For as much as has been written about the departures at the defensive back position, Georgia has seen its fair share of wide receivers leave the program as well.
Four wide receivers — Makiya Tongue, Trey Blount, Matt Landers and Tommy Bush — have entered the transfer portal with three of them already finding new homes. Given the long-term issue the wide receiver position has been for Georgia, this would seem like another position of concern as defensive back is for Georgia.
But that isn’t the case entering the spring or 2021 season for Georgia.
“The receivers are not my concern with practice reps,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We had two different receivers come in midyear, that has really helped our numbers there. We also got some guys that signed last year that we think are good football players, we got a good group there.”
The two 2021 signees are Jackson Meeks and Adonai Mitchell. But it’s the 2020 signees, the ones Georgia signed a year ago, that help inspires so much confidence this spring.
Georgia’s five-man class is made up of Jermaine Burton, Arian Smith, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Justin Robinson and Ladd McConkey. Burton had the best freshman season, catching 27 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns.
Rosemy-Jacksaint on the other end doesn’t figure to be a significant factor this spring, as he and Dominick Blaylock are still recovering from season-ending injuries sustained during the 2020 season.
Related: Injured Georgia wide receivers ‘right on schedule for where they need to be’ before start of spring practice
Smith is perhaps the most intriguing, due to his game-changing speed. He had just two catches in 2020 but one went for a 31-yard touchdown and the other was a 55-yard completion against Cincinnati.
“Just like any young receiver, it’s just about understanding the technique of how to play to position and continuing to grow from a football awareness and a knowledge of the playbook and how he fits in the grand scheme of things,” Wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton said. “He’s really embraced it this off-season.”
Robinson and McConkey didn’t get to make much of an impact as freshmen, but they both bring skillsets that figure to help the room. Robinson, the lone wide receiver signee that would’ve been able to go through spring drills last year, has an imposing 6-foo-4 frame.
McConkey meanwhile has the quickness to impress out of the slot position. With Rosemy-Jacksaint and Blaylock’s injuries, Robinson and McConkey figure to get extra reps at those two positions.
“These guys are going to have the opportunity to continue to get better,” Hankton said. “Granted, we are talented and you see some flashes of some things but we have to become more consistent and the position and there are some things that we have to improve on. We can’t be complacent and comfortable just because we have the skill set to perform at a high level.”
Helping matters, even more, is that Georgia also returns veterans in George Pickens and Kearis Jackson. Those two both led Georgia in catches and receiving yards a season ago.
Add in that the group will get a second year with quarterback JT Daniels and offensive coordinator Todd Monken and there’s even more reason for optimism. Georgia showed improvement once Daniels became the starter for Georgia prior to the Mississippi State game.
Related: Georgia football role-reversal: offense ahead of the defense entering spring drills
If Georgia is going to continue to make that push for a national championship, something the Georgia team is always aware of, the passing offense is going to need to take another step forward.
And the group that seems to have the most room to grow is that talented 2020 class.
“The only thing that we can worry about right now is how we perform and the team the next day,” Hankton said. “When Spring ball gets here, we want to attack that in a different manner. The thing that’s going to remain consistent is that every single day, we’re trying to improve on something.”
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation