Georgia photo by Tony Walsh / Georgia freshman receiver and former North Murray standout Ladd McConkey reaches for a reception during Monday's practice in Athens.

Georgia freshman receiver Ladd McConkey may not be an instant sensation at Georgia, but the former North Murray standout is winning over the person who matters most.

Bulldogs fifth-year coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday night that the 6-foot, 175-pounder has been impressive during his first preseason.

"He's fast, he's athletic, and he's got really good hands," Smart said on a Zoom call. "He comes to work every day. He's a guy who has worked some on our scout team. He competes. He blocks.

"He's a lot more physical than you would expect a guy his size to be, and he's gotten bigger since he got here."

McConkey was a versatile three-star prospect for the Mountaineers, leading them to an 11-2 record last year by racking up 3,051 all-purpose yards while playing quarterback, running back, receiver and return specialist. He had 1,771 passing yards and 20 touchdowns and also tallied 924 rushing yards and 10 scores.

As a defensive back, McConkey amassed four interceptions, returning three of them for touchdowns.

McConkey was a starting guard on the North Murray basketball team that went 20-5 earlier this year, and he ran the 100 meters in 10.85 seconds during the spring of 2019.

"I'm excited about him and his development," Smart said. "He works so hard each day, and he's got really good ball skills."


Wanting more pub

The Bulldogs led the nation in scoring defense last season and return most of the major components, but only defensive lineman Jordan Davis and safety Richard LeCounte were named last week as All-SEC first-team selections after a vote by the league's coaches.

"I didn't think we had a lot of preseason hype with our defense in terms of All-SEC guys," Smart said. "I would think that all the better defenses are somewhere else, because I don't think we had but two guys — Richard and Jordan. For us to have all these great players, they're certainly not getting recognized that way."

Georgia had four second-team defensive preseason picks with lineman Malik Herring, linebackers Monty Rice and Nakobe Dean, and cornerback Eric Stokes.


McKitty doubtful

Tre' McKitty, the graduate transfer tight end from Florida State, has not recovered fully after undergoing minor knee surgery earlier this month. The surgery occurred after Georgia conducted its second preseason scrimmage.

"He's doubtful for Saturday," Smart said. "He's up and running around well, but I don't think he's going to make it in time for Saturday."

Georgia's top tight ends at Arkansas likely will be redshirt sophomore John FitzPatrick and true fresman Darnell Washington.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.