February 25, 2013

Depth at wide receiver

For the second year in a row, Georgia loses some key members of its receiving corps with the graduation of Tavarres King and Marlon Brown.

But fortunately for the Bulldogs, the position features some excellent depth, and with the addition of several talented newcomers, quarterback Aaron Murray will have no shortage of targets this fall.

As UGASports continues its position series previewing the start of spring practice which gets underway Saturday morning, we take a look at the wide receivers, which despite those afore mentioned losses appears be one of strength.

In junior Malcolm Mitchell, the Bulldogs have one of the league's more exciting play-makers who is primed to become Murray's go-to guy.

Getting Michael Bennett back will certainly be welcomed as well.

Bennett tore his ACL during practice prior to the South Carolina game last October. Although he won't be able to take part in any contact drills, Bennett is on track to be cleared by June and ready for the start of fall camp.

"He's doing very well. He's got a great attitude and Ron thinks he's making great progress," head coach Mark Richt said last month. "As far as spring ball, I don't know if he will be doing anything live and I don't remember if Ron (Courson) said there would be a possibility of him doing any route-running or catching balls out of a competition phase, but it may be a little early on that as well."

But even without Bennett, there's a large contingent of returnees and newcomers, which we'll take a look at below.

Returning lettermen

Malcolm Mitchell - Mitchell is the Bulldogs' leading returning receiver with 40 catches for 572 yards and four scores. Although some have suggested that Mitchell is better at cornerback, Richt made it clear back in January that wide receiver will be his home.

Michael Bennett - Before his injury, Bennett was on his way to a monster season with 24 catches for 345 yards and four scores. Look for him to pick up where he left off.

Chris Conley - It took a few games for Conley to become an integral part of the Bulldogs' passing game last fall, but once he did he became one of their biggest playmakers. Conley averaged 17.1 yards on 20 catches for 342 yards and his six touchdown catches were second on the team behind the nine posted by King.

Rantavious Wooten - Wooten caught 15 passes for 187 yards with two touchdowns and remains a valuable performer and one of the leaders for the receiving corps.

Rhett McGowan - McGowan isn't flashy, but if you throw the ball in his direction he'll hang onto the ball. Very dependable. Caught 12 passes for 150 yards and one touchdowns last year.

Justin Scott-Wesley - Scott-Wesley redshirted his freshman season to get acclimated to the college game and toward the end of last year began to show some positive signs. One of the team's fastest players, Scott-Wesley had six grabs for 135 yards and caught a 43-yard touchdown pass.

Redshirt Freshman

Blake Tibbs - Tibbs took the year off to put on some weight and learn the system. Known for his acrobatic catches during his prep career at MLK, Tibbs will a get a chance to show how much he learned this spring.

Early Enrollees

J.J. Green - Green is listed as an "athlete" on Georgia's roster because he can do a lot of things well. The former Camden County standout has the ability to play cornerback, but coaches are expected to initially look at him at wide receiver, as well as on special teams where he could prove to be a dangerous threat as a punt returner. Don't be shocked to see coaches design a couple of plays for him in the backfield as well.

Tramel Terry - Terry won't be cleared to practice until shortly before the start of the season, so this spring the former Goose Creek standout will be in a watch-only mode. But make no mistake, once he's healthy, Terry has a chance to become one of Georgia's most exciting players, not only as a wide receiver but in the backfield as well.

"I think history has shown that guys have been able to play, as early as six months sometimes but we just want to make sure he gets very healthy and if we do get him into a competition setting of learning what to do and trying to compete. We want him to be really healthy before we do that because we don't want any set-back," Richt said. "If we needed to redshirt, we could and it might make sense. But we're not going to say that. We want to see how well he rehabs, how fast he rehabs, and see what he's capable of when the time comes. It is a long season. He might not be ready Game 1, but he might be ready not long after that so we'll just have to wait and see."
Jonathan Rumph - At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Rumph brings a distinct physical resemblance to Marlon Brown. Rumph is ready to contribute right away, and will be one of the more interesting individual spring storylines after catching 45 passes for 59 yards and three touchdowns last fall.

Still to come

Uriah LeMay - The younger brother of Bulldog quarterback Christian LeMay, the four-star prospect is known as a tough receiver who can make catches in traffic.

Reggie Davis - Davis isn't very big (5-9, 159) but came up big his senior season at Tallahasee-Lincoln by grabbing 32 catches for 486 yards and four touchdowns.

Rico Johnson - Johnson burst on the scene over the summer at Dawg Night and was rewarded with a scholarship. Although raw by receiving standards, Johnson is a blazer and is the defending Class AA state champion in the 100 meter dash.