Georgia's Sony Michel shining as a receiver

Georgia's Sony Michel shining as a receiver

September 15th, 2015 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia sophomore tailback Sony Michel leads the team in receiving yards through opening victories over Louisiana-Monroe and Vanderbilt.

Photo by John Kelley Jr.

That sophomore tailback Nick Chubb is Georgia's leading rusher through two games comes as no surprise.

That Chubb's backup leads the team in receiving is.

Fellow sophomore Sony Michel has 109 yards and a touchdown on four receptions for the No. 7 Bulldogs, who host South Carolina this Saturday night. Michel also has been effective as a rusher, collecting 97 yards and a score on 18 carries.

SEC players of the week

* OFFENSE: LSU running back Leonard Fournette, who rushed 28 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns in the win at Mississippi State.
* DEFENSE: Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers, who had 16 tackles and intercepted two passes in the 27-20 win at Arkansas State.
* SPECIAL TEAMS: Georgia's Isaiah McKenzie, who returned a first-quarter punt 77 yards for a touchdown in the 31-14 victory at Vanderbilt.
* FRESHMAN: Kentucky defensive back Chris Westry, who had a second-quarter sack and a key fourth-quarter interception at South Carolina.
* OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: LSU center Ethan Pocic, who played 60 of 61 snaps in the 21-19 win at Mississippi State and graded at 92 percent.
* DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Georgia outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins lined up on the line at Vanderbilt and made 11 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.

"Whatever the coaches need me for, I'll go out there and execute it," Michel said moments after the 31-14 win at Vanderbilt this past Saturday. "Whether my role is running back, wide receiver or special teams, it doesn't matter. Whatever they want me to play, I'll play it."

Michel, a 5-foot-11, 212-pounder from Plantation, Fla., not only enjoys his role catching passes but apparently boasts about it.

"He gives me grief every day about who has more yards as a receiver," said sophomore receiver and former American Heritage High teammate Isaiah McKenzie.

Michel has Georgia's longest reception of the season, a 48-yard pass from Greyson Lambert in the second quarter of the opener against the Louisiana-Monroe to get the Bulldogs out from the shadow of their goal post. He was lined up as a receiver before his big gain.

In Nashville, Michel again lined up as a receiver on multiple plays.

"We did a little bit of that last year, but not a lot," coach Mark Richt said. "We've done it a little bit more this year. He's a gifted receiver, and he's a good kick-return man. He's one of our better special-teams players, so overall he's one of the better players we have. We just need to use all of his gifts."

Said Michel: "Every time we go on the field, we expect to have explosive plays. That's our mindset, and when I'm lined up at receiver, I want to make every opportunity a great opportunity every time I touch the ball."

Michel was a five-star prospect according to Rivals.com and Scout.com after rushing for 1,833 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season at American Heritage. He started being recruited by the Bulldogs in eighth grade, according to Richt.

McKenzie received a last-minute scholarship offer in Georgia's 2014 class, with Richt crediting Michel for helping land the Rivals and ESPN.com four-star recruit.

"We knew Isaiah was a dynamic return man and hopefully a guy you could use offensively as well," Richt said. "He has proven that he is more than a guy who can run a reverse or a bubble screen. I think he's a legitimate receiver who we'll use as such.

"With Sony, we were thinking running back. We knew he had some skills as far as throwing him the ball out of the backfield, but we didn't sit there and start inventing things for him as a receiver."

That thought process has changed, and Michel may not be alone in that regard.

"We practice with me at receiver a lot, and there is even more versatility to this team that hasn't been revealed yet," Michel said. "I know I'm telling a secret, but Chubb can line up at receiver, too. All the tailbacks in our room can line up and play any position."

Odds and ends

Georgia's home game next week against Southern will have a noon kickoff on the SEC Network. The Bulldogs practiced Monday for an hour in shorts. Left tackle John Theus and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins have been named captains for a third straight game.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.