Georgia post-spring primer: Receivers and tight ends

semerson@macon.comMay 4, 2014 

Our series looking at Georgia position-by-position continues with two spots that will add a lot of firepower that has been missing because of injury.

FLANKER
Starter:
Malcolm Mitchell, Jr.
Top backup(s): Justin Scottt-Wesley, Jr.; Reggie Davis, Soph.
Also in the room: Uriah LeMay, R-Fr.; Blake Tibbs, Soph.

SPLIT END
Starter(s):
Michael Bennett, Sr., and Chris Conley, Sr.
Top backup(s): Kenneth Towns, Soph.
Also in the room: Jonathon Rumph, Sr.; Michael Erdman, Sr.; Clay Johnson, Soph.
On the way: Isaiah McKenzie, Fr.; Shakenneth Williams, Fr.; Rico Johnson, Fr.; Gilbert Johnson, Fr.
The skinny: The distinction between the flanker and split end spots in many ways is irrelevant, especially with the more experienced players, who can play both spots. You should also consider Georgia to have three starting receivers, as it comes out in a three-receiver set most of the time. In reality, Georgia’s receivers are separated more by tiers:
- Mitchell, Bennett and Conley are the top tier.
- Scott-Wesley makes it four in the top tier when he’s healthy, which he and Mitchell are expected to be. But Scott-Wesley is also facing a one-game suspension.
- Reggie Davis is the next in line, and is the fifth and probably final receiver right now virtually guaranteed to be part of the rotation.
- Towns, Rumph and Erdman have played before, and are the most likely to earn the last spot or two in the rotation.
- Tibbs and LeMay should have been in that mix, but didn’t use the spring to make that big jump. Johnson did, and now the walk-on will be a factor this preseason.
- The freshmen will get a chance as well this summer. McKenzie, a small but dynamic speedster, and Rico Johnson, who is a year older after spending this past year in prep school, are the most likely to sneak in.
What happens next: All eyes will be on Mitchell and Scott-Wesley to gauge their progress back from injury. It’s expected they’ll be cleared to practice, at which point coaches will see if the injuries have affected them any. The hope is they’ll track with Bennett, who within nine months was back to normal after tearing his ACL in October of 2012. Presuming Mitchell and Scott-Wesley are good to go, that means very limited playing time is available, with a lot of players who need a strong preseason to make a jump.
Coachspeak: “Davis played sparingly last year but we’re gonna need him to step up. Bennett, Conley, Mitchell, and Justin was just kinda coming into his own. But those are really the four guys that have produced in games. So we need more than four.” – Mike Bobo.

TIGHT END
Starter:
Jay Rome, Jr.
Top backup(s): Jordan Davis, R-Fr.; Quayvon Hicks, Jr.
Also in the room: Jack Looman, Jr.; Jared Chapple, Soph.
On the way: Jeb Blazevich, Fr.; Hunter Atkinson, Fr.
The skinny: Rome didn’t practice this spring as he recovered from foot surgery, providing Davis some first-team work – until he also went down, with a sprained ankle. Both are expected to be ready for summer workouts, and with Hicks and the two freshmen joining the show, it will be a crowded field. Rome will finally get his shot at being the starter, and can be a star as a pass receiver. The question is how consistent he can be as a blocker. Davis has impressed coaches thus far in his year on campus, and they feel good about him as the top backup. Then there’s Hicks, who has moved into the new H-back role, a hybrid of tight end and fullback. He’s an intriguing option, but there’s still a lot to be worked out on how much he’ll be used. Blazevich was a four-star recruit and a good candidate to play eventually. But how soon? Atkinson, a surprise addition on signing day, is more of a blocker right now, but will have plenty of time to brush up on the receiving skills.
What happens next: Rome and Davis presumably get cleared to practice. Then it becomes a matter of defining Hicks’ role, and deciding how much if any the two freshmen will play.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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