Lawrence Cager, Bulldogs strike mutually beneficial relationship

Georgia receiver Lawrence Cager (15) hauls in a pass during a recent practice at Sanford Stadium. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

Lawrence Cager swears he didn’t look at Georgia’s wide receiver depth chart before settling on the Bulldogs as his new team. But one can he sure it was with that depth chart in mind that the Bulldogs’ contacted Cager.

Regardless of how it went down, that little offseason migration from Miami to Athens is proving beneficial for both parties. As preseason camp concluded this week, Cager – a graduate transfer -- looks to be solidly entrenched in Georgia’s receiver rotation and could start at split end when the Bulldogs’ open the season Aug. 31 at Vanderbilt.

“Honestly, I didn’t really look at the receiver situation,” said Cager, speaking to UGA reporters for the first time after Thursday’s practice. “Coach (James) Coley (Georgia’s offensive coordinator) and coach (Kirby) Smart called me as soon as I put my name in the portal, and I’d put my trust in them 10 times out of 10. Coach Coley coached me while I was at Miami, and coach Smart recruited me heavily when I was being recruited by Alabama. So, I just trusted them and we’re going to see how it goes.”

It has gone well so far. Cager gives the Bulldogs the one thing they were missing in an otherwise crowded receivers room – experience. While Cager may not have put up eye-popping numbers in this three seasons with the Hurricanes (45 catches, 681 yards, 10 TDs), the one thing he did a lot of was play. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound wideout from Towson, Md., appeared in 34 games at Miami and made 18 starts, 12 of those coming last season.

Georgia saw the top four receivers off last year’s team graduate or bolt for the NFL, and that was before J.J. Holloman’s mid-summer dismissal. Which is not to say the Bulldogs are lacking from players to play the position. There were 10 scholarship receivers already on the roster and a half-dozen invited walk-ons vying for playing time by the time Cager showed up.

“A lot of guys in that room haven’t played the number of snaps I’ve played,” Cager said. “So I’m telling them things like, ‘Hey, you ran this route good, but this can make it a little easier for you.’ I’m just trying to be a leader of some sort and just offering guys wisdom.”

The competition among the receivers to get on the field couldn’t be more intense, but Cager said his position mates have been welcoming and supportive. Meanwhile, as one of only two seniors in the group – Tyler Simmons is the other – Cager said he recognized he was going to have to take on a leadership role.

Cager and Simmons have bonded in that duty.

“Being seniors, that’s on us,” Cager said of leading. “Whether it’s making plays on the perimeter or special teams, as long as we have that mindset that it’s on us and we come with that mindset that it’s on us, then we can attack every day like it’s a game.”

Familiarity has helped Cager with the transition. He said learning and adapting to Georgia’s system has gone smoothly. He did, after all, play before for Coley, and also for former Georgia coach Mark Richt in Miami. So the crossover is significant, the biggest adjustment coming with some terminology.

“Coach Coley is coach Coley,” Cager said. “He’s going to call his plays, and we’re going to run them effectively.”

Besides his relationships with Coley and Smart, the ultimate attraction of Georgia is its current status in the college football landscape. The Hurricanes haven’t had a lot to play for the past couple of seasons. The Bulldogs are expected to be in the thick of it for the third consecutive season.

Meanwhile, Cager is still thinking about his future and the possibility of playing professional. He’s not going to enhance those opportunities by standing on the sideline. He knew he had “one shot.”

Cager said his main thought after the Hurricanes’ season concluded last year was, “what can I do to better myself to the next level?”

Georgia checked all those boxes for him.

“I’m looking toward winning a national championship, trying to win an SEC championship,” Cager said. “What’s the best spot that can put in that situation? I honestly felt coach Coley and coach Smart here at UGA had the best opportunity.”