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Georgia football aims to turn Oscar Delp into its next complete tight end

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Georgia football Oscar Delp tight end

Brock Bowers and Stetson Bennett both lit when asked about it. No, it wasn’t one of their two touchdown connections nor was it the block thrown by Bennett to spring Bowers’ rushing touchdown.

It was a 28-yard reception by freshman tight end Oscar Delp. The final touchdown of the afternoon was Delp’s first of his promising career.

Much had been about the Georgia tight end room in the offseason, with all the talent in the room. Bowers and Darnell Washington have each shown why that hype was warranted, whether it be Washington hurdling defenders or Bowers slicing through the Gamecocks on Saturday.

Delp got his first chance to show what he could do against South Carolina. After flashing during Georgia’s spring game, Delp went without a catch in his first two games.

Those lack of catches in blowouts though don’t demonstrate the strides Delp has been able to make for the Bulldogs. Georgia coach Kirby Smart often wants to make practice harder than the games. Delp seems to be reaping the benefits of that philosophy.

“He makes a lot of good catches in practice as well as you see on Saturday,” senior safety Christopher Smith said. “He just continues to work with the tight ends. He’s learned a ton of things from Brock and Darnell and coach Hartley. They pour a lot into him and you can see the improvement he’s made as the season has gone on.”

Georgia did roll out a three-tight end set early on Saturday’s game, though it was in a goalline package and the Bulldogs elected to hand it off to Kendall Milton. The play led to a touchdown and Delp was on the field, but the Bulldogs have yet to pass out of that formation.

If you’re looking for more progress from Delp, he very clearly has passed Arik Gilbert on the Georgia depth chart. Gilbert similarly had a strong spring game, as he and Delp took advantage of Bowers and Washington being out due to injury.

As Delp surged in the later portions of fall camp, Gilbert seemed to slip. He did not travel to the South Carolina game this pst weekend and Smart told reporters this week that Gilbert is day-to-day as he works throughout the week.

Gilbert’s absence puts a greater premium on Delp and his quest to be a complete tight end. The biggest gap right now between Delp and Bowers and Washington comes thanks to their ability to block.

Related: Georgia coach Kirby Smart updates Arik Gilbert status for Kent State football week

“He’s learning how to be a complete tight end, both in-line blocker, outside blocker, how to adjust to things when things don’t happen the way you quite expect them to,” Smart said of Delp. “There’s just a certain number of reps and things you have to go through in order to improve.”

Smart added that the touchdown catch gives Delp some added confidence and is proof to the casual fan of his improvement.

A year ago, Georgia saw a freshman come in at the tight end position and become the best offensive player for a championship team. Because of Bowers’ presence, Delp won’t be asked to fill that same role.

His development path will take a different curve at Georgia. Perhaps if he had gone to South Carolina, who finished as the runner-up in his recruitment, he could be playing more snaps than he currently is. That Delp’s first touchdown came against the Gamecocks and Shane Beamer likely wasn’t an accident, making the play all the more sweet for Smart and bitter for Beamer.

Delp, as many other highly-rated recruits, trusts Smart’s vision. The Bulldogs have had a tight end drafted in four consecutive drafts, with Washington and Bowers looking like potential locks to extend that to five and six years.

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