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 hes 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 didnt really acknowledge my skills as a receiver much. So I just had to show people Im a football player.
If hes not the fastest member of the football team, hes 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 shouldnt 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 theyve been here. They know the system. Theyve 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 its my time to step up.
Hes also up-front that he needed to redshirt last year.
I wasnt ready. I know I wasnt 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 Ive really been trying to show the coaches Im more than the deep threat. Im more than the guy that can run in a straight line, Scott-Wesley said. Day in and day out, I just show people Im 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 Georgias receivers, has been telling Scott-Wesley and other backups that theyre one play away -- or injury -- away from being a starter. Theyre 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. Hes gotta be someone we can depend on. Hes 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 its his time.