As junior wide receiver Terry Godwin snatched a pass out of the air during Georgia’s practice Thursday, an observer proclaimed he is in store for a productive season.
Lately, head coach Kirby Smart has given people reason to believe this. Although Smart said earlier this week that no single wide receiver has stepped up above the others, he consistently has praised Godwin, a player he openly criticized at times last season. But Godwin doesn’t listen to the praise.
“It’s just something a coach says about you,” Godwin said. “It’s just like a good job and a tap on the butt.”
Considering his 5-foot-11 height, the easy projection to make on Godwin, who didn’t catch a touchdown last season, was that he would step into the slot position vacated by Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia’s leading receiver last season.
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Recently, Godwin has gotten significant time on the outside of the offensive formation.
“He can play inside, he does great with it, but he has become more valuable to us outside,” Smart said. “Value in terms of vertical threat and just catching the ball. He’s very consistent when he does, and he made a couple of plays (at practice), and you start seeing him become the guy that you expect him to become.”
Since he arrived at Georgia as a five-star rated athlete, Godwin typically has lined up on the inside of the formation. Lining up in the slot gives a receiver more open space to work, Godwin said, but he doesn’t have a preference.
With Godwin playing more on the outside — although not exclusively — that leaves a few others competing for the slot position. Two of those players are Mecole Hardman and Ahkil Crumpton, who draws the most direction comparison to McKenzie based on body size.
“(Crumpton is) like Isaiah McKenzie in a way,” defensive lineman John Atkins said. “They are really the same person in a way to me. He’s a human joystick also.”
When asked on Wednesday how many wide receivers could see playing time in the Bulldogs’ season-opener, Smart said Crumpton has recently displayed he “catches everything that’s thrown to him.”
Smart then mentioned Hardman, a sophomore who played defense last season.
“(Hardman) has done a tremendous job rotating over to the offense from the defense,” Godwin said. “Seeing him pick up the playbook, go out there and make the plays he’s been making, it’s awesome seeing a guy be able to transform like that and be that playmaker we need on the inside.
“Whenever the ball is up, he’s going to go get it. When you see that burst of speed, I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time. He has something special.”
The combination of Godwin, Crumpton and Hardman gives Georgia options at the slot position. Although Smart said Godwin stood out following Georgia’s first scrimmage, the Bulldogs’ head coach has since changed his tune, and a week from Georgia’s first game, Smart doesn’t see a clear No. 1 receiver — on the inside or the outside.
“You always want to have a great guy, but at the same time, the more competitive it is, the better,” Smart said. “Nobody has really stuck out head and shoulders above [the rest]. I thought first scrimmage Terry did, but the second scrimmage a lot more of those guys were neck and neck.”