Georgia still hoping to cut into receiver deficit

Georgia still hoping to cut into receiver deficit

January 27th, 2016 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Receiver Blake Tibbs signed with Georgia in 2012 but transferred last May, adding to a deficit at that position entering Kirby Smart's first season as head coach.

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HITS AND MANY MISSES

Georgia hasn’t had the most successful four-year cycle in recruiting receivers:

2012
Blake Tibbs — The lone receiver signee in the class played sparingly before transferring last spring.

2013
Reggie Davis — Has 29 career catches and seven career starts entering his senior season.

Rico Johnson — Moved to cornerback before being medically disqualified with a spinal condition.

Uriah LeMay — Arrested in the stipend check-cashing incident before transferring.

Jonathon Rumph — Junior college transfer showed flashes when not affected by injuries.

2014
Gilbert Johnson — Failed to qualify academically and never played for the Bulldogs.

Isaiah McKenzie — Has just 17 catches in two seasons but has been spectacular on special teams.

Shakenneth Williams — Has four catches in two seasons, including one against an SEC foe.

2015
Michael Chigbu — Had four catches for 28 yards during his freshman season.

Terry Godwin — Versatile talent already is Georgia’s active career receptions leader with 35.

Jayson Stanley — Had two catches for 23 yards as a freshman, with both coming against Southern.

Shaquery Wilson — Had no catches before being suspended academically for the TaxSlayer Bowl.

The Georgia Bulldogs were so thin at receiver to start the 2015 football season that three signees from last winter — Terry Godwin, Michael Chigbu and Jayson Stanley — were on the two-deep depth chart out of necessity.

When Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was introduced as Georgia's new head coach in early December, he quickly admitted the Bulldogs "were lacking somewhat in perimeter guys who can make explosive plays." Georgia returns a mere 46 receiving yards from its 38-10 loss to the Crimson Tide in early October, when Godwin had three catches for 30 yards and Reggie Davis three for 16.

Yet despite their current deficit at receiver, the Bulldogs have just two receiver commitments with a week to go before national signing day.

"There are a variety of things that have factored into this," Southeastern Conference recruiting analyst J.C. Shurburtt said. "Given the tailback tradition they have — one of the glamour positions in all of college football is playing tailback at Georgia — you know they're going to run the ball every single year. It's in the DNA of their program, so it's hard to go out and get a bunch of receivers like a Texas A&M, which runs a futuristic, space-age offense and signs five or six per class.

"Georgia hasn't been able to do that, because players have been a little concerned about getting the ball at the receiver position."

One of the Bulldogs' receiver commitments, Riley Ridley (6-foot-2, 200) of Deerfield Beach, Fla., actually signed and enrolled this month. Ridley is the brother of Alabama's Calvin Ridley, who this past season broke Amari Cooper's freshman receiving record with the Crimson Tide.

Georgia's other receiver commitment is Javon Wims (6-4, 215) of Hinds (Miss.) Community College. The Bulldogs lost a receiver commitment this week when Randrecous Davis of Atlanta announced that Miami and South Carolina were his new finalists, and Tre Nixon, a touted receiver from Melbourne, Fla., committed to Ole Miss over Georgia.

"When you look at it, the state of Georgia hasn't put out a lot of great receivers," Shurburtt said, "and Georgia primarily recruits within the state. They've lost some guys who have gone elsewhere, but in general I don't know if there has been a big-time receiver in Georgia for a long time."

The Bulldogs landed a big receiver out of South Carolina in 2008, when A.J. Green left the Palmetto State. Godwin is from Hogansville, Ga., and was rated last winter as the nation's top athlete prospect, and he already is the top active receiver in career catches for the Bulldogs after netting 35 this past season.

Georgia soon could have more Peach State help on the way, with Demetris Robertson (6-0, 175) of Savannah rated the No. 1 receiver prospect nationally by 247Sports.com and Mecole Hardman (5-10, 170) of Elberton rated the No. 1 athlete recruit. Hardman has played more cornerback to this point but did see action at receiver earlier this month at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Landing those two would be welcome news for a program that never saw recent receiver signees Blake Tibbs (2012), Rico Johnson (2013), Uriah LeMay (2013) and Gilbert Johnson (2014) pan out due to academics, transfers or medical disqualifications. Shakenneth Williams (2014), Chigbu (2015), Stanley (2015) and Shaquery Wilson (2015) have yet to emerge for the Bulldogs, having combined for 10 career catches.

"They've also had some bad luck," Shurburtt said. "Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley would have been elite guys had they stayed healthy their entire careers. I think Terry Godwin is going to do some special things, so it hasn't been all bad, but there is definitely a receiver deficit at Georgia right now."

Eason honored

Georgia early enrollee Jacob Eason was recognized Tuesday as the winner of the ninth annual Maxwell Award, which is given to the nation's top high school player. The quarterback from Lake Stevens, Wash., threw for 3,585 yards with 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 2015.

Eason is the fourth consecutive SEC-bound player to win the award, following former Alabama tailback Derrick Henry (2012), former Florida quarterback Will Grier (2013) and current Georgia defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (2014).

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


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