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).
Gone are Georgia receiving fixtures Brown and Gibson. They are replaced by a band of virtual no-name receivers. This is the one spot where Bulldog players must step up and boost production, not only to help quarterback D.J. Shockley, but to take some pressure off the Dawgs’ running game.
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, but both will likely be the starters in 2005. Bailey was highly touted coming out of high school, but has yet to fulfill his potential – probably because of lack of playing time. McClendon has been poised for a break out season for the last two years, but he too has been buried behind the production of Gibson and Brown. McClendon had a great spring, but said it meant nothing until he performed in the fall.
A.J. Bryant (0 games started, 3 receptions, 58 yards, 0 touchdowns) is still learning the nuances of the position, but has the body and the speed to be one of the dominant receivers in the SEC. If it all “clicks” with Bryant, he could be a very dangerous weapon for the Bulldogs. He is, however, still learning how to play the position.
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 back up 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 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 receiver, and looks a lot like former receiver Michael Johnson. Raley might be pushed to start contributing more by the fact that a former high school teammate, Mohamed Massaquoi will be challenging for playing time this fall.
Massaquoi is big, fast and appears to be ready to play right away. He probably won’t start this season, but he won’t redshirt. Massaquoi and Michael Moore have been all the rage for Bulldog fans online to talk about, but until pads are on it’s hard to know exactly what a freshman brings to the table. However, both pass the eye test – if that matters.
Final Take: Receiver is the one spot on offense where the Dawgs need a player to step up. Shockley needs targets to throw the ball to and, to this point, none of the Dawgs’ current receivers have yet proven they can do that during the fall. McClendon, Bailey and Bryant seem on the verge of being very productive. The younger receivers are talented, but totally unproven. The good thing about Georgia’s receiver situation is that there are plenty of players to choose from this fall.