University of Georgia football’s Head Coach Kirby Smart along with junior QB Jake Fromm and OT Andrew Thomas as well as senior safety J.R. Reed took the podium Tuesday morning at SEC Media Days in Hoover, AL, but before the main event, UGA media got some “one-on-one” time. One of the big question marks for the Bulldawgs headed into this 2019 season is the wide receiver position with the departure of the team’s two leading pass catchers to the NFL, Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman, as well as the dismissal of Jeremiah Holloman .
Ridley was Georgia’s leading receiver last year with 44 catches for 570 yards and 9 touchdowns while Hardman was second on the team with 32 receptions for 532 yards and 7 TDs. Holloman was expected to be one of the Bulldawg’s top receivers this year coming off a consistent season that saw him haul in 24 passes for 418 yards and 5 scores, which was 4th best on the team, but he was dismissed in June. On top of that, UGA TE Isaac Nauta decided to forgo his senior season and declare for the draft. Nauta was UGA’s 3rd best receiver in 2018 with 30 receptions for 430 yards and 3 touchdowns. That means that the Dawg’s four leading receivers from 2018 are not going to be available for 2019.
Coach Smart addressed those concerns for Georgia at receiver in the pre-presser session.
“I don’t think it changes anything. I think one of the big question marks coming into this season was going to be receiver,” said Kirby Smart. “That’s just more glaring now because one of the guys with a lot of touches (Jeremiah Holloman) is now gone, but we were facing that issue anyway. A lot of touches leaving when it comes to catching the ball, not just necessarily running it, but I’m excited about the guys we’ve got. I certainly think those guys have worked really hard, and the more you guys write about, the more of a chip they get on their shoulder. The better they hopefully do.”
“Those guys” include senior wideout Tyler Simmons and fourth-year junior Demetris Robertson as well as junior Trey Blount and a graduate transfer from the University of Miami, 6-foot-5 and 220 lbs Lawrence Cager. Along with Simmons, Robertson, Blount, and Cager, there are three incoming freshmen that include 6-foot-1 and 195 lbs Dominick Blaylock, 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs George Pickens, and 6-foot-2 and 210 lbs Makiya Tongue who will join a group of talented but inexperienced Bulldawg receivers like redshirt sophomore Matt Landers as well as redshirt freshmen Tommy Bush and Kearis Jackson. Of those 10 scholarship wideouts, the UGA coaching staff will be leaning on guys like Simmons, Blount, and Robertson until the younger receivers and newcomers get their feet under them.
But Coach Smart didn’t pull any punches when discussing his receivers roll in the Bulldawg offense.
“The receivers have got to give us the ability to get some easy throws and catches,” said Kirby Smart. “We’ve got to be creative offensively to do that, and not make it real hard on Jake (Fromm) to get the ball out to those guys. We’ve got to give them some confidence. We’ve got to do that in Fall Camp.”
You can listen to Coach Smart talk about Georgia’s 2019 wide receiver situation by clicking the play button on the audio player below.