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Richt issues challenge to ‘skinny kid' Gibson

Perhaps taking a cue from Pat Dye, Georgia coach Mark Richt laid it on thick Tuesday when hyping Tennessee.

ATHENS, Ga. - Perhaps taking a cue from Pat Dye, Georgia coach Mark Richt laid it on thick Tuesday when hyping Tennessee.

Richt went so far as to indirectly borrow from Dye's "not man enough'' theme which helped motivate the Bulldogs for last week's 27-25 win at Alabama.

Along the way, Richt issued a challenge to Georgia receiver Fred Gibson.

Gibson and Tennessee receiver Kelley Washington will be two of the biggest play-makers when No. 6 Georgia plays host to the No. 10 Vols Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Richt was asked to compare the two 6-foot-4 sophomore receivers. Richt said Gibson has some growing to do to match up with Washington.

"Washington is a full grown man,'' Richt said. "I think he's more polished (than Gibson) as a receiver. If you stood them side by side, you'd see a tall skinny kid and you'd see a man.''

Added Richt: "Fred is a tall, skinny kid who has played basketball all his life and is coming on as a receiver and is talented enough to make plays. But he is not as consistent as he needs to be.''

Though both players are sophomores, Washington played minor league baseball before enrolling at Tennessee. At 23, Washington is more physically mature than most seniors.

Gibson will celebrate his 21st birthday later this month, but his love of basketball is increasingly becoming an issue.

Because Gibson plays basketball in the winter, he misses much of the offseason weight-room work with his football teammates. He also missed the start of spring football while finishing the basketball season.

Gibson acknowledges that his future is in football, but he is not yet ready to give up on basketball.

"I've been playing basketball all my life,'' Gibson said Tuesday. "I don't think I can give basketball up that easy. Right now I plan on playing basketball (after this football season), but whatever happens, happens.''

Gibson played in 18 basketball games for Georgia last season, averaging 4.9 points after joining the team in January.

Georgia basketball coach Jim Harrick said Tuesday that "Freddie tells me he is (playing basketball),'' Harrick said, adding that 6-foot-5 freshman defensive end Quentin Moses, who appears bound for a redshirt season in football, also plans to play basketball.

Harrick called Gibson "the quickest guy I've ever seen in basketball'' and said Gibson would be "a terrific basketball player'' if he played the sport full-time.

"I would think fro the time he left high school, he's probably spent about two months on basketball, and rightfully so,'' Harrick said. "He and I sit and talk about it and he says 'I know where my future is.' ''

Richt has said he has no problem with Gibson playing basketball, as long as Gibson is doing well in school.

Even so, Richt said Tuesday: "Fred needs the weight room bad. He really does. I don't want to get into basketball and is he going to do it or not. If Fred wants to be a great receiver, he needs to get stronger, I'll say that.''

Gibson has a team-best 23 receptions for 374 yards and a touchdown in four games, compared to Washington's 20 catches for 411 yards and a touchdown in three games after returning from a knee injury.

The 180-pound Gibson has struggled with fumbles and dropped balls, and added strength might better enable him to hold onto the ball when taking big hits.

"I've just got to get stronger,'' Gibson said. "People criticize me for
that.''

At 225 pounds, Washington is a more physical receiver.

"Washington is built,'' Richt said. "You would think he could play linebacker.''

One common characteristic for the two receivers is their ability to jump out with big games.

Gibson already has two 100-yard games this season, giving him seven for his career in only 14 games. The seven 100-yard games matches the Georgia career record also held by senior Terrence Edwards and Brice Hunter.

Gibson made a circus grab - twisting to pull in a ball behind him while falling back into the end zone - for a 42-yard catch and his first touchdown reception of the season against Alabama last week.

Washington has six career 100-yard games, including his last three. He caught six passes for 112 yards in last week's 41-38 six-overtime win over Arkansas.


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