ATHENS – It’s been the question ever since Justin Scott-Wesley was finally cleared to play. Where is he?
Why was one of Georgia’s fastest receivers, who made dynamic plays last season, hardly seeing the field, and had no pass catches? Where was he?
“I’ve been here,” Scott-Wesley said Saturday, smiling at the question. “I’ve been working hard. I’ve been doing what it takes to make myself the best receiver I could be. So anybody that wants to know where I’m at, I’m here.”
Everyone finally got to see that Saturday, as Scott-Wesley finally recorded his first catch of 2014 – and it was a touchdown. The junior hauled in a 19-yard pass from Hutson Mason in the first quarter of a 55-9 win over Charleston Southern.
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“It was good. It was a good feeling,” Scott-Wesley said. “Just to come out and show my coaches, my teammates and everybody else who was watching the game, that I can make plays when given the opportunity.”
Scott-Wesley tore his ACL in the fifth game of the 2013 season, after he had emerged as a deep-play threat in the absence of Malcolm Mitchell, who also tore his ACL. The two receivers were both cleared medically to return for the same game, Oct. 4 against Vanderbilt. But while Mitchell has resumed being a big part of the offense, Scott-Wesley spent most of the time on the sideline.
Asked whether he wondered why he wasn’t playing, Scott-Wesley deflected the question, saying it wasn’t his focus.
“I’ve been trusting my knee since camp,” Scott-Wesley said. “It’s just a process. You can trust it, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent. You can talk to guys around the league or around college who have had ACLs, and everybody’s different. So I can’t base my recovery on everybody else’s.”
Senior Jonathon Rumph has only caught a pass in two games this season, but both times he's been quite productive. Two weeks ago he had four catches for 81 yards at Kentucky, and after not catching any balls against Auburn, Rumph had a team-high five catches for 67 yards, and his first career touchdown at Georgia. That came on a 12-yard pass from backup quarterback Brice Ramsey in the third quarter.
Rumph has been slowed by hamstring problems the past two years, after transferring from junior college. Last year he was held to seven catches for 120 yards, but this season he has quickly zone from zero stats to eight catches for 148 yards.
"Jonathon's had really two fine games, and making plays. He's a big kid, and strong hands," head coach Mark Richt said of the 6-foot-5 Rumph. "He's helping us, and we've got some really big games coming down the road so hopefully he can continue to help us."
McGarity's nephew plays ... for the other team
Before Saturday's game, Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity roamed the sidelines. Then his nephew took the field for Charleston Southern.
Sean McGarity is a redshirt freshman and a backup center. Like his uncle, he grew up in Athens.
"It was incredible," Sean McGarity said. "It was something I've dreamed about since I was a kid. Just being back home in the energy of Sanford Stadium that I've experienced for however many times I've been here, it still came to life today. You get drills when you run out on that field for the first time. Your stomach kind of drops a little bit."
Sanders bruises leg
Freshman Dominick Sanders, the only defensive back to start every game this season, should be fine after leaving the game in the first half with a leg injury.
It didn’t look good at first, with Sanders having to be carried off the field, not putting weight on his left leg. But while he didn’t return to the game, Sanders stayed in uniform during the second half, still favoring the leg, but not needing ice or further treatment.
Head coach Mark Richt said there were “no issues" with X-rays on Sanders, indicating he's got a good chance of playing against Georgia Tech.
Freshman tailback Sony Michel carried the ball five times, all in the first half. He missed last week’s game with an ankle injury, after missing four games with a broken shoulder.
“I wouldn’t say Sony is 100 percent,” Richt said. “But he was definitely healthy enough to play.”
Good memories – for the losers
Georgia and other SEC schools receive some criticism for playing FCS teams, rather than stiffer competition. But neither side wants to change the arrangement.
The bigger schools benefit by getting an easier game, especially in between tough rivalry games. And the smaller schools get a big payday – Charleston Southern received $550,000 – and a unique memory.
“That’s something that a lot of people don’t realize when they’re talking about FBS and FCS teams playing each other,” Charleston Southern head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “There are a lot of kids who dream of playing college football at a place like Geogia. When a kid gets a chance to play at Sanford Stadium, regardless of whether they’re wearing the red and black, it’s a special feeling. I know for our guys it meant a lot because that’s what you dream about doing growing up.
“For our guys to be able to say that they got to tackle Nick Chubb or almost have a pick on someone, those are memories that they will take with them for a long time.”
Name that tune
Further evidence that Chris Conley can separate his off-field and on-field lives: When the Redcoat band played the "Star Wars" theme on Saturday, Conley didn't notice.
Conley's love for "Star Wars" is well-known, after he produced and directed a light-saber short film last summer. Surprisingly, Saturday appeared to be the first time the Georgia band honored him by playing the theme music after one of his catches.
"I actually didn't hear it, and somebody had to tell me," Conley said, smiling and shaking his head.