Defensive backs: Will three new starters and new coach spell new results?
(Ninth in a summer series looking at Georgia’s football team by position.)
TODAY: DEFENSIVE BACKS
- Returning starter: CB Brandon Boykin.
- Starters lost: S Reshad Jones (drafted in fifth round by Miami Dolphins); S Bryan Evans (signed as undrafted free agent with Cincinnati Bengals but was cut last week); CB Prince Miller (signed as undrafted free agent with Baltimore Ravens).
- Cornerback depth chart: Boykin, a junior, is the clear starter at one corner, and Vance Cuff, a senior, is No. 1 at the other after a strong spring. However, the competition between Cuff and ultra-promising sophomore Branden Smith will continue in preseason practice. Look for Boykin, Cuff and Smith on the field in nickel situations. Redshirt sophomore Sanders Commings and redshirt freshman Jordan Love also are in the cornerback mix.
- Safety depth chart: Redshirt sophomore Bacarri Rambo is the clear starter at free safety, and junior Nick Williams emerged from spring ball No. 1 at strong safety. Williams will have to stave off continued competition in preseason practice, with prized recruit Alec Ogletree joining JUCO transfer Jakar “The Hit Man” Hamilton, sophomore Shawn Williams and injury-plagued senior Quintin Banks in the mix.
- Key fact: Georgia allowed 25 touchdown passes (the most in the SEC) and intercepted only 10 passes (the second fewest in the SEC) last season. Four of the 10 interceptions were by Jones, who left early for the NFL.
- Key question: Will a fresh start in the secondary –- three new starters, new coach (Scott Lakatos), new approach — produce better results after back-to-back shaky seasons?
- Recent developments: The arrival of Ogletree and Hamilton in the 2010 signing class adds some serious talent. Ogletree, from Newnan, was rated the No. 3 safety prospect in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 3 outside-linebacker prospect by Scout.com. He’s working at safety this summer but might play OLB down the road. Hamilton, who came to Athens by way of Georgia Military College, was ranked the nation’s No. 4 safety prospect (and second best junior-college player) by Rivals.
- Outlook: Up in the air. There’s a lot of talent — albeit largely unproven at the collegiate level other than Boykin — and players are genuinely excited about Lakatos’ vision of an aggressive, physical secondary that stresses press coverage and interceptions. As Cuff said during the spring: “Coach Lakatos, he wants the ball.”
- Your turn: What say you about the secondary?
If you missed ‘em, take a glance at other positions:
NEXT WEEK: Special teams.