ATHENS — Georgia receiver Matt Landers admitted on Wednesday night that he needed to learn how to take tough coaching upon arriving to play for the Bulldogs.
Unfortunately for Landers, he didn’t learn until after a few run-ins with the head coach.
“Matt and I have had our differences on the practice field many of times,” Coach Kirby Smart said earlier this week, “and Matt has come a long way.”
Landers acknowledged as much, saying, “it was just a little altercation between me and him my freshman year — I just didn’t know how to take hard coaching.”
Landers figured it out, accepting Smart’s coaching style, and embracing the message.
“He’s a pretty intense coach, but I adjusted well,” Landers said, “and it is what it is.”
Matt Landers looked dominant on special teams at Vanderbilt and got early reps at receiver / Jeff Sentell photo
What it is for Landers now is an opportunity to come to the forefront of an unsettled receiving corps that’s trying to replace its top four receivers from a season ago.
Landers, a redshirt sophomore, opened the 2019 season with two catches for 26 yards against Vanderbilt last Saturday and figures to get more action against Murray State this Saturday (TV: 4 p.m. ESPN2).
Smart has indicated he’d like to see quarterback Jake Fromm go downfield more often, and Landers is a prime target after an offseason of improving his skillset to become more consistent.
“Just extra running, (catching) extra balls at night, and sometimes in the middle of the day, and in the morning,” Landers said. “I still have a lot left to prove, I’ll keep working and it will pay off.”
Landers has already seen his investment on special teams make a difference, something Smart was waiting on.
“I think that Matt has finally figured out that ‘if I play special teams and I play well, then I have an opportunity to contribute on offense and maybe even get some balls,’ “ Smart said. “You earn the right to do that by how you compete, what you do, and he’s come a long way. I’m really proud of Matt and how he’s grown up.”
Landers said it comes back to buying into the program.
“I really just bought in,” Landers said. “In high school I didn’t play a lot of special teams, and I didn’t know how serious it was until I got here.
“I got here and locked in, and finally I bought in, and it’s just been a help to the team.”
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