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You won't find a tougher task master among Georgia's assistants than wide receiver coach Tony Ball.
Ball is known for demanding perfection from his athletes, both on and off the practice field, from the simplest footwork drill to executing the most difficult route.
So, to hear Ball use words like 'confident' and 'impressed' to describe his current crop of receivers - words he does not often throw around - you know they must be doing something right.
"I'm really pleased with the whole group," Ball said Thursday, in one of his rare interviews with reporters. "They worked hard in the off-season, worked on the little things that they needed to get better at and for the most part I think we're in really good shape."
He's got a lot to be happy with.
With as many as nine receivers considered to potentially be major contributors for the Bulldogs this fall, Ball boasts numbers that he's never had during his five years as Georgia's receiver's coach.
"Actually, it's not so much the numbers, but in terms of depth, scholarship depth," Ball said. "When you talk about eight or nine guys that you feel comfortable with
that know what to do
who can make plays and be productive with whoever you have on the field
it's a good group."
Each receiver, he said, brings a different skill set into the equation.
That includes veterans like Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, Rantavious Wooten and Chris Conley, to Justin Scott-Wesley and Rhett McGowan, along with newcomers like freshman Reggie Davis and junior college transfer Jonathon Rumph.
Speaking of Rumph, Ball likes what he's seen from the 6-foot-5 South Carolina native.
"He has made tremendous strides since the first day he arrived and from the spring until now you see a lot of improvement. He's headed in the right direction, and really and truly he's starting to get confidence," Ball said. "Learning the system is always a challenge and he feels comfortable doing that, now he's starting to play with the confidence and make plays."
Davis has also made a very quick impression.
"Reggie was a very, very good high school football player and he got offered early off his 11th-grade film," Ball said of the Tallahassee native. "He just happens to be a very good sprinter, he competed very well there in high school his senior year. He was under a 10.5 - that's running, and he did in the state of Florida."
Redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs and freshman Uriah LeMay also hope to find their way into the mix, while walk-ons Michael Erdman and Kenneth Towns have also had their moments.
How will they all play?
"They make that decision," Ball said. "If you've got eight or nine guys who can play and help you win, you find ways they can help you and utilize their skill set."
NOTE: Along with his duties, Ball also serves as the Bulldogs' kickoff return coach and spoke about his options Thursday. As is the case at receiver, he's got choices to make there, too. Players getting shots include Mitchell, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Scott-Wesley, J.J. Green, Brendan Langley and Sheldon Dawson. "We've got some people who we're looking at but we haven't settled on anyone in particular," Ball said. "They just need to protect the football."
Ball said Mitchell will again be looked at as an option for punt returner. He doesn't harbor any concerns about the versatile junior's ability to play so many roles in lieu of hamstring issues that have plagued him in the past. "No, I can't concern myself with that," Ball said. :"I just tell him to be smart, because I can't feel what he feels and he's smart enough to know when he needs to take a break."
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