Demetris Robertson could be the reason Georgia wins the national championship.
I made this point on Monday’s DawgNation Daily and I was surprised that more than a couple of UGA fans seemed to disagree. A repeated theme of some of the responses was Robertson’s probably pretty good, but maybe not all that much better than the receivers the Bulldogs already have. Others chimed in saying that UGA’s success will more likely be determined by a position other than wide receiver.
I agree this is a big deal but to say a NC hinges on one player is a bit ridiculous. Especially if that player isn’t a QB.
— JesusWasALiberal (@Ugamojo) August 13, 2018
These aren’t insignificant points.
Fans are correct to have high opinions of the Bulldogs’ other receivers. Terry Godwin (when he returns from the knee injury that’s limited him so far in practice) is likely to be a favorite target for UGA quarterbacks. Look no further than the thrilling touchdown catch vs. Notre Dame last September as proof as to why. The same can be said of Mecole Hardman — who had his own highlight reel grab for an 80-yard touchdown in the national championship game vs. Alabama. In that same game vs. the Crimson Tide, Riley Ridley also showed a hint at what he’s capable of, grabbing six catches for 82 yards.
Before the NCAA ruled Robertson eligible last Friday, it would’ve been the trio of Godwin, Hardman and Ridley garnering the most attention from fans. They were the players at wide receiver with the elite pedigrees. Godwin and Hardman were both former 5-star signees — in the 2015-16 classes respectively — and Ridley was a 4-star recruit and the nation’s No. 47 receiver in 2016.
In other words, UGA already seemed well-stocked at receiver before Robertson arrived. Yet Robertson will open up a dimension for the Bulldogs’ passing attack that no other UGA receiver can match, and not just because he was also a former 5-star recruit.
Robertson isn’t just a former star-studded prospect out of high school. He’s a former elite recruit that’s already proven he can play at the collegiate level.
Even in the rarefied air of 5-star recruits nothing is guaranteed. Robertson was the only composite 5-star at his position according to 247Sports, for the 2016 class. But the year before that in 2015 there were five. Of those five, only three have truly proven to be worth the hype.
Ridley’s brother, Calvin turned in a three-year career at Alabama and became an NFL first-rounder in April. Likewise, Christian Kirk left Texas A&M after three seasons in 2017 and was taken No. 47 overall by Arizona, and former Clemson receiver Deon Cain was selected in the sixth-round of the same draft by the Colts.
On the other hand, George Campbell, who signed with Florida State in 2015, has just nine catches over the last three seasons. Tyron Johnson — who started his career at LSU before transferring to Oklahoma State — has just 443 career receiving yards.
Not every 5-star lives up to the billing. Yet Robertson has.
In Robertson’s only full season at California in 2016, he became a freshman All-American putting up eye-popping numbers — 50 catches for 767 yards and seven touchdowns.
A Georgia receiver has collected fifty or more receptions just once in the last seven seasons — Malcolm Mitchell, who had 55 catches in 2015. In that same span, only two UGA receivers have more receiving yards in a season that Robertson’s mark from 2016 — Mitchell, once again in 2015 with 865 and Tavarres King, who amassed 950 yards in 2012. Robertson’s seven touchdowns would’ve also led or tied the top mark for UGA receivers in all but two of the last seven seasons.
Of course, UGA fans are screaming at the screen as they read this saying, “yeah, but that’s in the Pac-12 where they don’t play defense!” That may be true, and it’s also true UGA runs the ball a lot more than the Golden Bears do. However, the experience Robertson gained hauling in all those catches still counts, and will be utilized by Georgia this season.
That’s good news because in the College Football Playoff era having an elite receiver seems to matter, even for a program like UGA — who prides itself on dominating the lines of scrimmage.
The identity to which the Bulldogs aspire is essentially a carbon copy of the one modeled by Alabama, and both the Crimson Tide’s CFP national championship teams featured major contributions from a receiver. The aforementioned Ridley had 967 yards for Alabama last year, and put up 1,045 yards when Alabama won the title in 2015.
In fact, in its four-year history no team has won the College Football Playoff without a player producing at least 931 receiving yards.
UGA, who was close to winning the championship last season, fell short of that mark. The Bulldogs leading receiver in 2017 was Javon Wims, with 720 yards.
In 2018, expect the scenario to be different. Roberton gives UGA the receiving weapon it has rarely had, and he could truly be the final needed ingredient in the Bulldogs’ championship recipe.