Scott-Wesley’s football career back on track at Georgia

semerson@macon.comNovember 6, 2012 

ATHENS -- Justin Scott-Wesley showed up to interviews Monday night wearing a Georgia team sweatshirt. Except it was the track team. Not football.

It might not have been quite the best message for Scott-Wesley to send. He has been trying to convince everyone, but especially his coaches, that he’s more than just a fast guy. And this is the week he probably gets that chance.

“I had to show people I was a receiver,” Scott-Wesley said. “People didn’t really acknowledge my skills as a receiver much. So I just had to show people I’m a football player.”

If he’s not the fastest member of the football team, he’s in the top three or four. That was part of what attracted Georgia to Scott-Wesley when he was coming out of Mitchell-Baker in 2011. He was a three-time state champion in sprint events.

So it was no surprise last year that Scott-Wesley, while taking a redshirt year for football, joined the Georgia track team as a side project. Hence, that sweatshirt he was wearing Monday night.

But Scott-Wesley was there to talk about his football abilities and why he thinks they will, or at least should, finally be on display for the Bulldogs. The season-ending knee injury to Marlon Brown, coming a month after a similar injury to Michael Bennett, likely has moved Scott-Wesley into the rotation.

“Justin has a great opportunity,” head coach Mark Richt said.

Scott-Wesley has one catch this season: a 43-yarder against Florida Atlantic. Otherwise, he has been a non-factor.

That shouldn’t be considered much of a shot at Scott-Wesley. The Bulldogs have a deep group, and despite the injuries, they still can trot out talents such as Malcolm Mitchell, Tavarres King and Rantavious Wooten. That trio has combined for 65 catches, 1,063 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Sophomore Chris Conley and former walk-on Rhett McGowan are also due for more playing time.

“We have some great guys in front of me, and they’ve been here. They know the system. They’ve paid their dues,” Scott-Wesley said. “I just had to wait my turn. When guys go down, people have to step up, so I guess it’s my time to step up.”

He’s also up-front that he needed to redshirt last year.

“I wasn’t ready. I know I wasn’t ready,” he said. “Just coming in, getting acclimated with the system, learning everything, learning how to be a receiver.”

The main hurdle? Scott-Wesley said it was route-running, Learning the nuances of the game, getting leverage on defenders, getting in and out of the break on his route.

In other words, doing more than just sprinting downfield faster than the opponent and waiting for the ball to land in his lap.

“Up to this point I’ve really been trying to show the coaches I’m more than the deep threat. I’m more than the guy that can run in a straight line,” Scott-Wesley said. “Day in and day out, I just show people I’m more than just a fast guy. I can catch the ball, I can take a hit, I can give a hit, I can block.”

Tony Ball, who coaches Georgia’s receivers, has been telling Scott-Wesley and other backups that they’re one play away -- or injury -- away from being a starter. They’re one play away from being on the field.

That play came last week, and now Scott-Wesley gets his chance.

“I talked to Justin and told him it was time to step up,” King said. “He’s gotta be someone we can depend on. He’s up for the challenge. Losing a guy like Marlon is huge to this offense and our receiving corps. Justin has come a long way since fall camp -- he knows it’s his time.”

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service