Charlie Woerner is smaller and more athletic than most of his fellow tight ends. Normally, there’s a term for that: Wide receiver.
That doesn’t appear to be the plan right now, however, despite Georgia’s many question at wide receiver and many riches at tight end. Woerner, the rising sophomore, remains in the tight end role, though the coaches continue to seek ways to use him as a mismatch for defenses.
Kirby Smart hinted that the team sees Woerner (6-foot-5 and 251 pounds) in the role of flexing out, when he talked about the need for his nickel back to be big enough to match up with someone like Woerner. Last year Woerner did a bit of everything in his limited playing time, flexing out as a receiver in order to block or run routes, going in motion, and lining up as a traditional tight end.
But Woerner only ended up with five catches for 50 yards all season, mainly because of the tight ends in front of him – Isaac Nauta, Jeb Blazevich and occasionally Jackson Harris – but also because of other factors. There was a preseason ankle injury that lingered all season, and the player himself fitting into a role.
“Charlie’s biggest challenge is really Charlie,” Smart said this week. “It’s to look in the mirror and say, How good do I want to be?
“Charlie has an exceptional skill set of he can run fast, he can come in and out of breaks, and he’s a pretty good blocker. So it’s growth for him, development, having a lot of confidence to play in space. And then being able to block really big people inside. We try to put him in those situations every day in practice. Now he’s a kid that works too now, he comes to work every day. He’ll fight you tooth and nail.”
Woerner, the nephew of former Georgia All-American defensive back Scott Woerner, showed his receiving prowess at Rabun County High School, where as a senior he had 57 catches and 16 touchdowns. He was a consensus four-star recruit.
For all the talk about other weapons in the passing game – Nauta, Terry Godwin, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and potentially Mecole Hardman – there’s evidence Woerner could be one who’s being overlooked. It’s clear Woerner is on Smart’s mind. Not only did he mention him when he was talking about the star, but Smart brought him up when making a point about how the wide receivers will be used in the passing game this year – and that it may not be the wide receivers who are always prioritized.
“I think you’ve got to be careful, because Charlie Woerner better than your fourth receiver,” Smart said. “Is Sony Michel or Brian Herrien better than your third receiver. So there’s a lot of things we’re doing out there that we’re trying to get our best football players on the field.”