Dominick Blaylock, a rising superstar on the Georgia football team, received a crushing blow Wednesday when he tore his ACL for the second time in 10 months.
Blaylock had made a full recovery from the ACL injury he suffered in the SEC Championship Game and was entering the 2020 season with high expectations. Instead, Blaylock will accept a medical redshirt and sit this season out.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs as a team, there are plenty of receivers capable of stepping up in Blaylock's absence. But that doesn't mean Blaylock's absence won't hurt the team. On the contrary, Georgia loses a talented and dynamic player with elite instincts and a nose for the endzone.
Blaylock caught 18 passes last season, five of those grabs produced touchdowns. That means Blaylock found the endzone every 3.6 receptions. That's an insane stat and it would be easy to say there's no way he could come close to matching that average in a 30-catch season.
But then you remember how he scored his touchdowns. Of Blaylock's five touchdowns, he only caught one pass in the end zone. The other four required him to do the bulk of the work.
Blaylock first found the end zone on a 25-yard screen pass against Murray State. His next score came against Arkansas State on a quick out-route. Blaylock knew before the ball got to him that there wasn't a defender on top of him and he turned upfield the instant the ball hit his hands. The result was a 60-yard touchdown, with Blaylock running on 55 of them.
Against Florida, late in the second quarter, Blaylock caught a pass four yards short of the goal line. A defender had him stopped for a two-yard-gain, but Blaylock lowered his shoulder, bounced off the contact, and into the end zone.
Blaylock's biggest touchdown came against Auburn on a 51-yard-pass. He beat three Auburn defenders by a step and caught the ball around the 15-yard-line. Blaylock immediately began stumbling, but he stayed on his feet and out of the defenders grasp enough to score the touchdown.
It's clear, When Blaylock catches the ball near the end zone, he's going to do everything he can to score. More times than not as a freshman, he succeeded.
The little things
Besides his four workhorse touchdowns, one play really stands out to me. A play really defines Blaylock and explains why he had such a big true freshman season.
In the middle of the second quarter against Notre Dame, Blaylock caught a simple bubble screen with Pickens downfield as a lead blocker. Pickens provided a good block on one defender, but there was still one more defender in the area in hot pursuit. Blaylock used this to his advantage, taking a route that ran the defender straight into Pickens. With the open field, Blaylock gained 17 yards on the play.
Blaylock's freshman film is full of such plays both on offense and special teams. Blaylock does the little things right, but those little things add up can produce huge plays.
Blaylock is a great athlete, he's fast and agile. On top of that, he's a great receiver with soft hands, toughness, and good route running skills. But his ability to always get the little things right sets him apart as a great football player that Georgia will miss dearly in 2020.
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