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Wide receiver Justin Robinson will look to have a bigger impact in 2021.

Justin Robinson showing ‘flashes’ as opportunity to replace George Pickens emerges

Replacing what George Pickens brought to the Georgia offense will not be an easy task. He led Georgia in receiving yards, touchdowns and receptions over the past two seasons. He seemed poised to become the school’s second 1,000-yard receiver.

Now with an ACL injury that requires surgery, Georgia has a big hole to fill at the wide receiver position.

“We lost a guy who is a pretty good playmaker but we’ve got other guys who we think are good playmakers and we’ll just try to find ways to get them the ball,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said.

RelatedKirby Smart shares Georgia football offensive philosophy with George Pickens sidelined

On of those possible playmakers is redshirt freshman Justin Robinson. He did not have the freshman season that say Jermaine Burton or even Arian Smith had in 2020. But there is one thing he has that the other Georgia wide receivers don’t: size.

Robinson is Georgia’s biggest wide receiver at 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds. He might be best positioned to be that physical, ball-winning wide receiver that Pickens clearly was for the Bulldogs.

“He has God-given ability at 6-foot-4, 218 pounds,” former Georgia wide receiver Terrence Edwards said of Robinson on Thursday. “Now it’s time for him to show what he can do. The buzz that I’ve been hearing is really good and I can’t wait to see him perform on G-Day.”

Edwards is well-versed on both the Georgia wide receiver position and Robinson in particular. Edwards is the program’s only 1,000-yard receiver. He’s also spent time training Robinson as he tries to grow into a better wide receiver.

Robinson played both ways for Eagles Landing Chrisitan Academy in high school at wide receiver and defensive back. He won four state titles in his time there. But his high school offense was run-heavy, which meant that when he arrived in Athens, Ga., last January, he was a little behind in terms of understanding the nuances of the position.

Then Robinson’s first year on campus was far from ideal. After arriving as an early enrollee, the entire offseason was up-ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Robinson battled injury much of his first year on campus, including a knee injury late in the year that did impact his offseason workouts.

“He didn’t get to do all the offseason workouts, and I always like for the young guys to get the mental toughness of the offseason workouts, and he started to get some of that towards the end,” Smart said. “And it really pushed him and challenged him.”

Edwards and Smart both indicated though that the proverbial light bulb might be coming on for Robinson.

There might not be a better time for that to happen than right after the devastating injury to Pickens.

“He’s shown some flashes in the last couple days,” Smart said.”If he can sustain, keep that same energy, juice and level, there’s times he really practices hard, and there’s other times that I think he’s trying to save and condition himself.

“When he really goes, he’s been a good factor for us. He’s a big guy that’s hard to match up with, and so he’s different than some of our other guys because of the size.”

Robinson was one of five wide receiver signees in the 2020 signing class, joining Burton, Smith, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Ladd McConkey. Those five represent the future of the position at Georgia, with Burton, Smith and Rosemy-Jacksaint all playing some role in the passing game as freshmen.

Heading into their second seasons, Georgia was going to need more from the entire group. At first, it was because the Georgia offense needed to take a leap to join the truly elite class in college football.

Now it is to replace what Pickens brought to the team.

RelatedAll the ways the George Pickens injury alters Georgia’s championship hopes

Georgia doesn’t need Robinson to do all of the things that Pickens did. That’s too big of an ask for any wide receiver on this team, much less one who has yet to record a college reception.

The Bulldogs just need Robinson to continue to give it his all and show that he can be a physical presence at the wide receiver position.

“You don’t have to be George Pickens, you have to be the best version of you,” Edwards said.

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