Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at wide receiver Michael Bennett.
No. 82 Michael Bennett
24 catches, 345 yards, 4 TDs
Role in 2012: The redshirt sophomore was quickly emerging as one of the Bulldogs’ go-to receivers when he suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice the week of the South Carolina game.
The good: Bennett ranked among the SEC’s top receivers statistically, had recorded his first career 100-yard game and caught a pair of touchdown passes against Tennessee in his last game before he tore his ACL in practice. Together with Marlon Brown and Tavarres King, Bennett was part of a highly effective trio of receivers who powered Georgia’s passing game.
The bad: Bennett made it only five games before he suffered his injury, and Brown went down with a knee injury of his own four games later. By the end of the season, Georgia’s receiving corps was without two of its most productive weapons, which forced offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to look in other directions to keep the passing game moving. The Bulldogs were still effective through the air, but Bennett and Brown would have been awfully useful to have available in the SEC championship game against Alabama.
Crystal ball: King and Brown were seniors, so Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell figure to be the leading figures in Georgia’s passing attack next season. Bennett’s knee seems to be healing on schedule, so he will return to non-contact drills in the spring and should be cleared for contact by preseason practice. With two years of eligibility left, Bennett figures to be a highly valuable target for Georgia’s quarterbacks in 2013 and 2014.