Dominick Blaylock decided to wait until the summer to enroll at UGA, and his high school coach doesn’t think that will have impact on the 4-star recruit’s ability to compete for playing time this season.
After the stunning dismissal of UGA’s top receiver a couple of weeks ago, the already-surreal expectations for Blaylock and fellow freshman receiver George Pickens have greatly increased, if that’s even possible.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Blaylock will be up for the challenge, according to Daniel Brunner, his coach at Walton High School in Marietta, Ga.
“Dominick is walking in prepared (at Georgia), really unlike any other kid I’ve ever seen at that age,” Brunner told DawgNation.
UGA coach Kirby Smart, who rarely talks about signees until they report to campus, is so enthusiastic about Blaylock that he brought up his name during spring practices.
“We think Dom can play all three (receiver) spots, slot and both outside,” Smart told reporters. “He’s very bright and intelligent. He picks up things well. We think he’s going to help in the return game, too.”
The ‘It Factor’
Blaylock’s high school coach endorsed his college coach’s assessment:
“I think (Smart) is right on. I think it’s the perfect storm. You lose some of those receivers that Georgia lost, some really good players – and there’s a little bit of a void there. Obviously, Georgia is going to have a some of the best players in the nation, and Dominick is one of those.
“What I think people see in (Blaylock), No. 1, is the mental aspect and football IQ. But, No. 2, he already has the physical capability to compete with anyone on that field already. Some kids get to college and they’ve got to get in the weight room. They’ve got to get bigger, stronger and faster … but Dominick is (already down that road).
“One of the last things he did with me before he left … is we benched 300 pounds on a max lift. Then right after that, he repped 225 on the bench 14 times. I mean, there’s receivers at the NFL combine who aren’t doing that, much less after a workout. He was a 400-pound squatter when he left here. He benched over 300. He has got the physical capabilities to get on the field and compete from the first day.
“Then on top of that, he’s got the playmaking abilities unlike anyone I’ve ever coached. He’s definitely got the ‘it factor.’ You combine all those pieces together, and it’s the perfect storm for Dominick. I think Georgia is the perfect fit, and honestly the timing couldn’t be any better. I’m excited to get up there and watch him play this year.”
‘More than prepared’ for fall camp
Blaylock could’ve enrolled early at UGA, but decided to hold off so he could enjoy his friends and his high school experience over the final few months. He already knows the drill about college football, as his twin older brothers both played in the SEC at Kentucky.
“I think he’s going to be more than prepared when camp starts at Georgia,” Brunner said. “I think when you look at some of those guys in the same boat (who train at home rather than enroll early), they want to just chill, play some video games, and hang out. They’ll work when they show up (at our weight room).
“But I think for Dominick, he’s the ultimate competitor. He’s going up there with the idea of competing for a spot on the field early, and I know he’ll have a chance to do that if he stays healthy and does the things he has been doing over here for the last four years.
“The other thing that separates Dominick is that he has a high, high football IQ. He’ll probably be able to go in there and pick up stuff, including the nuances of the offense, faster than most. So not being there early, and not knowing the plays isn’t really going to impact him. I think he’ll be able to pick up the playbook and all the things they want to do on offense, along with the return game, very quickly.
“My guess is that he probably went there more prepared than (most other freshmen). He’s got that drive and work ethic. I know when things get going in camp, he’ll be right there ready to compete, even though he may not have been there as long as some other guys who enrolled early.”
‘Unbelievable’ change of directions
While Pickens is expected to immediately stretch UGA’s vertical passing game with his explosive speed, Blaylock is viewed by some as more of a slot receiver who can do damage in the middle of the field – although Smart clearly shot down the idea that Blaylock would be limited to the role of a slot receiver.
If you watch Blaylock’s highlight tape, one of the things that really sticks out is his uncanny ability to change directions in the open field – which often has defensive backs tripping over each other.
“It’s unbelievable,” Brunner said. “His pro-agility shuttle – I think it would open some eyes at the NFL combine right now. He has great top-end speed, no doubt. But what separates him is his change of direction. It’s how he sets guys up, and understands how to get into (space), and the way he catches a ball. He’s something special.”