A. J. Green
Each wears No. 8, and the similarities in the two freshmen don’t stop there.
Saturday night’s football game between Alabama and Georgia at Sanford Stadium will be more than another pairing of top-10 teams from the Southeastern Conference. It will showcase the nation’s top two receivers in the 2008 signing class, Alabama’s Julio Jones and Georgia’s A.J. Green.
Jones leads the Crimson Tide with 132 receiving yards; Green leads the entire SEC with 300.
“I don’t think there’s ever been something like this,” Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg said Monday. “The impressive thing about these guys is that they’re both physical. They’re going to get so much bigger and stronger at Alabama and Georgia, respectively, and then obviously once they get to the next level, assuming they stay healthy.”
NAME Julio Jones A.J. Green
HOMETOWN Foley, Ala. Summerville, S.C.
RECRUITING #1 WR Rivals.com #2 WR Rivals.com
SIZE 6-4, 215 6-4, 197
CAT/YDS/TDS 11/132/3 16/300/2
Green, a 6-foot-4, 197-pounder from Summerville, S.C., is the hotter of the two after catching eight passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in Saturday night’s 27-10 win at Arizona State. He was named Monday as the SEC freshman of the week.
“A.J. had a very nice game and benefited from some of the coverages that they were playing,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. “They tend to play a soft form of coverage to the wide side of the field, and A.J. was able to take advantage of it. They rolled their coverage toward him a little more in the second half, putting a guy on him and locking him man-to-man with a safety over the top.
“He basically changed the game for us.”
With Arizona State focusing on Green in the second half, the Bulldogs turned to tailback Knowshon Moreno, who had 107 of his 149 rushing yards after halftime.
While Green also had a solid performance the previous week at South Carolina with three catches for 61 yards, Jones has yet to produce an eye-popping statistical show. The 6-4, 215-pounder from Foley, Ala., had four catches for 28 yards and a touchdown in the opening rout of Clemson and had five catches for 66 yards and a score two weeks ago against Western Kentucky.
Jones had only one catch in Saturday’s 49-14 thumping of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but it went for 25 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re not disappointed at all in the way he’s played,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “He’s really been a pleasant surprise to show the maturity he’s played with the entire season, but the production has not been what we would like for it to be, and I’m sure it’s not what he’d like for it to be.”
Alabama has not needed a lot from Jones so far because it has outscored foes 64-0 in the first quarter, 102-20 in the first half and averages a league-leading 236.8 rushing yards a game.
Jones is among 15 true freshmen who have played for the Tide, but Saban does not allow freshmen to talk to the media. Green admits he’s pumped about this matchup after serving as a teammate of Jones earlier this year at the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando.
“He’s a bigger guy,” Green said. “He’s like a T.O. (Terrell Owens). He’s real physical, and he’s fast, and it’s going to take more than one person to bring him down.
“I’m pretty excited, but I don’t go into a game trying to outdo somebody.”
The two receivers may not decide Saturday’s outcome, but they should be entertaining. They have been to this point.
“I thought A.J. might take a little longer to make such a splash just because I thought he needed to get a little bigger, especially in that league,” Newberg said. “He obviously is playing lights out and is a little further along than I thought. Those two are definitely special.”
Odds and ends
Alabama and Georgia are meeting for the sixth time with each team ranked, and the Bulldogs are 5-0 in such previous matchups. ... Alabama leads the overall series 35-25-4 but has lost three straight meetings.
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 ...