ATHENS – Georgia famously doesn’t know who its starting quarterback will be. Just as famously, it doesn’t know whether its top two tailbacks will be healthy enough to start the season. So that brings us to the other offensive skill position, which is a model of stability and experience.
Nah, just kidding. The receivers are a huge area of unknown, too.
Oh, there’s plenty of optimism. While last year’s No. 1 receiver is now in the NFL, there’s a clear replacement as the No. 2 guy. And there are a few promising options to fill in behind him, as we saw in the spring.
Plus, you’ve got perhaps the deepest and most talented group of tight ends in all of college football.
But, as Steve Spurrier said, this is talkin’ season. It’s comin’ time for doin’ season.
When it comes to the receivers and tight ends, the big question remains whether Georgia has adequate enough quarterback play and play-calling. If the answer to both is yes, the Bulldogs probably have enough talent to make and extend plays in the passing game.
We’ve previewed and offered up a prediction on quarterbacks.
Now it’s time for …
No. 1 WIDE RECEIVER (Flanker, generally)
- Returning starter: Terry Godwin, Soph.
- Top competition: Reggie Davis, Sr.; Shakenneth Williams, Jr.
- The rest: Tyler Simmons, Fr.; Charlie Hegedus, Sr. (walk-on); Matt Price, soph. (walk-on); Wyatt Payne, R-Fr. (walk-on).
- The skinny: This is sort of the small-but-speedy section of receivers. In reality, guys can play multiple spots if their abilities fit and they pick up the offense well. Godwin fits that category, and while the offense is new to everybody, Davis has been around long enough that he should also see a lot of playing time. Then there’s Williams, who came to campus with a lot of evident potential but only has four career catches. Simmons, good enough to be known as the Helicopter Kid, appears to have a bright future.
- Prediction: Godwin being on the field for Georgia’s first play is the closest you can come to a guarantee when it comes to Georgia’s skill positions. Davis should also have a big role at the start of the season. Everyone else will use August to compete for snaps.
No. 2 WIDE RECEIVER (split end, generally)
- Returning starter: None.
- Top candidates: Jayson Stanley, Soph., and Michael Chigbu, Soph.
- The rest: Javon Wims, Jr.; Riley Ridley, Fr.; Kenneth Towns, Sr.; Steven Van Tiflin, Soph. (walk-on).
- The skinny: And this is where we put the taller receivers. (Everyone listed here is 6-2 or taller, except the 6-1 Van Tiflin, who by the way has a great name.) Stanley made the biggest move this spring, when Kirby Smart singled him out for praise a couple times. Chigbu was on the cusp of more playing time last year, but only finished with four catches. Wims, who’s 6-4 and a JUCO transfer, will get every chance to play. So will Riley, who enrolled early and spent the spring learning the offense. And don’t forget about Towns, who missed spring with a leg injury, but is a wily veteran.
- Prediction: Chigbu or Stanley starts the opener, but begin the season getting about the same amount of reps. Wims and Riley also find their way into the rotation, which typically includes about six-to-eight receivers.
ISAIAH McKENZIE RECEIVER
- Returning starter: Isaiah McKenzie, Jr.
- Top competition: McKenzie’s hamstring.
- The rest: Tyler Simmons, Fr., Mecole Hardman, Fr.
- The skinny: We’re being cute here, but the reality is McKenzie, given his height, is basically in his own category as a slot receiver. But he is capable of making plays downfield and other catches. He’ll be used extensively, if his hamstring cooperates. The speedy Simmons could also see some action in that role, as could Hardman, depending on how the coaches feel about his playing two ways as a freshman.
- Returning starter: Jeb Blazevich, Jr.
- Top competition: Isaac Nauta, Fr.; Jackson Harris, Soph.
- The rest: Jordan Davis, Jr.; Charlie Woerner, Fr.
- The skinny: So much talent here, and only one football. New offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is renowned for his use of the tight ends at previous stops, so people assume he’ll figure it out. Of course this reporter remembers talking to people in St. Louis who said Brian Schottenheimer also knew how to use the tight end. Eh, things happen in talkin’ season.
- Prediction: Blazevich starts, while Harris comes off the bench mostly in blocking situations, while Nauta is sprinkled in mostly in passing situations.
Next up: Offensive line