Wide receivers: No A.J. Green, but plenty of options
We’re about one month away from the start of preseason football practices in Athens, so it’s time to start taking a closer look at Georgia’s 2011 football team. This is the second in a series of articles in which I’ll be breaking down each of the Bulldogs’ position groups to give you an idea who are the projected starters and what the expectations might be for this season. Then, as always, we’ll throw it open for your commentary and analysis. There are only 63 days until Georgia’s season opener against Boise State. Let’s get busy. . . .
Tavarres King hauls in one of his three TD catches last year in a game against Mississippi State. Georgia hopes to see more of this in 2011(AP photo)
- Projected starters: SE Marlon Brown (Jr., 6-5, 222), FL Tavarres King (Jr., 6-1, 192), FL Rantavious Wooten (Jr., 5-10, 185)
- Others to watch: Israel Troupe, Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Malcolm Mitchell will likely get a chance to show their wares early as Georgia operates in a six-receiver rotation.
- Key losses: They don’t get any more significant than A.J. Green, who was snapped up by the Cincinnati Bengals with the fourth pick of the NFL draft after his junior season and left as arguably the Bulldogs’ best receiver of all time. Green and fellow NFL draftee Kris Durham were the Bulldogs’ top two pass catchers last season with 89 between them.
- Key fact: A fairly experienced group returns. King, Brown, Wooten and Troupe have played in 103 games between them, so knowing what to do and how to do it should not be a issue. King proved to be a solid secondary option opposite Green, hauling in 47 catches the last two seasons at a hefty 20 yards per catch. Brown, a former five-star prospect and No. 1 player in Tennessee, is poised for a breakout season. He had 11 catches and his first TD in 2010 and the Bulldogs named him Most Improved Receiver.
- Key question: Are multiple good options better than one great option? With Green on the field, quarterback Aaron Murray understandably had a tendency to throw the ball his way despite what coverages might have dictated. With no clear dominant force at wideout, Murray will likely need to be more reliant on his ability to read the defense and find the open man.
- Recent developments: Expect young players to have an impact as the Bulldogs search for a big-play threat during preseason camp. Conley, an AJC Super 11 selection out of North Paulding High School, enrolled early and impressed in spring practice. And the late recruiting victory for Mitchell, who had more than 1,400 yards receiving as a senior at Valdosta, could be a real X factor. He’ll be given every opportunity to prove himself and earn playing time.
- Outlook: Fair to good. Losing a mega-talent such as Green would seem to indicate an overall downgrade. But the Bulldogs have several players who have been toiling in his shadow and are eager to prove their worth. With a first-rate group of tight ends already in the fold, Georgia needs only two or three reliable targets out of this group to be effective and it says here it will have that and then some.
- Your turn: What do you think about Georgia’s wide receiver corps?
PREVIOUS POSITION BREAKDOWNS:
July 1 — Offensive line