Georgia football's top returning receiver among assortment of weapons for Bulldog offense

Quick. Which Georgia football player is the Bulldogs’ leading returning receiver this year?

Tick. Tock.

Need more time?

The answer: Dominic Lovett.

The Missouri transfer wide receiver may not have dazzled in his first Bulldog season but he put up decent numbers by the end with 54 catches for 613 yards and 4 touchdowns.

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“Honestly, I don’t really care about stats and stuff,” Lovett said Tuesday afternoon. “As long as we win as a team, that’s all I care about. If you’ve got team success, individual success will come, but if it’s the other way around, the team can crumble from the inside out.”

Georgia’s top receiver in 2023 was a tight end—projected NFL first-round pick Brock Bowers—who coaches made sure to get the ball in his hands every which way.

Ladd McConkey and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint are getting ready for pro careers now, too.

Sure, Dillon Bell and Arian Smith are back, but Lovett is joined by a trio of transfers in James Coley’s wide receiver room in Colbie Young from Miami, London Humphreys from Vanderbilt and Michael Jackson III from Southern Cal.

Lovett, a 5-foot-10, 187-pound senior from Belleville, Ill., never hit the 100-yard receiving mark in a game last season. His biggest outputs were 72 yards on 5 catches against Vanderbilt, 83 yards on 4 against Florida and 77 on 4 against Ole Miss.

His yards per catch—11.4—didn’t approach the 15.1 he had at Missouri in 2022 when he had 56 catches for 846 yards and 3 touchdowns and was an AP first-team All-SEC selection. He made contributions in ways not noticed like being a gunner on a punt return team that did not give up a single yard.

So how’s Lovett doing this spring where Georgia was to go through its 10th of 15 spring practices Tuesday afternoon with a second-year starter at quarterback in Carson Beck?

Coach Kirby Smart, not one to lavish praise easily, said Tuesday that Lovett “has had a very good spring. He’s so much more confident in the offense. I think Carson has a lot of confidence in him. They are on the same wave length. There’s been days that Dom was really dominant out there.”

Smart said that may be because Kamari Lassiter and Tykee Smith, starters at cornerback and nickel back last season, are moving on to the NFL.

“Or is that just Dom’s more comfortable in the offense and he’s winning at a higher rate?” Smart said.

Lovett smiled when he was told that Smart wasn’t sure which of those led to his improvement this spring.

Lovett did say about Georgia’s DBs: “They made me a better football player, they made me tougher,” but also said learning a playbook he said has more than 120 plays isn't easy. He said he and Rara Thomas, who transferred in from Mississippi State, worked at their apartment on recognition with play calls and signals.

“I feel like you can’t play fast ball until you know where to line up and what are the signals,” Lovett said.

Smart last season said Lovett “busted his butt,” after arriving at Georgia and was selfless because of what he was asked to do in the offense.

Lovett had room to grow as a blocker.

“His physical toughness continues to improve,” Smart said Tuesday. “This time last year, it was constantly on him about what he was doing without the ball. He makes a conscious effort to do better in that now and we need him to.”

Lovett seemed sincere when he said he was happy simply to be at Georgia last season.

“It was a new environment, a fresh start with some of the guys last year that I would be watching on TV, like, yo, these guys are nice, they’re hard,” he said. “Coming in, they welcomed me with open arms. …You’d think a team that won two national championships, they’d be cocky and think they got it all figured out. That wasn’t the case at all.”

Lovett probably won’t put up eye-popping numbers at Georgia like he could at other programs but that's probably the case for the rest of the wideouts.

“We have a large volume of catchers, meaning it spreads out,” Smart said. “You don’t necessarily have one guy with 150 (yards) but we’ve got a bunch of guys with a bunch of touches and the reason we can do that is the decision making that Carson has and the experience he has.”

This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Dominic Lovett has had 'dominant' days for Georgia football this spring