June 11, 2010

Position Breakdown: Wide Receiver

Does Georgia's receiving corps start and stop with A.J. Green?

Obviously, the native Summerville, S.C. is one of the most exciting playmakers in the SEC, and arguably one of the best in the country.

ESPN's Mel Kiper even projects the rising junior to be one of the top picks in the 2011 NFL Draft.

It's easy to see why.

Despite having yet to play a complete season with the Bulldogs, Green has still managed to post some astonishing numbers as he comes into the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette with 109 career catches for 1,772 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Not bad considering Green has been forced to deal with numerous double-teams and defenses which design their packages specifically to try and slow the First-Team All-SEC performer down.

How much does Green mean to the Bulldogs?

Last year, the 6-foot-4, 207-pounder grabbed 47 passes for 751 yards and six scores. Take away the numbers posted by the graduated Mike Moore (23 catches, 251 yards) and Georgia returning wideouts not named Green combined for 36 catches and 686 yards.

While not bad, the Bulldogs certainly wouldn't mind some other names assuming more significant roles, and as UGASports continues its summer position breakdown, we'll take a look at just who those players might be.

Two names jump immediately to mind.

Junior Tavarres King actually enjoyed a solid redshirt freshman campaign, averaging almost 21 yards per catch on 18 receptions (for 377 yards), although he only found the end zone once.

Still, King proved he has what it takes to be a nice compliment to Green and will go into fall practice as the starter at flanker.

Right behind him is another player the Bulldogs are glad to have return - senior Kris Durham.

Durham, who missed all of last year with a shoulder injury, is 100 percent and gives Georgia a veteran presence and someone who can play all three receiver positions.

He's also provides an experiences ear which younger teammates can bend if they have a question.

"If anybody's got a problem or a question, all they've got to do is ask because I've probably been there," Durham said. "Whatever I can do to help I will."

Rantavious Wooten will also play an expanded role. Wooten had his moments, catching 10 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns and is listed as the top backup at flanker behind Green.

Durham said the team is also expecting sophomore Marlon Brown to make a big step forward.

Brown struggled learning the plays and adjusting to the speed of the college game last year, but Durham said he believes those issues are in the past and the 6-foot-5, 219-pounder is ready to have the impact many predicted that he would.

"Marlon's a hard worker and he's done everything you can ask," Durham said. "He was highly touted coming out of high school and well-deserved. He's going to surprise a lot of people this year."

Other players to watch include junior Israel Troupe (four catches for 90 yards) and incoming freshman Michael Bennett, Georgia's other two scholarship receivers.

12 Tavarres King 6-1, 180, RSoph.
16 Kris Durham 6-5, 180, Sr.
15 Marlon Brown 6-5, 219, Soph.
25 Rhett McGowan 6-0, 182, So.
23 Greg Lanier 6-1, 185, RFr.
Split End
8. A.J. Green 6-4, 207, Jr.
17 Rantavious Wooten 5-10, 170 So.
80 Taylor Bradberry 6-3, 197 RSoph.
87 Brandon Harton 5-5, 170, Fr.

Will this be A.J. Green's last year in a Bulldog uniform?

On one hand, one has to believe that this could be Green's final year in the Red and Black.

The talented wideout is already projected as a top-10 pick and with another solid year, Green may feel like he's accomplished all he can on the collegiate level.

But there's one caveat.

With the NFL facing a possible strike next year, does the possibility of having to miss an entire season persuade Green to come back to Athens for his senior season?

For his part, Green gives the same stock answer that most in his position give in that he's not even thinking that far ahead.

So, we'll see.

Take away the NFL's labor issue and the feeling here though is if Green can stay healthy, "The League" will be hard to pass up.

What receivers will step up?

Look for King to assume that mantle. Although he won't admit it, King is a very proud athlete, who is determined to prove to coaches and fans that he's every bit as good as he was projected when he came out of Habersham Central two years ago.

After an ankle injury cost him his freshman year, King rebounded with an excellent year in 2009.

Despite having a first-year starter at quarterback, Look for King to better his numbers significantly and become a nice compliment to Green.

Will Marlon Brown live up to the hype?

Brown may never post A.J. Green-type numbers as some projected, but at 6-foot-5 and 219 pounds, how can the Memphis native not play a key role? The guess here is he will.

Brown's knowledge of the offense is night and day to where it was last season and with his sheer size, should become a nice third-down target for Murray and when the Bulldogs are in Red Zone territory.

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