ATHENS — It was midway through a quick-paced, frenetic receiving drill on Thursday. Georgia’s wide receivers were supposed to split into two groups to haul in short passes. Only the group hadn’t made an even split, too many had gone to one side.
Terry Godwin turned and yelled, no hint of a smile on his face.
“Hey, get more over here!” Godwin yelled over at the group to the right. “Why wouldn’t you get more over here?”
It would have been a rare display of vocality during Godwin’s first two seasons at Georgia. But this spring it’s been the normal: Now the team’s most experienced receiver, Godwin is asserting himself, and his head coach has noticed.
“I tell you, when you go to practice, Terry Godwin, he’s like night and day to me to watch that kid,” Smart said after Thursday’s practice. “I was very honest last year about Terry playing tougher, playing bigger, the guy is blocking hard, he’s competing, he’s taking more reps. He’s such a better leader. I mean to see him grow up means the world to me, because I’ve seen that kid since his ninth grade year.”
Smart was alluding to comments he made before last season about wanting to see more from Godwin in terms of consistency. At the time, Godwin was coming off a freshman season in which he was the team’s second-leading receiver, but needed to work on leadership, blocking and other facets of the game.
Godwin went on to once again be Georgia’s second-leading receiver, leapfrogged in the pecking order by Isaiah McKenzie. But now with McKenzie gone, and Godwin entering his junior year, he appears to be meeting Smart’s expectations, especially at practice.
And with Georgia putting a new emphasis on the slot position, it may come at the best time. Godwin, at 5-foot-10, is well suited for that spot, and has also developed a good rapport with quarterback Jacob Eason.
“He’s a vital piece of that slot,” Smart said of Godwin. “He and Jacob have got great intuitive instincts, they’ve got great intuition about where they want to be.”