Previewing Georgia Tech spring practice: Wide receivers

Georgia Tech wide receiver Brad Stewart (83) catches a pass at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 24, 2015.  HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM



Georgia Tech wide receiver Brad Stewart (83) catches a pass at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 24, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia Tech will have five scholarship wide receivers in spring practice, and there’s room for advancement for a young group.

With the graduation of Ricky Jeune, the Yellow Jackets' receiver group brings back a total of five catches in the 2017 season, four by Brad Stewart and one by Jalen Camp. (Jeune, by the way, will take part in Tech's Pro Day on Friday. He likely is the top draft prospect out of Tech's 12 draft aspirants.)

Given that the rotation at wide receiver typically is at least three deep, and also that Stewart is going into his senior season, sophomores Jair Hawkins-Anderson and Stephen Dolphus and redshirt freshman Adonicas Sanders can make a move up the depth chart and position themselves for starting roles in seasons to come.

As goes with just about any coach, wide receivers coach Buzz Preston will look for consistency from all of his pupils, but especially the young trio who are trying to establish themselves. Hawkins-Anderson and Dolphus played three games last season as redshirt freshmen. Coach Paul Johnson said that Sanders was a candidate to play last season as a freshman before he was redshirted.

It will be a big step up for at least one of the three to join the rotation, but  that will have to be made or there’s a risk of getting passed by signees Peje’ Harris or Malachi Carter.

As for Stewart, he can exert his influence on the group while also developign into the primary target for quarterback TaQuon Marshall.

In the words of former Tech quarterback Matthew Jordan, a backup last season, his job is “being a leader, showing the younger guys. He’s the old guy now.”

Stewart caught 19 passes as a sophomore in 2016, six behind Jeune, but fell back to four catches last season (though one was for his first career touchdown).

Jordan’s observations of the four other scholarship receivers:

On Hawkins-Anderson: “Just keep perfecting your craft, keep learning. He got a little bit of experience, just keep learning. He’s crazy fast. I would say he’s one of the fastest guys on the team, if not the fastest. He just needs to keep learning.”

On Sanders: “I would say his strengths are he’s kind of a smart guy. If I recall, he kind of caught to the plays quickly. Great hands, too.”

On Dolphus: “Steve’s obviously the biggest guy. As a quarterback, that’s what you like to see, a 6-5, 6-6 guy out there. I would like to say Steve kind of reminds me of a Darren (Waller), maybe a little smaller. I would say he’s kind of a Darren.”

On Camp: “Big, strong, fast guy. He’s got really strong hands. It’s one of his strong suits, having such strong hands. He can grab the ball and snatch it down.”

Third in a series previewing Tech’s spring practice, which begins March 26.