August 7, 2012

Wooten not looking back

There's a smile on the face of junior receiver Rantavious Wooten that was rarely present a season ago.

That's what happens when you're finally healthy.

"For me, this is a new chapter, a new beginning, a chance to do what I love doing." Wooten said. "I'm healthy, I'm ready to play football and that's what I've been doing. Every day I'm going to perform to my best and at the end of the day I'm going to have no regrets."

Wooten had plenty last fall.

An automobile accident prior to Georgia's Week 4 game at Ole Miss left Wooten with a concussion that cost him the rest of the 2011 campaign.

The good news, since Wooten only played in the Bulldogs' first three contests he was able to take a redshirt, meaning he'll have two more seasons in Athens to get his college career back on a productive path.

At the time, however, the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder wasn't thinking about the future. His mind was on the present, and he didn't like how it felt.

"It sucked. It was not cool," Wooten said. "I thought I was feeling good, but bam, I couldn't pass a test and they (UGA trainers) wouldn't let me do anything - no workout, no anything so that was just frustrating."

Wooten thought his problems were over once spring practice rolled around. That is, before suffering a hip injury that slowed his progress once again and kept him out of April's G-Day game.

"In spring, I played a little bit, not as much as I wanted to because of my hip and it kind of slowed me down as far as going out and showing some things," Wooten said. "But now, I'm 100 percent healthy, nothing's wrong with me, so I'm just looking forward to going out and giving 100 percent."

Cornerback Devin Bowman has gone against Wooten in practice numerous times and likes what he sees.

"Wooten is looking real good," Bowman said. "Even though he had the little injury or whatever, he's put that behind him and working really hard."

So, what now?

With sophomore Malcolm Mitchell expected to line up primarily on defense, the opportunity will be there for Wooten to work his way into the mix as a compliment to senior Tavarres King, who paced the Bulldogs with 47 catches for 705 yards and eight touchdowns last fall.

Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Marlon Brown figure to be three other major targets, with Wooten hoping to break into some sort of rotation with redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley, along with veterans Taylor Bradberry and Rhett McGowan.

Freshman Blake Tibbs hopes to open some eyes of his own.

"We're deep. Pretty much any receiver can play, so whatever happens, happens," said Wooten, who has 19 career catches for 277 yards and four touchdowns. "If I can go out and play right away, or it takes me a while, whatever. We've got plenty of depth so everybody is going to have an opportunity."

According to Wooten, there's another reason for optimism.

"Since I've been here, that's probably one of the best summers I've had," he said. "As a team, everybody showed up, everybody worked hard and did what they are supposed to do."