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(Curtis Compton/AJC)
When Terry Godwin was targeted by quarterback Jake Fromm in 2017, good things generally happened, like this touchdown against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.

Own the East: Georgia needs Terry Godwin to get up to full speed

Chip Towers

GEORGIA’S OWN #9 — WR TERRY GODWIN

ATHENS – Terry Godwin is not going full speed with the Georgia Bulldogs just yet, and that’s a problem. At least it will be if that continues to be the case.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart continues to describe the knee injury that keeps Godwin from being turned loose in the Bulldogs’ workouts as “minor.” That may indeed be the case, but it has managed to keep the senior out of most of the serious work being done on the practice fields for the entirety of preseason camp.

Godwin technically returned to practice this past week. But while he was going through position drills with the other receivers before their last scrimmage at Sanford Stadium, he wasn’t doing it with the intensity and commitment we’re used to seeing from this dynamic play-maker from Hogansville. Meanwhile, he generally remains on the sideline while other wideouts take the reps with the offense in 11-on-11 work.

Smart forewarned of this kind of approach when he mentioned that Godwin would be limited at the outset of the Bulldogs’ preseason camp.

“Terry Godwin has a little bit of a minor issue with his left knee,” he said. “It’s small. He’ll be limited … but he’s fine. He just won’t be able to do some things.”

The thought back then was Godwin’s limitations were going to be short term. Godwin tried to come back for Georgia’s first full-contact workout of camp, but “he couldn’t push through it,” Smart said. And that seemed to have set back Godwin. He has yet to go full-tilt since.

That’s the bad news. The good news is Godwin might be the only player among Georgia’s extensive group of receivers that could afford to miss multiple repetitions. There certainly aren’t many wideouts who have played more than Godwin has, and there certainly isn’t one that has made more plays.

That said, the Bulldogs have plenty of receivers — and that was before Cal transfer Demetris Robertson was cleared to play this season. Including walkons, there are 22 in that group, 12 of them on scholarship.

But few of them have the proven play-making ability of Godwin. While that’s always been understood in Georgia’s locker room, it didn’t become apparent to the rest of the nation until last year.

That was after Godwin made his now famous one-handed grab against Notre Dame last September. That was voted the catch of the year in college football and won Godwin an Espy. But for his teammates, it wasn’t anything they haven’t seen before.

“Terry’s been making catches like that in practice since I got here,” junior tight end Charlie Woerner said.

Godwin himself shrugs of the wow-factor of that other plays he’s made. He prides himself on just making the play, period, and that goes for whatever he’s being asked to do.

Primarily, that’s to catch the football. But he also returns some punts and kickoffs for the Bulldogs and he’s often the wideout they turn to shift into the quarterback position in the Wild Dawg formation. It’s out of that set that Godwin threw a 44-yard touchdown pass in the TaxSlayer Bowl at the end of the 2016 season.

But when it comes to actually catching the football, nobody was better in the SEC than Godwin. There were other wideouts who had more catches than the 38 he had for 639 yards and 6 touchdowns. But Godwin led the league in “passer rating when targeted” at 146.8, according to Pro Football Focus. That means when Jake Fromm came his way with the football, good things usually happened, starting with Godwin caught it.

And so the numbers have piled up Godwin. He now has 1,415 yards receiving in his career. That puts him in position to become just the 10th player in UGA history to go over 2,000 yards for his career.

Don’t bother bringing up all that with Godwin. It’s nearly impossible to involve him in a conversation about his individual accomplishments. After last season’s close call in the national title game, he’s all about team goals these days.

“As receivers, we have the mindset of trying to prove that we are the best receiving corps in the nation,” Godwin said at SEC Media Days this summer. “We feel like we have the most talent and we’re the hardest-working group. That’s what we’re trying to put out there, that there’s no receiving corps that’s better than us.”

There certainly aren’t many receivers better then Godwin. If he can put this minor knee injury behind him, he’ll be another reason Georgia could own the East.