ATHENS, Ga.—Yesterday, Georgia’s offense was dealt a blow with the loss of senior receiver Justin Scott-Wesley with an apparent right leg injury. At today’s practice—one conducted half outside and half inside because of the weather—although sophomore receiver Isaiah McKenzie was fortunately no longer wearing a green no-contact jersey as before, there was no sign of Scott-Wesley.
Considering the Bulldogs’ slowly depleting receiving corps, if you’re a Georgia enthusiast, you’ll probably find some solace in what first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer stated yesterday: “Luckily for us, we have tight ends we can use.” And, do they ever.
The Bulldogs’ tight end unit consisting of Jay Rome, Jeb Blazevich, Jordan Davis, and Jackson Harris were considered by some preseason prognosticators during the summer as one of the best group of tight ends in the entire nation. What’s more, Schottenheimer believes the group is having arguably the best camp of any position, primarily based on their consistent on-field performance.
“They show up every day, and it’s usually a different guy every day [performing the best in the group],” Schottenheimer added.
The veteran of the group is Rome, a fifth-year senior, who battled injuries for much of the previous two seasons but still managed to make 19 combined catches. For 2015, he finally seems healthy and has appeared outstanding since the start of spring.
“We’ve been working really hard, and Coach Schotty (Schottenheimer) has thrown some things at us—some new stuff—we haven’t done as much [as before],” Rome said today when asked about the praise the tight ends have received. “And, I think we’ve responded really well, encouraging one another within the [unit], and working to be the best we can be.”
Entering fall camp, Rome was listed second on the depth chart behind Blazevich, a sophomore who last season made 18 receptions as merely a true freshman. Davis, a sophomore, had one of the best springs of anyone on the Georgia offense, including leading both teams in receiving for the G-Day spring game. Still, listed above Davis at third-string is Harris, a true freshman who enrolled early in the spring.
Despite being thrust into not only what has perhaps been the most impressive unit, but likely the deepest of any of Georgia’s positions, Harris claims he is grateful for the competition.
“We got a great group [of tight ends],” Harris said last week in front of the media. “Not only are they great players, but great people. … I’ve learned so much from all of them. We keep pushing one another.”
Schottenheimer also indicated he wanted to keep the opposition off balance with multiple personnel groupings, and a dependable way of accomplishing as much was to fully utilize the tight end position. “We like tight ends here, so we like to use them in different ways,” he declared.
Indeed, the Bulldogs do “like tight ends.” What has been acknowledged as “Tight End U.,” Georgia currently has three players in the NFL at the position—Ben Watson, Orson Charles, and Arthur Lynch—whereas the likes of former-Bulldog tight ends Jermaine Wiggins, Randy McMichael, Clarence Kay, Leonard Pope, and Troy Sadowski all had lengthy careers in the league.
Georgia’s tight end tradition is one appreciated by the veteran of the current group, and a tradition in which the Bulldogs’ newly-hired offensive coordinator wants to maintain.
“Georgia’s has a tradition of great tight ends throughout the years,” Rome said, “and I think [Coach Schottenheimer] is just trying to come in and continue that [trend].”