What comes next for Georgia football at ‘X’ receiver without Arik Gilbert

ATHENS — Georgia football continued to develop the next men up at the ‘X’ receiver position on Saturday with Arik Gilbert no longer practicing with the team.

Gilbert, a highly touted transfer from LSU, “is dealing with some personal issues” according to Kirby Smart, and will be out indefinitely.

WATCH: Kirby Smart’s statement on Arik Gilbert

Many outsiders will gravitate to the headlines surrounding Gilbert’s separation from team drills, but the reality is the Georgia offense will not be as effected as some might think.

The Bulldogs were hoping to get a lift from Gilbert, a 6-foot-5, 248-pound talent from Marietta who had 35 catches for 368 yards in eight games last season.

Georgia lost go-to receiver George Pickens to a torn ACL last March at the start of spring drills, creating a need at the X receiver position that Gilbert hoped to fill.

RELATED: X marks the spot where Gilbert hopes to fit in at Georgia

But Gilbert’s transition from tight end to ‘X’ was nowhere near complete.

Also, others had already started stepping up to fill Pickens’ role before Gilbert arrived.

Still, second-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken spoke glowingly about Gilbert’s on-field talents potential last Thursday, even as off-field issues had been ongoing.

“I think he has adapted well,” Monken said. “He’s a special talent because he’s in the Brock Bowers mode, he’s athletic enough to play receiver, but big enough to do some things on the interior. He’s a size matchup. He’s a run after catch guy. He loves to play the game.”

So what and who comes next?

Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint

Rosemy-Jacksaint, as DawgNation reported last week, has continued to emerge and could start at the ‘X’ against Clemson.

RELATED: Arik Gilbert status in question, who has emerged

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound sophomore out of St. Thomas Aquinas seemed on the verge of breaking out last season when he suffered a broken ankle on a TD catch against Florida.

The Bulldogs led the game 14-0 at the time, but quarterback Stetson Bennett was also injured on the play (sprained shoulder), and the Gators came back to win.

Rosemy-Jacksaint worked doggedly during his offseason rehabilitation and is back to running sharp routes and pulling in targets with his strong hands.

Ranked as the No. 7 receiver in the nation coming out of high school, it appears Rosemy-Jacksaint is ready to live up to his billing.

Adonai Mitchell

Mitchell took advantage of his opportunities in the spring with Rosemy-Jacksaint and other Georgia receivers sidelined by injuries, and JT Daniels clearly took notice.

Mitchell, lined up at the ‘X,’ was targeted an eye-popping 13 times in the G-Day Game, hauling in 7 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Daniels explained after the G-Day Game why he was so excited about Mitchell, who was among the wideouts who went to California for extra training with the Bulldogs’ quarterback.

“He’s very twitchy, has a really good understanding of how to get in and out of breaks,” Daniels said. “(That) makes a really good case for him when he’s one-on-one, so that’s part of it, and part of it is him being in the X position, (which) gives him a lot of one-on-one opportunities to win.

“When you see a lot of one-on-one you see your Xs get the ball more often than not.”

Monken had good things to say about Mitchell last week, too:“AD (Adonai) Mitchell, we think is going to be a tremendous player here.”

Jermaine Burton

Many expected the talented Burton to assume Pickens’ go-to duties at the ‘X,’ but he’s better suited to play on the other side of the ball at the ‘Z.’

Burton, however, has been sidelined and missed multiple scrimmages on account of two injuries in 2021, most recently a sprained ankle. During spring drills, Burton suffered a hyperextended knee.

Georgia will need a durable and consistent Burton this season if it is to make the sort of championship run many are hoping for.

Burton was dynamic against Mississippi State with 8 catches for 197 yards, but he was hardly a model of consistency despite playing in all 10 games and making seven starts.

Burton had only one other 5-catch game, and didn’t crack more than 60 yards in receptions in any of the other nine games.

The Georgia receiver ranks have thinned with five receivers transferring out in the past year and three others (Kearis Jackson, Dominick Blaylock, Pickens) still sidelined with knee-related injuries.

Jackson, who plays at slot receiver, is expected back soon.

Georgia also has big-play, big-target Justin Robinson on the perimeter, along with speedy Arian Smith, who is getting up to speed after he missed portions of spring drills to run track. Ladd McConkey is another young receiver making plays.

What else?

The Bulldogs also have a well-documented stable of talented tight ends, including breakout candidates Darnell Washington and Brock Bowers, and talented pass-catching backs in James Cook and Kenny McIntosh.

“You spend the off-season, when the season ends, going through our cut ups and ask, ‘what can I do better? What can the players do better? Where can we put them in a better situation to have success?” Monken said last week.

“The majority of our players have a skillset, especially the skilled guys, that you can utilize something. We just have to figure out what that is and if we can get them into those positions.”

Georgia has a second scrimmage next Saturday leading up to the opening game against Clemson at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C.

What comes next for Georgia football at ‘X’ receiver without Arik Gilbert

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