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Patience pays off: Demetris Robertson produces after recording first catch at Georgia

UGA’s Demetris Robertson shares highlights from 30-6 win over Vanderbilt

University of Georgia receiver Demetris Robertson spoke with media following the Bulldogs' 30-6 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug. 31, 2019.
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University of Georgia receiver Demetris Robertson spoke with media following the Bulldogs' 30-6 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug. 31, 2019.

Demetris Robertson skated through the Vanderbilt end zone until his toes tapped a line of gold-painted trim. He was hoisted by his teammate as if a symbolic crown clasped onto the receiver’s helmet in celebration.

A memorable (and dazzling, thanks to the aforementioned color scheme) fit for a king. Georgia’s speedy receiver is one.

Well, a king of firsts.

Robertson hauled in a 3-yard touchdown reception on Georgia’s (1-0, 1-0 SEC) first series of a 30-6 season-opening win at Vanderbilt. Quarterback Jake Fromm spotted him toward the back of the end zone as Robertson’s speed separated him from defenders. That feat marked Robertson’s first catch as a Bulldog, despite making his team debut a full year ago.

His first catch (Matt Landers and Lawrence Cager joined the party, too) followed another touchdown on his first carry in the red-and-black — a 72-yard burst against Austin Peay. Quite a long time for a receiver with the speed, size and tangibles that Robertson possesses. He came to Georgia as a five-star prospect and Cal transfer, then spent a season in the shadows.

“It’s super frustrating to not get a catch last season, being a receiver,” said Robertson, also in his first media opportunity in a calendar year. “I knew my role and had a bunch of guys in front of me.”

Robertson didn’t mope or whine about his circumstance. He knew the situation and he echoed his head coach Kirby Smart in stating that directly. Georgia had experienced receivers last season. A lot of them, too.

Georgia receiver Demetris Robertson (16) is congratulated by quarterback Jake Fromm (11) after a touchdown during the Bulldogs’ game against Vanderbilt Saturday night. Jason Vorhees jvorhees@macon.com

Coming to Georgia after a prestigious freshman season on the west coast, Robertson had to grasp the playbook. From the simple basics to the vital intricacies, that wasn’t a concept that clicked in a matter of hours. It took time, and likely some grueling hours in the film room when a college student could be tending to other matters.

Despite that, this cloud of anticipation surrounded Robertson while living through his first season. Most people knew his talents and potential. But the belief was that it would immediately translate.

“I just hate so bad that people had these expectations for him,” Smart said. “He’s a good kid and practices so hard. He’s so deserving of what he was able to do tonight.”

Georgia Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart speaks to the media after the Bulldogs' 30-6 win over Vanderbilt August 31, 2019, in Nashville.

Everyone within Georgia’s locker room saw Robertson’s abilities flash on the practice field. Bulldog cornerbacks probably got fairly frustrated with getting burned by speed, too. Nevertheless, Robertson’s spotlight opportunity came at Vanderbilt Stadium. Not a one-carry fluke this time, either.

His stat line can be deceiving: three receptions for 23 yards. That led Georgia in receiving (that should be telling about the offensive approach) and it’s three times as many receptions as ever before.

It could’ve been richer, too. Robertson hauled in a 52-yard pass on Fromm’s only deep throw. Georgia ran a play-action pass and Robertson was streaking in stride, but a holding penalty on Isaiah Wilson negated it. Fromm rewarded those efforts, however, with a 17-yard pass on the following play that did end up in Robertson’s stat line.

“He’s just been keeping his head down and stuff since he’s been grinding since he got here,” running back D’Andre Swift said. “He was new and didn’t know the plays last year. He really worked in the offseason.”

Robertson’s struggles paid off Saturday night. He no longer had to wait, but soaking in the knowledge behind the likes of Mecole Hardman, Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley led to a promising start.

Now, it’s time to pass the torch of firsts. Robertson has arrived for good.

“I had to wait my turn. Now we’re here,” Robertson said. “I’m dialed in.”

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Brandon Sudge has covered Georgia athletics as a correspondent for The Telegraph since 2016. He focuses on telling the deeper story within football, basketball, gymnastics and other sports. You can follow Brandon on Twitter at @brandonsudge.