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Georgia vs. South Carolina: Rhett McGowan takes over punt return duties

Georgia split end Rhett McGowan, a former walk-on, is the Bulldogs' new punt return man

Scott Cunningham - Getty Images

Georgia split end Rhett McGowan and wide receiver/defensive back Malcolm Mitchell had been sharing punt return responsibilities for the Bulldogs, with Mitchell receiving most of the opportunities. But after Mitchell's tough game against Tennessee, head coach Mark Richt has given the job to McGowan:

"Rhett will start out as our punt-return man in all situations," said Richt on Tuesday. "He was kind of our mid-field punt (man), if the punt was somewhere around midfield. He'd be the guy who dug in his heels at the 10-yard mark and decided whether to catch it, fair catch it or let it go over his head. He's got some reps doing that and he's had a couple of reps around midfield, and we're allowing him to be the primary punt return man in this came and we'll see how it goes."

The Bulldogs haven't been great at returning punts this season. Georgia averages 8.8 yards per return, which ranks eighth in the SEC. McGowan has only received two chances, but he is averaging 21 yards per return. Mitchell is averaging just 5.8 yards on six returns.

McGowan, a senior, was awarded a scholarship before the season after playing three years as a walk-on. In addition to his contributions to the return game, McGowan has two catches for 26 yards this season.

No. 5 Georgia travels to No. 6 South Carolina for an SEC East showdown on Saturday. The game at Williams-Brice Stadium is set for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff and will be televised on ESPN.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.