ATHENS — Georgia’s tailback depth is concerning enough to Kirby Smart that he’s still trying to recruit one more for next year’s class. If that doesn’t happen, there’s an increasing chance the team will look to within.
That’s a big reason that Shaquery Wilson, a sophomore receiver, has been working at tailback the past few practices. He got his most extensive work at the position during Tuesday’s practice, when he did well enough at one point to split the defense.
“He looks more natural when the ball’s in his hands,” Smart said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s a lot easier to get him the ball there when you’re just handing it to him.”
Wilson only appeared in two games last year, not catching a pass. A future isn’t being ruled out for him at receiver, but Georgia coaches, in trying to find another option at tailback, like Wilson’s size. He’s 6-foot-1 and is now around 210.
Georgia only has two completely healthy scholarship tailbacks for G-Day: Starter Sony Michel and redshirt freshman Tae Crowder. Senior Brendan Douglas has been practicing in a non-contact jersey, as he’s coming off wrist surgery last December.
There’s also Nick Chubb, whose recovery from knee surgery has been quicker than anticipated, but no timetable has been set for his return. And four-star Elijah Holyfield arrives this summer.
That makes five scholarship tailbacks, but Smart said the ideal number is six. That could include fullbacks if they’re more of a tailback than a tight end.
Smart said it was “hard to say” whether Wilson will stay at tailback into the summer. It will depend in part on how G-Day goes, an indication that Wilson at tailback could be another Saturday storyline.
“If we’re able to find another back out there somehow, (and) kind of how our depth chart looks back there,” Smart said. “How Nick progresses. But it’s an option that we want to have.”
Another option could be incoming freshman Mecole Hardman, a five-star recruit. But Smart downplayed that. Hardman is projected to primarily play defensive back, with a possible package on offense.
“When he’s here, he talks about DB. But I think he’s such a special guy with the ball in his hands that it’s going to be tough,” Smart said. “Because Mecole’s got to go through a learning process to be a really successful DB, and long-term I think that’s where his career goals are. But immediate impact he may be a guy to get the ball in his hands. But we’ve got a few guys like that. We’ve got Isaiah McKenzie and Terry Godwin, and Mecole’s kind of a specialty back.”