ATHENS, Ga. — Despite the departure of steady veterans such as Tavarres King and Marlon Brown and the on-field absence of Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett because of injuries, Georgia’s receiving corps made a credible showing in Saturday’s G-Day Game at Sanford Stadium.
For the Black team, which won 23-17, eight players recorded receptions, with five posting at least two catches, for a combined 294 yards. For the Red squad, six Bulldogs had catches, with five making multiple catches for 222 yards.
“I thought all the receivers played great,” said Red team quarterback Aaron Murray, who completed 12 of 18 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. “I thought the receivers had an awesome day and I was pleased with their performance.”
Leading the way for both teams was junior-college transfer Jonathon Rumph, who caught four passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns for the Black team.
Rumph (6-foot-5, 215 pounds), who was not made available to the media, drew raves from his teammates.
“Rumph had a great day,” Murray said. “He’s a talented kid. He just needs to get more comfortable with the playbook, but he’s got a ton of talent. I’m excited with how he can play and what he can do.”
“He’s a tremendous athlete with a big body,” added split end Rhett McGowan, who had three catches for 55 yards and a touchdown for the Red team. “He can really run and he’s a playmaker.”
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who coached the Red team, said he’s been waiting all spring to see a spark out of Rumph, who had 45 catches for 569 yards and three touchdowns last season at Holmes (Mississippi) Community College.
“It was good to see him make some plays,” Bobo said. “He hasn’t really made any plays all spring. He’s a big guy and he made some plays today, which is awesome. Hopefully that will give him some confidence going into this last week and into the off-season.”
While Bobo was pleased with the overall play of Georgia’s receivers, he expressed disappointment in the conditioning of some.
“They made plays when given the opportunity, but I don’t think we were in the greatest of shape out there,” he said. “We had some guys huffing and puffing. We’ve got to be able to play fast and we’ve got to be able to get some depth at that position.”
Some would contend that with the return of Mitchell and Bennett in the fall, the Bulldogs will be well armed with gifted catchers.
“The receivers’ play today shows how much talent we have, whether it’s developed or undeveloped,” said flanker Chris Conley, who posted two catches for 57 yards for the Red team. “There’s a lot of raw talent in this receiving corps … Depth is huge when it comes to rotating and keeping people fresh. The more fresh your legs are, the better you can run a route and the faster you can get open.
“When you have guys that can be trusted like that, it really helps your offense in so many ways. When defenses get tired, you can continue to attack them and make more plays.”
“We were missing two of our best receivers today and we were still out there making plays and stepping in when our number was called,” McGowan said. “That shows the depth of this team and how experienced we are.”
Bobo assented that the receivers – and the offense as a whole – has a chance to be special this fall, but they’ll have to do more than show up on Saturdays.
“If we work, I’ll feel good,” he said. “Overall, we’ve got a lot of work to do as an offensive football team. We haven’t arrived and we aren’t anywhere close to where we need to be. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”