Georgia’s most important players of 2015: No. 12 is …

When I joined the AJC, there were several neat things I brought to the sports staff, starting with a very cool glass measuring cup. You know how with normal cup measurers you have to keep switching from the teaspoon to the tablespoon to the half-cup and on and on? Well no more!

I also thought my I-pod playlist brought a lot to the table, but my offers to play ABBA on a continuous loop were politely refused, and I can’t pretend that doesn’t hurt.

As for actual, you know, work stuff, the past few years at my former gig I did a projection of Georgia’s most important players for the upcoming season. Let’s do that here too.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the series, here’s what you need to know:

This is not a ranking of Georgia’s best players. That would be fun too, but also a bit boring. This ranking of Georgia’s most important players is an evaluation of which players are most vital to the team’s success this season based on their own talent, the importance of their position, the depth at certain positions, and the strengths and weaknesses of the team.

And this year we start out with:

Georgia and coach Mark Richt will feel a lot better about things if 5-star WR prospect Terry Godwin signs with the Bulldogs later today. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Georgia and coach Mark Richt will feel a lot better about things if 5-star WR prospect Terry Godwin signs with the Bulldogs later today. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

12. TERRY GODWIN

Freshman

WR

WHY HE’S VITAL: We know Georgia has a void at receiver. We don’t know that Godwin will be the man to fill it. We don’t even know whether he will be the best freshmen. Maybe it will be Michael Chigbu, or Jayson Stanley, or Shaquery Wilson. Maybe a veteran such as Justin Scott-Wesley, Reggie Davis or Shakenneth Williams will emerge as Malcolm Mitchell’s main co-starter. What we can say, more than a month before preseason practice starts, is that Godwin was a five-star recruit for a reason, an a dynamic athlete who can do special things. Georgia has plenty of other receivers who could be solid starters with occasional breakaway ability. Godwin can be that too, but also a little bit more, and possibly right away. If he lives up to the hype, he can help answer a lot of early concerns for the offense.

QUOTABLE: “There’s things that we can envision him doing. Obviously a big part of that, and we’ve already expressed that to him, is we moved Tavon (Austin) to different spots (with the St. Louis Rams). I mean he played a lot of different roles. So that’s a big challenge to Terry and these other guys, is learning the playbook and having the flexibility where we can kind of move him around and put him in different spots. Because we tell them all the time, if you can only play one spot it’s easier for the defense to find you. So we need to have the flexibility to move you around.” – offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Among the guests at Terry Godwin's Sunday evening going-away soiree Sunday night in La Grange was Georgia tailback Nick Chubb. (AJC photo by chip Towers)

Among the guests at Terry Godwin’s Sunday evening going-away soiree Sunday night in La Grange was Georgia tailback Nick Chubb. (AJC photo by chip Towers)

BEST CASE: Godwin makes an immediate contribution, mainly as a slot receiver but also in some other packages. He makes some big plays, then settles into a consistent and important role as the season goes on, finishing as one of the team’s top two receivers. His hands are reliable, and he makes big plays, making life so much easier on Schottenheimer and whoever ends up the starting quarterback.

WORST CASE: He’s just not ready yet. The pro-style offense proves too complicated for a freshman to master right away, contingent on route running and reads, rather than just putting the ball in athlete’s hands. Godwin’s blocking ability, at his smallish size (6-foot and about 170 pounds), proves a liability for the running game.

FINAL WORD: This would be easier to predict if Mike Bobo and Tony Ball were still around, but the coaching changes make the adjustment period of a five-star freshman receiver much harder to gauge. Well, if it were an A.J. Green-type you’d know they would just get him the ball. Even Malcolm Mitchell didn’t know the whole playbook as a freshman and they found ways to get him involved. In a case like Godwin, there’s the risk of forgetting on some series (or games) what kind of weapon you have. So ultimately the guess is it comes down to how quickly Godwin picks up the playbook, and proves his worth in practice.


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