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Assuming The Position: Defensive Backs

A Really Good Defensive Secondary Could Be Even Better

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 09 CFP National Championship Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There have been cases for Kirby Smart when the assumption going into the season is that the position group is talented but not yet proven.

That’s not an issue with this group of defensive backs that could on paper be the most talented group that Kirby Smart has coached in a season.

And given that at least two NFL secondary starters, Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes have come out of Georgia in the past few seasons, that’s saying something.

This comes even as two other household names, Christopher Smith and Kelee Ringo have moved on to the next level. Both will be remembered for a long time in Athens without question. Smith’s legacy in the red and black runs deep - both for his leadership and last December’s special teams scoop and score in the SEC Championship.

Ringo, of course, only had the most famous interception in Georgia history against Alabama.

But Kirby Smart’s recruiting has been and continues to be relentless. As a result, little if any dropoff should be expected with players stepping into bigger roles or returning with experience.

You can argue that one of those returners is on a similar path as Ringo. Remember, Ringo was not the A-1 standout on Georgia’s defense, but his pick-six against Alabama made him a household name, bringing more of a spotlight. The same now awaits Bullard who is a classic case of Georgia being able to develop talent.

He was not what you'd call the crown jewel of the signing class when he arrived in Athens, but he had tools that the UGA staff felt it could develop, which it has. The proof was in the pudding last year as he was the defensive MVP of both playoff games. That included a certain end zone hit that fans of a scarlet and gray team from Ohio continue to obsess over.

With Bullard settling in to make plays at the star position, the returning experience hardly ends there. Yes, there’ll be a loss felt at safety with Christopher Smith departed, but others are more than able to step up and bring varying styles of play.

Malaki Starks was a story last year of this coaching staff putting players on the field regardless of experience, and it showed in a big way that he was ready for the moment and is primed for even more this season.

As flashy as Starks with his two interceptions may be, there’s also the grit of senior Dan Jackson who comes back after a foot injury. Look, when you wear No. 47 for Georgia, you almost have to have an edge of getting all you can out of every play of defense, right?

Speaking of players that stepped up when called last year, that’s where Kamari Lassiter comes in. Lack of confidence has no place in the mind of a defensive back, and the experience gained by Lassiter a season ago can do nothing but help from a playing and experience angle. Opposite Lassiter, who appeared in 15 games last year, there’ll be new faces for the most part with names to watch including Daylen Everette and Nyland Green.

The Bottom Line

Unlike the defensive line, Georgia does not rotate players as much in the secondary. This group made their coin last year in shutting down Tennessee’s vaunted receivers, and its starters will be even better given that players seeking every inch of playing time they can, even if they are on the second unit, will be pushing each day for playing time.

If Georgia keeps up this trend, it’ll have good reason to call itself DB U.

One Reckless Prediction

Next to Wally Butts, Baldwin County’s most famous citizen will no longer be Flanney O’Connor. Instead, it’ll be Jim Thorpe Award winner Javon Bullard.

Go Dawgs!


  • #6 Daylen Everette, 6’ 1”, 190, So. OR #1 Nyland Green, 6’ 1”, 185, R-So.
  • #4 AJ Harris, Fr


  • #23 Tykee Smith, 5’ 10”, 198, Sr. or Joenel Aguero Fr.
  • #22 Javon Bullard, 5’ 11”, 180, Jr.


  • #6 Daylen Everette, 6’ 1”, 190, So. OR #1 Nyland Green, 6’ 1”, 185, R-So.
  • #4 AJ Harris, Fr


  • #22 Javon Bullard, 5’ 11”, 180, Jr.
  • #14 David Daniel-Sisavanh, 6’ 2”, 185, So


  • #24 Malaki Starks, 6’ 1”, 205, So.
  • #17 Dan Jackson, 6’ 1”, 190, Sr