September 18, 2012

Incorrect label

Michael Bennett hates labels, although it's something he should probably be used to by now.

During Tuesday's weekly press session, Bennett was asked by a reporter if he considered himself a "possession" receiver, a question to which the redshirt sophomore simply rolled his eyes.

No, no," Bennett shot back. "I can do everything, man."

This wasn't the first time Bennett's heard the "possession" tag.

"I'm a white guy. … That's all right. I'm just being a white guy, that's what they think you are (a possession receiver)," Bennett smiled. "I've just got to show them different."

So far, he's done just that.

Through three games, Bennett is the Bulldogs' leading receiver, both in catches with 17 and yardage with 265, 67 coming on a long touchdown pass from Aaron Murray where he split the safety and cornerback from Florida Atlantic to complete the scoring play.

Still think he's a possession receiver?

"He hates that label," Murray said. "They had some speed on the defensive side, but he separated and showed what he had."

Bennett finished the game with four catches for a career-best 110 yards, making him the third Bulldog wideout to pass the century mark in receiving yardage this year.

"That was a goal of mine going into the year," Bennett said. "I wanted to get that in one game, so that was cool. It is kind of a threshold. When you get it, you know you can do it."

Not bad for a receiver who was considered an afterthought by many big-time programs.

In fact, it wasn't until Bennett showed out at the annual Mark Richt came prior to his junior year in high school that the Bulldogs anted up the offer the receiver always craved.

"Michael was very impressive in the first half. I don't remember exactly what I said, but if he came out in the second half and did as well as the first half, plus I wanted him to match up against the best DBs, we might offer this kid," Richt said. "Sure enough, the second half of the camp he continued to do what he did the first half."

Bennett smiled at the recollection.

"That was a great day. It was real hot, and they kept putting me against these top cornerbacks and I kept doing a great job against them," Bennett said. "I was really hoping for an offer after the camp when Coach Richt came up to me and said 'I don't know if we're ready to offer you yet.' My dad and I were 'here we go again.' So, he went away for a second, went to talk to Coach (Tony) Ball and Coach (Mike) Bobo was talking to me. Coach Richt comes back to me 30 seconds later and said they were going to offer me. Those were the best words I'd ever heard in my life."

A few days later, Bennett gave Richt his answer.

"I actually wanted to commit on the spot but I thought that might seem a little desperate, so I gave it a few days," said Bennett, who never received another SEC offer. "It was definitely the right place to be."

Senior Tavarres King was impressed from the start.

"The first time I saw Mike I think we were out there doing pass skel and I was like who is this kid, who is this little guy?" King said. "But he's been a guy who works extremely hard and I saw that as soon as he got here. Like I said, those guys want to be the best and Michael is one of them. He gives all he has every time he steps on the field and his hard work and dedication and passion has really paid off."

Bennett admits he's taken a great deal of satisfaction with the success he's been able to enjoy so far.

"Definitely because I wasn't recruited highly coming in and I've always had a little chip on my shoulder," Bennett said. "To go in and contribute like this has been a real goal of mine, just real blessed that I've had this opportunity."

Beard could get nod at left tackle

Depending on the status of left guard Dallas Lee (left ankle), Richt said that Georgia's offensive line starting lineup could well resemble the one that the Bulldogs finished with in last week's game against Florida Atlantic.

That means that sophomore Mark Beard would remain at left tackle with Kenarious Gates taking over for Lee at left guard.

"I think we would start with that lineup if Dallas can't play. We're not certain of that yet. I don't know how much he'll go today," Richt said. "He may not go at all today; we'll just have to wait and see what he does. My guess is we would start with that same lineup that we finished the game with."

More offensive reps for Mitchell

On Monday, Malcolm Mitchell said he wouldn't mind if coaches started to give him a few more opportunities at wide receiver.

Tuesday, Richt the Valdosta sophomore may just get his wish.

"Malcolm will definitely stay with the defense as far as being ready to play. I imagine he will still play, but his offensive reps will increase, and he'll probably start to spend some meeting time with the offense as well," Richt said. "I'm thinking about trying to find a way to split time with him if he can manage it. We think it can work for us. He's a guy who I think is in good enough condition. I know he's smart enough to understand what's going on on both sides of the ball with the experience he's had. We need him on special teams too. He's going to play offense, defense and special teams off and on for the rest of the year I would think."

Mitchell saw two reps on offense during Saturday's 56-20 win, catching a 49-yarder from Murray on his first play.

Murray named to Good Works team

Murray was named Georgia's 14th member of the AFCA Good Works team Tuesday afternoon.

The Bulldogs' 14 honorees lead the nation for Division I FBS schools are the most since the award's inception in 1992.

Previous Georgia members include Alec Millen (1992), Travis Jones (1993), Brian Smith (1995), Matt Stinchcomb (1997-1998), Brett Millican (2000), Jon Stinchcomb (2001), David Greene (2003), D.J. Shockley (2005), Quentin Moses (2006), Kelin Johnson (2007), Jeff Owens (2009) and Aron White (2011).