Shane Beamer encountered a challenge on the recruiting trail.
While Georgia's offense made a considerable leap in rushing and scoring, the passing game didn't often target the tight end position. None of Georgia's four options at tight end caught 10 passes, with Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner snagging nine passes apiece. Jeb Blazevich and Jackson Harris each only caught two passes.
When Beamer was giving his pitch to prospective tight ends, he was often asked why the position group wasn't involved as much this season. But as for the tight ends on Georgia's roster, there were never any complaints about their role on offense.
"It was a challenge in recruiting because you have all these tight ends you're recruiting wondering why the tight ends aren't catching the ball," Beamer said. "But it was never an issue with those guys. It's like what Isaac told me. 'People can say what they want, but I came to Georgia to have an opportunity to win a national championship.'"
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Even with that concern, Georgia signed two quality tight ends this recruiting cycle in Luke Ford and John FitzPatrick. Ford is considered the nation's No. 2 tight end and FitzPatrick is ranked 16th at the position, according to the 247Sports.com composite.
With Nick Chubb (1,345 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Sony Michel (1,227 yards, 16 touchdowns) running the ball as well as they did this season, the tight ends' primary responsibility was to block for them. Beamer said whenever a recruit asked about the tight ends' role, he explained that this year's approach to the position fit what the offense was best at. It was different in 2016, with Nauta catching 29 passes for 361 yards.
While the tight ends weren't involved much as pass catchers in 2017, Beamer said that could certainly change next season. At the same time, Beamer says personal statistics shouldn't be a reason a recruit chooses Georgia.
"I tried to do a good job of making this clear to the tight ends we were recruiting: if you're coming to Georgia for stats and to catch 60 balls, you're probably coming for the wrong reasons," Beamer said. "The two that we signed, are they competitors and do they want to catch the ball? Absolutely. But they want to win, too, and they're good kids. I think they'll blend right in with that room we already have."
In total, Georgia's tight ends accounted for 245 of the team's 2,653 receiving yards through the program's 15 games in 2017.
But Beamer said there were never any ego issues among the tight ends due to how they were used in the passing game. With Georgia winning 13 games, the tight ends embraced the role that helped lead their team to victories.
"Just like with the receivers, we sell them on the blocking and how successful the run game is going to be because of their blocking," Beamer said. "We practice throwing them the ball. We work routes with them. For whatever reason, it hasn't happened statistically. It hasn't been as hard as you might think and it goes back to those kids in that room."