The Georgia secondary is going to be hashed and rehashed a million different times between now and September 4th. Media outlets across the country are going to talk about how Kirby Smart, Dan Lanning, and Jahmile Addae are going to prepare a very young group to be up to the task in a season in which expectations for Georgia as a team are so high. When a team is replacing so much experience and so much talent in a particular unit, there is only one answer to how it can be overcome the following year. Georgia must be versatile in the backend of the defense and manufacture depth. Fortunately for the Dawgs, this will not be something they’re forcing to happen, UGA has players with the body types and skill sets to play multiple roles.
One of the most overlooked player in my opinion of the 2021 recruiting class and the Georgia secondary as a whole is Javon Bullard. I specifically asked Kirby Smart in his press conference on National Signing Day about Bullard and his versatility. Smart responded, “Yeah, we are excited about Javon. He’s a bright kid, great family. We are excited about seeing him work. There are certainly going to be opportunities in the defensive backfield and we are going to have to find out more about him to see where exactly he’s going to start. Whether that’s Star, Safety, Corner, Nickel, Money… We are excited about the things he brings to the table.” So obviously Smart is open to playing the incoming freshmen in multiple positions and the fact that he has to be seen on the grass more at UGA to determine where he’ll spend the bulk of his time let’s me know that Smart and company believe he’s capable of multiple positions. Bullard’s size is going to lend itself to versatility as well. The Milledgeville native came into Georgia 185 pounds as an early enrollee and the strength and conditioning program should only add muscle and help an already physical player be ready to contribute as a swing player and on special teams.
Two other players that are going to be able to align for Georgia in multiple ways in the secondary are likely Latavious Brini and Kamari Lassiter. Brini stepped up for the Dawgs in the Peach Bowl and played well. Brini recorded a career-high 5 tackles, including 2 for a loss, and had a pass break up against the Bearcats. Brini is a big defensive back at 6’2″ 210 pounds and he’s been around in the Georgia defense for a while. This makes him a great candidate to play some Star, Money, and Strong Safety to for the Dawgs in their various defensive packages and personnel groups. Brini is going to be able to a force defender against the run and is athletic enough to tight ends and running backs and can also get after the passer when sent a blitz if needed.
Kamari Lassiter is one of the more dynamic football players that the Georgia staff was able to sign in the class of 2021. Lassiter dominated in his junior and senior seasons in all 3 phases of the game for American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Lassiter has tremendous ball skills and his time at receiver, much like fellow incoming freshmen Nyland Green, is only going to help him with his knowledge and feel for the game. Yes, there is always a steep learning curve as a true freshman, especially in Georgia’s defense, but instincts and the athletic ability to overcome minor technical or mental errors is something that can’t be taught. Lassiter could find himself in a slot corner, Nickelback type role in 2021, as well as playing his true position of corner. Ultimately, Lassiter might first make contributions at Georgia on special teams. Lassiter was an explosive return man in high school and he could contend for that role early on at UGA as well.
Ultimately, I believe every player in Georgia’s secondary with the exception of Kelee Ringo and Nyland Green will have to be prepared to play multiple positions. The blue-chip prospects and 5-Star corners in Ringo and Green have off he charts athleticism and will likely end up as the 2 starting corners for the Dawgs. No need to cloud up their minds with multiple roles, just let them be the dominant cover guys they are and play on an island on the outside. Everyone else, should be prepared to move around and do what’s needed to help a young, but extremely talented, secondary succeed.