ATHENS – If the prerequisite for playing Georgia’s star position is a college degree, then Aaron Davis, much like the man he would replace, qualifies.
Davis graduated from UGA in December with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He’s now in grad classes, majoring in computer systems engineering.
“Aaron’s a smart guy,” fellow safety Dominick Sanders said.
He’s also a pretty good football player. Despite not being offered a scholarship out of high school, Davis has started 30 games at Georgia and is set to start again this year.
The only question is where.
Davis has been working as a first-team star — also called the nickelback position — which is the lone vacant starting spot on Georgia’s defense. The man who played star last year, Maurice Smith, had earned his undergraduate degree from Alabama in just three years.
Davis was a starting safety last year, but he’s also started at cornerback, and has played star and the money – the middle spot in a dime defense.
“Ever since I’ve been here at Georgia I’ve been moved around,” Davis said. “My first game ever I played safety. Then I played corner the rest of that season. “Just changing between different positions doesn’t bother me at all.”
On its face, it would seem Davis’ experience would be more valuable at nickelback. That’s a crucial spot where you can be on an island and have to make quick decisions all over the field.
Whoever plays safety, on the other hand, will have four-year starter Dominick Sanders next to him. So if that’s all taken in consideration, it could make sense to start Davis at star, and have a youngster —sophomore J.R. Reed or freshman Richard LeCounte — get his feet wet at safety.
“It feels like the first game is far away. But it’s coming fast,” Davis said. “I’m not sure exactly where I’ll fit in. I’m pretty sure we’re going to try to put the best players out there. So wherever that is, I’ll be sure to try to fill in that spot.”
Davis came to UGA as a student first, then walked on to the team. He won the football team’s senior GPA award this spring.
But his ability to pass a finance test won’t impact who starts. It might have as much to do with how others do. Freshman Deangelo Gibbs is among those also working at star, and if the coaches feel Gibbs can handle the position, then Davis will move back to safety.
Bottom line: Davis will play somewhere. He’s the underappreciated linchpin in Georgia’s secondary who makes plays – 54 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 1/2 sacks last year – and teaches those who will succeed him.
“This guy right here is a guy that does the right thing,” Sanders said, looking over in Davis’ direction. “Work ethic is very high. He’s a guy that I look up to. He was here before me. So any questions I’ve got, I’ve got to go to him because he’s a guy who can show me right and show me all the little things that I miss out on.”