Green Not Focused on Jones

ATHENS – In high school, A.J. Green had just one chance to face off against fellow phenom Julio Jones. It was at an All-America game after his senior season, but the dream matchup never came to fruition. Jones had a minor knee injury, and the two never went head-to-head on the field.

Saturday, however, the top two wide receiver recruits in the country last season will be on the same field, and both figure to play a significant role in their teams' offenses.

"It's going to be neat," Georgia wideout Tavarres King said. "We're going to keep the main thing the main thing … but it's going to be fun to watch those two go head to head."

Jones was the top-rated wide receiver coming out of high school last season, and he has burst onto the scene at Alabama by catching a touchdown in three of his first four games.

It took just two weeks before Green cracked Georgia's starting lineup. He has grabbed two touchdowns so far this year, and he had a breakout game last week, catching eight passes for 159 yards.

"They're both really dynamic receivers," Georgia cornerback Asher Allen said. "They're young, but you wouldn't know it from watching the film."

Coming out of high school, Green said, the two earned some impressive comparisons. Jones, who is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, racked up 52 touchdowns in his high-school career and was compared by scouts to Terrell Owens.

It was just two weeks into fall camp at Georgia before Green had impressed his head coach so much that Mark Richt compared him to Randy Moss.

"Julio is the more bigger receiver, he takes the short hitches and take them to the shack," King said. "A.J.'s got it all. He can do both. He can leap, he can run fast, he's just got the ‘it' factor."

While Green came in second on most scouts' rankings, he insists this week's showdown isn't about proving who is better.

"He's a great receiver, and he deserves it," Green said. "But I'm just going out there and don't try to out-do anyone, just try to help my team."

That's exactly what Green has done throughout his first four games in a Georgia uniform.

In the Bulldogs' opener, Green made his first career reception – a 39-yard catch that set up a touchdown.

By the second week of the season, he was in the starting lineup, and his ability to stretch the field and haul in the deep ball added a new dimension to the Bulldogs' offense.

With four games under his belt, Green said his grasp of the offense has grown by leaps and bounds, and he's able to play more instinctually, without having to think about where to be or what to do at any given time.

"I don't know about perfectly, but I can get open," Green said. "But (receivers) Coach (John Eason) said some of the passes that I caught could have been touchdowns if I ran (the routes) a little smoother, so I need to work on that."

Green's greatest attribute might be his ability to pick any ball thrown his way out of the air. Nearly half his team-leading 16 receptions have required him to reach back, jump up or stretch out to haul in the football.

"I just believe I've got to catch everything that touches my hands," Green said. "If it's in the air, pretty much I think I can get it."

If Green's great hands are what make his game so special, it's Jones' strong physique that sets him apart.

"With his strength," Green said, "one man is not going to take him down."

In Alabama's opener against Clemson, Jones caught four passes including a touchdown, but finished with just 28 yards receiving. With the Crimson Tide's ability to run the ball, the wide receivers weren't the centerpiece of the team's offense.

In his second game, he had just one catch – a 13-yarder – against Tulane, but a week later, he had his first break-out performance.

In a 41-7 win over Western Kentucky, Jones caught five passes for 66 yards – nearly double his season total – and grabbed his second touchdown of the year. Last week, he added a third score to his stat sheet.

"He's played extremely well," Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do, made plays, made catches, made blocks, scored touchdowns. He's doing his job like he's supposed to."

Like Green, Jones has just begun to show what he's capable of, Alabama safety Rashad Jones said. The offense isn't designed around him, and Jones hasn't learned every wrinkle in the playbook.

"You haven't seen all of what Julio can do," Johnson said. "I've seen him in practice every day. If there's a freshman receiver better than him, he's definitely really good."

Green just may be that good, and he'll have his chance to show it on the field Saturday. And while the soft-spoken Green insists it's just another game – albeit an important one for his team – King said he knows better.

"To play in this league, you've got to have that mind-set you're going to show up every game," King said. "You're going to come out hungry. So I think they're both going to be pretty intense about this."

There is one aspect of the matchup Green will admit to – he hopes it will be the first of many. While Georgia won't play Alabama again for a few years, there's every reason to believe the two receivers might see each other in the future playing on Sundays. If that happens, Green might finally admit to enjoying the spotlight.

"Coming out of high school, they compared him to T.O., and I'm the Randy Moss of the class," Green said, "so it would be good if both of us did big things and became the next great receivers to come out of the SEC."

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