ATHENS — When Mecole Hardman officially announced for Georgia on Wednesday, it set in motion what could become one of the most intriguing storylines of the summer.
Hardeman, a five-star signee, is listed as an athlete by Georgia, which means his position isn’t defined yet. And Kirby Smart, in his signing day press conference, didn’t define it either.
Where Mecole ends up, who knows. He wants to play DB, but who’s to say he can’t touch the ball some type of way,” Smart said. “He’s done a great job of that throughout his high school career.”
There’s a reason Smart will want to keep the door open for Hardman playing offense: It’s probably where he’s needed the most this season.
Georgia returns its entire starting secondary, after finishing first in the nation in pass defense. But it loses its top receiver (Malcolm Mitchell) from what wasn’t a deep unit after him. Terry Godwin and Isaiah McKenzie return.
Smart signed three receivers – Riley Ridley, Tyler Simmons and Javon Wims. Then there’s Charlie Woerner, who is listed as a tight end on Georgia’s official signing roster.
“Obviously Tyler is a track kid that can really run. We think he’s an explosive playmaker,” Smart said. ” Javon Wims gives us size that we didn’t have. He’s made a lot of plays at a probably more competitive level than the other kids we’ve signed, being that he’s a junior college kid. It makes it good for us. Then you’ve got Riley Ridley who competed at the highest level down there in Miami against really good players. I got to see him first-hand in camp this summer and know what kind of competitive fibers he’s made out of. He’ll compete and fight you for balls.
“Let’s hope that they at least increase the competition in that room. If you increase competition sometimes you increase production, and that’s what we’re hoping.”
One possibility is Hardman being a defensive back most of the time, but getting touches on offense, a la Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith earlier this decade. Smart mentioned that as a possibility.
“When you look at (offensive coordinator) Jim Chaney, he has a good history of being able to use those guys,” Smart said.