As of this writing, we don’t know for certain whether Tony Ball will be coaching Georgia’s receivers this season. Ball interviewed at LSU on Wednesday, but the school is also reportedly interviewing Maryland receivers coach Keenan McCardell, and has others coming in as well. So it’s a fairly fluid situation.
But with signing day come and gone we at least have a decent gauge on who will be playing receiver for Georgia this season. And by decent, we mean that Georgia has a history of shifting defensive backs and receivers to and fro, so keep that in mind.
More potential confusion: It’s been Georgia’s practice in past years to list receivers according to flanker and split end, then the last couple years it went to a three-receiver depth chart, listing them as X, Y and Z. Since the team has a new offensive coordinator – who won’t change much, but could change this part of the terminology – but more just for the sake of simplicity, this is we’re going to do:
A three-receiver depth chart, but just list them at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 receivers. And contrary to the usual format, every player will be listed first, then we go into the depth chart analysis.
There are also the tight ends, who are easier to categorize, especially since we’ll hold off on doing an H-back depth chart.
So, here you go:
Returning players: Malcolm Mitchell (r-Sr.); Justin Scott-Wesley (r-Sr.); Reggie Davis (soph.); Isaiah McKenzie (soph.); Kenneth Towns (r-Jr., walk-on); Shakenneth Williams (soph.); Blake Tibbs (r-Jr.); Clay Johnson (r-Jr., walk-on); Charlie Hegedus (r-Jr.); Ben Souther (Sr., walk-on).
Early enrollees: None.
On the way: Terry Godwin, Jayson Stanley, Michael Chigbu, Shaquery Wilson (could also play defensive back).
No. 1 RECEIVER
Early favorite: Mitchell.
Top backups: Davis, McKenzie.
The skinny: Mitchell electing to return for his fifth year was the best thing that happened to Georgia’s offense this offseason. There are still major questions around the receivers, given the departures of two steady and occasionally spectacular players in Chris Conley and Michael Bennett. So Mitchell’s presence means there’s at least one dynamic playmaker you can count on.
McKenzie is also a playmaker, but it was on special teams as a freshman, with the exception of a 36-yard catch. Otherwise he only had five catches for 31 yards. His height limits him a bit, but if he can pick up the offense a bit better he has the chance to take a pass and do some things with it in space.
Davis is another speedster, but his sophomore season (six catches for 63 yards) was a downgrade from his debut season (11 catches for 257 yards and a touchdown.)
No. 2 RECEIVER
Early favorite: Scott-Wesley.
Top backups: Towns, Williams.
The skinny: The drop-off from Mitchell to everyone else, at least in what they’ve proven at the college level, is evident here. But Scott-Wesley has shown that he’s capable of erasing the gap. Last season was essentially a lost one for him, as he was delayed by recovery from injury and suspension, only getting three catches (one of them a TD) in six games. He was on the verge of emerging in 2013 before the ACL injury. By reputation, Scott-Wesley is easily the No. 2 receiver. But in reality he’s going to have a lot of competition this spring and in August.
Towns and Williams are two guys who will be in the conversation. Towns may have come to campus as a walk-on, but he’s basically been a scholarship guy, and now holds the distinction of being the biggest receiver on the team. Williams, who has good size as well, only had three catches as a freshman, making you wonder if he’d have better been served redshirting. But the Macon native has a lot of similarities to Bennett and the potential to have that kind of career.
No. 3 RECEIVER
Early favorite: Godwin.
Top backups: Tibbs, Stanley, Chigbu, Wilson.
The skinny: Yeah, we just grouped all the freshmen in this spot, but that’s just because they’re all going to get a chance to play, and while a couple will probably end up being redshirted, that remains to be sorted out who it will be. The best bet is Godwin seeing a lot of early action. Five-stars don’t redshirt. Godwin also offers a unique skill-set – speed and dynamic playmaking – that would play well off of a lineup where you have a couple other bigger receivers out there.
But not that much bigger: That’s something that’s missing for Georgia now with Chris Conley, Michael Bennett and Jonathon Rumph gone from the scene. And it’s why I think Williams (a bulky 6-foot-1) and Towns (a legit 6-3) will see the field a lot. It could also lead to walk-ons Hegedus (6-2) and Johnson (6-1) getting a hard look.
Returning players: Jeb Blazevich (Soph.); Jay Rome (r-Sr.); Jordan Davis (r-Soph.); Joseph Ledbetter (r-Jr.); Quayvon Hicks (Sr., also a fullback.)
Early enrollees: Jackson Harris (Fr.)
On the way: None.
Early favorite: Blazevich.
The skinny: It was a fantastic freshman season for Blazevich, who stands to benefit again if Brice Ramsey wins the starting job. The two had a good rapport in practice and in Ramsey’s limited playing time.
But don’t forget about Rome, who was limited the toe injury last season more than he let on. Given the questions at receiver, you could see the Bulldogs finding every way to get Blazevich and Rome on the field, perhaps even together.
Davis has the look of a good tight end, but hasn’t been able to get on the field much so far. Ledbetter, who was given a scholarship six months before his younger brother Jonathan enrolled at UGA, is still very raw, a former basketball player learning the position. Hicks could still see some time at tight end, but he seems to be needed more at fullback.
Harris probably has a bright future. But unless there are injuries this could be a redshirt season. Then again, there was some thought about that for Blazevich last year, and look how that turned out.
Next up: Offensive line.