Georgia WRs ready to step into spotlight, Owen Pappoe fallout

Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman has made big plays before, but now appears ready for a big season.

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Georgia depth chart breakdown: Wide receiver

It’s been a while since Georgia had a receiving corps to be feared. I’d say it’s been since 2013, the last the Dawgs averaged more than 200 yards passing per game. (And the case can be made there that is was more about the quarterbacks than receivers, as Hutson Mason fared much worse than Aaron Murray the next season with largely the same wideouts.) Sure, there have been single receivers that opponents have feared since then — Javon Wims and Isaiah McKenzie come to mind — but as a group, the receivers have been found wanting.

That should change this season.

Georgia’s 2018 receiving corps will be the most talented to come through Athens in many years, certainly since Kirby Smart arrived. And to my eyes, it looks a lot like those 2013 or ’14 units that featured guys such as Chris Conley, Michael Bennett, Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell. None of the guys were superstars, but they each did their job and created a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. There was depth.

There are no superstars in Georgia’s 2018 receiving corps — although a few guys have the potential to become one — but there is plenty of depth. With Jake Fromm a year older and a season wiser, Georgia should look to pass the ball more. Thus the receivers should grab a greater share of the spotlight. And with perhaps the most talented crop of receivers ever recruited to Georgia coming in 2019, this season could be the beginning steps of a receiver renaissance in Athens.

This is part of an ongoing series breaking down Georgia’s depth chart position-by-position. For links to the other posts in this series, check the bottom of this section.

  1. Riley Ridley, junior — Ridley was largely invisible last season, but came up huge in the National Championship Game (6 catches, 82 yards). He’ll take over for Javon Wims at X, aka split end, and will get a chance to prove he can produce like that game-in and game-out.
  2. J.J. Holloman, sophomore — Holloman is one of the more impressive athletes in the receiving corps. He still has to refine his receiving skills, but his athleticism alone gives him the potential to be the best receiver on the team.
  3. Trey Blount, sophomore— Blount didn’t catch a pass as a freshman, but avoided a redshirt because of his blocking. That skill will get him on the field again this season, but he’ll still have to prove himself as a pass catcher.
  4. Matt Landers, redshirt freshman — We got a taste of what Landers can do at G-Day, when he beat a defensive back on a jump ball from Justin Fields to score a touchdown. He’s one of the few guys 6-foot-5 or taller in this group, which should make him a situational target at worst this season.
  5. Tommy Bush, freshman — Bush is another guy who measures in at 6-foot-5, but that’s all we know about him for now. We’ll learn more when he starts practicing this fall.
  1. Terry Godwin, senior — Godwin has been a steady presence in Georgia’s receiving corps for years and made his share of eye-popping catches. But he’s never reached his full potential. He’ll get one final chance to do so during his senior season, when he’ll be the unequivocal leader of this group.
  2. Tyler Simmons, junior — “Tyler Simmons as onside.” That phrase may well end up being Simmons’ legacy at Georgia. But Simmons has drawn plenty of praise from Smart for the progress he’s made the last few years. If he can turn that progress into production, maybe he’ll be remembered as something other than a meme.
  3. Jayson Stanley, senior — Stanley has the physique and physicality you dream of in a receiver, but a spate of drops has kept him off the field. If he can show in practice that he can hold onto the ball, it may finally open some targets for Stanley on Saturdays.
  1. Mecole Hardman, junior  — Hardman has only played wideout at Georgia for one season, but he already might be the best receiver on the team. He hinted at his big-play ability throughout 2017 (25 catches, 418 yards), then put it on fill display in the National Championship Game with an 80-yard touchdown reception. This season, Hardman is poised to make his star turn.
  2. Ahkil Crumpton, senior — Crumpton, a last-minute JUCO transfer last season, might be the most explosive player on the team. He didn’t get many opportunities in 2017, but now that he’s been in the program a year and has his feet under him, I think the coaches will try to find ways to get him more touches.
  3. Kearis Jackson, freshman— Jackson, an early enrollee, looks to be a future starter in the slot. Not much is expected of him yet, though. Anything he achieves this season will be gravy.

Depth Chart Breakdown: Running Back

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