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Former UGA Football Star Ladd McConkey Gives Thanks To Kirby Smart

April 27, 2024

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ATHENS - On Friday night, former Georgia Bulldog receiver Ladd McConkey, who won two national championships during his time in Athens, was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 34th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

McConkey, a former three-star prospect in Georgia’s outstanding 2020 recruiting class, spoke with reporters about his initial reaction, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, his time at Georgia, Kirby Smart, and more.


On his initial reaction to being selected by the Chargers:

"[Head] Coach [Jim] Harbaugh is there. They have a great offense, a great quarterback. Just excited to get up there and meet all of the guys and get to work, honestly. I've been waiting, I feel like it's been so long, just trying to figure out where I'm going to be at. Now that it's here, it's time to get to work."


On QB Justin Herbert:

"Just watching his game, it comes easy to him. He can make any and every throw. Excited to get out there, get in rhythm with him, show him what I can do and gain his trust."



With McConkey on board, the Los Angeles Chargers now have +350 odds to win the AFC West next season according to FanDuel.


On his skillset:

"I think that I'm very versatile. I can play inside and outside. A gadget guy that can kind of do a little bit of it all. Just going to go out there, see what my role is with them. If they want me to play outside, I'll play outside. If they want me to play inside, I'll do that. I'm really just excited to get to work, see what they want me to do, then go attack it."


On if team has told him whether he will be a 'primarily inside or outside receiver':

"From watching my tape and stuff, they feel like I can do a little bit of both. We'll see, when I get there, how I fit around everybody else and stuff. We'll see how it goes. Then, I feel like we'll go from there."


On if he is 'still recovering from a back injury':

"I'm 100 percent. All of that is in the past. I feel good. Ever since I came back and started playing last year, I haven't had any trouble with it. I'm good, I'm ready."


On his 'pre-draft interactions' with Harbaugh:

"Not too much, honestly. It was funny, he ran into my parents at the Combine. They just introduced themselves and said, 'Hey.' I haven't had too much [interaction], but I'm excited to figure it out."


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On if Harbaugh recruited him coming out of high school:

"No, sir. Not too many people did, though, so it's all good, no hard feelings [laughter]."


On the Chargers 'trading up' to select him:

"That is just a little bit extra motivation. They want me, they came up and got me, so I'm going to give everything that I have to them and make sure that it is worth it."


On if he 'ever imagined' that he would be selected within the first two rounds of the NFL Draft:

"Growing up, I feel like every little kid wants to get drafted, wants to go high. I don't know. I knew that I could do it, and I knew that I had a good support staff around me that believed in me. When I got to Georgia, got the opportunity, was out there playing in the SEC against the best competition week in and week out, I was like, 'Alright, I can do this, I just need a shot.' It's something that I've always wanted to do, and then it started to come to life a little bit in the last couple of years."


On when he 'got comfortable' in the college game:

"Really, my true freshman year, I redshirted, didn't get to play. I was on scout team, but I felt like I was killing them, I felt like I could play. But, looking back now, it was probably the best decision for me, redshirting, at the time. In practice, going against first-round defensive guys, when I was doing it then, I was like, 'If I get a shot, I'm going to run with it and never look back.'"


On mentors:

"There are so many people. I was lucky to have two great receivers coaches — [current LSU Wide Receivers Coach] Cortez Hankton and [current Buccaneers Wide Receivers Coach] Bryan McClendon — both of those guys have been unbelievable to me, so I can't thank them enough. Then, obviously, [Georgia Head] Coach [Kirby] Smart and the rest of the coaching staff. When you walk around the Georgia facility, I could probably say a great thing or two about every single one of them."


On wide receivers currently in the NFL that he 'models his game after':

"No one specific that I really just watch and am like, 'OK, let me just do everything that he does.' I try to take a little bit from everybody. If someone hits a good release, I say, 'Yeah, let me add that one to it, let me try that out.' If it works for me, keep rolling. If it doesn't, I'll move on to the next. Just see what works for people, and if it works for me, I'll keep it."


On 'being small in high school' and his journey from high school to Georgia and the NFL:

"I feel like I was small because I played football and basketball, so as soon as I got done with football, I was on the court running up and down, losing all of my weight. I never had a chance to really lock in to the weight room and get into a program like that. But, yeah, I was super under-recruited. My five official visits were to Tennessee-Chattanooga, Jacksonville State, Army West Point, Georgia and Vanderbilt, so it was kind of all over the spectrum. Georgia came in late. When I went and visited, I thought that it was a little bit nicer, a little bit better than all of the other places [laughter]. So, I was like, 'Alright, let's give it a shot.'"


On if he can 'add size to his frame':

"We'll see what they want me to do. I don't have a problem putting some extra muscle on, obviously. My game is lateral quickness and speed, so, obviously, I want to be able to keep that. Getting in the right nutrition program and putting on the right weight. I don't want to just put on weight to put on weight — if I put it on, I want to put it on the right way."


On if he believes that his skillset 'will be able to transfer to the NFL':

"I do. Yes, sir. Just looking at the receivers nowadays in the league, I feel like my body type kind of matches up with a lot of them. There are six-foot-four, 220 [pound] guys, and then there are five-foot-10, 180 [pounds]. I feel like we're kind of all over the place nowadays. It's just different flavors for different people."


On the reaction at his draft party upon being selected:

"I tried to get everyone to be quiet at first, but I don't think that they could hold it in too long [laughter]. There for a second I couldn't hear what was coming through the phone, everybody was screaming. That's my family, I have a huge support staff. Super thankful for them, they've been there through it all."


On Harbaugh and Smart:

"Two unbelievable coaches. Coach Smart just gets the best out of you. Ultimate competitor. He wants us to win. He sets us up for success. I feel like a lot of it will translate into the next level."

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