February 2, 2008

Storyline No. 7

Sean Bailey knew coming back from a torn right ACL would not be easy.

Although team doctors told the Bulldog wide receiver that he'd be as good as new, it wasn't until Bailey took the field for Spring Practice did he finally realize that everything was going to be OK.

It was only then that one of Georgia's biggest questions heading into the 2007 season was about to be answered.

"Anytime you sit out, it's frustrating," said Bailey, who missed all of 2006 with the injury. "I tried to use it as a learning experience. I think I did."

Bailey's recovering and subsequent sparkling play was undoubtedly one of the big highlights for the Bulldogs last fall.

He certainly made a difference in the way Georgia's receivers were perceived by the rest of the SEC.

Without Bailey, Georgia struggled to find a true deep threat in 2006. A healthy Bailey provided quarterback Matthew Stafford his most reliable target.

In 12 regular season games, Bailey led Georgia with 37 catches for 597 yards and four touchdowns.

"Getting Bailey back was huge," Stafford said prior to the Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii. "He was a veteran. He knew what the routes were and he ran them the right away. That's what we needed."

Bailey's injury was particularly nasty, one he suffered the week of practice leading up to the Sugar Bowl against West Virginia on New Year's Day 2006.

The timing could not have been much worse.

Bailey was coming off a two-touchdown game in Georgia's SEC Championship victory over LSU.

"When you get hurt like that and have to come back it really makes you appreciate what you have when you're healthy," Bailey said. "It was a slow process. But God doesn't put anything in front of you that you can't handle. I'm thankful that I had a chance to come back and get a chance to play."

Bailey received one final hurrah in Georgia's 41-10 victory over Hawaii in last month's Sugar Bowl. Although he caught just two passes, one went for an 11-yard touchdown, a score Bailey said he will always remember.

"That was huge to me," Bailey said after the game. "To score a touchdown in my final game as a Bulldog, I couldn't ask for more. God really blessed me."

Bailey will certainly be missed by Stafford and the Bulldogs next fall. Fortunately, depth at the position won't be a problem.

Among the returnees, Kris Durham, Mohamed Massaquoi, Kenneth Harris, Tony Wilson and Demiko Goodman have been excellent contributors for the Bulldogs and bring a wealth of experience.

They'll have additional company.

Redshirt freshmen Israel Troupe and Walter Hill have drawn plenty of raves from coaches for their ability to both stretch defenses and catch the football over the middle of the field.

However, when preseason drills begin in August, all eyes will be on true freshmen A.J. Green and Tavarres King, two highly recruited stars many are expecting to give the Bulldogs an immediate boost.

Especially Green, who currently is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 2 receiver coming out of high school. With good reason. As a junior at Summerville High, the 6-foot-4, 184-pounder caught 62 passes for 1,203 yards and 14 touchdowns, followed by a senior campaign when he grabbed 72 passes for 1,437 yards and 15 scores.


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