For a college football program that runs an old-school run-first offense, Georgia Tech has had a surprising wealth of talent at wide receiver. Georgia Tech’s Demaryius Thomas was the first receiver drafted in 2010, and Stephen Hill is likely to go in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.
The conventional wisdom is that Thomas and Hill are natural talents who were ready to play at a high level at a young age despite playing in an offense at Georgia Tech that didn’t take advantage of their skills, but Tech coach Paul Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that in reality, his run-first option offense forces wide receivers to learn to become complete players.
“Those guys get a little bit of everything,” Johnson said of his wide receivers. “Certainly, they have to block, and they are running routes and reading coverages. That’s what we’ve told those guys all along. A lot of people want to be negative and say it hurts them and they don’t get developed. But the feedback that I’ve gotten is that they [are ready for the NFL]. The offense kind of turns them into a complete player, and they can see all of that on tape.”
Hill has been working out with Thomas and former Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson (who played there before Paul Johnson arrived with his option offense), and Hill said he believes he’s ready to transition from an offense in which he led the team with just 28 catches to a pass-first NFL offense.
“I feel like I can make a great impact,” Hill said.
Hill is probably the best pure athlete of any wide receiver in this year’s draft. If he’s as ready to make the transition as he and his coach think he is, he could make an immediate impact as a rookie.