Michael Erdman may have been the man at Central Catholic High School, but at Georgia the walk-on receiver is just one of the boys.
John Kelley/UGA Sports Communications
Wide receiver Michael Erdman (6) runs with the ball after making a catch against Missouri.
After receiving a redshirt in 2010, the Merritt Island, Fla., native appeared in nine games in 2011 and five in 2012. Due to recent injuries to Georgia’s offense, Erdman has been asked to play a more pivotal role on the team. That’s not much of a jump for him, though.
“Erdman’s been here a while just like I have, but he is definitely one of those guys that’s a walk-on, but you don’t treat him like a walk-on,” senior receiver Rantavious Wooten said. “You don’t look at him as a walk-on because he’s made tons of plays in practice.”
Georgia’s wide range of talent at receiver kept Erdman from being a factor in earlier matchups this season. He caught one pass for six yards last week. Wooten said now is as good of a time as any for Erdman to show who he is and what he can do on the field.
Erdman is no stranger to success, though. His high school accolades stretch for miles, including 14 school records at Central Catholic. Not only did he set the school record for most wins by a quarterback, but he also holds the program’s record for most career rushing yards for a quarterback as well as most passing touchdowns in a season and in a career. That work ethic had to carry over to his college career in Athens.
“He’s done things just like any other receiver. He’s just one of those guys who is playing behind guys who just have it,” Wooten said. “He had to do a little more work than the other guys, but he definitely has developed quite well and pretty fast. He’s definitely one of those guys that I feel like you can count on.”
Though some have just started to take notice of Erdman, teammates have said they know him well.
“He’s one of those guys who’s going to give his all every single play, and he’s going to get out there and block and do his assignment the way it’s supposed to be done,” Wooten said. “He’s going to give 100 percent at all times so it didn’t take long to see that he was going to be one of those guys. I’m really happy for him.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray said he is aware of Erdman, but he just has to work on getting him the ball. Erdman has caught a lot of passes from scout team quarterbacks, but Murray still hasn’t gotten a chance to throw to him too often.
“All summer long and in camp you want to work with as many guys as you can, but Hutson [Mason] has to get reps,” Murray said. “I don’t want to throw a million balls in practice and my arm be dead, so you really have to focus in on guys you know are going to be playing in the game, but things happen.”
Specifically injuries in this case. Murray admitted he got a little nervous and didn’t throw the ball as hard as he maybe should have during last week’s loss to Missouri, but he didn’t stress on that being a problem today at Vanderbilt.
“Right now, I think we’re doing a great job. Those young guys really stepped up and took advantage of their opportunity to go out there and play and they made plays; they got open,” Murray said. “I think it’s only going to get better and better every week the better our timing gets, the more comfortable we get with each other.”
Teammates were impressed with Erdman’s play last week, being thrown quickly into the gauntlet of Southeastern Conference football.
“I think he responded extremely well,” junior receiver Chris Conley said. “He’s been a guy who’s been around here and hasn’t had the opportunity or the spotlight, but he’s been working silently and waiting for his turn. I think as this time goes on and as we’re able to see what he’s able to accomplish we’ll see more of him on the field and it should be that way because he’s worked for it.”
Erdman isn’t all work and zero play, though. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and he is also dependable, Conely said.
“He’s just like everyone else, but he’s got a great personality,” Conley said. “He’s kind of a goofball sometimes, but he’s a good guy.”
Though Erdman is just now getting his most inclusive opportunity to play, he’s always been a member of the team. Walk-on or not, Conley said Ermdan fits in well with this squad.
“He’s just another one of the boys,” Conley said. “I don’t think you can really tell the difference between scholarship guys and walk-on guys here, and I think that’s the beauty of the chemistry that we have.”