The most catches Eli Wolf had in three seasons at Tennessee was five. The graduate transfer tight end has already matched that in two games at Georgia.
Yes, the opponent was only Murray State of the FCS. But the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Wolf was targeted four times against the Racers and caught them all for a total of 73 yards receiving in the 63-17 victory.
With a catch against Vanderbilt in week one, that gives Wolf five catches for 84 yards on the season. He had 5 for 30 yards all year with the Vols, and nine for 86 yards with one touchdown in three seasons.
“Yeah, I’m super excited,” Wolf said after the game. “I know I can do it and I take a lot of pride in what I do on the field. … They call it competitive excellence around here. When the ball comes to you, you’ve got to make a play. … For the coaches to trust me and the quarterbacks to trust me means a lot.”
It was far from perfect game, however. One play after a 17-yard reception in the first quarter, Wolf fumbled the ball after taking a blind up-field hit from linebacker Kameron Petty. The Racers recovered at their own 32, ending what was looking like another scoring drive for the Bulldogs.
But quarterback Jake Fromm would come back to Wolf twice in the second quarter, and Wolf hauled in two more catches for 46 yards.
“I expect more of myself,” Wolf said of the fumble. “I got stood up, it got knocked out and there’s no excuse for that. For the coordinator, Coach (James) Coley, to come back to me and have trust in me meant a lot. That kind of helped me get over it a little bit and move on. That’s what you’ve got to do with those kinds of plays.”
Kirby Smart did not begrudge his new tight end.
“He took a pretty good shot,” Smart said. “He caught the ball and tried to get extra yards and took a tough shot. You know it’s going to happen. You don’t accept it; we cannot have it; we’ve got to do a better job protecting the ball. … But we’re not going to stop throwing it to you because you fumbled. He caught the ball when he had some opportunities, he made some plays and had some good run after catch. I think he’s a talented player and a weapon for us.”
Wolf left Tennessee, where he was a legacy player, to play his final season at Georgia in hopes of attracting some NFL looks in a more sophisticated offensive attack. With the Bulldogs, he’s in a three-player rotation with senior Charlie Woerner and freshman John FitzPatrick. He already a good reputation for being an excellent blocker.
Wolf was hoping he’d have a day like Saturday. Now he’s hoping for more of them.
“You have an idea of the game plan but you never know how it’s going to go,” Wolf said. “So, no, I didn’t know it was going to happen. But I’m always going to be ready to do whatever the team needs.”