The number one thing I heard from Georgia fans last year was “Jim Chaney is terrible!” “What are we doing on offense?!” But the second thing I heard the most from Georgia fans last year was “Where is Mecole Hardman Jr.?”
And it was a reasonable question.
He was a five-star prospect with speed, agility, and playmaking skills. So why did we only see him as a gunner on special teams and a handful of kickoff returns last year?
Kirby Smart reiterated over and over again that Hardman was playing cornerback for the first time as a freshman last season. In high school he was a quarterback/wide receiver/running back/whatever type of playmaker you want to call him.
And while part of me understands that you don’t want to take a freshman that has yet to learn his primary position on defense and give him more responsibility on offense. The other part of me watched Georgia’s receivers last year. Dawg fans watched drop-after-drop come from our wide receivers.
We saw a 5’8, 175-pound return-specialist who was the fifth or sixth option the previous season lead the Bulldogs in every receiving statistic in 2016. And that’s no knock on McKenzie. I-Mac had an amazing season last year, but that type of guy should be the x-factor in your offense, not the go-to guy.
We also saw Reggie Davis do absolutely nothing in the return game. Every time Davis brought a kick out of the end zone I think all of Bulldog Nation collectively cringed. He would run full-speed straight ahead and nearly get broken in half around the 20-yard line.
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Hardman Jr. was advertised as a playmaker. So let’s let him make some plays.
One of the few times he did touch the ball was after Kirby Choates’ targeting on the punt return late in the Missouri game. Hardman Jr. recovered it and took it 20-or-30 yards to the end zone. And while it might not have counted, boy did he look good with the ball in his hands.
I don’t care if it’s on offense or defense, but I do want to see a guy with Hardman Jr.’s skill set on the field, and I think we will in 2017.