Isaiah McKenzie is making a play for a spot on an NFL roster. That means Georgia is on the lookout for a player who can develop into its next offensive weapon.
At the very least, they’d like a player who will offer versatility on the field.
A late play for Jamyest Williams (who was felt to be a prime candidate for that role) failed. However, with a gap to fill, Kirby Smart has hinted at the possibility of developing a player who can provide the sort of dynamism that came so naturally for McKenzie.
Let’s explore a few potential options.
Godwin showed a lot of his skill set in his freshman year, but he wasn’t as much of a factor last season as some predicted.
It’s possible his new offensive coordinator was unsure how to use him (he certainly dropped the ball on Sony Michel and Nick Chubb), or perhaps the faith in the receiving corps was tarnished by the early drops (leaving Godwin on the short end of the playbook).
Or, maybe there was something else altogether.
After Godwin’s decision to return an onside kick, in Georgia’s game at South Carolina, last season, Smart had the following to say.
“If he runs it in and gets it punched out,” Smart said, not finishing his thought because he didn’t need to. “But it worked. So what does everybody base it on? Results. But I would suggest he get down, which is what I encouraged him to do.” (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
The heads-up play by Godwin sealed the Georgia victory, but translated as immaturity in the eyes of Smart.
Has that made Smart a bit less confident to award a wider scope of responsibility to Godwin?
No idea, but is seemed worth mentioning.
Even so, here’s the thing, McKenzie took his fair share of chances as well. When you have a player who wants the ball in his hands, sometimes he’s going to do that.
The verdict is out as to whether Smart is ready to turn Godwin loose to take a few of his own lumps this season.
While at McEachern High School, Simmons was used in much the same way Georgia used McKenzie last season–sweeps and screens–but Simmons also showed some ability as a kick and punt return man.
He could be a perfect candidate to develop into the role of the versatile every man.
Simmons has the speed, and playmaking ability, to be a threat. He also has the strength and toughness to offer a formidable option on passing downs–he can be counted on to pick up a block when needed.
If he proves competent in learning the playbook, and has a good spring, I see no reason he can’t sneak into the rotation as a slot receiver, or as a viable option in a four-receiver set.
This one is an obvious choice, but I’d like to see Hardman either stay at corner or be placed on offense–forget the jostling back and forth.
I’ve watched multiple two-way experiments go awry at Georgia since Champ Bailey’s departure–including one with Malcolm Mitchell–and I think it’s unfair to waste a player’s potential on something if you’re only going to place him elsewhere the next season.
Granted, this is the very reason such decisions are left to an infinitely more qualified coaching staff, but for all Smart’s talk of developing Hardman as a corner, I’d be surprised to see him placed on the other side of the ball in any long-term capacity.