Numbers show if Georgia is to make the College Football Playoff, it will need new No. 1 receiver to emerge
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Georgia football must find a new No. 1 wide receiver following dismissal of Jeremiah Holloman
When Georgia football made the 2017 College Football Playoff, it did so as an outlier when it comes to its leading receiver. Javon Wims led Georgia in receiving yards and receptions during the 2017 season. Going into the College Football Playoff, Wims had just 38 catches for 631 yards.
That is the lowest number of yards for a leading receiver among the 20 teams to make the College Football Playoff. And it was well below the average season from a leading receiver on a College Football Playoff team.
We bring these numbers up because Georgia’s goal is to at least make the College Football Playoff in 2019. That task became more difficult on Friday after Kirby Smart dismissed wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman following police investigation where he is alleged to have hit a woman in the face back in 2018.
“Jeremiah Holloman no longer represents the University of Georgia football program,” Smart said. “We expect every member of our team to uphold the highest standards and values of the University of Georgia and Georgia football. It is disappointing when this does not happen.”
Holloman was widely expected to be Georgia’s top wide receiver in 2019. A season ago he finished with 24 catches for 418 yards and 5 touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he had room to grow as Georgia’s top three wide receivers were all taken in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Now with Holloman off the team, Georgia will have to look for another candidate as a leading wide receiver. Of the returning wide receivers, Tyler Simmons had the most receptions and yards last season with 9 catches for 138 yards.
Other options include highly-touted freshmen George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock, but it should be noted only one team make the College Football Playoff has been led in receiving yards by a freshman. Calvin Ridley did that in 2015 with Alabama.
Georgia does have a receiver on its team who topped 700 yards in a season, as Demetris Robertson did it in 2016 while he was at Cal. But the air raid offense Robertson played in at Cal might as well be a different language compared to what Georgia runs. Robertson’s quarterback at Cal — Davis Webb — threw for 4,295 yards in 12 games. Last season — one in which Robertson finished with 0 catches — Jake Fromm threw for 2,746 yards in 14 games.
Georgia also has another transfer wide receiver in Lawrence Cager. At Miami last season, the 6-foot-5 wide receiver finished with 21 catches for 374 yards.
Those numbers are a far cry from what has been required to make the College Football Playoff. The average regular season for a leading receiver to make a College Football Playoff has ended with 66.75 catches and 981.7 yards. Even using the median season — to thus remove outliers — from a College Football Playoff bound receiver finished 68 catches for 896.5 yards.
Leading receivers for every College Football Playoff team
|2016||Curtis Samuel||Ohio State**||91||704|
|2014||Devin Smith||Ohio State||30||799|
|2018||Myles Boykin||Notre Dame**||54||803|
|2014||Rashard Greene||Florida State||86||1183|
|2015||Aaron Burbridge||Michigan State||80||1219|
**Indicates wide receiver only played 12 games
However, the numbers do not show that you need a truly dominant wide receiver to win a national title. Of the nine wide receivers who have entered the College Football Playoff with over 1,000 receiving yards, only Clemson’s Mike Williams in 2016 was able to play on a team that ended up winning the national championship.
Entering the 2019 season Smart had already said that wide receiver was the position he was most uncomfortable with. During spring practice, he openly wished that Pickens, Blaylock, fellow freshman Makiya Tongue were already with the program. Cager likely would’ve been mentioned as well had Smart been able to comment on him.
“You wish they were here now, but the way college football works with guys getting here in early June, they’ll have two months of really good work to build up,” Smart said. “So whether or not they’ll be able to contribute this year, I don’t know that we know that.”
Georgia has made the College Football Playoff before with limited production from its wide receivers. Wims is the only leading wide receiver to enter the College Football Playoff with fewer than 650 receiving yards and one of only two to have less than 40 catches. And Fromm is a much better quarterback now than the one was throwing to Wims in 2017.
Georgia once again figures to have a strong running game — led by D’Andre Swift and perhaps the best offensive line in the country — and a defense stockpiled with talent.
But it’s clear that the teams that most often make the College Football Playoff have a strong No. 1 receiving option. And that is something that the Georgia football team does not have at the moment.
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