Could UGA have the best wide receiver Group in the SEC in 2024?

The UGA strength and conditioning team must have the UGA WRs doing a lot of planks, because this core is looking strong.
Dillon Bell: Georgia vs. Tennessee
Dillon Bell: Georgia vs. Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

After years of leading a run-heavy offense, Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs have adapted their offensive strategy to meet the modern college football landscape. A lot of that change can be attributed to the hiring of Todd Monken in 2020, but the personnel has also played a large role.

In the last two seasons, Stetson Bennett and Carson Beck have both thrown for over 3,900 yards, becoming the only QBs in Georgia football history to surpass that number.

With Beck back at the helm for his second season as a starter, a number of pass-catching options in the fold, and the offense's two leading rushers from 2023 now in the NFL, look for UGA to be even more pass-heavy this year than in the previous two seasons.

Why the Georgia Bulldogs have the best receiving core for 2024

Dillon Bell

The Swiss Army Knife of this group is Dillon Bell. In 2023, Bell filled in nicely at RB when injuries left that group thin, and he also famously tossed a TD pass against Tennessee. This robust skillset is why he is known in some circles as "The Dillon Bell of the Ball".

Bell is an explosive athlete and a strong blocker in the run game. He finished the 2023 season with 29 receptions for 355 yards, with his best game coming against Tennessee where he caught 5 passes for 90 yards and 1 score.

Bell, much like Ladd McConkey had in years past, can line up outside or in the slot position. His overall versatility will be key for the offense as they replace their top receiver and two leading rushers from last season.

Dominic Lovett

A transfer from SEC foe Missouri, Dominic Lovett finished his first campaign in Athens with 54 receptions and 613 yards, tops among UGA WRs. Lovett was used extensively in the screen and quick-passing game early in the season, which helped new QB Carson Beck ease into the offense.

As the year went on and the playbook was opened up, Lovett was a constant threat over the middle of the field. He has elite athleticism and quickness and is consistently able to pick up yards after the catch. When asked about his overall skillset, many Georgia fans would probably say that they "Lovett".

Of all the receivers on this team, Lovett is the most likely to have a breakout season. With Bowers and McConkey now in the NFL, look for Lovett to become the new Dom of the group.

Rara Thomas

Rara Thomas was another SEC transfer added last season. Thomas transferred in from Mississippi State, where he was the true cowbell of that receiving core. Not wanting to have to learn a new mascot, Thomas decided to stay a Bulldog and transfer to UGA.

Thomas did see his production dip drastically from 626 yards and 7 TDs in 2022 to 383 yards and 1 TD in 2023, but he comes into 2024 with an opportunity to make a name for himself ahead of the NFL draft.

Thomas is a big-bodied receiver at 6'2, 200 lbs and showed that size at times in his first season in Athens. His lone TD catch of the season was a high-point catch over a Kentucky defender, a play that was a staple in ESPN's "You Got Mossed" highlight reel narrated by none other than Randy Moss.

Thomas has strong hands and can become a true threat in this offense if he is able to separate from defenders more consistently.

Arian Smith

The speedster of the group, Arian Smith is a certified track star. But so far as a receiver, he has not yet been able to turn that speed into consistent production with only a combined 15 catches over the previous two seasons. Much of that can be attributed to injuries that have kept him off the field, but he has also been plagued by a case of the drops when given a chance to make a play.

Smith's problem (coming from someone who never played receiver but does catch various items on a regular basis) seems to be that he lets the ball get into his body instead of using his hands to meet and catch the ball. When he does catch the ball, however, he is true threat given his speed.

This speed was on display against an Ohio State team in the 2022 CFP Semifinal when Smith had 3 catches for 129 yards, including a clutch 76 yard TD in the 4th quarter that helped the Dawgs complete their improbable comeback on their way to their second consecutive national championship.

2024 will be Smith's fifth season in Athens and his last chance to put it all together. If he can stay healthy for a full season, he has plenty of potential to make an impact. If not, he may find himself firmly in the "What Could Have Been" category with other oft-injured athletes.

The Transfers

Even with the above referenced athletes returning, Kirby Smart and Co. still went into the transfer portal and snagged three potential difference makers at the WR position. It can be hard to know how much of an impact these transfers will have until we see them in game action, but each player brings a different skillset to the WR room in Athens.

Colbie Young is what is known in the industry as a "real big boy" with his 6'5, 215 lb frame. Young transfers in from Miami after finishing last season with 563 yards and 5 TDs. Young should be a major factor in the red-zone this year, and showed his talents in that area with a jump ball TD in the UGA spring game.

London Humphreys is a sneaky athletic WR transfer from Vanderbilt who burned the Dawgs for a 49 yard catch and run in their 2023 matchup. Kirby Smart figured enough was enough and brought him to Athens to make sure that never happens again.

Humphreys figures to be a dynamic slot receiver for UGA, but also boasts good size at 6'3 that should make him another threat in the red-zone.

The last but not least transfer receiver is one Michael Jackson III, who comes in from Southern Cal. Jackson III is another explosive athlete who will have an chance to he-he his way into the endzone and moonwalk over the competition.

I like to imagine that Jackson pleaded to wear the #5 on his jersey in order the be Jackson 5, but unfortunately that was to no avail as he will don the number 13 on his bright red jersey.

With the returning talent and newcomers from the transfer portal, UGA may well boast the best WR room in the SEC in 2024.

Next. Watch for these 10 SEC players to breakout in 2024. Watch for these 10 SEC players to breakout in 2024. dark