The fan base will have to be forgiven for freaking out a little. After all, it was just one week ago, exactly, that everybody learned star wideout George Pickens suffered a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee in practice. Pickens is expected to undergo reconstructive surgery in two weeks and likely won’t return for his junior season.
Burton was the primary candidate to replace Pickens at split end. The 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore starred as a freshman at flanker last season. But he was already getting work at the “X,” Georgia’s marquee receiver position, before Pickens was felled by injury.
Last year, Burton played only the flanker and no other wideout position. But he started seven games there and caught 27 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns, which was third among wideouts. Burton also was being groomed for a bigger role this season, including getting looks as a kick returner.
As it is, Georgia will have to turn to the other dozen or so members of its wide receiver corps for the rest of the spring. Topping the list is 6-foot-4, 220-pound redshirt freshman Justin Robinson. The Bulldogs can also move flankers Demetris Robertson or Arian Smith into the the X position. Slotback Kearis Jackson also could make the move outside from slotback, where Georgia hopes to eventually get back 2019 and 2020 knee injury victim Dominick Blaylock. Rising sophomore Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint also is recovering from a late-fall leg injury and could possibly factor in.
Getting to the season opener against Clemson without any other losses in the receiver room is now the primary goal.