November 25, 2017 Atlanta: Georgia wide receiver Ahkil Crumpton breaks away from Georgia Tech defensive back Corey Griffin for a touchdown to take a 38-7 lead during the fourth quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 25, 2017, in Atlanta. Georgia beat Georgia Tech 38-7. Curtis Compton/
Photo: Compton
Photo: Compton

Ahkil Crumpton taking on leadership role among UGA receivers 

Around this time last year, Ahkil Crumpton had just arrived in Athens after spending the 2016 season playing at a junior college. It was a bit like diving into the deep end without any floaties. 

But Crumpton has come a long way since struggling to memorize plays during his first few weeks as a Bulldog, and he’s approaching his final season with a leadership mentality. 

“Me being a senior, I feel like I have to help my younger brothers catch on,” he said after practice Thursday. “I’m just much more relaxed. I understand the playbook. I go out there, compete, make plays (and) help my brothers.” 

Some of the younger players Crumpton has taken on as mentees include redshirt freshman Matt Landers, freshman Tommy Bush and rookie Kearis Jackson, but the senior noted that competition at the position is still fierce despite various levels of experience. 

“This room this year might have been the most competitive receiving room I’ve been in since I’ve been playing football,” Crumpton said. “Younger guys are making plays just like us. We push each other to get better every day.”

In a position with so much depth, it’s easy to fly under the radar as Crumpton did last season. Before hauling in a 78-yard touchdown reception against Georgia Tech, his best stats were four catches for 18 yards and a 19-yard kickoff return against Appalachian State. 

With Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman both returning this season, the battle for receiving reps will be tough, but Crumpton expects to have a big role on special teams. Though Hardman was the go-to kick returner last year, Crumpton said he has been putting in work on kickoffs and punt returns. 

As he prepares for his last season at Georgia, Crumpton made it clear that his focus is on helping the team get stronger by eliminating any weaknesses. When asked if he had any expectations for himself, he declined to give numbers or specifics. 

“I don’t want to put any limitations on my senior season,” he said. “I want to go out there and play football the best I know how.”

If the 1,004 yards Crumpton racked up as a return specialist during his junior-college days are any indication of his best football, there could be a new force on Georgia’s special teams come September.

Quarterback Jake Fromm excelled as a freshman in the 2017 season, passing for 2,615 yards and completing 62.2 percent of his passes. Running back D’Andre Swift ranked third in rushing yards in 2017 (618) and leads all returning players in that category. Wide receiver Terry Godwin caught 38 passes in 2017, second on the team behind senior Javon Wims. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman caught 25 passes in 2017, ranking third on the team. Wide receiver Riley Ridley caught 14 passes in 2017. He caught six of the 1
Sept. 1 vs. Austin Peay at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs have never played the Governors (an FCS team). Sept. 8 at South Carolina. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks could decide the SEC East in the season’s second week, even if only because it could determine a tiebreaker. Sept. 15 vs. Middle Tennessee at Sanford Stadium. The schools have played once, with Georgia winning 29-10 in 2003. Sept. 22 at Missouri. The Bulldogs have a three-game win streak against the Tigers and have lost once to them. Sept. 29 vs. Te