Georgia wide receiver Jermaine Burton (7) during the Bulldogs’ game against Clemson at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday. Sept. 4, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Development of Jermaine Burton perfectly sums up the state of Georgia’s wide receivers

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Jermaine Burton highlights the struggles Georgia has had at wide receiver

Even prior to the George Pickens injury, there was the thought Jermaine Burton was going to take a big step forward in 2021.

As a freshman, Burton was thrown into the fire to start the season. He eventually grew into a key contributor, scoring a touchdown against Alabama and then racking up 197 yards against Mississippi State.

With a full offseason, Burton seemed primed to make a big jump forward. Even after the loss of Pickens, there was still some confidence that Burton could emerge as Georgia’s top wide receiver.

But almost nothing has gone right for Burton in 2021.

“We’ve had roughly 45 practices. Out of the 45 practices he’s practiced 10-15 times,” Smart said. “He missed a lot of time, and he was already a young player last year who grew.”

Burton suffered a knee injury in the spring one week after Pickens went down. Georgia then held Burton out of the remainder of spring practice after that.

The sophomore from Calabasas, Calif., was at full health to start fall camp. On the first day of practice, Burton sprained an ankle and he returned to the sidelines for another two weeks.

All that missed practice time starts to add up and explains why Burton had just two catches for 11 yards in Georgia’s win against Clemson.

If you had told Georgia supporters before the game that would be Burton’s final line, confidence in a Georgia victory would not have been high.

“For him, he knows the upside,” Smart said. “His best football is in front of him, and he has done everything we asked in terms of getting well. Rehab and pushing himself, but he’s not in game shape. We’ve got to improve that and work on it.”

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Not helping matters for Burton was that he spent most of the game matched up against Clemson’s Andrew Booth, a former 5-star prospect who certainly lived up to the billing for the Tigers.

There were a couple of examples on Saturday where a hobbled Burton played a part in ending Georgia’s drive. Twice, the Bulldogs ran swing passes to James Cook towards Burton’s side of the field.

Burton was tasked with blocking Booth and potentially springing Cook for a first down and more. The first time Burton made contact with Booth, but the Georgia receiver was unable to keep Booth from breaking free and bringing Cook to the ground on a third down.

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