There's a reason Georgia coach Mark Richt isn't overly concerned with having marginal numbers of players at wide receiver for the second year in a row. He feels his tight ends are THAT good.
He may be right.
With the return of Bruce Figgins, the junior from Columbus augments what was already an effective trio with Aron White, Orson Charles and Arthur Lynch.
While many schools don't consider their tight ends a legitimate offensive threat, Bulldog tight ends combined to catch 38 passes for 589 yards and seven touchdowns, numbers that Richt believes can be even better this fall.
"We've got a lot of talent at tight end, that's for sure," Richt said last week in Macon. "We did a good job of getting them the ball last year, and I'm sure Coach (Mike) Bobo will look to the do the same. We feel very good about our tight ends."
As UGASports continues its summer-time look at each position for this fall, we examine the tight ends, which on paper shape up to be one of the team's more obvious strengths.
Let's start out with Charles.
The sophomore from Tampa was one of Georgia's more ballyhooed signees and he didn't disappoint, catching 23 balls for 374 yards, (16.3 average) and three touchdowns.
Not only did the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder, prove he could be a benefit coming off the line of scrimmage, but his versatility that allowed him to split out like a wide receiver made him a tough matchup for opposing defenses to content.
Hungry for success, look for Charles to better his numbers this fall.
With former Plant teammate Aaron Murray now at the helm at quarterback, look for the duo to try and recreate some of the magic they did as high school seniors when Charles caught 75 balls for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns.
White can do many of the similar things as Charles.
The Missouri native only weighed 218 pounds when he arrived as a freshman three years ago, leaving many to wonder if he could ever put on the needed bulk to play the position effectively.
Now at 237 pounds, the junior earned Independence Bowl Offensive Player of the Game award after catching a pair of touchdowns.
Like Charles, White has the ability to get down field and is a touch matchup for opposing linebackers and safeties. He'll get plenty of opportunities to do more of the same this fall.
Figgins and Lynch are the bruisers of the bunch.
Both are prototypical tight ends, big, strong and tough, both in the 260-plus range and two players who prove who will prove invaluable to the success of Georgia's running game.
7 Orson Charles 6-3 235 Sophomore
81 Aron White 6-4 237 Junior
89 Bruce Figgins 6-4, 266 Junior
88 Arthur Lynch 6-5 260 Sophomore
86 Derek Richt 6-5 250 Senior
How much will Georgia's tight ends really be used this fall?
A lot. We'll have to go back and add up the numbers, but do not be surprised at all to see Charles, White and company combine for more catches than any group of tight ends in Coach Richt's nine previous years as Bulldog coach. Most teams are fortunate to have one tight end with the ability to get up the field like a wide receiver. Georgia has two in Charles and White. The duo should create major headaches for opposing defenses all year.
What can we realistically expect from Charles this fall?Let's make a prediction right now. Yes, A.J. Green will lead Georgia is receptions this fall. That's a no-brainer. But what may come as a surprise is don't be stunned if Charles finishes No. 2.
This isn't a dig on Georgia's other wideouts, but just a testament to how good we think Charles can be. Forty-plus catches for 600-plus yards is not out of the question.
Will Figgins and Lynch get their opportunities to catch some balls?
Of course they will. Granted, they don't figure to be primary targets, but both certainly have the ability.
Remember, Figgins' first career catch went for an 11-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State. Lynch, meanwhile, is a better pass-catcher than many give him credit for, something he proved in the G-Day game when he caught a touchdown.
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