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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Post-spring depth chart: Secondary

Georgia’s pass defense actually ranked a respectable fifth in the SEC last year. But it didn’t seem like it. The porous third-down defense – dead last in the league – stood out more, as did the propensity to give up big plays.

After all that, the Bulldogs still didn’t go out and sign one mega-recruit expected to play right away and help fix it, like at tailback and run defense. They did sign a bunch of four-star defensive backs, but the most notable offseason move was actually to move someone OUT of the secondary. (That would be Alec Ogletree to inside linebacker.)

So by and large, the team is banking on experience and individual improvement to shore things up. Hence, you’ll see a lot of familiar names in this blog post. The position destination of Sanders Commings remains up in the air, but for the sake of this blog we’ll put him at safety.

(If it were up to me, I’d move Branden Smith to offense and keep Commings at cornerback. But it’s not up to me, so here I am continuing to sling blogs at you.)


Brandon Boykin (Sr.)
Top backup: Jordan Love (R-Soph.)
Also: Blake Sailors (walk-on, R-Soph.), Connor Norman (walk-on, R-Fr.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 85 percent. … Boykin will start at a cornerback spot. That might be the only certainty in the entire secondary. He made the wise decision to pass on the NFL, as his coverage skills need a bit of work. He’s not a shut-down corner yet, and he’s not a big-physical defender. But he has great speed and athleticism. Love had a good spring even though he was hurt (like almost everyone else in the secondary). He will definitely get pushed for playing time by the incoming freshman. Speaking of which …

LOOMING: The Bulldogs are getting an influx of four-star corners with size, headlined by Damian Swann (6-1, 170) and Nick Marshall (6-2, 195). Malcolm Mitchell would be included in the discussion but he seems headed for offense. Devin Bowman (6-0, 175) could also be a factor.


Branden Smith (Jr.)
Top backup: Derek Owens (Soph.)
Also: Luis Capella (walk-on, R-Soph.), Corey Dunson (walk-on, R-Fr.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 50 percent. … Smith had a good spring on defense – and then a good spring GAME on offense. But Todd Grantham and Mark Richt seem set on keeping him at cornerback. (If you injected Mike Bobo with truth serum, you might get a different response.) Now if Commings doesn’t move to safety, he and Smith would likely share time at corner, with a lot of nickel coverages. That’s why we’re pegging this at 50 percent. Otherwise, Smith doesn’t figure to get pushed for the starting spot by Owens or one of the freshmen – at least not quite yet. The middle of the season, when Swann, Marshall and company are more comfortable, could be a different story.

LOOMING: See above.


Bacarri Rambo (Jr.)
Top backup: Jakar Hamilton (Sr.)
Also: Mark Deas (R-Fr.)

60 percent. … Rambo will start against Boise State unless he’s hurt. The uncertainty is whether it will be at free or strong. That not only depends on Commings, but in a repeat of last year, whether Hamilton or Williams is ahead on the depth chart. And don’t rule out Hamilton being switched back to corner, a spot he occupied in the Georgia Tech game for run defense purposes.

LOOMING: Corey Moore was a consensus four-star prospect, and given the depth here don’t look for him to redshirt. Chris Sanders might factor in the discussion too, while Quintavius Harrow does seem likely to redshirt.


Sanders Commings (Jr.)
Top backup: Shawn Williams (Jr.)
Also: Kyle Brock (walk-on, R-Soph.), Lucas Redd (walk-on, R-Fr.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 30 percent … Commings may not even play this position, and if he does he may not beat out Williams. And Moore could always nab the job with a good preseason. As you can see, the secondary will have a lot of sorting out to do between now and the time the Bulldogs run onto the Georgia Dome field.

LOOMING: See above.


I’m ending the series with this post, rather than getting into the specialists. We know it’ll be Drew Butler punting and Blair Walsh kicking, and the kick and punt returners will be selected among the following group: Boykin, Smith, Carlton Thomas, Tavarres King and perhaps Mitchell. So there you go.


JasonC said...

Seth, I have a little problem with this statement:
"After all that, the Bulldogs still didn’t go out and sign one mega-recruit expected to play right away and help fix it, like at tailback and run defense."

True, UGA only got 4-star guys, but there were only three 5-star guys in the secondary according to Scout. Moore was ranked #6 and Mitchell was rated #7 in their positions. And while most of the guys ended up at our competitors, I think UGA did a darn good job at addressing the secondary with 4 high-quality players.

Seth Emerson said...

I see what you're saying. The point there may have been put too inartfully, but I meant that there was no John Jenkins, Isaiah Crowell-type who was expected to start and make a difference right away. Malcolm Mitchell may have been that but he's apparently headed to offense.