March 14, 2008

Choices excite Stafford

When Matthew Stafford looks around at the cache of offensive weapons that will be at his disposal this fall, he can't help but smile.

Despite losing key targets Sean Bailey and Mikey Henderson to graduation, Georgia's quarterback doesn't believe the Bulldogs will experience a single drop-off. In fact, with such quality depth at wide receiver, Stafford believes the position will be as good - if not better - as it's been in his three years with the team.

"Definitely, some guys are going to have their opportunities to step up and make plays to get playing time, which is good because it creates some competition and that's good for the guys," Stafford said. "I'm excited to throw it around a little bit."

Stafford certainly won't have a shortage of targets with which to throw when the Bulldogs resume spring practice Monday.

Senior Mohamed Massaquoi figures to anchor the Bulldog corps, but Stafford is just as excited about another trio of receivers that he expects to make solid of contributions of their own.

"Tavarres King has looked smooth for a guy just coming in," Stafford said. "Walter Hill is a big-body guy who came on at the end of last year, and I think Kris Durham will have a good year. He's been working real hard. Of course, I always expect the same out of Mo (Massaquoi)."

Having some big targets to look for also brings a twinkle to Stafford's eye.

At 6-4, Hill, a former basketball player has the ability to get inside and out-jump opposing defensive backs. Ditto for Durham, who at 6-5, has steadily improve his play and caught three passes for 48 yards in Georgia's Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii.

Durham and Hill are not alone. With the exception of 5-11 Tony Wilson, Georgia's four-deep depth chart at flanker and split end boast seven receivers who stand at least 6-1.

That doesn't even count incoming freshman A.J. Green, who like Hill, comes in at 6-4 and can fly.

"As far as size goes, we've got an opportunity to go pretty big across the board," Stafford said. "Plus, you've got Tripp (Chandler) and Bruce (Figgins) there at tight end and are going to have their opportunities. I'm pretty excited about it."

While spring is an important time for receivers and quarterback get down their timing, Stafford says that's not his utmost concern.

"I think it's simply a matter of keeping guys healthy so they can work through the summer," he said. "We only get 15 days of spring practice, and that helps, but it's during the summer when we do a bunch of stuff, as far as working on our different skills and becoming more accustomed with one another."

Speaking of becoming accustomed, Stafford doesn't believe having to play with a different center for the third straight season will make any difference at all.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Davis remains the leading candidate to replace the graduated Fernando Velasco, and if that's who wins the job, that suits Stafford just fine.

"It won't be a huge deal," Stafford said. "I worked with Chris a little last year when he and Bubba (Velasco) were shifting around. It's not a huge thing. Whoever we end up with, it will work itself out."

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