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Georgia Bulldog DB Malaki Starks Gives 5-Star Performance In First Game

September 5, 2022

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ATLANTA - Going into their season-opening game against Oregon, Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs had a plan for former 5-star, Malaki Starks‍.

An elite defender out of nearby Jefferson High School, Starks was one of Georgia’s top signees from their fantastic 2022 recruiting class, and Smart knew he had to get Starks on the field early and often.

It’s not uncommon to see freshman see some type of playing time early in their career, but not many are able to do what Starks did in his first game as a Bulldog.

Playing alongside multiple veteran defenders, it was Starks who led the team in tackles with 8 total stops on the night. He also came down with an acrobatic INT in the first half, showing why he was ranked as a 5-star athlete out of high school.

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Smart knew he had something special and spoke about his star freshman after Georgia’s big 49-3 win over Oregon on Saturday.

“Well, he's (Starks) been probably our most productive defensive back all camp, which means he get lots of hands on balls” Smart said. “Batted balls; he knocked down balls; he had picks. He's a good football player. We wanted to get him in the game early, and fortunately it was a play where he was one-on-one, and he made a really good play on the ball. He's an incredible athlete, has good speed.
He's got a lot to learn and I thought he played with great composure today, and he could be a really talented player.”

The Bulldogs have plenty of talented freshmen on the roster, but it was Starks who made the biggest impact in his first game. He flashed often, closing well in coverage and making secure tackles throughout the ballgame. He’s quick, physical, and has tremendous ball skills, allowing him to see the field early on. Playing true freshmen in the secondary is always a dangerous move, but Starks is too talented to keep on the bench for long. 

It didn’t take long for the playmaking defensive back to make an impact, and you can expect him to continue improving week by week. His versatility, athleticism, and natural instincts in the secondary should give him an opportunity to have a giant freshman season if he continues to improve. 

His best football is still ahead of him, and that’s a scary thought for opposing offenses.

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