That Javon Wims would be at Georgia in the midst of what has been a breakout year wasn’t a sure thing.
When Georgia fired Mark Richt at the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, Wims was a highly-rated junior college prospect. He had verbally committed to Richt and the Bulldogs less than a month before.
“I remember going to a recruiting battle against South Carolina,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “(Wims) was not a guy that was 100 percent committed. We had to battle to get him.”
Wims took official visits to Miami, South Carolina and Georgia — in that order — after Richt was fired. But Wims believed in the vision Smart had for Georgia’s program and Wims’ career.
“Come with us,” Wims said Smart told him.
Wims stuck with his commitment.
A little less than two years later, Wims leads the undefeated Bulldogs in receptions with 18 — one more than he had all of last year. He has gone from someone who had never been asked to block to one of Georgia’s best outside blockers, and he has been a reliable target for freshman quarterback Jake Fromm.
“I think my progression overall as a player, I think I’ve made a tremendous leap,” Wims said.
Wims’ first catch this year was a 25-yard reception that set Georgia up for its first touchdown of the season. His second was a jaw-dropping, leaping grab made over two defenders. As Wims returned to Earth, he spun and lunged across the goal line, equaling his touchdown total last year in the first game.
A handful of Wims’ catches this year, including both of his touchdowns, have been made on similar jump balls. A former basketball player, Wims approaches the play as if he’s boxing out a defender for a rebound.
“It's definitely a sight,” linebacker Juwan Taylor said. “You see him do it all day in practice. You see him do it in games. There's really nothing new. In the game it's just more exciting.
“He's a big, physical receiver so we expect him to go up and get the ball.”
Smart, in part, credits Wims’ basketball past for his affinity to come down with jump balls in tight coverage. Wims also has strong hands, Smart said, that help him pluck the ball out of the air.
For Wims, catching high passes that require him to jump “feel good” because they allow him to show off the ability contained in his 6-foot-4, 215-pound body. Then again, the easier catches feel good too. As Wims said, “a catch is a catch.”
“I think he's improved. I think he continues to improve,” Smart said. “He's definitely an asset for us.”