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The next step: Is Demetris Robertson ready to take it?

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Demetris Robertson expects having a year in Georgia's system will pay off this fall. (Radi Nabulsi)

There was an interesting question posted on UGASports as it pertained to one of Georgia’s more polarizing players: Can Demetris Robertson take the next step and become the kind of receiver the Bulldogs will need him to be next fall?

It’s a fair question.

Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman are leaving early for the NFL; Terry Godwin and Ahkil Crumpton are graduating. Therefore, with the exception of Jeremiah Holloman, the Bulldogs don’t have a ton of play-makers returning at the position.

Enter former five-star athlete Demetris Robertson.

By now you know the story.

After a long and winding courtship, Robertson initially signed with California, committing to the Bears during a ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame. He revealed his choice with a self-drawing of the Cal logo, eliciting a collective gasp from the assembled crowd and online jeers from jilted fans.

However, as we’ve seen with other recent examples, one never says never in college football. And after two seasons in Berkley, Robertson put himself back on the market and quickly chose to come back to Athens.

Expectations were high.

Robertson arrived on campus in mid-July, and got off to a quick start. After scoring on a 72-yard speed sweep in the opener against Austin Peay, it appeared the former Savannah Christian star was certainly going to be one watch.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Robertson did not catch a single pass for the Bulldogs before a concussion limited his play over the final third of the year. Hence the question, what’s next? Is Robertson still the player most projected he would be when every major program in the country was pining for his services three years ago?

Short answer, yes.

Teammates will tell you he’s the same player he was as a freshman at Cal when he caught 50 passes for 767 yards and seven touchdowns. However, at Georgia, it’s not just about how well you run your routes.

If you want consistent playing time under Kirby Smart, you’ve got to learn how to play physically, and how to block. He arrived at Georgia at the same time summer strength and conditioning drills were coming to an end. This also put Robertson behind, a fact he pointed out during a post-game conversation after the SEC Championship.

“For me, it’s really just been learning the offense. This is the third offense I’ve had to learn,” Robertson said. “Plus, I wasn’t here over the summer to get my chemistry and work out with the guys.”

Having a year under his belt, there's every reason to believe he'll be ready to make that large impact by the time the opener against Vanderbilt rolls around.

Suggestions that Robertson was somehow unhappy with last year’s status and considering a transfer were off-base.

“Really, my role coming in, me and Coach Smart talked about it. We talked about it long before I got accepted into school,” Robertson said. “We talked about what I was going to do, and that was to keep learning the offense and to work my butt off to get on special teams. Things like that.”

Nothing was promised, and that suited the former five-star performer just fine.

Ask anyone who actually knows him and they’ll tell you Robertson (who will be a junior eligibility-wise) is not the attention monger many pegged him to be. Neither did he ever consider leaving Georgia for the NFL, as some suggested of him.

Instead, Robertson took stock of his situation, realized the work he still needed to put in, and is approaching spring practice anxious to improve and become the impact player for the Bulldogs most predicted he would be.

“I feel like for me, it’s just needing to keep playing, get more into the offense, and work out more with the team,” he said. “It’s just all about me being prepared.”