The 2018 Yellow Jackets will take the field needing to replace one of their staples on the perimeter this fall. Perhaps the biggest loss on the offensive side of the field heading into this season will be standout WR Ricky Jeune. He caught 25 passes for 545 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2017. The statistical leaders in receptions behind him were A-back Qua Searcy and WR Brad Stewart, who had 4 receptions a piece.
That’s a lot of production to replace in the receiving game.
For a team that doesn’t throw the ball much, the Georgia Tech offense fairly heavily relies on the pass in order to keep the defense honest. If the defense doesn’t have to worry about the passing game, it’s much easier to stop the run.
Last season, Georgia Tech did not possess much of a passing threat, and it was easy to see how even the mediocre defenses were able to shut down the option game without having to respect the deep ball.
Football is obviously a team sport, and there’s more to the passing game improving than any one person. It takes the offensive line blocking for the QB and giving him time to plant his feet and throw while receivers get open. It takes the QB making the correct throw on target. It also takes those WRs getting separation and making a play on the ball.
Georgia Tech needs to improve in all of these areas in order for their wideouts to be successful this fall.
One of the starters figures to be senior Brad Stewart, who has been a starter since 2015. He’s one of the best blockers at his position, which is an easy way to get playing time in this offense, but he lacks the top end speed and size to be a truly standout wide receiver at this level. However, he has reliable hands and has made several big catches in his time on The Flats, including a massive 4th down completion late in the game against FSU in 2015, and this TD catch against the Hokies last year.
The question this season will be who lines up opposite Stewart.
The leading candidate will be the 6’2” junior Jalen Camp. Camp has played sparingly in his time on The Flats, but according to coaches and players has shown flashes of his potential in practice. Camp certainly possesses the size and skill-set to step into the #1 receiver role this fall, but even if he does, it could still take some time for him and Marshall to get comfortable with each other in the passing game. With no other seniors or juniors in the receiving corps outside of him and Stewart, he also possesses the time and experience in the offense that will certainly get him on the field.
An intriguing candidate to become the next star receiver here at the Wide Receiver Factory of Georgia Tech would be sophomore Stephen Dolphus. Standing at 6’5”, 210, he has elite size and speed, but he hasn’t really seen the field yet. If he can master his blocking assignments and route timing, he could certainly become the downfield threat this offense needs in order to thrive.
Basically, Brad Stewart has one of the positions locked down, and the second one is up for grabs. Who do you think will step up and become the offense’s down-field threat this season?