2020 Georgia Football Primer: Young and talented receiving corps led by George Pickens

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2020 Georgia Football Primer: Young and talented receiving corps led by George Pickens

One of Bulldog wide receiver George Pickens' 12 receptions in the Sugar Bowl versus Baylor | New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020
One of Bulldog wide receiver George Pickens’ 12 receptions in the Sugar Bowl versus Baylor | New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATE REGARDING UGA FOOTBALL’S SPRING PRACTICE:

Friday, March 13, 2020, 4:00 p.m. ET: The SEC announced that all organized team activities, including competitions, team, and individual practices, meetings, and other organized gatherings, will be suspended through April 15th. This includes spring football practices, scrimmages, and games.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET: The SEC has announced all regular-season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year This includes all spring football games and remaining SEC championship events, due to continuing developments related to the coronavirus.

One of the biggest question marks for the Georgia football team entering the 2019 Fall Camp last season was who would step up at receiver with the Bulldogs’ top-five pass catchers gone off the 2018 team. Would savvy veteran Miami Hurricane graduate transfer Lawrence Cager emerge or perhaps one of the talented true freshman signees from Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class?

The answer to that question ended up being both Cager and a true freshman, George Pickens. And what a season did Pickens have…

He led all Georgia receivers with 49 receptions for 727 yards and 8 touchdowns in 14 games. The cherry on top of one of the best seasons for a freshman receiver at UGA since A.J. Green’s 2008 campaign was a 12 catch, 175 yards, and one touchdown performance in the 26-14 Sugar Bowl victory over Baylor in New Orleans on New Year’s Day 2020. That Sugar Bowl earned him MVP honors and tied a school record for receptions in a single game.

And with the 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs Pickens looking to build off his last year’s work in 2020, it is the first time since 2013 that the Bulldogs will be able to field a returning leading receiver. The good news doesn’t stop there for Georgia either.

Including Pickens, Georgia returns it three of its top-five receivers from the 2019 squad this year, Dominick Blaylock and Demetris Robertson.

UGA wide receiver Dominick Blaylock (8) | Georgia vs. Auburn - First Quarter | Saturday, November 16, 2019
UGA wide receiver Dominick Blaylock (8) | Georgia vs. Auburn – First Quarter | Saturday, November 16, 2019

Blaylock, like Pickens, is a 2019 signee. The 6-foot-1 and 195 lbs sophomore is coming off a season-ending ACL knee injury he suffered in the Sugar Bowl loss versus LSU on Saturday, December 7, 2019. Before his injury, Blaylock had hauled in 18 catches for 310 yards and 5 touchdowns, which was fourth-best on the team. Reports are that Blaylock is on schedule to return for 2020 but whether or not he has recovered to the point that he will be able to compete and practice this spring, we will just have to wait and see.

UGA wide receiver Demetris Robertson (16) | Georgia vs. Texas A&M - Third Quarter | Saturday, November 23, 2019
UGA wide receiver Demetris Robertson (16) | Georgia vs. Texas A&M – Third Quarter | Saturday, November 23, 2019

Robertson has spent the last two seasons battling nagging injuries since he transferred to UGA from the California Golden Bears after the 2017 season. Entering his third season in red and black, the 6-foot-0 and 190 Robertson has played in 22 games for the Bulldogs, starting four in 2019. Last season he was Georgia’s third-leading receiver with 30 catches for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns.

In addition to Blaylock’s injury, the Dawgs had a number of other receivers who played through injuries or missed significant portions of the 2019 season due to an injury.

Tommy Bush missed most of the year recovering from a sports hernia. He didn’t see his first action until the last game of the season versus Georgia Tech and got a catch to put his name on the stat sheet. He also traveled with the team to the Sugar Bowl. The 6-foot-5 and 195 lbs redshirt sophomore out of Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas will be competing for significant playing time in 2020.

Kearis Jackson signed with the Bulldogs as part of UGA’s 2018 recruiting class out of Peach County High School, Fort Valley, GA, and after participating in 4 games as a true freshman and taking a redshirt, he was ready to have a breakout season in 2019. But a broken hand in the first game of the year versus Vanderbilt would sideline him for the first month of the football season. Even after he returned in October versus Tennessee, Jackson didn’t see the ball in his hands again till Missouri on November 9th. The stout and speedy 6-foot-0 and 200 lbs redshirt sophomore looks to get back on track in 2020.

For 2019, Trey Blount was entering his third season as a Bulldog after joining Georgia as a member of their 2017 signing class out of Pace Academy, Atlanta, GA. After appearing in UGA’s first four games, Blount did not see the field again. It was later learned he was dealing with an undisclosed injury. The 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs redshirt junior is looking to have a full and healthy season in 2020.

UGA wide receivers Matt Landers (5) and George Pickens (1) | Georgia vs. Georgia Tech - Third Quarter | Saturday, November 30, 2019
UGA wide receivers Matt Landers (5) and George Pickens (1) | Georgia vs. Georgia Tech – Third Quarter | Saturday, November 30, 2019

While Matt Landers didn’t battle any major injuries like some of his fellow teammates, he did have his struggles last year. There were expectations that Landers would be able to become one of quarterback Jake Fromm’s safety valves with the receiver’s 6-foot-5 and 200 lbs frame, and while there glimpses in spring practice and fall camp of something special, those expectations just never really came into fruition for the former St. Petersburg High School star.

Landers did have a solid outing in the Sugar Bowl Game, though, catching three passes for 25 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully, the redshirt junior can build off his success in the bowl game and put it all together in 2020.

Also returning in 2020 with the Bulldogs is 2019 signee Makiya Tongue. Last season as a freshman, the 6-foot-2 and 210 lbs Baton Rouge, LA native only saw action versus Murray State and Georgia Tech, taking a redshirt. He enters 2020 as a redshirt freshman and part of a talented young group of Georgia wideouts.

In addition to those returning from last year’s team, the Bulldogs added five wide receiver signees as part of their 2020 recruiting class, which includes Jermaine Burton, Ladd McConkey, Justin Robinson, Marcus Rosemy, and Arian Smith. Of those five, Robinson was the only early enrollee. The 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs four-star prospect out of Eagles Landing Christian Academy, Mcdonough, GA has a chance to make an early impact as a true freshman despite the depth in front of him.

And that is the theme of this 2020 Georgia wide receiving corps for the Bulldogs. A young but very talented group led by George Pickens. I think going into spring and the summer the wide receiver depth chart looks like this:

X – OUTSIDE RECEIVERS
1. Georgia Pickens
2. Tommy Bush
3. Trey Blount
4. Makiya Tongue

Z – OUTSIDE RECEIVERS
1. Demetris Robertson
2. Matt Landers
3. Makiya Tongue
4. Justin Robertson

Y – SLOT RECEIVERS
1. Kearis Jackson
2. Demetris Robertson
3. James Cook

Coming out of spring, of course, I expect that change. Keep your eye on true freshman Justin Robertson. He is going to push guys like Bush, Blount, D. Rob, Landers, and Tongue.

What about Dominick Blaylock? That all depends on how healthy Dom is, but I don’t see him going through a lot of contact in the spring just yet.

Up next, we take a look at tight ends on Saturday.

2020 Georgia Football Primer Series:

I. Quarterbacks: Bulldogs look for a new field general under center

II. New offensive line coach Matt Luke tasked with replacing three starters

III. The next chapter in “Running Back U”

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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!