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Post Back to actual football…2007 wide receivers

Thursday July 26, 2007

It’s not necessarily a good feeling to look at the Georgia wide receiver depth chart and alternate between "he’s a senior now?" and "he’s still on the team?"

When we last left the receivers: It wasn’t exactly a banner year for Georgia wide receivers. Blame whatever you like – coaching, talent, new quarterbacks, or the granite bulldog – Georgia receivers had a grand total of four touchdowns last year. Four. Mohamed Massaquoi and Mario Raley had two apiece, and no other Georgia receiver found the end zone. You can point to a diverse offense that spread the scoring to tight ends and even fullbacks, but only Ole Miss and Mississippi State had fewer receiving touchdowns last year. The stigma of drops and a lack of big plays continued to haunt the position.

What’s happened since: The biggest news at the receiver position is the return of two upperclassmen from injury. Sean Bailey tore his knee after a two touchdown performance in the 2005 SEC Championship game and missed the entire 2006 season. Demiko Goodman was finally starting to turn it on late last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury at Kentucky. Senior T.J. Gartrell is also back after missing 2006 with a torn patella tendon. Gartrell has yet to find his place, but as a senior he could have a limited but productive role similar to Raley last year. Mikey Henderson stood out in spring – enough to rocket past most others on the depth chart and challenge for a starting spot.

What to look for in preseason practice: The Dawgs have a lot of upperclassmen receivers, and at times you want to make all of them and none of them a starter. The depth chart and rotation is very much up for grabs. Massaquoi is the most likely starter, but anything could happen after that. Will Bailey step back into a prominent role? Goodman was pushing the starters before his injury last season; will he pick back up at that level?

You also have the question of some veterans who are hanging around, occasionally making plays but never quite breaking through. We’ve touched on Gartrell. A.J. Bryant came into the program as the #1-rated "athlete" in the nation, but his success at receiver has been spotty and slowed by injuries. Kenneth Harris likewise has had his moments but has not been a consistent standout. You’d like for one of these upperclassmen, especially Bryant, to make a move forward before their eligibility runs out.

There are also a group of younger guys looking for playing time. Kris Durham made a name for himself with several clutch catches as a true freshman. Michael Moore also looked decent in his first season. Tony Wilson looks to join the fray this year after being named Most Improved Receiver in spring practice.

While the receiver class of 2008 is already building hype, we forget that Georgia signed two good receivers last February. Israel Troupe was probably the best receiver in the state and will play for Georgia despite being selected in the 2007 Major League Baseball draft. Walter Hill is a football/basketball star recruited for both sports. At 6’4", he’ll be a tall talent with great leaping ability. Last year Durham made an impact as a true freshman. Unless there is improvement from the upperclassmen, Troupe and/or Hill could likewise see time in 2007.

Concerns? Optimism? Challenges? With so many names listed above, you’d think that Georgia has more than enough depth to field a decent or even above-average receiving corps. So far, the production hasn’t matched the recruiting hype. Massaquoi began to shake off his sophomore slump in the Tech game, and that must continue. The opportunity is there for any receiver ready to step out of the shadows. The good news is that Georgia’s receivers have one of the best passers in the league under center. The stability at the quarterback position should help a great deal.

Since the departure of Gibson and Brown in 2004, the Georgia receiver position has been largely anonymous. Massaquoi emerged quickly as a fan favorite, but the praise hasn’t resonated far beyond Athens. With the window of opportunity in the Matthew Stafford era entering its prime, the receivers must step up to keep up.

One Response to 'Back to actual football…2007 wide receivers'

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  • I knew the receivers struggled last year, but FOUR TD’s?!? That blows my mind. Martrez got a lot of TD catches, but won’t be there to help out this year. We cannot depend on a new TE or Southerland to be our go-to receiver if we’re going to get to the next level. Our offense has to sustain some clock-killing drives in order to take the pressure off of the D. I don’t think we need to throw the ball 40+ yards every series to be successful, just catch the ball on the 10-20 yard routes consistently. If the receivers catch the easy ones, it will open up our ground game and make us a truly “unpredictable” offense.

    My money is on Durham, Harris, Henderson, and MoMass to be the workhorses (dawgs) that get it done this year. Along with Bailey and maybe a newcomer to make some key grabs on short-down situations. Regardless of who steps up, they are the key to us being a contender or pretender in November.