the corner of the end zone. Wims also is the exact type of receiver Georgia has lacked since the days of Kris Durham. His size makes him different than any other receiver on the team and there will be many situations when Wims’ particular set of skills will be called upon. He caught just 17 passes last season, but it would behoove Eason and OC Jim Chaney to dial him up more in 2017.
Riley Ridley — Last season, Ridley showed the most promise of any player at his position, in my opinion. He only caught 12 passes for 238 yards but each was a damn good one. An injury has limited him so far this spring, though. Time on the field is what he needs, as drops were an issue for him in 2016. But an off-season of working on his timing with Eason should do a lot to set him on the right course, while his athleticism can help him do the rest.
J.J. Holloman — Smart noted Holloman’s physicality in a recent presser and it can only bode well for the freshman that his coach is already taking notice of him. At 6-2, Holloman is also closer to the size Smart desires. Since he’s already on campus and in the weight program, he’ll likely bulk up and get stronger between now and the season. That gives him a significant edge on the other three incoming freshman receivers — Trey Blount, Mark Webb Jr., and Matt Landers. And with absences of Ridley and Jayson Stanley this spring, Holloman is getting plenty of reps to show what he can do. Smart didn’t shy away from playing freshmen in 2016. With the experience he’s getting this spring, it seems a good bet that he’ll earn a lot of reps in 2017.
Mecole Hardman — Hardman is the most interesting name on the list, simply because we don’t even know if he’s actually a receiver. He’s been working with the offense and defense this spring, but signs point to him sticking it out on offense in the long run. Although he hasn’t had the opportunity to show it in college, Hardman was a big-play specialist in high school. And Georgia needs as many big plays as it can get. My money is on him staying with the offense, garnering snaps in the slot over Tyler Simmons, and becoming a major contributor next season.
Michael Chigbu — The junior from New Orleans was perhaps the most inconspicuous of a group highly inconspicuous receivers last season. Chigbu caught just 9 passes for 88 yards and no touchdowns. He was probably the best blocker Georgia had out wide, though. I think that’s enough to keep his spot and get regular playing time. But if other guys can improve their blocking and someone unexpectedly becomes a prime target for Eason — such as Hardman, Holloman or one of the three lauded freshmen receivers not yet on campus — it wouldn’t surprise me to see Chigbu fall by the wayside.
Even if he is unsatisfied with the defense’s performance through this point in the spring, coach Smart seems happier about the state of Georgia football than he did a year ago. From ESPN’s Edward Aschoff:
When you have 10 starting defenders returning, possibly two phenom quarterbacks taking snaps alongside two 1,000-yard backs, and a much-improved offensive line, things slow down more for a head coach. And when some of the “bad apples” who didn’t think they played enough have moved on, you tend to get more done.
“This team, this group is sold on what our staff and what myself believe in,” Smart told ESPN last week. “We’re in a better place.
“I like this team a lot better, too.”
Half of the formula for a winning team is having players buy into what the coaches are trying to do. One season into Smart’s reign, the players seem to be buying in. The other half of the formula is talent. We know Georgia has plenty of that.
Diamond Dogs wreck Tech
Georgia baseball got a much-needed 5-1 midweek win against Georgia Tech on Tuesday in Athens, the first of three games with the Jackets this season. The Bulldogs (15-19) will play at Tech on April 25 and the two will square off at SunTrust Park on May 9. Next up for Georgia, though, is an SEC series against Arkansas in Fayetteville, running Friday through Sunday.
— Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) April 12, 2017
A big week for the Williams family
UGA track & field athletes/siblings Devon and Kendell Williams were honored for stellar performances in the Bulldog Decathlon in Athens over the weekend. Devon was named the men’s athlete of the week on both the national and SEC level, while Kendell was named SEC female athlete of the week.
— Georgia Track&Field (@UGATrack) April 11, 2017
- Players say Georgia’s offense really has improved this spring — while defense is lacking something (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- What’s the feeling like when Kirby Smart offers the son of a former Bulldog? (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- Georgia practice report: Dominick Sanders and Solomon Kindley updates (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Tracy Rocker’s life after Georgia: Watching his son the baseball star (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Pat Allen among UGA’s ‘eager guys’ on offensive line making a move this spring (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
- Georgia’s offensive line continues to take shape (Jason Butt, The Telegraph)
- SEC recruiting powers in pursuit of QBs (Chad Simmons and Woody Wommack, Rivals)
That’s a lot of fluff.
This Dog is cooler than you…just admit it pic.twitter.com/Ws1sanfyga
— . (@alifeobserver) April 11, 2017