If you’d have told me, at the end of the 2015 season, that Isaiah McKenzie would be 1) the Dawgs leading receiver, and 2) its most clutch player, I would not have believed you.
It’s not that I didn’t think highly of McKenzie, but rather I thought more of Terry Godwin.
People seem to forget, when McKenzie arrived, along with Sony Michel, he wasn’t presumed to be a big-time player. In truth, Mckenzie was added at the last minute, when it was clear space was available to sign him.
Godwin, on the other hand, was heavily recruited. He arrived with a slew of expectations, and he was figured to be the guy most likely to hit the ground running in 2016.
When he didn’t, it was disappointing and perplexing.
It’s now clear that much of his regression in production had to do with his lack of size and, perhaps, lack of chemistry with his true freshman quarterback.
It also didn’t help he was learning a new offense.
All that is behind him now, though, and he’s coming into his own this spring.
“I tell you now, when you look at practice. Terry Godwin, it’s like night and day for me to watch that kid,” Smart said of Godwin. “I was very honest last year about Terry playing tougher, playing bigger. The guy is blocking hard, he’s competing, he’s taking more reps, he’s such a better leader.” (Jake Rowe, Dawgs247)
It would be easy to say 2017 bodes well for Godwin’s production–especially with Jacob Eason entering Year Two with more confidence–but Smart is still looking for a player who will be able to become his complement at split end.
In other words, Smart is looking for an ‘X-Factor’. Pun intended.
It’s the role Malcolm Mitchell played well in his final season, but Smart has yet to find a player to fill those shoes.
“The receivers are blocking better,” Smart said. “We probably don’t have, on the perimeter, what we need just yet. I am talking about perimeter receivers. We have some guys that play hard and block hard. But we don’t have exactly what we need there. That is probably the spot we have to improve the most – with the four signees coming in.” (Kipp Adams, Dawgs247)
Godwin’ progress is certainly a good thing and I hope he finally finds his groove at flanker, but it’s clear Smart hasn’t completed the wide receiver puzzle yet.