ATHENS — In case you missed it, Terry Godwin was at it again. That is, he was back to making a ridiculous, leaping one-handed touchdown catch.
The latest one was executed in practice with about 1,000 high school coaches and a few notable NFL honchos looking on during UGA’s Coaches Clinic. You might have seen a video clip of it on one of your social media channels. I was on a spring break trip with my son last week, so I never really got to weigh in on it. But like the others Godwin has made, this catch is spectacular. See below.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) March 31, 2018
Godwin has a reputation for making such catches. The senior wide receiver from Hogansville will forever be known for his miraculous one-handed touchdown snag against Notre Dame last year. That catch has been captured on canvas by several artists, and it will rightly go down as one of the greatest ever in Georgia annals, both for what it meant and the degree of difficulty.
terry gawdwin pic.twitter.com/CoAXB8DwG4
— Zach Dillard (@Zach_Dillard) September 10, 2017
But while that particular catch was most noteworthy and meaningful, Godwin has been pulling off such receptions for years. The first time my attention was drawn to Godwin’s penchant for the sensational was before he signed with the Bulldogs. He skied above everybody else and hauled in a one-hander for Callaway High School at one of Georgia’s 7-on-7 summer camps. I think it must’ve been the summer before his senior year. I don’t recall exactly, but I remember being awestruck by the photographed image that circulated afterward.
But it goes back even further than that. Georgia coach Kirby Smart shared stories last weekend of an undersized Godwin showing up at an Alabama 7-on-7 camp as a ninth-grade defensive back and being picked on by a bunch of upperclassman receivers. Then he came back a year later and wasn’t being picked on anymore. Instead, he was the one doing the picking.
“He was a little peanut,” Smart said. “But he went from ninth to 10th [grade] to where he was dominant on the perimeter when they threw the ball up.”
Godwin’s high-leaping hijinks aren’t limited to the gridiron, though. One of his put-back dunks in basketball when he was barely 16 once went viral via YouTube:
Everybody at Georgia is used to it. Apparently Godwin makes ungodly catches almost routine in practice.
“Since I got here, Terry’s been making some outstanding plays,” junior tight end Charlie Woerner said recently. “Whether it be in the summer or during practice he’s making these grabs that no one else can make. So I think it was only a matter of time before he made a play like that at Notre Dame. … I’ve seen him make a lot of those.”
As he enters his final year at Georgia, it’s time for Godwin to come into his own as a receiver. He has been a consistent performer for the Bulldogs, but it seems as if there’s another level for him. And if he can get there, there’s reason to believe Georgia’s receiver corps might be a lot better than advertised in 2018.
By himself, Godwin is about as sure a thing as it gets when it comes to targeting a receiver. According to Pro Football Focus, he led all draft-eligible receivers in the nation last year in passer rating when targeted. That means he almost always made the catch and usually with exceptional results with regards to yards gained and/or scoring.
Wise decision to target these sure-handed draft-eligible WRs. pic.twitter.com/BJVFPqR4cS
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 17, 2018
Add in Georgia’s other weapons, such as fellow wideouts Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley, tight ends Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner, and D’Andre Swift out of the backfield, and it becomes evident that the Bulldogs might throw the ball around a good bit with Jake Fromm in 2018.
Back to Godwin, though. I reached out to Terrence Edwards to put Godwin’s skills into perspective. Edwards is Georgia’s all-time leading receiver. He leads the Bulldogs for receiving yards in a season (1,004 in 2002) and for both catches (205) and receiving yards (3,093) in a career. Today, quite appropriately, he is owner and operator of Terrence Edwards’ Wide Receiver Academy in Atlanta.
As it turns out, Edwards also shares my fascination with Godwin’s receiving ability.
“One thing I’ll say about him – and I watched him in high school and all the way up — is Terry was put on this Earth to play wide receiver,” Edwards said Monday night. “He’s not the biggest and he’s not the fastest. I don’t what he would time on the clock, but he has football speed. I don’t know how well he’ll test at the NFL combine, but if you put on that tape, you’ll see production. And he understands the wide receiver position.”
Actually, Godwin compares quite favorably to Edwards from a physical standpoint. Godwin is 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, while Edwards played a decade-and-a-half ago at 6-foot, 171. While Edwards was unable to parlay his skills into an NFL career — he played one year with the Falcons — but he did play eight seasons in the Canadian Football League, where he was recently inducted into the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Hall of Fame.
But Edwards said he thinks Godwin plays a lot like one former Bulldogs receiver who was able to establish a pretty good NFL career — Hines Ward.
“Terry’s a tough guy. He goes over the middle and makes tough catches and he doesn’t shy away from contact,” Edwards said. “That’s one of the things that Hines did best, especially in his pro career. He was a guy that would get hit and catch the tough balls. He made a living doing that. Terry’s in that same mold. He’s very tough and he has an IQ for the game. I’ve been around him enough to know that. You have to be able to find zones and run away from man. I’ve watched him closely and Terry does those things very well.”
None of this is to say Godwin is a finished product. Smart stays on Godwin about improving his downfield blocking skills. That shortcoming resulted in Godwin losing his starting job for several games as a sophomore. But he made significant strides and has started all but one game he has played in since.
As a junior, Godwin finished behind Javon Wims as the team’s second-leading receiver with 38 catches for 638 yards and a career-best 6 touchdowns. He led Georgia in receiving with 5 catches for 48 yards in the SEC Championship Game win over Auburn — including catches for a TD and a 2-point conversion — and also had 4 receptions for 48 yards in the National Championship Game.
Godwin enters his final season needing 560 yards to be included among Georgia’s Top 10 receivers of all time. But like all UGA wideouts, he’ll be looking to surpass Edwards’ long-standing record for receiving yards in a season. Edwards remains the only Bulldogs receiver ever to go over 1,000.
Edwards said he believes Godwin could go down as one of the all-time greats. He said the senior already has the most important trait.
“All the best receivers at Georgia played quarterback in high school,” said Edwards, who played QB at Washington County High. “Terry did, I did and Hines played quarterback in high school. So he’s got that going for him.”
As for all those one-handed, highlight-reel catches, Edwards, too, is duly impressed. Of course, he points out one distinct advantage Godwin has over those who played the position when he did.
“The gloves,” Edwards said with a laugh. “If I had those gloves, I wouldn’t have dropped that one against Florida in ’02.”
Probably not. The good news for Georgia is Godwin has those gloves now. And as he has proved over and over again, he knows what to do with them.