Wide receiver Arian Smith has generated as much buzz this spring as some of the other wide receivers in the room, but that doesn't change the fact that he could unlock the Georgia offense this year. If he's going to prove to be a weapon in 2021, it starts Saturday at G-Day.
Smith appeared in only four games during his true freshman season, but was electric when he did play. He had only two catches all season, one a 31-yard touchdown and the other a 55-yard catch in the Peach Bowl.
He has limited production at this point in his career, but Smith provides one thing that no one else on the offense can: elite top-end speed.
Smith could be the fastest player in the SEC next season. When he was on the field last season, no defender could stay in front of him, even if they played off-coverage. Which begs the question as to whether or not he will get loose for a deep shot on Saturday.
Georgia needs to find big plays this season. Wide receiver George Pickens tore his ACL in camp, leaving him out for the foreseeable future. This naturally means that teams will focus their attention on wide receiver Jermaine Burton, or even Justin Robinson, or perhaps Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint.
The only thing is, none of those players will be be participating Saturday, leaving the door wide open for Smith to suddenly receive a lion's share of the opportunities this weekend.
Smith is without question the best option on the Bulldog roster for offensive coordinator Todd Monken's speedster role. He drew comparisons to NFL legend DeSean Jackson because of his game-breaking speed coming out of high school. And Monken has a history of success with burners like Smith and Jackson, including arguably Jackson's best season of his 12-year NFL career in Tampa Bay in 2018.
Quarterback JT Daniels has a skill set that matches up with Smith's abilities. Daniels has a strong arm and has seen his down-field accuracy improve since arriving at Georgia.
No one alone can replace the impact Pickens brings, but as a collective group, the Bulldogs can attempt to match it.
Smith adds a reliable down-field element that no one else can. His speed opens up the run game by forcing safeties to back up in order to respect his top-end speed. The road to making Daniels' life easier in 2021 begins this Saturday.
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