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Georgia coach Kirby Smart met with the media at SEC Media Days on Tuesday.

Kirby Smart explains why George Pickens, Dominick Blaylock can contribute early

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Why George Pickens, Dominick Blaylock can come in and contribute right away

HOOVER, Ala. — Freshmen George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock are the two highest-ranked wide receiver prospects Georgia has signed in a decade. And the two could not have arrived in Athens at a more perfect time.

Georgia lost its top four wide receivers from a season ago. It’s leading returning wide receiver, Tyler Simmons, had a whopping 9 catches during the 2018 season. Even though neither enrolled early with the Bulldogs, expectations are still high for the standout duo.

Related: Kirby Smart reveals timeline leading to dismissal of Georgia football WR Jeremiah Holloman

While at SEC Media Days on Tuesday, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart spoke frequently about the need for some Georgia wide receivers to step up this season. Smart didn’t mention either freshman by name, but when asked about what he likes about the duo, he did explain why they could come in and contribute to Georgia in some way.

“The biggest thing with each one is their competitive nature. They go to a seven-on-seven and they dominate. They go to a camp and they dominate,” Smart said. “Just the fact those guys are taking over every opportunity when they’re given the opportunity to do so.”

Blaylock committed to Georgia early on in the process and never wavered. He comes from Marietta, Ga., following a standout career at Walton High School. As a senior, he caught 60 passes for 1,052 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also proved to be a threat in the red zone, as he added 10 rushing touchdowns on 216 yards. Blaylock was ranked as the No. 36 overall prospect in the country and was a 5-star prospect for almost the entire process.

Even if Blaylock begins his career working out of the slot, Smart made it very clear this spring that he wasn’t going to be confined to one role. Blaylock is also expected to come in and contribute on special teams, possibly even working in the return game.

Conversely, Pickens was a late addition to the Georgia 2019 signing class. He was a long-time Auburn commit but flipped his commitment to Georgia on National Signing Day in February. He is ranked was ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama for the 2019 recruiting cycle. He was the first 5-star wide receiver prospect to sign with Georgia since 2009.

Smart was specifically about how he was able to land such a coveted player. And the possibility of early playing time was one of the factors that played a role in landing the 6-foot-3 wide receiver.

“He saw an opportunity when he saw two guys declare early for the draft in Mecole and Riley and Terry Godwin leave and then Isaac Nauta, there was a lot of touches there available, and I know he wanted to have an opportunity to play with a quarterback like Jake Fromm,” Smart said.

But Smart also made it clear that Pickens — and the same can be said for Blaylock — will not be handed anything. If the pair are going to get on the field, it is because they will have earned said playing time. Smart said similar things about Georgia running back Zamir White earlier on Tuesday.

Related: Georgia football coach Kirby Smart ‘thrilled’ with Zamir White progress

And there will be some obstacles for both players to get on the field right away. Despite not having a number of proven options, there is quite a bit of depth in the form of Simmons, Demetris Robertson, graduate transfer Lawrence Cager, and Trey Blount just to some of the wide receivers on the roster.

Smart also pointed out that for the first time for either player, the defensive back lining up across from them will be considered their equal in terms of talent.

“Now they’re gonna get thrust into a different world when they go out there against SEC level competition,” Smart said. “The biggest change for those guys is that now the defensive backs they’re facing are in their face and they’re talented. In high school, some of those DBs can’t match up with them athletically but that’s not the case now.”

Georgia won’t need its passing offense to look like something out of Mike Leach’s mind. And as Robertson showed a year ago, pass-catching talent alone won’t get you onto the field. Blaylock and Pickens are going to need to do the little things to make an impact for Georgia early on in their careers.

But those little things are what attracted Smart to both of those standout players in the first place. And if they can translate that to the field early on, they’ll help make Georgia better in the 2019 season.

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