ATHENS — Despite the doom and gloom that pervaded every aspect of Georgia’s game against Vanderbilt on Saturday, there were some slivers about which to be optimistic. Javon Wims is one of those slivers.
Wims, a junior wide receiver, was a fairly significant signee for the Bulldogs’ in this last class. A transfer from Hinds Community College in Mississippi, he came to Georgia as the No. 2-ranked junior college wide receiver in America. At nearly 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he was thought to have the size and athleticism the Bulldogs’ lacked among their play-makers.
But Wims had struggled to make an offensive impact coming into Saturday’s game. He had two catches for 18 yards while playing sparingly in the first few weeks of the season.
And while Wims didn’t exactly light it up Saturday in an excruciating 17-16 loss for Georgia, he played a lot, served an important role and made some very significant catches. He finished with three receptions for 32 yards, including two that went for first downs.
“My focus is not on individual success; it’s on the team’s success,” said Wims, who is originally from Miami. “I think we prepared well and we’ll just have to continue to prepare well.”
Wims’ journey to UGA has been a long one. He originally signed with tiny Belhaven College out of high school and actually gave up football for a whole year after being sidelined there with an injury. But he resurrected his career at Hinds and came to Georgia with high expectations.
“Everything is a learning adjustment,” Wims said. “We’re not going to have all the answers right away, but the coaches are doing an amazing job of preparing me every week so I can be ready. Whenever I do step in, hopefully I can contribute and help the team.”
Wims has been on the field fairly regularly since not playing in the Bulldogs’ opener against North Carolina. In the second game against Nicholls State, his crushing open-field block sprung Isaiah McKenzie for a 66-yard touchdown. But he also has had two hard passes from Jacob Eason bounce off his hands and end up as interceptions.
Saturday, Wims two huge grabs. He caught an 8-yard pass from Jacob Eason on third-and-7 in the third quarter that extended the scoring drive that resulted in the Bulldogs taking a 13-10 league. He also had a leaping 12-yard catch for another first down on third-and-11 midway through the second quarter.
“I think Javon has come a long way,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I think he could be more impactful in the run game by blocking better. But he’s catching the ball with confidence. He went up and got one today that was a high throw. He’s playing with a little more confidence.”
Smart said Wims also should have had the pass that deflected off his hands and was intercepted at South Carolina. But he liked the fact the junior “took ownership of that.”
“He’s doing everything he can to get better,” Smart said.
Overshadowed by the loss was Eason’s most productive day at Georgia as a passer. The freshman quarterback threw for a career-high 346 yards on 27-of-40 passing. It was a marked improvement from last week, when he was 5-of-17 for 29 yards.
Of course, much of it was because the Bulldogs were limited to being one dimensional since they couldn’t run with the ball.
“It’s great for his confidence,” Smart said of Eason. “It shows he can throw the ball, which we never doubted.”