May 15, 2006

Dawgs need Bryant back

How much converted cornerback Mikey Henderson's success at a receiver this spring was due to his quickly learning the position verses the fact that he was one of just a handful of healthy players at the position will never be known. What if A.J. Bryant, Demiko Goodman, and Sean Bailey had been on the field? Who knows, but with Bailey likely gone for the year, Bryant and Goodman are expected back in the mix in August….hopefully.

"A.J. Bryant's health is coming along great," head coach Mark Richt said last week at a Bulldog club meeting in Macon. "We think he will be 100 percent by the fall. A.J. needed spring badly like a lot of them. A.J. needed to continue to hone his skills as a receiver. We will see what kind of a summer he has; we will see what kind of a fall he has. Of course we want him to be 100 percent healthy, and we think that he will be."

As good as that sounds, Richt seemed to back off a little bit just afterwards.

"If he does not come back from that injury like we would like, just like with Sean Bailey, we could redshirt him and give him a little bit of time to make sure he is healthy. I know that he is not 100 percent confident yet, and in the fall we have to make sure he is 100 percent confident before we put him out there."

Bailey, who played as a true freshman in 2003, has developed into one of the Dawgs' top receivers over the past three seasons. He caught 16 passes for 364 yards in 2005, including two touchdowns against LSU in the SEC Championship game, before tearing an ACL in the practices leading up to the Sugar Bowl. While there is still talk of him playing in 2006, it seems very doubtful that he would be ready to go before mid-season. Taking a redshirt would make him a senior and fully recovered for 2007.

Bryant, who was the nation's No. 1 rated athlete coming out of high school by, played as a true freshman in 2004. In the past two years, he has caught eight passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He missed spring practice after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder. Now, after rehabilitation, Richt says Bryant is cleared to participate in the summer workout program.

"He will be there all summer," said Richt. "I do not think that there will be any limitations on him in the summer because there is no contact in the summer. I think that he will be able to do everything that we need him to do, and we will see how he starts out."

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