With Wednesday’s word that Kris Durham is headed for shoulder surgery – and won’t play again until 2010 – it was time to revisit the issue of who, aside from A.J. Green, will catch passes for Georgia this year.
For all the talk this spring of replacing Matthew Stafford at quarterback and Knowshon Moreno at tailback, there’s the large matter of replacing Mohamed Massaquoi’s 58 catches last season at wide receiver.
Durham might have been a significant part of the answer, although, granted, he caught only 13 balls last year. Mark Richt said Durham would have been “a big part of what we’re doing” and “at least in our top four” receivers, and his loss “definitely puts a hole in what we would have had.” Durham will have surgery on his torn labrum next month, take a redshirt season in 2009 and play in 2010 as a fifth-year senior.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo frets the loss of Durham’s experience and admits he’s concerned about finding the numbers he needs at receiver.
“We are a pro-I team that plays the fullback, [but] our next formation involves three receivers, a tight end and one back. So you’ve got to have some guys – at least six that can play,” Bobo said Wednesday night. “There’s what we started doing last year – some four-wide stuff. Depth is a concern for me, for us, at the receiver position.”
Green, the SEC’s leading receiver as a freshman last year, has vowed to be better this year. He’s a given. But what about the rest of the receivers? Here’s a quick rundown, with comments from Richt and Bobo after practice Wednesday:
– Michael Moore: The rising senior caught 29 passes for 451 yards last season, had the best game of his career in the Capital One Bowl and has followed up with an excellent spring. “Outstanding, in my opinion,” Richt said of Moore’s spring. “He has been a great leader, and he really knows what to do. And he is one of the best blockers.” Bobo said Moore “has been very consistent [this spring], like he was at the end of 2007 and all of last year.”
– Tavarres King: He missed most of last season with an ankle injury and has gotten mixed reviews this spring. King “has got a ways to go yet,” Richt said, “but he’s progressing.” Richt added that Durham is “really taking TK under his wing right now.” Bobo said King “has got to step it up and be more consistent. He has shown flashes but hasn’t been as consistent as we’d like.”
– Tony Wilson: He missed most of last season with a torn ankle ligament after playing in 12 games (two starts) in 2007. He has participated in spring practice and is steadily working his way back. “Lord willing, he will continue to get stronger,” Richt said. “I see less and less hobbling. Looks like he’s going to be back to normal. And if he does that, it will really help us because he’s a very, very physical football player and has got good hands and is smart.” Richt said Wilson is about 10 pounds heavier than he needs to be. Bobo said flatly: Wilson “is going to have to play for us.”
– Israel Troupe: He played sparingly (four catches) as a redshirt freshman last season. In a scrimmage last Saturday, he was part of the day’s biggest offensive play, a 64-yard TD pass from Aaron Murray. Neither Richt nor Bobo brought up his name yesterday. Will have to follow up about him.
– Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten: Both remain in high school – Brown in Memphis and Wooten in Belle Glades, Fla. – and will report to Athens this summer. “I fully expect when those two young guys come in, we’re going to have to get [them] ready to play,” Bobo said.
— Branden Smith and Orson Charles: Two more members of the 2009 recruiting class who will join the program this summer. Smith was signed principally as a cornerback and Charles as a tight end. But Richt said Wednesday both could chip in at wide receiver. “We could take a guy like Branden Smith and use his abilities,” Richt said. “He’s going to be a corner – we’re not moving him to receiver – but there might be ways we can use him.” And: “Orson Charles is absolutely qualified to play tight end or receiver,” Richt said. “So [the need at receiver] may diversify his role a little bit, although we thought about those two guys anyway as offensive weapons.”
Bottom line: “I think we’ve got a core group,” Bobo concluded, “but we need more consistency.”
So . . . what’s your take on the receivers?