Georgia football is betting big on its freshman wide receivers in 2020 and beyond
The opening 30 minutes of Georgia’s 37-10 loss to LSU showed just how much better Georgia needed to get at the wide receiver position going forward.
Lawrence Cager was out due to an injury. George Pickens was suspended. Then Dominick Blaylock went down with a torn ACL in the opening quarter. Without that trio, Georgia’s already struggling pass offense went from bad to worse to somehow. The Bulldogs scored just three points in the opening half on their way to a 37-10 defeat
But there is hope for a better future from the position. Pickens now returns as a sophomore and as one of the most promising wide receivers in the country. Blaylock continues to make strides with his rehab and all indications are he will be ready to go for the season-opener against Virginia.
Factor in the likes of Demetris Robertson, Matt Landers, Kearis Jackson and Tommy Bush returning this year and Georgia figures to be in better shape, certainly from an experience standpoint.
Then you add in the potential of the five wide receivers Georgia signed as a part of its 2020 signing class and there’s a way to envision Georgia’s passing game being much improved from the 2019 season. But to see that, Georgia is going to need meaningful contributions from some of those young wide receivers, as they saw from Pickens and Blaylock a year ago.
Marcus Rosemy, Arian Smith and Jermaine Burton were all ranked as top-100 overall players in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Justin Robinson was a 4-star recruit as well and was turning heads as an early enrollee prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. While Ladd McConkey was the lowest-rated signee of the bunch, he’s the No. 167 ranked wide receiver in the country, but one only has to look at the success the likes of Eric Stokes and Monty Rice have had as 3-star recruits to have some faith that the Georgia staff can develop talent.
— Braxton Lee Hicks (@BraxtonLeeHick1) June 8, 2020
Robinson is the biggest of the bunch, standing at a solid 6-foot-4, and offers some physicality on the outside. Think of Jeremiah Holloman and the success Georgia had with him as both an outside threat and a blocker, that’s what Robinson projects as.
Rosemy isn’t quite as big as Robinson, but he’s no pushover at 6-foot-2 and 187 pounds. And his learning curve doesn’t figure to be as steep at the college level thanks to his time playing for St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which is one of the nation’s top high schools. Rosemy is the most complete wide receiver right now and might be best positioned to help out right away. He was the highest-rated wide receiver signee of the group as the No. 54 overall prospect in the country.
Smith is the best athlete of the group, with speed comparable to that of Mecole Hardman. Smith, the No. 58 overall prospect in the 2020 class, won the Fastest Man Challenge at the Under Armour All-American practices and has run track competitively with Matthew Boiling. He might not be as polished as Rosemy, but his ceiling is incredibly high and Georgia’s wide receiver room badly missed Hardman’s speed a season ago. That aspect might be where Smith is best able to help out right away.
Burton offers a mix of Rosemy and Smith’s skills. He’s not quite as big as Rosemy or as fast as Smith but he’s got the polish and athletic ability to be a happy medium between the too. He’s also got the ability to play outside and in the slot, similar to that of Blaylock. And if the latter isn’t ready to go to start the season, Burton might be best able to fill that role.
McConkey is a bit more of a project as he’s making a position change from high school quarterback to wide receiver. But he’s shown some flashes of developing into a strong weapon out of the slot.
All five receivers will get a chance to make an impact on the Georgia offense this fall, and maybe even more so now that spring practice has been wiped out and thus hurting any chances of the veterans getting a leg up in offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s new system.
Given Georgia’s schedule, it is going to need some of these freshmen wide receivers to adjust to the college game very quickly, even faster than Blaylock and Pickens did a season ago. Georgia opens with a stout Virginia team and then visits Alabama two weeks later. And those two teams will make Georgia try and beat them through the air.
The infusion of talent with the 2020 signing class should help quite a bit this year and in the years to come. And the Bulldogs are very much going to need that to happen, especially when looking at Georgia’s recruiting efforts at the wide receiver position in the 2021 cycle.
The Bulldogs have a commitment from just about every position group in the 2021 cycle. There’s a quarterback, running back, two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two linebackers and a defensive back. Missing from that group is a pass-catcher of any type.
When you sign five wide receivers in the previous class, you’re not likely to bring in another big haul. Given Georgia’s struggles at the position, recruits also want to see Georgia continue to develop players at the spot and put them in the NFL. Right now, there’s no Andrew Thomas, Roquan Smith or Nick Chubb template for wide receiver prospects to follow at Georgia.
Georgia saw one target, 4-star Romello Brinson commit to Miami on Saturday. And the Bulldogs are still working to convince 4-star prospect Deion Colzie that Georgia is the best place for him. Colzie, even though he’s an Athens, Ga., native and a Notre Dame de-commitment, just put out a top-10, showing that his recruiting process is still a long way from being finished.
Top 10 🖤
Thank you lord for putting me in this position…🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/50SyMQi1Ex
— Deion Colzie (@almightydeion_) June 7, 2020
The Bulldogs almost certainly won’t sign a wide receiver class as good as the one they did in 2020 anytime soon. That makes recruiting the position going forward slightly more challenging, which in turn puts more pressure on this group to play well. There isn’t a George Pickens-type prospect on the horizon for this group.
Georgia and wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton will have a lot of options to work with within this 2020 signing class. And it’s imperative that he helps get immediate contributions from the group while also continuing to develop some of the players who project as long-term projects.
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