It almost seems like a foregone conclusion that the running backs will be the main attraction this season, doesn’t it? After all, with Aaron Murray off to Kansas City to make his way up the NFL’s food chain, no one is likely looking to Hutson Mason to be the catalyst of a potential SEC Championship season—he’s too green, doesn’t have nearly the leadership ability, and didn’t inspire much confidence in his final appearance of the season, a loss to Nebraska—but perhaps we’re selling Mason a bit short and maybe all that attention being given to the influx and stable of talent at running back will be a footnote by the time 2014 comes to a close.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, shall we?
Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley are unknown commodities leading up to summer practices. Neither was able to fully participate during spring drills, and it’s not known whether or not they’ll truly be at 100 percent come June. However, even if they are, you’d have to figure wide receivers coach, Tony Ball, will bring them along slowly, particularly with Mitchell having re-injured himself during the early part of spring.
Chris Conley and Michael Bennett are certain to be in the mix, but neither of those guys is going to give you the speed you’re looking for in order to take those big shots downfield three or four times a game. At best, they are the guys who are going to help you move the chains or act as redzone threats—along with Jay Rome, if he can get back to 100 percent.
Reggie Davis has the quicks, but he still needs to get bigger. He’s shown some improvement, adding weight during the offseason, but he’s going to need to do a bit more if he hopes to be more consistent getting out of jams and, more importantly, becoming a better blocker. Contrary to what most believe, wide receivers need to be blockers too—running and catching isn’t their only job on the field.
Which leads us to a couple of guys worth looking at come June.
Williams is a physically gifted player with nice speed (he’s been clocked having a 4.47, 40) and he’s coming in with an eye towards getting on the field and making an immediate difference.
He played quarterback in high school and was recruited by some schools as a defensive back (specifically as a safety), so that should give you an idea as to how physical he can be on the field. He’s willing to get nasty and he’s very good at seeing the field, running routes, and making plays after the catch. He’s definitely not a one-trick pony, and he’s coming to Athens with something to prove.
“I’m just trying to show them that I’m not just a deep threat,” Williams said. “I can play multiple positions, and I can do the little things, like blocking.”
…”I think of it like this: If I go over there and study the playbook and perform in practice, I should have a great shot at getting some playing time,” Williams said. “I’m just trying to do anything I can do to help my team.” (Gentry Estes, Dawgs247)
Johnson is different from Williams in that, while he does use his body to get physical against defensive backs, he’s not nearly as polished as a route runner. He relies a lot on his size (6-4, 190) and talent to break loose and make plays—mostly in the redzone—but he has great hands and can make some spectacular catches when called upon.
That said, I don’t expect him to see the field early, but with the wide receiver position so thin going into the season, his progress, particularly with the playbook and in the weight room, will be worth monitoring.
It’s also worth noting that Jonathon Rumph could finally be a factor, if healthy, as he’s already had a year in this offense and looks to be a major contributor in his final season at Georgia.