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Georgia Coach Kirby Smart Breaks Down His Defensive Back Group

March 27, 2024

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ATHENS - Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs are in a tough position right now.

They have to replace three starting defensive backs from last season. Cornerback Kamari Lassiter, safety Javon Bullard, and STAR Tykee Smith are all heading to the NFL after winning two national titles during their careers in Athens. 

Those guys won’t be easy to replace, but it appears Smart and his staff are excited about the potential some of their defensive backs are showing this spring. There are three starting spots up for grabs, with plenty of hungry, talented players ready to make a name for themselves.

Of course, true freshmen KJ Bolden and Ellis Robinson are turning heads already this spring.

“They’re first spring players”, Smart said about Bolden and Robinson. “They’re talented players and everything they were advertised to be in terms of being good football players. They’re both instinctive and they learn well. They both have toughness, I think both of them will contribute on special teams because they can run, hit, and tackle. I’m excited about those guys. The expectation of the outside world is they’re going to set the place on fire, but we have good football players here. They’re going to compete with those guys and hopefully earn some playing time. They both have a chance to make us much better in the day and age of college football where you better have depth and players.”

It's nice to hear about the freshmen, but what about possible starters? 

Guys like Daniel Harris and Julian Humphrey will push for one of the starting cornerback jobs, while  Joenel Aguero, David Daniel, Jacorey Thomas, among others will fight for one of the starting safety roles.

“Daniel and Joenel are doing a good job”, Smart told reporters on Tuesday. “Both are second-year players. It used to be that it was really hard to play your first year. Your second year was your year to start getting in the rotation, maybe the two-deep or special teams. Both those guys were able to play some last year through opportunities that afforded them too. We were able to get them in. They’re both good athletes. They both sometimes have poor eye control and don't look at the right things.”

“Joenel is very physical and is an explosive football player”, Smart added. “Daniel is very fast and long. The sky is the limit, but they are not to the sky. They have to keep improving. I am excited about where they are. They are really good football players. If they want to stay here at Georgia and continue to get better, grow and play, they have bright futures in front of them.”

It’s clear several players have a big opportunity in front of them.

Will veteran David Daniel hold off some of the younger, possibly more talented safeties behind him?

Will Joenel Aguero find his place at STAR? Is this the spring where JaCorey Smith takes off in his development? Where does Justyn Rhett fit in?

At cornerback, who wins the open starting role? The long, speedy Julian Humphrey? Or the bigger, more physical Daniel Harris? Will Chris Peal or Kyron Jones make things interesting?

Then there’s the freshmen. How long will Ellis Robinson, KJ Bolden, and Demello Jones stay on the bench? How early will we see them this fall?

After Malaki Starks and Daylen Everette, there are plenty of question marks in Georgia’s secondary. However, the group isn’t void of talent. This is a very talented group, and new Bulldogs are ready to step up.

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