Kirby Smart weighs in on Georgia using Mecole Hardman in the Wildcat

Mecole Hardman-Georgia-Georgia football
Mecole Hardman (4) works with student assistant — and medically disqualified former receiver — Shakenneth Williams.

ATHENS — Mecole Hardman’s move from cornerback to receiver became official over the summer. But could the Georgia sophomore still make a cameo at another position: quarterback?

OK, let’s not go crazy here. Yes, Hardman worked in the Wildcat — or Wild Dawg — at preseason practice last week, which the media observed during one of its limited viewing periods. And yes, Hardman played quarterback in high school, albeit in a run-oriented offense.

But Georgia has used the Wildcat at times in past years, with Terry Godwin and Sony Michel, so it actually would be a surprise if it didn’t utilize someone of Hardman’s skill set there. Or at least try it. Or at least consciously do it during a media viewing period, knowing the media would do it, and knowing it would give Appalachian State, Notre Dame and everyone else someone to worry about.

“If we happen to be working on that, then they’re there,” head coach Kirby Smart said somewhat coyly on Wednesday, during an appearance on AM 680 The Fan’s show, The Front Row.

Smart then appeared to downplay the Hardman-in-Wildcat package — but still in a way that makes opponents have to spend some valuable practice time planning to defend.

“I’m not personally thinking that’s some great big old package,” Smart said. “It’s an answer. Maybe if we lose a quarterback we have to do that. Maybe if Mecole does a good job, it’s something that somebody has to defend, and the more things you give somebody to defend, the more challenging it is. Hey, Mecole still has to prove that he can do it. How much we’re doing it really doesn’t matter.”

Hardman, incidentally, appears to be making a good transition to receiver, specifically the slot position. He’s been the first one running out of the slot during those media viewings, with Godwin moving to the outside. Maybe that’s about getting Godwin ready for a constant role on offense, maybe it’s about getting Hardman on the field more. Maybe it’s about both.

Either way, Smart is feeling better about his receiving unit than he did last year.

“I think as a whole it’s a great unit. It’s now one of the more deeper positions on our team,” Smart said during the radio appearance. “Where last year I didn’t feel it was that way, especially from a special teams standpoint. We have, I think, seven guys starting on special teams out of our receiving corps, which is great.”

Godwin, the 5-foot-10 junior, is the player who has received the most praise from Smart this offseason. He stopped a bit short of proclaiming Godwin a superstar when asked if the Bulldogs had one.

“Is there going to be that open, mind-blowing game changer? I don’t know,” Smart said. “Terry has certainly shown some ability to do that. It would be helpful if he could.”

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