What now? Filling the gaps in the secondary
Georgia already knew it would have to replace most of its starting secondary from a season ago. With Tyrique Stevenson’s decision to put his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal, the Bulldogs are down one important player the coaches were counting on to do just that.
When the Bulldogs begin spring practice, safeties Lewis Cine and Christopher Smith will enter as the lone defensive backs with significant starting experience after Stevenson. Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel, Richard LeCounte, and Eric Stokes will have all moved on.
So where do the Bulldogs go from here?
We’ll start at safety. Cine started all 10 games for the Bulldogs last year, finishing second on the team with 49 tackles, including a career high in the Bulldogs' win at South Carolina.
Joining him should be Smith, who started the last five games of the year in place of the injured LeCounte. The former four-star finished the year with 26 total stops.
The Star and cornerback positions are where most of the questions will lie.
Latavious Brini played only sparingly before seeing most of the action at Star in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, making five tackles, including two for losses of seven yards. It was his first time playing Star as he spent the year working at safety.
After Brini, it could be interesting. The Bulldogs will bring back senior William Poole, although rising senior Ameer Speed could get a look at the position, as could rising sophomore Major Burns, who will also be in the mix as a backup at safety.
The starting cornerback spots are even harder to guage.
Former five-star prospect Kelee Ringo will certainly play a huge role. Ringo would have enjoyed a significant part of the plan for 2020 had he not suffered a shoulder injury that cost him the entire campaign.
Fortunately, there’s good news to report.
As you probably saw, Ringo was able to dress out for the Peach Bowl, and although he didn't play, his recovery is well on schedule. He's expected to take part in spring ball. Although he appears slated for corner, Ringo is versatile enough to play anywhere in the Bulldog secondary.
Another freshman from 2020 who will get a long look is Jalen Kimber, who saw action in three of 10 games. There's also Daran Branch, who played against Missouri.
The Bulldogs signed four defensive backs during the early signing period, led by Nyland Green, with Kamari Lassiter, David Daniel, and Javon Bullard also joining the squad. Green is ranked as the No. 9 cornerback in the Class of 2021.
Expect Georgia also to take a deep look at the transfer portal, or perhaps sign another player in February, with four-star Terrion Arnold a possible addition. Arnold is listed as the No. 4 safety in the nation.