Georgia Football

Eric Stokes Has Been Waiting On This Moment For Some Time

November 17, 2018
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ATHENS - Eric Stokes is a patient soul. And that patience paid off for him tonight against UMass.

 

Stokes has come out and made plays in games this season. Today, after a long season of waiting, was the first time though he made plays from the first defensive snap.

 

 

“I just had to stay patient,” Stokes said. “I knew my time was eventually going to come. It finally came and I had to make the best of it.”

 

Kirby Smart has seen something in Stokes before. He hasn’t been shy to mention it, either.

 

During fall camp, Smart heaped quite a bit of praise on to the then under-the-radar corner.

 

“He listens in the meetings, he takes notes in the meetings and he learns in the meetings,” Smart said before the season. “Eric carries over what he learns there onto the field and not all of our corners have done that."

 

It got to the point where seeing Stokes start across the way from Deandre Baker to open the season seemed like a legitimate possibility. But when Austin Peay came around, it was Tyson Campbell who took the field. Stokes stood idly on the sideline, waiting for his opportunity to come.

 

And he waited against South Carolina. And Middle Tennessee State.

 

Then came Missouri. Stokes was thrust into action while Tyson Campbell dealt with a stomach bug. He made the most of that quick bit, breaking up four passes and returning a punt he blocked himself for a touchdown.

 

It was the kind of play that earned him the same kind of praise from Smart as it did before the season.

 

“I told the team after the game,” Smart said following Georgia’s 43-29 win over Missouri. “Here’s a guy who got beat out. Never whined, never cried, never pouted, he just worked. And when you work you get better.”

 

And just like that, it seemed like Stokes had positioned himself for more playing time just like he had weeks before.

 

Again though, Stokes stood there on the sideline, waiting. Against Tennessee. Against Vanderbilt. Against LSU. Against Florida. Against Kentucky. Not whining, not crying, not pouting. Just waiting.

 

Then came Auburn. In familiar fashion, Stokes was called off the pine to fill in for a struggling Tyson Campbell. Like he did before, Stokes made a noticeable impact. Enough to, once again, earn considerable praise from Smart.

 

“He’s the epitome of team,” Smart said. “The guy hasn’t complained, fussed, all he’s done is work, all he’s done is get better. He’s going to continue to get better and compete.”

 

It wasn’t easy for Stokes to take that back seat, especially after competing hard for the starting job week in and week out. Instead of resisting it, he learned to embrace it.

 

“At first it was kind of rough,” Stokes said. “Eventually, though, I just grew into my role… Throughout the eight weeks, I finally settled down. I came every day knowing that I was the next man up. If anything happens, it’s me.”

 

As Georgia enters the final stretch of 2018, he is no longer waiting. The next man is up, and that man is Eric Stokes.

 

 
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