Jeremy Pruitt may be calling the shots for Georgia’s defensive backs, but he’s getting a little help adjusting rookies to the system from last year’s newcomer of the year.
With eight newcomers in the unit, many of the freshmen look to sophomore Dominick Sanders as the emerging leader. Only a sophomore himself, Sanders, who started all 13 games of his freshman season, doesn’t use his words to lead, but rather his actions.
“He shows his leadership in his work ethic,” freshman safety Kirby Choates said. “He’s a hard worker, and I look up to that and respect that.”
Sanders ended his 2014 campaign on a high note, with two interceptions for 42 yards against Louisville in the Belk Bowl. Now, being only one year ahead of the freshmen, Sanders isn’t far distanced from the position the rookies are currently in.
“We’re still trying to learn the playbook, we’re still trying to get used to the game,” freshman defensive back Rico McGraw said. “And he does a great job of reaching out to us.”
It’s not just Sanders that the freshmen can lean on. McGraw named Aaron Davis, Devin Bowman and Reggie Davis and as other veterans who have helped with the transition from high school to Georgia football.
Choates added junior safety Quincy Mauger, who tied for the most interceptions in 2014 with four, to the list of admirable veterans.
“I like up to both of those guys [because] I like the way Dom plays and his energy. And for Quincy (Mauger), I like the way he takes control of the field,” Choates said.
As a freshman Sanders looked to former Georgia standout and 2015 NFL Draft fifth-round pick Damian Swann, who was the most veteran defensive back in the 2014 unit. Sanders’ brother, former Baylor cornerback Chris Sanders, was in the same Georgia signing class as Swann, which gave Swann a big brother-esque role when Sanders joined the Georgia roster.
With Swann advancing to the NFL, Sanders now has the opportunity to fill in the open leadership role and guide the freshmen through the Jeremy Pruitt defensive schemes.
“He does a fantastic job of leading by example,” McGraw said. “It gets pretty competitive out there. And he does a great job of leading everybody.”