Georgia depth chart analysis: Safeties

Georgia-Dominick Sanders
Dominick Sanders has 12 career interceptions, 5 away from the school record.

ATHENS — Why hello again, depth chart dorks. That’s said in all respect and love, as we are one of them. And with football now on hiatus — signing day over, spring football more than a month away — it’s time to fill the void.

Georgia now has a reasonable feel for what its roster will look like for 2017. Oh, there still will be adjustments, whether it be transfers, unexpected departures, maybe an unexpected addition or two or three.

Based on what we do know, however, it’s time to take the annual post-signing day/pre-spring practice deep dive into Georgia’s depth charts. This will, as always, be thorough. It also will be informative and, we can only hope, reasonably accurate.

So let’s get to it. The series will start on the back end of the defense and work its way over the next few weeks to the other side of the field. That means we begin with one of the more experienced spots on the field. Here we go:

FREE SAFETY

  • Returning starters: Dominick Sanders, Sr.
  • Others returning: Reggie Wilkerson, Sr.; Rashad Roundtree, Jr.*
  • Early enrollees: Richard LeCounte, Fr.; DeAngelo Gibbs, Fr.
  • Others on the way: None, unless one of the other five defensive back signees moves to cornerback. They are Tray Bishop, William Poole, Ameer Speed, Latavious Brini and Eric Stokes.
  • Analysis: Sanders seriously entertained during pro, but he’s back and will begin the year needing 5 interceptions to break the career school record, currently held by Bacarri Rambo and Jake Scott. There are things for Sanders to work on, especially tackling in open space, but he’s started all but one game over the past three years, and there’s little doubt he’ll be out there this fall, barring injury. The competition is for the second-team spot, where Wilkerson would have a leg up. But the other experienced safeties — Aaron Davis and Jarvis Wilson — will cross-train in case they’re needed there. And the new guys, LeCounte and Gibbs, have the spring to begin learning the defense. As for Roundtree, he gets an asterisk because his position status is a bit up in the air. He moved from safety to inside linebacker during the season, but got some reps back at safety late in the season.
  • Bottom line: Sanders is the starter. The battle behind him will be interesting to watch.

STRONG SAFETY

  • Returning starters: Aaron Davis, Sr.
  • Others returning: Jarvis Wilson, Jr.
  • Early enrollees: LeCounte, Gibbs
  • On the way: See above.
  • Analysis: Davis has quietly been a stalwart of the secondary the past three years, starting 30 games despite coming to the team as a walk-on four years ago. That doesn’t mean Davis is ensured a starting spot, but he’s proven himself to be a solid defender, and at 6-foot-1 also fits the size quota that Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker want. The main question is where Davis will play. He’s versatile, having played virtually every spot, and the nickel-back spot will be open. So thanks to Davis’ versatility, it could come down to who else emerges and at what spot. Is it Wilson, who Sanders heaped praise on during bowl week? Wilson would be at safety. Or is it one of the highly-touted early enrollees, who could play safety or corner?
  • Bottom line: This might get sorted out over spring. Davis has about a 75 percent chance — that’s this reporter’s guess — to start either at strong safety or nickel back. LeCounte and Gibbs will get a lot of attention, but don’t count out Wilson.

Next: Cornerbacks.

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