By Ryan Black
For The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS — Justin Scott-Wesley knew he wasn’t ready when he arrived at Georgia.
Stepping foot on campus last year with plenty of speed but minimal football acumen, the wide receiver was happy to take a redshirt in 2011 and use the time to refine his skills. The Camilla native had a standout showing at the annual G-Day game last spring, hauling in three receptions for 46 yards.
That spring success has yet to translate this fall, however. Scott-Wesley has only one catch for 43 yards. He also hasn’t appeared in a game since Georgia’s 48-3 win over Vanderbilt on Sept 22.
But after Marlon Brown suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury last weekend, Scott-Wesley believes his time to shine is finally at hand.
“I would hope so,” he said following Monday’s practice. “I’m just going out and working like I’ve always been working. (Wide receivers) Coach (Tony) Ball tells us all the time, ‘You’re one play away from being a starter. You’re one play away from being on the field.’ It’s the same focus I’ve taken since Day 1.”
Even going into games when he knew he was unlikely to play, Scott-Wesley said he watched film and made sure he was prepared. If he had been asked to do the same last season, he admits he would have been in over his head. While he has track-star speed, he had none of the complementary techniques necessary for a Division I receiver. After a year of preparation, Scott-Wesley felt this fall held big things.
That’s been far from the case, though.
“To me, it’s just been a challenge,” he said. “Sometimes it gets frustrating when you feel like you can contribute, but that’s football. It’s a game of life and sometimes things don’t go your way. You just have to wait, pray to God to keep you grounded and just let things pan out.”
Fellow receiver Rantavious Wooten vouched for Scott-Wesley, giving the redshirt freshman a seal of approval. Wooten has seen him catch deep balls, take hits over the middle in practice and doing anything else asked of him, including blocking.
Now he just has to prove it on Saturdays.
“I feel like he can do everything,” Wooten said. “That’s what we practice for each and every day, so when stuff like this happens, somebody is ready. He doesn’t have a lot of experience, but his time is now.”
Receiver Taylor Bradberry finds himself in a similar situation. Rarely on the field this season, the fifth-year senior has bounced between the travel squad and the scout team while battling a nagging right thumb injury. He took part in his first game of the year last Saturday, but did not collect a catch.
Despite his lack of playing time, Bradberry said he would be ready if called upon.
“You’re put in certain situations at certain times,” he said. “When people rely on you, you just have to do your best and get the job done.”
As for Brown, Wooten said he is doing well considering the circumstances. Wooten said “you wouldn’t know” his roommate tore his ACL if it hadn’t been widely reported.
“He hasn’t changed anything,” Wooten said. “He’s the same Marlon. You would never know the difference.”
Malcolm Mitchell could only marvel at how well Brown has dealt with the news his career at Georgia was over.
“When I walked in his room and saw the smile on his face I was like, ‘He must not know something is wrong with him,’” Mitchell said.
Now, Mitchell said, Bulldogs’ receivers have to honor Brown with their play the remainder of the season.
“(Injured teammates) wouldn’t want us to go out there and not focus on what we need to do and mess up because we’ve got them on the back of our minds, thinking of them being hurt, missing them out there on the field,” Mitchell said. “You’ve got to play for them and with them in mind.”
Starting right guard Chris Burnette sat out Monday’s practice with a left shoulder injury suffered during the second quarter of Saturday’s Ole Miss game. A left shoulder injury also prevented outside linebacker Chase Vasser from taking part in practice. … Mitchell said the coaching staff hasn’t mentioned anything to him about returning to play defense. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said. “But I really don’t know.” … Quarterback Aaron Murray was named SEC co-offensive player of the week after his performance Saturday, when the junior completed 21 of 28 attempts for 384 yards and four touchdowns.