True freshman Lawson Luckie has the potential to be a VOLUME PIG in the years to come; could he be a sneaky CFF play in 2023 too?
Few would have thought that out of that 2021 UGA recruiting class that it would be four-star 6’4″ 230-pound TE Brock Bowers who would be the headliner just a few seasons later. That class included the likes of future top-five NFL draft pick and All-World OT Amarius Mims (6’7″, 330), apex predator LBs Smael Mondon (6’3″, 230) and Xavien Sorey (6’3″, 240), and five-star gunslinger Brock Vandagriff (6’3″, 200).
The 2023 UGA recruiting class is equally decorated—sporting multiple five-stars across different position groups nationwide. And yet, one is standing above the rest early in spring camps — 6’3″, 225-pound four-star freshman TE Luckie Lawson.
He completed the family legacy when he signed with UGA this past December. It became an exciting recruitment down the stretch. His father — Mike Luckie, is one of three triplets to sign and play for the Dawgs. Mike played with Kirby Smart in the mid-90s. Could that be a good omen for Lawson? Kidding… of course, we’re not that superstitious around here.
Luckie is also one of the chosen few to come out of Gwinett County (GC) and make his way to UGA. But it was not for lack of trying from other programs. The usual suspects tried, Alabama in particular. The Tide came after Luckie in full force late in the 2023 recruiting cycle. They applied a full-court press with the help of other GC natives like Caleb Downs and Justice Haynes. Ultimately, UGA would hold onto its legacy TE. That could spell disaster for its rivals, who are desperately waiting for the day Brock Bowers retires to the NFL. But first, let’s do a refresher on the infrastructure in place.
Coaching & System
It’s well documented now that UGA employs a TE-friendly system in its offense. One pertinent question on our minds, though — is it really TE-friendly, or is it Brock Bowers-friendly? Typically, we look for a pattern over multiple seasons with multiple players when assessing a system. In some instances, through multiple programs. In the case of UGA, we have a recent history of dominant TE usage, but the numbers pre-Bowers are not as flattering. From 2015 to 2020 (pre-Bowers era), the UGA TE1 never caught more than 430 yards, 30 receptions, and three TDs receiving.
But let’s assume that UGA will keep the TE utilization as a focus for its offense going forward. This is not a stretch of an assumption, as part of the uptick in TE targets coincided with OC Todd Monken’s appointment in 2020. Monken is now gone, but new OC Mike Bobo vows to keep the offense largely intact — with some wrinkles.
In that case, there is value to be had, particularly through the UGA TE1, in the post-Bowers era.
UGA’s top two TEs in the last two seasons caught 91 passes for 1396 yards, nine TDs in 2022 and 66 passes for 1036 yards, and 14 TDs in 2021. Most of that was Brock Bowers (63-942-7 yards in 2022, 56-882-13 in 2021). Something to note is that this staff showed it is willing to get creative to get Bowers the ball. In 2022, he carried the rock nine times for 109 yards and three scores. In 2021 he rushed four times for 56 yards and another score. But Bowers will eventually be moving on. Darnell Washington already has, and the heavy TE utilization of the last two seasons bodes well for any UGA TE taking over the reins.
While many in the C2C/CFF space are familiar with rising sophomore TE Oscar Delp, I have another name for you to consider.
TE Lawson Luckie – 6’3″, 225
Luckie fits the Brock Bowers mold physically at 6’3 “, 225 pounds. He also happens to be a similarly ranked recruit coming out of high school:
While there are other promising TEs besides Bowers, including another TE in the Bulldogs’ class of 2023 who is highly ranked, too, Luckie has made waves first this spring. Here is an excerpt from a recent UGA beat report:
Freshman tight end Lawson Luckie is the most recent Bulldog to shine in the spring as he hauled in multiple touchdowns (3) in a recent inter-squad scrimmage that the Bulldogs held this past week. Including a Brock Bowers-like run after the catch, according to sources.
It’s encouraging that they mention Bowers in that quote; could it be a sign of things to come?
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Bowers is still TE1 of this team. Likely, Delp will be listed as TE2 to open the season. So why did I decide to feature Luckie?
I think if you play in a devy/C2C league or even do some scouting in CFF for 2024/2025, this is a name to be familiar with. I covered his profile briefly in my article last week. In it, I mentioned that Alabama and UGA fought back and forth for his signature. That speaks volumes to me about his potential. With him already making a splash as a true freshman, I am excited about things to come.
From the UGA coverage I have read, Delp is not as strong of a blocker as Luckie. This fact could prove pivotal this season regarding who sees the larger share of snaps as the Dawgs look to replace Darnell Washington’s contribution in the run game. At the risk of committing some content creation faux pas, I will share a quote I saw through a paid source:
One of the stories of the day was Lawson Luckie. With how he’s looking I may have to end up retracting my statement on UGA running far less multiple TE sets this season. He caught a couple of short passes and turned them into big gains. I was told about at least 2 TD’s from Luckie and it sounds like <…> heard of another one. There was one catch that he turned into a 20-25 yard reception and another where he ran for 45-55 yards after the catch. The blocking work from him is strong and he is quick after the catch. Do not be surprised if he surpasses Oscar Delp or is at least used more in a lot of situations. He can block in a way that Delp has not been able to so far and he is much better in the open field than anyone expected… Georgia has a player there. It should soothe not signing Duce Robinson.
That’ll probably be the last time I share a direct quote from content behind a paywall, but I felt like the good followers of C2C just had to know. Additionally, here is CFB media personality J.D. Pickell talking about Lawson Luckie:
I can say pretty confidently, as a UGA football fan, that Kirby will not play players that cannot block. Full stop. The fact that Luckie came into the program ready to go in that capacity strongly indicates that he will play at UGA eventually. It may not necessarily be this year. I think the trajectory for 2024 and 2025 is worth taking a chance on if you’re in a deep devy or C2C league.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit out of my depth here — I’ve never played in a devy or C2C league, but I think I get the gist of how they operate. Essentially, what I’m saying is, if you can acquire Luckie in a league where you can hold onto him for a few seasons, he’s probably a good deal right now since most are focused on Delp or even Pearce Spurlin. There is a non-insignificant chance that Luckie leapfrogs Delp on the hierarchy this season due to his advanced blocking prowess. When Bowers is gone in 2024, you never know what value you might accidentally stumble into.
Luckie should at least have the chance to be TE1 in 2025 with all the upperclassmen gone before the chosen one arrives… (*inserts eye emojis*)
- There are a lot of concerns from a CFF standpoint. Unless you’re in a very deep re-draft league format, I would not advise drafting Luckie for 2023. This is more of a 2024 and 2025 play.
- The other concern is that the blocking ability could work against Luckie’s CFF profile. While it would get him on the field more and potentially allow him to usurp upperclassmen ahead of him, it could also mean he ends up filling more of a run-support role like Washington did. Luckie is a more fluid athlete than Washington because of his smaller frame. I doubt he will be quite as dynamic of a blocker.
- UGA also has another elite TE prospect currently committed in the 2024 class who looks to be a hybrid WR-TE type — Landen Thomas. He could challenge for immediate playing time in 2024 and secure the coveted UGA TE1 role in 2025, also. That being said, star ratings and high school hype is cool and all. But I think it speaks volumes that Luckie is making headlines already on campus against what is very likely the best defense in CFB.
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