The 2019 college football season is closer than you think. That’s why we’re starting our annual countdown of the 10 Georgia Bulldog players poised to make a big leap forward come August. First up is a defensive back from South Georgia looking to build on a solid freshman campaign.
The Red and Black return both starting safeties from a 2018 defense ranked #2 in the SEC in passing defense, surrendering a stingy 180.3 yards per game. Junior Richard LeCounte and senior J.R. Reed appear to each have a pretty solid grip on their respective spots. But it is the nature of Kirby Smart’s system to foster competition. It’s also the Top ‘Dawg’s MO to bring in waves of blue chip football players who aren’t scared to compete with the guys in front of them on the depth chart.
Which brings us to sophomore defensive back Otis Reese. The 6’3, 210 pound Lee County product saw action in eleven of fourteen games for the Classic City Canines in 2018, even earning a start against Auburn late in the year. Along the way Reese racked up 13 tackles, including 4 against Middle Tennessee State and 3 against UMass.
And while there’s no doubt LeCounte is the starter at his position, there’s also no doubt that his tackling has been the subject of some pointed words from Coach Smart. I tend to believe that coaches are usually the hardest on the players they expect the most from. LeCounte started all but one game at free safety in 2018 and has All-SEC potential. His spot is 100% his to lose, and I wouldn’t bet against him.
But Reese’s size and athleticism haven’t gone unnoticed. He’s a big bodied defensive back who doesn’t shy from contact and was generally a sure tackler, even as a true freshman. I expect that we will see more of Reese in 2019 assuming the staff is comfortable with him in coverage. Reese should then join the battle to replace Reed (and, if he has the kind of year he’s capable of, LeCounte) in 2020. Until later . . .