Meanwhile, the most experienced wideouts the Bulldogs were sure they could count on this season have been limited if not completely absent. Jackson, who led Georgia with 36 receptions last season, has seven in seven games this season. Jermaine Burton, who had 27 catches a year ago, has 13 this season.
Perhaps the most mysterious and disappointing has been Arian Smith. Smith is one of the fastest players in the SEC. He ran the leadoff leg for Georgia’s school-record-setting 4x100-meter relay team that finished second at the NCAA. But the last we saw of Smith was him hauling in a 61-yard touchdown catch against Alabama-Birmingham in Week 2. He hasn’t played in the past five games because of a lower-leg contusion.
Smith was among those wideouts running full-speed routes this week and was working with the No. 2 offense. Burton also looks to be near full speed after missing the past two games with a groin injury. Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint has missed most of the past three games with an ankle injury. It’s unclear whether it’s the same ankle that was broken on a play in which he scored a 32-yard touchdown against Florida last year in Jacksonville.
“I do think Arian will be back, and Rosemy has done a good job this week, and Jermaine has been out there practicing,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Just those three alone is a huge boost.”
Jackson hopes to be able to contribute more on offense Saturday as well. He has played all season on a knee that required an arthroscopic surgical repair this summer, but his work was limited to punt returns only the first two games.
Slowly, Georgia has been working Jackson back into the receiver rotation. But the opportunities have been limited because the freshmen Adonai Mitchell and McConkey have been so effective as replacements. They’ve combined for 31 catches for 505 yards and four touchdowns.
About that, Jackson said he is not the least begrudged.
“I’m a team player,” Jackson said. “Whatever Coach asks me to do, that’s what I’m doing. Whatever it is, I’m there for the team. It’s not about what can I do. It’s what can I do for the team. So, I don’t really look at it as I’m not getting as many reps. I’m look at it as the coaches know what they’re doing, so I’m trusting and believing in them.”
Georgia still won’t be at full strength. Redshirt freshman Justin Robinson has been slowed recently with a hamstring pull, Blaylock has yet to get back on the field after his second ACL injury in August 2020 and the peerless talent Pickens remains weeks away from an early-April ACL reconstruction.
But Jackson said not to count out seeing Pickens at some point eventually this season.
“If you’re a playmaker, you’re itching to be out there,” Jackson said of the junior split end. “But he’s doing the smart thing taking it day-by-day. … He’s in treatment every day and putting in the work, because he’s ready to get back.”
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