ATHENS, Ga. - Injuries at wide receiver have forced Coach Mark Richt to add Mario Raley and Bryan McClendon to the list of true freshmen who may play in Saturday's 1 p.m. home game against New Mexico State.
Georgia lost Jarrett Berry to a knee injury in last week's win over Northwestern State after having another backup receiver, Kirby Towns, suffer a season-ending knee injury in practice last week.
As a result, Richt says he needs help from the freshmen to have enough depth to substitute if he wants to consistently use four receivers. After Terrence Edwards, Damien Gary, Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown, Michael Johnson is the only available backup.
"We're putting Raley and McClendon in the mix, and we're going to prepare them to play,'' Richt said, adding the freshmen have "a very good chance to play this week.''
To further bolster the position, running back Ronnie Powell also has moved to receiver.
McClendon will play behind Gibson, Raley will play behind Brown, Johnson is the top backup for Edwards and Powell will work behind Gary.
If Powell or the freshmen are not ready this week, Richt said "It might be that we can't go two-deep in the four-receiver set.''
Another freshman receiver, Cedric Haywood of Macon, "is still kind of smoothing his game out,'' according to Richt and is more likely to be redshirted this year.
So far, Georgia has played 10 true freshmen this season, including one starter, nose tackle Kedric Golston. Offensive linemen Bartley Miller, Josh Brock and Max Jean-Gilles, linebacker Tony Taylor, defensive tackle Darrius Swain, running back Tyson Browning, tight end Michael Turner and defensive backs Tim Jennings and DeMario Minter also have played as true freshmen.
Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com
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