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Jermaine Burton has 10 catches this season.

Development of freshman WRs becomes even more significant after Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint injury

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Georgia football freshman receivers looking for strong end of season

Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint had put some thought into how he would celebrate his first touchdown. He spoke with his teammates about what to do, including redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson.

Rosemy-Jacksaint entered the season as Georgia’s highest-rated wide receiver signee in the 2020 class. He was one of five wide receivers signed, to go along with Jermaine Burton, Arian Smith, Justin Robinson and Ladd McConkey.

The freshman wide receiver earned more playing time with George Pickens out with an upper-body injury. He was held without a catch against Kentucky, but he didn’t wait long to make an impact against Florida.

On the second drive of the game, Rosemy-Jacksaint hauled in a third-down pass from Stetson Bennett. On the catch, Rosemy-Jacksaint picked up more the first down and was streaking towards the endzone.

And then he was clipped by a Florida defender. He scored that touchdown but the cost was a dislocated ankle and the end of his freshman season.

“When that injury happened,  it brought tears to my eyes,” Jackson said. “Knowing how hard Marcus has worked to get to his position and the type of guy he is, he’s become more of a leader and more vocal. He just wants to be the best version of himself. ”

Beyond just filling in for Pickens, Georgia needed Rosemy-Jacksaint to help elevate the passing game. In 2019, the wide receiver position proved to be a major problem. That’s why they went out and brought in so many talented wide receivers in the 2020 class.

Rosemy-Jacksaint joined Burton and Smith as being top-100 overall prospects in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Now with his injury, Rosemy-Jacksaint will have to spend more time rehabbing, rather than continuing to improve his game.

“Marcus comes in, he’s going to work hard. He’s gonna be a complete receiver,” Jackson said. “He’s gonna make blocks, he’s going to run routes, he’s going to catch the ball, he’s going to do everything he’s asked to do. He’s a very humble young man because he wants the best for himself and his family.

“I’m pretty sure he’s going to bounce back fine and ready to go with a lot of emotion built up with him to get back on the field.”

The Florida game had been the first time all season that all three of those top-100 prospects traveled, as Smith made the travel roster for the first time.

He had only just returned to practice after having surgery on his meniscus prior to the start of practice in August.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart cautioned expectations of Smith, pointing to how raw he still is as a player. But there’s also no denying his speed, with cornerback Eric Stokes noting that he clocked in at over 22 miles per hour on Georgia’s GPS tracking data.

“He has been working his way back in,” Smart said. “He certainly has a trait that we are looking for in vertical speed. He is young. He is raw. I love his attitude and his energy. Can he help us? Hopefully. Right now? I don’t know if he can help us right now because it’s not that easy. He has to develop.”

The most productive of the three wide receivers thus far has been Burton, as he’s been a regular starter for the Bulldogs this season. His best game came against Alabama when he hauled in four passes for 58 yards and his first career touchdown. On the season, he’s got 10 catches for 130 yards.

Related: Jermaine Burton performance against Alabama serves as perfect metaphor for Georgia football offense

With Rosemy-Jacksaint now injured and Smith still making his way back into tip-top shape, Burton will likely need to continue to grow his game. While Georgia doesn’t have a game this weekend, Smart has said that they will use the extra practices as a sort mini-spring practice and continue to look at and develop young players, such as Burton.

Smart also spent some time this week talking about another freshman wide receiver this week in Robinson. He’s yet to catch a pass this season for Georgia this season, but Smart did take notice of his efforts to get on the field, whether that be as a pass catcher or on special teams.

“Justin works every day. He’s continuing to get better. He’s developing. He’s getting smarter. He’s trying to help on special teams,” Smart said. “He’s developing a role. Justin is getting better. He’s learning. He’s competing.’ We’re hopeful to get some more of those guys back and be able to help us at receiver.”

Georgia’s passing game has been a mess. That is largely due in part to the play of Georgia’s quarterbacks. But it’s also on the wide receivers to help them. And Georgia is going to rely a lot on the likes of Smith, Burton and Rosemy-Jacksaint in the future to go along with Pickens and fellow injured sophomore Dominick Blaylock.

Georgia has just two wide receiver commits for the 2021 cycle and neither ranks among the top 300 recruits in the class. Georgia is going to need its 2020 wide receiver signees to be the face of the position for the Bulldogs in the years to come.

There have been a few bright spots this year for the young pass-catchers. Unfortunately, Rosemy-Jacksaint won’t have the chance to have anymore this season. But with Burton and Smith still available, the Bulldogs could really benefit from more growth in the final games of the season.

Kearis Jackson updates status of Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint

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