Georgia’s youth movement was on full display with the Black team in its 21-13 G-Day victory.
Not only with freshman quarterback Justin Fields, who was greeted with a roar of 82,184 fans at Sanford Stadium, but with who he was throwing to. Georgia had multiple second-year receivers show potential for playing time opportunities in the coming months.
The highlight from the sophomore receiver corps came from Matt Landers as he had a leaping catch over sophomore cornerback Eric Stokes in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. Landers, who finished with 28 yards, had his lone completions in that particular sequence.
“That’s what Matt does and we expect nothing less,” receiver Mecole Hardman said. “He’s a big guy with a big body. When the ball comes up, he’s going to get everything thrown his way. We have high expectations for him.”
Added junior wide receiver Riley Ridley: “I’ve really been on Matt to let him know that he’s capable of making plays. I’m really happy he was able to come out and get him a couple of grabs.”
Landers was one of four – including junior-college transfer Ahkil Crumpton – second-year receivers on scholarship to have a completion. Against the Bulldogs’ second-team defense, Crumpton led the way with 60 yards on five receptions. Sophomore J.J. Holloman was just behind with 59 yards.
Trey Blount, after playing significantly as a freshman in run-blocking situations only, bolted past senior Deandre Baker for a 45-yard completion from Stetson Bennett. It was the second-longest reception of the game, trailing a 57-yard touchdown grab from Ridley.
“Trey is really talented,” said sophomore offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, who was high-school teammates with Blount at Pace Academy. “He played a lot of special teams and that helped him. Today, he had a pretty good catch and he can stretch the field with being fast.”
Blount wasn’t the only second-year receiver who spent a majority of the time on special teams. In fact, all of them did. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said the exposure gave them significant confidence headed into the spring, and they’ve made strides as a result.
“Those wideouts gained confidence all spring and that was very typical of what happened in practice a lot of times,” Smart said. “They are hungry. They want to play. I thought the guys did a good job of being competitive and doing that and they are probably a little bit ahead.”
Georgia seemingly has its starting receivers set with Hardman, Ridley and Terry Godwin. But that doesn’t make those slotted behind them shy away. The Bulldogs are looking for production from Javon Wims to be replaced and each of these receivers will have the opportunity to fill a role.
There will be more additions to the competition when the regular enrollees enter the program in June. Most notably is freshman Tommy Bush, who provides a comparable size asset to Wims and Landers at 6-foot-6.
“I’m really excited for all of them, and they’ve had a wonderful spring,” Ridley said. “We hope they can keep bringing the energy into the fall. (As a junior), I have to remind these guys not to dwell and keep working ahead to what’s next.”