Derion Kendrick taking advantage of second chances

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Derion Kendrick taking advantage of second chances

Defensive back was supposed to be a position of uncertainty, maybe even a weakness for the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs. With a lack of depth at cornerback, Georgia took a chance on former five-star recruit Derion Kendrick from Rock Hill, SC in the transfer portal, after he was dismissed from the team at Clemson.

There was no doubt about Kendrick’s ability, but his maturity and leadership have helped the Bulldogs become one of the best defenses in the country. On the biggest stage, Kendrick shined brightest intercepting Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara twice on his way to winning the Orange Bowl defensive MVP.

“Last year I just had to keep my head up, keep grinding,” said Kendrick after the win. “God put me in this spot, University of Georgia gave me a chance, and I just put my head down and kept working, and this is what it led to.”





Kendrick now leads the team with four interceptions this season. He played in multiple College Football Playoff games at Clemson, so experience helped him on Friday night but it is more than just that.

Preparation and a desire to continue learning are traits that Kendrick has shown to his new coaching staff this year.

“There is not a player on our team that prepares harder than he does,” said Smart talking about Kendrick. “He comes to practice every day, gives great effort, takes notes in meetings. I’ve never been around a kid that is so attentive in meetings at the corner position. A lot of them just think I’ve got to go play man. He tunes in and he’s a competitor.”





That is high praise coming from Smart, who was a former defensive back himself. Kendrick’s teammates on defense have noticed his value to the team as well this year.

“You know, he brings a lot of confidence in that secondary, confidence and swagger,” said linebacker Nakobe Dean. “Just to have him, he brought a lot of experience, so just to have him back there is great.”

Now, Kendrick will again face one of the most difficult tests in the country lining up against Alabama’s Jameson Williams. The Crimson Tide receiving corps made life difficult for Georgia’s secondary in the first matchup between the two teams.

If Kendrick can play like he did in the Orange Bowl, and help slow Bryce Young and Alabama’s potent offense, he has a chance to be remembered in Athens for a long time, even if his time ends up being just a season at Georgia before heading to the NFL Draft.





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