Spring Practice Countdown: Wide Receivers

Each year spring practice is the best indication of the depth, starters, and players at each position on the team. Even with Georgia's personnel losses due to graduation and the NFL, the Bulldogs are strong at many positions, but wide receiver is one spot that has many concerned. It is a critical position this spring.

2004 Starters: Reggie Brown (28 games started, 144 receptions, 2,008 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Fred Gibson (34 games started, 161 receptions, 2,884 yards, 20 touchdowns).

If there is one position where the drop off from 2004 to 2005 is obvious it's at receiver. Returning Bulldog wide receivers have accounted for only six starts, 56 receptions, 800 yards, and three touchdowns in their combined careers. Gibson nearly accounted for all of that his freshman season (Gibson's 2001 stats: 3 games started, 33 receptions, 772 yards, 3 touchdowns)

Sean Bailey (2 games started, 20 receptions, 290 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Bryan McClendon (2 games started, 21 receptions, 301 yards, 0 touchdowns) have started only two games in their careers. They are the most experienced returning receivers. They both also stand the best chance of lining up as a starter in 2005. McClendon has tremendous skill, but has been living in Brown and Gibson's shadow for a long time. Players going into their senior season tend to step their game up – expect that from him starting in the spring. Bailey, now a junior, will be depended on now more than ever.

A.J. Bryant (0 games started, 3 receptions, 58 yards, 0 touchdowns), having been a receiver for only one season, is likely to be the most improved player this spring. He's fast, big, and his hands are improving. Bryant is still learning the nuances of the position, but strides will likely been seen this March.

T.J. Gartrell (0 games started, 1 reception, 21 yards, 0 touchdowns) didn't get a lot of playing time in 2004, but considering the depth at receiver as well as his age that is understandable. Gartrell will backup Bailey at flanker and will be used in four-receiver sets. He's one of many young Bulldog receivers that appear to be a year or so off from having an impact on the program.

Other young receivers Demiko Goodman, Kenneth Harris, and redshirt junior Mario Raley (1 game started, 11 receptions, 130 yards, 0 touchdowns) will also be able to compete for serious playing time in 2005. Goodman is still a project, but his speed is evident even if his overall skills as a receiver are not; those are still developing. Harris could be a break-out receiver for the Dawgs in 2005. He has the body for it, and looks a lot like former receiver Michael Johnson. Raley might be pushed to start producing more by the fact that a former high school teammate, Mohamed Massaquoi will be challenging for playing time soon, too.

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