Georgia’s secondary had a lot of questions heading into the season, actually becoming the position of concern for the Bulldogs after the spring game, heading into the summer and fall.
Christopher Smith and Latavious Brini, two seniors, both waited their turn patiently to play in the ‘Dawgs secondary. Neither were five-star recruits or got much playing time in their younger years, but when both were called on late in Georgia’s 2020 season, they stepped up to the challenge.
“The confidence I got from the Cincinnati game, it has continued building,” said Brini on Tuesday. “It is a building process to try and take every week at a time and just keep building that confidence from Cincinnati.”
Smith, a safety, caught the eyes of Georgia fans early this year with the interception returned for a touchdown that ended up being the deciding factor in the win over Clemson. Currently, Smith has a team-high two interceptions.
Brini primarily plays the STAR position, the closest thing to Georgia’s version of a nickel cornerback. He has three pass breakups to go along with his 14 tackles, which is third-best on the team so far this year.
Their play on the field has been more than sufficient so far, as the Bulldogs have ascended to the No. 2 spot in the county. It is the relationship off the field though that makes the bond so special between Smith and Brini.
“My relationship with Chris Smith, you just seen my smile brighten up the room,” said Brini. “Chris Smith is my brother, like literally my brother. I love Chris Smith like my mother had him. Just playing with him is amazing, like there’s never a dull moment.”
Say what you want, but that is not your typical answer about a relationship between two teammates. The trust that Georgia’s defense has in one another has been apparent from the start of the season and again showed with the ways Brini and Smith have talked about their roles as teammates and friends.
Other players in the 2018 recruiting class that came in with them also recognize the way those two have seized their opportunity this season.
“I’m really excited for both of them, I can’t even lie to you,” said senior outside linebacker Robert Beal. “I want to go over and give them a hug every time I see them. It’s like man y’all done worked so hard for this, I’m glad y’all are getting y’alls time to shine.”
It will be interesting to see how Brini’s playing time is affected by Tykee Smith’s potential return to the field. Smith was a highly-touted transfer from West Virginia that also plays the STAR position. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said that Smith has been fully practicing this week and could play against Arkansas on Saturday.
Nonetheless, Georgia has now seen through four games that Brini and Chris Smith are more than capable of starting and even excelling in Dan Lanning’s defense.