May 16, 2012

Bulldog breakdown: WR



With summer workouts just a couple of weeks from getting underway, it's time to take a post-spring look at each position for the Georgia football team, as the Bulldogs continue their preparations for the 2012 campaign.

Georgia returns eight lettermen that caught passes from quarterback Aaron Murray last fall, although one, sophomore Malcolm Mitchell, will also see considerable time at cornerback.

Do the Bulldogs have enough quality numbers to make up for Mitchell's switch (at least part time) to the defensive side?

Inside, UGASports examines that, plus breaks down who is expected to make up the bulk of Georgia's receiving corps for the 2012 campaign.

Tavarres King (Sr., 6-1, 192): Does it seem to anybody else that King has been around for 10 years? To him, it probably does. No, but the rising senior is entering his fifth year in the Bulldog program and coming off a career year which saw him catch 47 balls for 705 yards and eight touchdowns, appears primed to do even better this fall.

King was one of what turned out to be just a few bright spots from the Outback Bowl against Michigan State when he set a school record for receiving yards with 205 yards.

Like Brown, King enjoyed an outstanding spring, but he's looking to improve even more.

Currently, King is among those working extensively with new speed/running coach Sherman Armstrong to perfect what is an already well-rounded game.

Marlon Brown (Sr., 6-5, 222): In the eyes of some, Brown's Bulldog career has been one of unfulfilled expectations. After posting some eye-popping numbers his senior season at Harding Academy (1,785 all-purpose yards, 19 touchdowns), Brown's game has taken some time translating to the collegiate level.

Yes, there have been some positive signs. His effort against Vanderbilt which saw him catch four passes for 121 yards and a touchdown was an example of what Brown can do, although as the season progressed, it seemed that 6-foot-5, 222-pounder became somewhat of an afterthought in Georgia's passing game. Still, Brown caught 15 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns last fall and with Mitchell expected to see most of his time at cornerback, the Bulldogs will need to figure out how to make the Memphis native more of a presence.

There were some positive signs this spring.

According to position coach Tony Ball, Brown had the best spring of any Bulldog receiver, despite some nicks and bruises which at times limited his play. Brown may never become the big downfield target that many projected when he first signed, but with his big body, improved route running and knowledge of the system, he should become one of quarterback Aaron Murray's more dependable targets this fall.

Michael Bennett (RSo., 6-3, 208): Bennett keeps proving many of the so-called experts wrong. Even in high school, many doubted whether or not the former Alpharetta star would ever land a scholarship from a big-time program before Georgia offered him on the spot after his performance at one of Mark Richt's summer camps.

Many still wondered whether or not he'd ever contribute until he burst on the scene last fall, catching 32 passes for 320 yards and five touchdowns.

Now, as an excellent route runner with a penchant for making the tough catch, Bennett is in line for even greater success this fall as an integral part of Georgia's passing attack.

• Malcom Mitchell (So., 6-1, 184): Right now, the biggest question is how much offense will Mitchell actually play?

Heading into summer workouts, that answer is not quite clear.

Mitchell worked almost exclusively at cornerback this spring before tweaking his hamstring, forcing him to miss G-Day.

As a freshman, Mitchell caught 45 passes for 665 yards and four touchdowns despite playing in just 11 games. Although the Valdosta native may not approach those numbers, depending on how many snaps he sees on defense, look for Mitchell to still play a significant role, especially when the Bulldogs need a big play.

Chris Conley (So., 6-3, 205): Conley needs to get healthy after missing all of the spring following wrist surgery, but all indications are that he will.

That's good news for Georgia, considering Conley burst on the scene midway through the season, catching 16 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns.

A very smart route runner, Conley showed the ability to be a deep-threat presence for the Bulldogs after catching a 47-yard touchdown pass against New Mexico State.

Justin Scott-Wesley (RFr., 5-11, 215): If Brown was the top receiver for Georgia this spring, Scott-Wesley was probably No. 2. Coaches and teammates raved how the former Class A 100-meter improved his ability to run routes, was more precise getting off the ball and playing with a different level of confidence than he did in practice as a true freshman.

There's still plenty of work to be done, however.

Scott-Wesley - who qualified for the finals in the 100 meter dash at SECs with a time of 10.39 - will have to show come August that he's recalled all the lessons he learned in the spring, but if he has, the former Mitchell County standout could blossom into a true deep threat.

Rantavious Wooten (Jr., 5-10, 185): Wooten's biggest obstacle appears to be his health. After missing all of last season with a concussion that he suffered in an automobile accident, Wooten was slowed for most of the spring with a hamstring injury.

Reports are that Wooten still possess the speed he had when he first arrived in Athens three years ago, but still has work his way up the depth chart in order to get the playing time that he hopes he'll be able to see this fall.

As long as he stays healthy, that shouldn't be a problem. But he has to show that he can.

Rhett McGowan (Jr., 6-0, 190): Before last year, McGowan's claim to fame probably had to do with the fact that he hailed from the same hometown (Calhoun) as former Bulldog Kris Durham and current Tennessee wideout Darrick Rodgers.

Last year, McGowan showed he's got a little game, too.

In seven games, the former walk-on caught seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown and gives Georgia some additional depth.

Taylor Bradberry (Sr., 6-3, 192): Another former walk-on, Bradberry actually appeared in all 14 games for Georgia last fall, catching one pass for 13 yards.

The former Winder-Barrow standout will see limited action again this fall.

Blake Tibbs (Fr., 6-2, 185): Tibbs was a big-time playmaker at Martin Luther King High, catching 63 passes for 1,065 yards and 15 touchdowns his senior season.

A three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Tibbs will have the opportunity to show what he can do once he arrives on campus, although a redshirt season could be on his horizon.