Mr. November is back.
After being virtually invisible for the first half of the college football season, Georgia sophomore receiver Chris Conley has awoken. With an increased role due to the season-ending injuries to Michael Bennett and Marlon Brown, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder has eight catches for 108 yards and three touchdowns the past two weeks for the nation's No. 3 team.
Conley's second season is mirroring his freshman year.
"I feel like this year and last year we had some injuries, and that it has presented an opportunity for me," he said. "It's unfortunate what happens, but you need to be ready in every situation. I'm just blessed to have the opportunity."
Conley had four catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 45-14 win over Georgia Southern, which was his most productive outing of the season. In the first six games combined, he had four catches for 46 yards.
The dreaded sophomore slump had been developing for Conley, who totaled 16 receptions for 288 yards and two touchdowns last season, including a five-catch, 126-yard game against New Mexico State.
"You have those moments where you really want to build on what you did your freshman year," he said. "It was a great lesson for me in patience and humility and being ready for when my time did come. My coaches kept me focused and my family supported me, but it was rough at first."
Conley was on track to redshirt last season until nagging injuries to Brown, Malcolm Mitchell and Rantavious Wooten led coaches to readjust his path. He made his first catch in the fifth game against Mississippi State and by the eighth game, a 24-20 win over Florida, was noticeably contributing with three catches for 38 yards.
"Obviously he finished strong last season," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "We took him out of his redshirt, and he came in and made some big plays for us. This year, guys stayed healthier at receiver, and he never could get significant playing time. He got a little, but the kid stays humble, works extremely hard and is extremely tough.
"He's one of my favorite players on this football team with how he goes about his business every week."
Conley had 14 of his 16 catches last year during the second half of the season, while this year it's been 11 of 15. Of his 31 career catches, 17 have come in November.
"It makes it more rewarding," Conley said. "We all put in tons of work, and it's just so rewarding to have a big game when we win. I'm with these guys every day, and to see them grind and to see them succeed is important to me."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs began preparations Monday for Georgia Tech with a 60-minute practice in helmets and shorts, but head coach Mark Richt said the Bulldogs may be in full pads the rest of the week. ... Junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones is a finalist for the Bednarik Award along with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. ... Junior guard Chris Burnette hopes to play Saturday after missing the last two games with a bruised shoulder.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...