Georgia’s receiving corps has moved forward this spring without its most dynamic playmaker from the last three seasons, A.J. Green, catching passes.
That doesn’t mean Green has vanished.
The soon-to-be NFL first-round draft choice has still been a frequent visitor to practice in recent weeks.
“It’s fun,” said receiver Tavarres King, expected to be the Bulldogs’ top receiver this season after making 27 catches for 504 yards and three touchdowns last year. “I did something (in practice last week) and ran over to him and was messing with him.”
Like telling Green that he couldn’t make the catch that King snagged?
“I know he could,” King said, matter-of-factly.
One of the big questions this spring for the Bulldogs centered on who would emerge as dependable pass catchers after Green and Kris Durham – who finished 1-2 in receiving last year – completed their college careers.
“I know those guys are going to step up and make plays for us,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.
Redshirt freshman Michael Bennett, who had three catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday’s scrimmage, has by most accounts enjoyed a productive spring.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said King “has been good” and that junior Marlon Brown was uneven with his practice showing during the first half of spring practices, but has picked it up.
“I’ve seen guys make some plays, but we’ve got to be more consistent there,” Bobo said.
“We’ve got too many drops, but I’ve seen guys competing and playing hard.”
Junior Rantavious Wooten has been relatively quiet, but walk-on Taylor Bradberry was mentioned a couple of times this week for his play.
Senior Israel Troupe and freshman Chris Conley have missed practice time with injuries. Troupe was still in a non-contact jersey Thursday due to a shoulder injury.
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound King has moved from split end to the flanker spot where Green played.
He had just one catch in the first scrimmage, but three for 77 yards and a touchdown in the second.
“T.K.’s busting his tail,” Murray said. “He knows all eyes are going to be on him and you know he wanted it.”
So much so that when Green decided he would enter the draft after his junior season, King texted Murray to let him know: “I want his spot. Tell coach Bobo I want his spot.”
When Murray talked to Bobo, he was told that was already in the plans.
“He’s really trying to fill those shoes and he’s doing a great job,” Murray said.
Bobo said the 6-5, 219-pound Brown has stepped it up in the last week and made plays in practice.
“The main thing is being consistent,” said Brown, who had 13 catches for 148 yards with a touchdown in his first two seasons. “Catch every ball that’s thrown your way pretty much or attempt to catch every ball that’s thrown your way.”
Brown’s goal is simple: “Be a starter.”
He also wants to improve as a route runner.
He knows his team could use another go-to receiver.
“Yeah, but not just me,” he said. “Rantavious. Mike Bennett. Tavarres.”
The final chance to show out is Saturday in the G-Day spring game.
“There are definitely guys that are going to be able to make plays,” coach Mark Richt said. “Time will tell how they will do in the games. I’ve seen enough receivers over the years to see that these guys can run the routes and get off jams and catch the ball and block if they are tough enough to and have the mind to do it. I think we’ll be all right.”