The corps of receivers the Bulldogs have this season is extremely deep, with veteran leaders like Mohamed Massaquoi, developing juniors like Kris Durham and talented freshmen like A.J. Green giving Georgia nearly a dozen different options at wideout.
“This receiving corps is blocking, they’re making the plays they need to make, they’re a more mature group with a higher rate of production,” head coach Mark Richt said.
The best aspect of this season’s wide receivers, cornerback Asher Allen said, is that they all compliment each other. Tall receivers who can jump, speedy pass catchers in the slot, knowledgeable seniors who read defenses quickly – Georgia has it all.
“We have a quick one, we have the longer guys who are able to go up and jump, and then we have receivers who have great hands and are able to catch it,” Allen said.
Which receiver excels at each skill, however, is a matter for debate. So in a completely non-scientific poll, 10 Bulldogs were asked for their thoughts on the Georgia wide receivers, and the responses showed just how much depth the group has.
The fastest: Tavarres King. In most other years, King would be the talk of camp as a speedy true freshman in line for playing time. This year, however, he’s sharing the bulk of the spotlight with Green, his fellow freshman. King doesn’t mind taking a backseat, but he’s also happy to tout his own skills. “We have a lot of fast guys,” King said. Demiko (Goodman) is a track star, A.J. can get out of the blocks real good, Mo (Massaquoi) can move when he’s not feeling like an old man, but I have to go with myself.” Goodman earned plenty of support from voters, too. The senior was a track and basketball star in high school. “He’s a guy that can change the game whenever he’s got the ball in his hands,” Massaquoi said of Goodman, “because he’s able to pull away from people.”
Most athletic: A.J. Green. Green has it all. At 6-foot-4, he has the size to get up and steal a ball away from a defensive back. He has sprinter speed, he’s able to move, and he can go back and get a football better than anyone else on the team. “Every time the ball is in the air, you just say, ‘Oh, man, there he goes. He’s going to get it,’ ” Tony Wilson said. Against Central Michigan, Green ran an out route where he had to jump up and steal the ball away from a defender. The play caught Richt’s eye. “Not many guys can make that catch,” Richt said. “He just has a gift to really extend himself and snatch the ball.” Safety CJ Byrd put it succinctly: “He’s the total package.”
Most physical: Tony Wilson. This one wasn’t close – every player included Wilson in their response. “He’s the most physical receiver we have,” Kenneth Harris said. “He loves contact.” Wilson isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver, but he makes sure defensive backs take notice when he’s on the field. It’s a model Wilson said he tries to set for the rest of the receivers on the team, and it shows up on the field. “If you ask our DBs,” King said, “they’ll tell you we’re different. We get after it more than anybody else in the SEC.”
Best route runner: Kenneth Harris, Mohamed Massaquoi (tie). Not surprisingly, this honor goes to the veterans. Harris and Massquoi, both seniors, have learned the ins and outs of route running through years of practice. “These guys come in, they’re very athletic, and they use that, but as you get older, you learn how to run the routes so much better,” cornerback Prince Miller said. The surprise response, however, was that King, the true freshman, was included on a few ballots. “He’s amazing at running routes, being patient through the routes,” Wilson said of King. “Right now, I’d say Kenny Harris, but if you ask me about this a year or two down the road, it’d be TK.” Of course, not all routes are the same, as Kris Durham said, and the varying skills of Georgia’s receivers show up on each route they run. “Kenneth on a little curl route runs amazingly,” Durham said. “(Israel) Troupe has a great takeoff, Mike (Moore) runs a good slant, Tavarres has great moves off the line. It just depends on what route it is.”
Best blocker: Tony Wilson. Not surprisingly, the most physical receiver is also the one who likes to mix it up downfield the most. Wilson works hard to make sure he doesn’t fit the typical wide receiver mold. “You watch film of a lot of other teams, and when they’re running the ball, their receivers are just chillin, not getting their hands on anybody,” quarterback Joe Cox said. That, however, is not Wilson’s game. “You can go watch as much film as you want to,” Harris said. “Tony’s a physical blocker, and everybody knows that.”
Best hands: Kris Durham. At 6-foot-5, Durham would seem more like a big, physical receiver than a finesse pass catcher, but he’d like to think he’s a little of both. In fact, he said nothing haunts him more than a dropped pass. “In the game last week, I dropped one going across the middle, and that’s the only thing that stuck in my head,” Durham said. While Massaquoi and Green earned some votes for this award, too, Allen said there was no question who Georgia’s most reliable pass catcher was. “Kris catches colds,” Allen said. “He catches everything. He’d catch a fly in the air.”
Most knowledgeable: Mohamed Massaquoi and Tony Wilson (tie). A four-year starter, it’s not surprising that Massaquoi knows the wide receiver position inside and out. “Mohamed has great knowledge, studies the game real well,” Durham said. Massaquoi took Green under his wing this fall and has been a big part of the freshman’s quick development into an offensive force. Wilson, on the other hand, has only started two games in his career, but Harris said Wilson is as much a coach as he is a receiver. “We know a lot about the receiving corps, but Tony knows a lot more about defenses,” Harris said. When Green and King arrived on campus, Wilson asked coaches to make a video of coverages, which he then gave to the two freshman to help them get a jump start on beating defenders. “Football is just like school, trying to get a degree,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to study.”
Most underrated: Michael Moore. This award may not stay on Moore’s mantle for long. In Georgia’s first two games, Moore has caught seven passes for 112 yards, including a career high five receptions last week against Central Michigan. “People are going to start seeing flashes of how good Mike could be,” Durham said. “He runs great routes, catches the ball really well, and he’s probably one of our best once he’s got the ball in his hands making people miss.” While Moore’s popularity may skyrocket this season, he still manages to spend most of his time in the shadows of the other receivers. In fact, when King was asked who his choice was for the most underrated, he had to be reminded of Moore. “I forgot about Mike,” King laughed. “He even slipped my mind.”
Best trash talker: Tony Wilson. This was the only unanimous selection of any category. Sure, Wilson has a reputation as a physical, smart, hard-working receiver. But what he’s really known for is his mouth. “He just talks,” Allen said. “He talks during a route. He’ll talk trash to you while he’s running. He’ll just keep going.” It’s not even so much trash talk, King said. Wilson just talks for the sake of talking – and sometimes the things that come out of his mouth make virtually no sense. “He was pointing at a linebacker, and he said, ‘I got Fruity Pebbles’ or something like that,” King said. “Just random.” Massaquoi and Durham chalk it up to Wilson’s upbringing in Daytona, Fla. “That Florida swagger, I guess,” Massaquoi said. The important thing, however, is that Wilson does a good job of backing up his tough talk. “He usually has some good points in there,” Durham said.