Georgia lost three veteran starters in the secondary this past season. The Bulldogs must find replacements for Aaron Davis, Dominick Sanders, and Malkom Parrish. Sanders will be the hardest player to replace, but all three had memorable careers at Georgia. Now the Bulldogs have the talent back there on paper, but the real test is how they put what they learned on the field.
After 15 days of practice, here is what I expect to see from this group in ten days.
The Bulldogs return Deandre Baker and Tyrique McGhee as two of the probable starters. Baker was the fourth highest tackler on the team with 30 solo tackles, one tackle for a loss, nine breakups, and three interceptions. McGhee emerged as one of the toughest players in the secondary last year. He became a playmaker in crunch time situations. However, McGhee practiced a good bit at the STAR position before suffering a foot injury during fall camp. These two should be the starting corners for the Bulldogs.
After McGhee and Baker, the competition is wide open for playing time. Mark Webb continues to make plays this fall and could be one of the guys to see the field. Despite suffering a knee injury in the spring, he appears 100 percent and ready to compete again. Boy did he cover some ground this offseason. Tyson Campbell continues to receive praise this fall and seems to be battling for one of those top spots. Ameer Speed, Eric Stokes, Chris Smith, William Poole, and Divaad Wilson round out the rest of the depth at corner, and all could see the field at some point this season.
Wilson came out as one of the ones to watch this spring, and then he hurt his knee. He’s one of the limited ones right now and fall camp and is probably 80 percent. Wilson participates in some drill but is still limited. If he can get healthy, he could be another to watch. During the spring, he was one of the ones working a majority of time at STAR. Deangelo Gibbs could see some time here at STAR as well.
Look for Baker, McGhee, and Campbell to have the most playing time. Then look for Webb and Speed to hunt for more playing time. However, don’t count out the others as they’re all fighting for playing time. The competition is real at corner, and its only getting tougher.
Smart mentioned that the safeties were one of the most depleted section on the defense. J.R. Reed comes in at the most experienced safety on the team. He was the second highest tackler on the team with 40 solo tackles, five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, five breakups, six quarterback hurries, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. Reed is a huge piece to this secondary and could have a monumental year. He seems to have won the starting job.
After Reed, the rest of the safeties include, Richard LeCounte, Gibbs, Tray Bishop, Jarvis Wilson and Latavious Brini. Those five guys will all push for playing time this season. However, LeCounte is the one I expect to make the biggest strides. After a hot and cold freshman year, the sophomore could put it all together and earn some more playing time.
As a whole unit, Georgia is young, but these guys have a lot of potential. If this group can put all the pieces together, Georgia could see another memorable year. By the end of the season, Georgia could have one of the top secondaries in the country and help the team back to the SEC and National Championship.