The Georgia Bulldogs receiving corp came into 2011 with a lot of question marks after the departures of last season’s top two wideouts, A.J. Green and Kris Durham. After two games, there are no clear answers as to who will step up for the Dawgs this year.
Quarterback Aaron Murray put up decent numbers through the air against Boise State, but 109 of his 236 yards went to tight end Orson Charles.
True freshman Malcolm Mitchell led Georgia receivers against the Broncos with three catches for 64 yards and a score.
The balance of the Georgia receivers, including Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten and Marlon Brown, combined for only four catches for 28 yards against Boise State.
In Week 2 against South Carolina, Murray again put up good numbers, throwing for 248 yards and four touchdowns.
The Gamecock defense effectively took Orson Charles out of the passing game, so Murray was forced to spread the ball around. Murray completed passes to eight different players, including five wide receivers, three of whom scored touchdowns.
Malcolm Mitchell led Georgia in receivers again with five catches for 52 yards but failed to find the end zone against South Carolina.
Again, Murray did a great job of spreading the ball around, but sooner or later one of these receivers is going to have to step up and be Murray’s go to guy in the clutch.
Who that may be is still wide open, but here is a breakdown of five Georgia receivers (in no particular order) and a prediction of which one will step into the No. 1 role by season's end.
Weight: 192 lbs
Breakdown: Playing behind A.J. Green (though he was suspended four games) and Kris Durham, King still caught 27 passes for 504 yards in 2010. With his experience with the offense, King was expected to come in as Georgia’s No. 1 option at wide receiver. Things have not exactly panned out that way so far.
Against Boise State, King was an absolute non-factor with one catch for three yards.
King fared better against South Carolina with two catches for 40 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown reception. Better, but far from a No. 1 receiver at this point.
There is still a lot of season left and King should stay productive. But as of now, there are still questions whether he can be anything but a “productive” No. 2 or 3 receiver.
Weight: 184 lbs
Breakdown: Mitchell is just a true freshman and it is going to take some time for him to learn and become more comfortable with all the facets of a complicated Georgia offense. That being said, he has looked pretty comfortable in his first two collegiate games against some pretty stiff competition.
Mitchell has led all Bulldog wide receivers in catches and yardage in each of Georgia’s first two games.
Though slightly undersized for a wideout, Mitchell is an explosive receiver with game-changing speed. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is going to have to continue to get Mitchell the ball and let him make plays.
Breakdown: After being highly recruited out of high school, Marlon Brown enters his junior season in Athens having done very little in his first two years as a Bulldog. Brown put up only 148 yards on 13 catches combined in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Brown looks to be Georgia’s best weapon at wideout on paper. He has the height and weight to create mismatches in the secondary. He has good speed and is not afraid to go over the middle and take contact.
Although his first two seasons hardly lived up to expectations, the door is wide open, so to speak, for Brown to have a breakout 2011 season and live up to some of his recruiting hype.
Weight: 208 lbs
Class: Redshirt Freshman
Breakdown: Starting his first season on the field after redshirting last season, Michael Bennett has the potential to be a star receiver in the SEC.
Bennett had the advantage of being around and learning from A.J. Green and Kris Durham last season, both of whom have spoken highly of the redshirt freshman.
Bennett has good size at 6’3” and enough speed to be a deep threat. But what sets Bennett apart is his route running ability. Once he and Aaron Murray find a rhythm, look for Bennett to put up some big numbers this season.
Although Bennett had no catches in the season opener versus Boise State, against South Carolina, Bennett had three catches for 21 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown reception.
The future looks bright at UGA for Michael Bennett.
Weight: 185 pounds
Breakdown: Wooten is undersized for a wideout at only 5’10”. Low on the depth chart, Wooten did not get a ton of playing time in his first two seasons.
Although, Wooten probably will not get too many looks his way this season, he still can be an asset to this Georgia offense.
With Georgia looking for productivity out of the wide receiver position, look for Wooten to get a little more playing time this season, or at least until some of the other receivers start to perform more consistently.
Wooten did have a very nice 26-yard touchdown snag against South Carolina Saturday, his fourth career touchdown.
Orson Charles was not included in this discussion as he is a tight end, not a wide receiver. However, it is not difficult to imagine that Orson Charles could end up being the leading receiver for the Bulldogs this season.
Quarterback Aaron Murray and Orson Charles were teammates at Tampa’s Plant High School. Murray has been throwing to Charles since their junior year in high school and he looks plenty comfortable doing so.
Charles' speed and size create mismatches in opponent’s defenses, often leaving Charles alone with a linebacker he can out run or a safety that he has a huge size advantage over.
Look for senior backup tight end Aron White to have a nice season catching passes as well.
It is a long season with a lot of young talented players along the Georgia Bulldog’s sideline just waiting for a chance to prove themselves.
Tavarres King had productive years as a No. 3 behind Green and Durham and looked to be in line to step into the primary receiver, but his play on the field has not shown it yet.
Marlon Brown has the build to be a star receiver but failed to live up to his recruiting hype the past two seasons. He has not shown anything yet this season to set himself apart, but there is a lot of football left to be played.
I believe Michael Bennett is going to continue to improve each week and will gain increasing confidence as the season wears on. Murray and Bennett will find a rhythm together, hopefully sooner than later, and Bennett will end up being Georgia’s most productive wide receiver in 2011 and beyond.