Georgia didn’t turn to the passing game with regularity last season. With what should once again be a powerful offensive line and rushing attack, it may not have to this coming year either.
But when Georgia did throw the ball this past season, a slew of talented pass-catchers made plays.
The Bulldogs will certainly miss receiver Javon Wims, who is off to the NFL following his two years in Athens. Wims came to Georgia as a junior college prospect in 2016 and ended as quarterback Jake Fromm’s go-to target. Wims finished the 2017 season with 45 catches for 720 yards and seven touchdowns.
He saw a lot of back-shoulder throws from Fromm and was Georgia’s top jump-ball candidate. He made quite a few toe-tap grabs on the sideline — a couple of times in the end zone — and proved to be a reliable wideout. His 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame will be missed.
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Georgia, however, returns everyone else at the position. While Wims was great for the Bulldogs, his departure will allow for someone to prove he can fill the void left behind.
They left: Wims
They return: Terry Godwin (Sr.), Mecole Hardman (Jr.), Riley Ridley (Jr.), Jayson Stanley (Sr.), Tyler Simmons (Jr.), Ahkil Crumpton (Sr.), Michael Chigbu (Sr.), J.J. Holloman (Soph.), Trey Blount (Soph.), Matt Landers (R-Fr.)
Enrolled early: Kearis Jackson
On the way: Tommy Bush
What to watch: Wims was essentially Georgia's No. 1A receiver, with Godwin serving as No. 1B. Godwin had just seven fewer receptions than Wims and went for 639 yards and six touchdowns. Electing to come back for his senior season, Godwin is set to be Georgia’s top option in the passing game. Given his receiving skills — evidenced by a stunning one-handed grab against Notre Dame — he will have every chance to be the focal point of Georgia’s aerial attack.
The Bulldogs will have plenty of other options to turn to as well. Hardman, who underwent an adjustment period after playing his freshman season at cornerback, grew into a reliable target as the 2017 campaign went on. In the College Football Playoff National Championship, Hardman caught a deep ball that he took the entire way for an 80-yard score. He will have every opportunity to show off his big-play ability as a junior.
Ridley also showed off his potential in the national title game by catching six passes for 82 yards. As for a receiver who could slide into Wims’ role, Holloman may be a candidate to do so. Holloman, at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, passes every test when it comes to athletic attributes. He figures to get a good look as one of Georgia’s X receivers, or the split ends.
Another receiver to watch will be Jackson, a Peach County product who recently was filmed squatting 405 pounds five times. That kind of lower body strength stands out, considering Jackson is 6-foot and 200 pounds.
The Bulldogs will also have a couple of tall receivers to integrate into the offense. Landers is 6-foot-5 and redshirted as a true freshman. Bush, who pledged with UGA on National Signing Day, is also 6-foot-5. That kind of height could aid Georgia’s offense on the perimeter.
Outlook: While it won’t be easy to replace Wims, Georgia has plenty of quality receivers to turn to. With Fromm entering his sophomore season, the passing game should open up a little more. Then again, these receivers all proved to be valuable blockers in a run game that was rarely slowed down last season. Therefore, whichever role they’re asked to do, the receivers should be a strength of Georgia’s offense in 2018.