UGA’s Tibbs, Towns look to capitalize on absence of receivers

You’ll find Blake Tibbs and Kenneth Towns both on page 54 of the Georgia Bulldogs’ football media guide. Under their bios is the graphic that details the statistical production of their career.

The numbers of these two sophomore wideouts don’t exactly jump of the page. Each has two career receptions, Towns for 19 yards and Tibbs for 18 yards.

Odds are very good that those numbers will increase dramatically this season. Towns, a walk-on, and Tibbs look to be the chief beneficiaries of the absences of Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley early this season.

Towns, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore, led all receivers with 10 catches for 145 yards in the Bulldogs’ recent competitive intrasquad scrimmage of the preseason Aug. 15 at Sanford Stadium.

“Right now, it’s about who’s going to play against Clemson …,” Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason said. “I know Kenny’s going to be in there somewhere. He’s not one of those guys who’s going to attract a lot of attention, but he’s just gained the trust of me and the coaches. You just throw the ball, and he catches it. You’d be surprised, for some guys that’s pretty hard.”

Tibbs (6-2, 180) often has been on the field with the No. 1 offense during camp as the third receiver in a three-receiver set. Sophomore Reggie Davis, generally thought to be the next guy in, has missed some time recently with jammed fingers. Tibbs brings a similar speed element to the position with an added size element. He averaged 21 yards on two catches in the last scrimmage.

“Tibbs is a great example of a guy who has matured enough to become dependable enough for us to consider getting him in the game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It was not ever a skill-set issue. It was always, could we count on him to do what we needed him to do on a consistent basis. He struggled, but to his credit he’s turned it around and, in my opinion, he’s earned some playing time.”

Georgia will be without Mitchell and Scott-Wesley for at least the first game of the season. To date, Mitchell has been unable to practice since having arthroscopic surgery to repair a cartilage tear July 31. Scott-Wesley also is recovering from offseason knee surgery, but appears close to 100 percent in his recovery. However, he’s expected to be suspended one game for a misdemeanor arrest for pot possession last fall.

Tibbs and Towns are just two options to fill in. Seniors Michael Bennett and Chris Conley are the mainstays, and the Bulldogs have been liberally rotating in receivers after that.

Davis played extensively as a freshman last season, finishing with 11 receptions and setting a record with a 98-yard touchdown catch. The Bulldogs also are eager to see if Jonathan Rumph (6-5, 218) can play the position, as much as he looks the part.

“We’re going to need everybody this year if we’re going to win the national championship,” said Rumph, who caught seven passes for 121 yards as a first-year transfer out of Holmes (Miss.) Community College. “That’s why we’re rotating so much. If another man goes down, we’ve all got to be ready to be a starter, just like coach (Tony) Ball always tells us.”

Tibbs and Towns are eager to show what they can do.

“As far as the coaches and team, they know what I can do,” Towns said. “I just want to show everyone in the Dog nation what I can do. They know my name, but they don’t know what I can do. I’m just really anxious to go play this year.”

Said Tibbs: “The sky’s the limit if I keep getting work with the ones.”