March 15, 2013

Five questions: Receivers

1) Who will compensate for the loss of productivity with the departure of Tavarres King and Marlon Brown?

For most teams, replacing two receivers who combined for 69 catches, 1,419 yards and 13 touchdowns would be a topic of major concern. That's not quite the case with the Bulldogs.

Now that Malcolm Mitchell (40 catches for 572 yards, four touchdowns) is a full-time wide receiver, look for the Valdosta native to post numbers similar to King a season ago. Mitchell has proven himself to be a big-time playmaker having averaged 43 catches his two years with the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs also have Michael Bennett in the fold.

Bennett was on his way to a 50-plus catch campaign before he tore his ACL prior to the Week 6 game at South Carolina, but will be 100 percent for the start of fall drills. The junior had 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns, including an 8-catch performance against Missouri before the injury occurred.

2) Will Chris Conley take that next step?

All signs still point to Chris Conley being able to do just that, and if the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska is any indication, the former North Paulding High standout led Georgia in receiving against the Cornhuskers with 136 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including a bowl-record 87 yarder.

It's obvious Conley has the tools, and with King and Brown gone, will never have a better opportunity than he will this fall.

For the year, Conley caught 20 passes for 342 yards and six touchdowns and in his first two seasons has averaged 17.5 yards per catch.

3) Who else will emerge at wide receiver?

Another player to perhaps watch is redshirt sophomore Justin Scott-Wesley who caught three passes for 67 yards against Nebraska, and after getting down to 205 pounds, is back to the weight he was at his junior year in high school when he set the state record in the 100-meter dash.

If you're looking for someone else among the veterans, there's always Rantavious Wooten and Rhett McGowan.

Wooten was finally healthy last year after missing most of his sophomore year with a concussion. He responded by catching a career-best 15 balls for 187 yards and two touchdowns, but still hasn't quite had the impact that was predicted for him when he first signed with the Bulldogs.

McGowan, meanwhile, is a former walk-on who has shown the ability to make some tough catches and last year caught 12 passes for 150 yards and a score. Redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs is also available and trying to make an impression this spring.

4) Who will emerge from the incoming class?

The early edge has to go to junior college transfer Jonathon Rumph.

Georgia signed four receivers in its most recent class, but Rumph gets the edge 1), for his physical maturity, plus 2), for the fact he is an early enrollee and is taking part in spring practice gives him the early edge.

At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Rumph has the potential of being a very valuable red zone target for Aaron Murray, as he is coming off a sophomore season at Holmes CC (Miss.) which saw him catch 45 passes for 569 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Of the other three freshmen, Uriah LeMay is probably further ahead, although Reggie Davis, despite just being listed at 160 pounds, can fly, and stood out last summer at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge.

5) Will the tight ends be even more of a receiving threat than a season ago?

No question about it.

When Arthur Lynch first arrived in Athens, did anyone expect him to average 18 yards per catch? The guess here is not many, but that was exactly what the Massachusetts native was able to accomplish on his 24 catches for 431 yards last year.

Look for even better numbers come fall.

Ditto for Jay Rome.

Rome finished the season strong, catching touchdown passes in the regular season finale against Georgia Tech and in the SEC Championship against Alabama. Georgia coaches even put Rome in the slot from time to time, and he responded by showing the ability to do a decent job stretching the field.

The Bulldogs also have sophomore Ty Flournoy-Smith who should also see a few opportunities, while Jordan Davis is an incoming freshmen who will be trying to learn the ropes.