Georgia freshman WR Ladd McConkey ‘a natural pass catcher’
ATHENS — If anyone can understand the transition that’s ahead for incoming Georgia freshman receiver Ladd McConkey, it’s Terrence Edwards.
Edwards — still the only Georgia receiver in history with a 1,000-yard season — was a quarterback in high school just like McConkey.
“He has a ways to go, as far as the receiver positions, but two things stuck out to me,” Edwards said. “His straight-line speed — he can move — and his catching ability was smooth.”
The speed is obviously key, and Edwards explained the second attribute is not at all a given with the receivers he has trained or some on the UGA team.
“As I was telling him, you’re a natural catcher, or you’re not, and there’s no in between,” Edwards said. “Larry Fitzgerald is an example of a natural pass catcher.
“(McConkey) doesn’t fight the ball, the ball doesn’t get into his body, and he’s confident putting his hands up and catching it.”
Obviously Kirby Smart and his coaching staff felt the same way, or Georgia wouldn’t have taken a chance on giving McConkey a scholarship with a position change in mind.
Tennessee was McConkey’s favorite football program during his high school career at North Murray in the North Georgia town of Chatsworth (pop. 4,299).
The Vols, apparently, didn’t have the same belief in McConkey as Georgia does and didn’t make a scholarship offer.
UGA, however, saw something in McConkey.
“They just kinda said they need high-character guys they can count on,” McConkey told DawgNation. “And guys they can get the football to in space, who can make one guy miss and go score.”
Edwards said McConkey’s “short quickness is above average,” and so, “he’s going to be able to, when he learns the position, work as that slot guy.
“He has enough burst and straight-line speed to control the seams,” Edwards said. “I’ve watched his tape and have a good feel for him.
“It may not be next year, but in two years he’s a guy who will help Georgia win some games.”
Edwards said one route-running facet McConkey is adjusting to UGA’s style of teaching receivers to count steps.
“They run routes off steps, counting steps,” Edwards said. “Today he was counting steps in the head … once he gets comfortable not counting and running off feel, you’ll see him get more comfortable at the position.”
Georgia coaches and fans will also see him grow into the position physically, as well as mentally and technically.
“I think he said he was down to the low 160s during basketball season,” Edwards said. “Right now, talked to him a couple days ago and he’s at 175 and hoping to play this season between 180 and 185.”
McConkey has already shown how fast he can put on weight. As a high school sophomore, McConkey said, he was playing at 5-foot6 and 115 pounds.