Between James Coley, Lawrence Cager and Mark Richt, there’s a path starting to form between Athens and Miami.
As a freshman wide receiver at Miami, Cager played under Coley in his final year as offensive coordinator for the Hurricanes. Then Richt left Georgia for the head coaching job in South Florida in time for Cager’s sophomore season before Cager himself finally made the trek up I-75 to join his former offensive coordinator in Athens.
Now in his final year of eligibility as a graduate transfer for the Bulldogs, Cager is looking to get the most out of his final collegiate opportunity.
“As a young recruit you’re into all the facilities,” Cager said. “You see the facilities and you’re like ‘oh my gosh’. Now it’s like, ‘how can this help me get better and get to the next level?’”
Cager had plenty of schools to choose from coming out of high school. He said Kirby Smart recruited him heavily while he was at Alabama and added that Richt reached out to him about Georgia even though he never made an official visit. But with all the shared history between the schools, coaches and Cager, Georgia is where Cager wants to be.
“It’s kind of a match made in heaven,” Cager said. “It’s about trying to win a national championship, trying to win an SEC championship, trying to get drafted. What’s the best place for that? I honestly felt like coach Coley and coach Smart had the best opportunity for me.”
Perhaps most importantly, the Bulldogs can offer him playing time. While he’ll certainly have to earn his spot in the receiving room, there’s no doubting that Georgia could use some help at the wide receiver position.
After all, the Bulldogs have to replace their top five pass catchers from last season. Running back D’Andre Swift is the current team leader in receptions if that tells you anything. Cager still insists the lack of depth at wide receiver didn’t influence his decision to attend Georgia.
“I really didn't look at the receiver situation,” Cager said. “Coach Coley and Smart called me as soon as I put my name in the transfer portal and I’ll put my trust those guys 10 times out of 10. Coley coached me at Miami and Smart recruited me heavily when he was at Alabama.”
The move makes sense when you consider the history between Cager and his coordinator. Coley called the shots during Cager’s freshman year, so the familiarity between the two helped ease Cager's transition.
“I’ve been studying a lot so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp of the playbook,” Cager said. “I essentially played in the offense already so I knew most of the terminology and the route concepts.”
It’s not just Coley making him feel at home either. When asked who were some of the players he first bonded with at Georgia, Cager’s answer was quarterback Jake Fromm.
“He reached out to me before I ever took a visit,” Cager said. “Jake’s a great quarterback and he elevates the whole team not just the wide receivers. He elevates the team with his leadership and it’s great to play with a leader like him.”
Despite the help from his coach and his quarterback, being the new guy is never easy, and Cager said his first few days as a Bulldog felt like starting all over again.
“At first, you feel like a freshman,” Cager said. “The first day of practice I didn’t know where to go. I was just going with the crowd. But once you get acclimated to it, it’s smooth sailing.”
With the opening game of the season on Aug. 31 quickly approaching, Cager is ready to bring his skill set to Sanford Stadium and become a key player in the Georgia offense.
At 6-foot-5, Cager should be a red-zone threat for a team that struggled to score there last season. His teammates have taken note of what he can do in practice.
“He’s that big, physical wide receiver that we need on the outside,” cornerback Eric Stokes said. “I know he can go up and high point it or do whatever.”
Cager said his catch radius is one of the biggest parts of his game, and he’ll get plenty of chances to make use of it if he can find his way onto the field.
But first he’ll have to carve a starting spot from a talented yet inexperienced wide receiving corps.
“I feel like it’s a battle everywhere,” Cager said. “No matter who starts, anybody going in the game is going to make plays and contributions.”
The receivers who take the field against Vanderbilt will provide the first true look at this new group of wide outs. They're out to prove that they aren’t to be overlooked despite their lack of experience.
“I think it’s motivation for everyone in that receiving room,” Cager said. “I feel like it’s a lack of respect that people are saying that, but we take that as fuel.”