Continuing our look at the Georgia football position battles, we look at an area that needs to see improvement in 2017. Wide Receiver.
Georgia football added an interesting player last year in Wims who played a little more than some expected in 2016. Production wise, he was inconsistent last year, only totaling 190 yards all season. He did however, show some potential against Kentucky where he had 5 catches for 90 yards and scored his first touchdown for Georgia against TCU.
With only 13 catches in his first 2 years at UGA, Chigbu is yet to become a regular competitor for a job at UGA. He was however, the top blocking WR for UGA last year which helped him get on the field.
A 5 star athlete from the 2015 class, Godwin has yet to fully live up to his potential at UGA. A promising freshman season led to a disappointing sophomore campaign with no touchdowns. He was forced into the role of an outside receiver due to Isaiah McKenzie’s production last year. Standing at only 5-11, that’s not an ideal role for him.
Ridley only had 12 catches last year, but with an average of 19.8 yards per catch, you could see the big play potential. He battled injuries for much of the season and was clearly very raw, but the tools are there and he should take a big jump in his 2nd year.
Holloman is already on campus and will likely be the first freshman receiver to see the field. At 6-2, he has the size that Kirby looks for as well as the athleticism and speed to leave corners behind.
Another big and physical player, Blount famously told Dawgnation’s Jeff Sentell “you can’t get the rock if you don’t block” during his senior season in high school. While he might seem a long way down the chart, he shouldn’t be counted out.
By far the tallest player on this list at 6-5, Landers is also probably he rawest. His height means that he has the potential to be a real weapon, particularly in the red zone, but it’s unlikely we see him much in 2017. A likely candidate for a redshirt.
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Who ends up starting out wide?
In 2016, one of the biggest weaknesses on the Georgia football team, was it’s outside receivers. Godwin and McKenzie were both technically listed as starters but both played better on the slot. Chigbu and the senior Reggie Davis would often start outside but neither of them were able to make an impact.
2017 should be very different, with Riley Ridley hopefully fit enough to hold down one of the outside positions. The brother of Alabama superstar Calvin Ridley was explosive last year and showed the potential to be UGA’s #1 receiver on the outside. Injuries were his biggest concern however and it will be important for Georgia’s passing game for him to stay healthy in 2017.
On the other side, Javon Wims brings the most experience to the position and so will likely hold the position coming out of spring practices. But don’t count out some of the freshmen coming in, particularly Holloman who is already on Campus. Mark Webb and Trey Blount both offer a physical style of play that will earn them reps as the season goes on. It is very possible that the teams #2 receiver will be different when the season ends.
Who plays in the slot?
With McKenzie gone it looks likely that Godwin will have the opportunity to make the slot his home. He has fantastic quickness and athleticism and it really is the position he should make the biggest impact in going forward. 2017 will be the year for Godwin to show whether the hype he received as a 5 star player was truly deserved. Owning the slot receiver position with so many talented challengers and producing results will be a clear sign that he’s living up to that potential.
Most of the freshmen should also see occasional snaps in the slot, especially the likes of Webb and Blount. Their willingness to block as well as their size would give Georgia an additional opportunity to confuse and punish defenses from that position.
Ultimately though, Godwin’s biggest competition in that position might come from 2 players that aren’t even on this list. Mecole Hardman and D’Andre Swift are both explosive athletes at different positions. There is a chance that both will move into that position from time to time to take advantage of their skills. Hardman in particular will be intriguing as he has basically the same build as Godwin, but possesses truly rare explosiveness.
2017 Projected Depth Chart:
- Riley Ridley, So 1. Terry Godwin, Jr
- Javon Wims, Sr 2. Mark Webb, Fr
- JJ Holloman, Fr 3. Mecole Hardman, So
- Michael Chigbu, Jr
- Trey Blount, Fr
- Matt Landers, Fr (redshirt)
After a season where the receiver position looked pretty weak in 2016, it’s exciting to see so much talent coming in for next season. While it’s always tough for Freshmen to come in and play right away, the strength of this class and the weakness in the position makes that more likely. It will be really exciting to see how this position group changes over the year and there is a lot of uncertainty as to who exactly will play where. What isn’t uncertain is the amount of talent that’s now available to the team’s Quarterbacks going forward. There are some truly explosive athletes among this group which should make for some exciting games in 2017.