published Friday, August 19th, 2011

Charles likely a top target at UGA

The secret is out on Georgia's offense.

Sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray plans to seek out junior tight end Orson Charles during the Sept. 3 opener against Boise State in Atlanta. And in the Sept. 10 game against visiting South Carolina. And in the games after that.

"I think I'm going to be looking for Orson all year, just with the way he is able to get open and create mismatches with the defenders," Murray said. "I think he's going to have a tremendous year. I've told him that the school record is like 48 or 49 catches for a tight end and that my goal is to get him in the 50s."

Charles was the MVP of the spring, according to coach Mark Richt, and is the biggest all-around weapon on a unit that lost its top two receivers and top two tailbacks from last season. The 6-foot-3, 241-pounder amassed 26 receptions for 422 yards and two touchdowns a year ago, which was highlighted by six catches for 108 yards and a score in the overtime loss to Florida.

He has deflected talk all spring and summer of being Murray's first choice.

"We have playmakers all around, and we have depth behind those playmakers," Charles said. "We have people who can step up and catch the ball and make things happen. It's not going to be just me or [receivers] Tavarres King or Marlon Brown. We have a lot of guys who can contribute."

Murray has been eyeing Charles since they were teammates at Tampa's Plant High School, but they haven't always been in sync. The two would connect just five times in the first four games last season, when star receiver A.J. Green had to sit out due to an NCAA suspension.

Charles actually had just 10 catches in the first eight games a year ago before racking up 16 in the final five.

"I don't think there is a linebacker that's as big as him in the SEC, and there is not one as fast as him," Murray said. "The way he can be used on an offense is a blessing to me, I would say, and I know he's worked very hard and is ready to go. His knowledge of the playbook after two seasons has grown tremendously.

"I think the coaches trust him a lot more and will use him in a lot of different ways, and I think that's only going to increase the number of times the ball will be coming to him."

So would Murray be stunned if Boise State and South Carolina keyed on Charles from the start?

"I wouldn't be surprised at all, but I have all the confidence in the world in all our receivers," Murray said, "so if they want to do that, they're going to have a tough time guarding our wideouts."

Odds and ends

The Bulldogs practiced for 90 minutes Thursday inside Sanford Stadium, with most of the workout focused on special teams. ... Richt said Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin are the top two options at punt return, with freshmen Malcolm Mitchell and Damian Swann vying for the No. 3 spot. ... When asked if there would be one or two men deep on kickoff returns, Richt said that was "classified information." ... Freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell (groin) got in for a couple of snaps during an 11-on-11 drill in a green jersey. ... Georgia will do some scout-team work Saturday and Monday and will have a practice game for Boise State on Wednesday. ... When asked to update the "Dream Team" signing class, Richt said, "We did really good."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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