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Kirby Smart is entering his fifth season as Georgia's season as head coach.

Georgia football recruiting: Why 2021 defensive back class could be Kirby Smart’s best yet

Connor Riley

Kirby Smart has been very transparent about what he wants from every defensive back class from a recruiting standpoint. He made it clear when speaking about how a defensive backfield will look when speaking back on National Signing Day.

“I’ll always reiterate, I feel like you’ve got to sign four or five defensive backs a year in order to stay where you need to stay from a depth standpoint,” Smart said.

Georgia will need to add a number of defensive backs to this year’s class, and not just because Smart wants to have depth at the position. Richard LeCounte, D.J. Daniel and Mark Webb are all seniors, and thus in their final season at Georgia.

The Bulldogs also have draft-eligible juniors in Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, who could possibly leave school early to pursue the 2021 NFL Draft. Both players have been mentioned as possible early draft picks in next year’s draft.

As for as piecing together the 2021 defensive back class from a recruiting standpoint, the Bulldogs already have a commitment from 4-star athlete David Daniel. The Woodstock, Ga., native projects as a safety at the next level and is one of the vocal leaders of the 2021 recruiting class.

Daniel is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. He’s ranked as the No. 81 overall prospect in the 2021 class and the No. 9 player in the state.

When it comes to uncommitted prospects, there are two significant names to know. Both are 5-star prospects and both are the top player at their respective position, cornerback and safety.

Tony Grimes is the No. 1 cornerback in the country and the No. 7 overall prospect in the class. He’s listed at 6-foot, 180 pounds and is the top player from the state of Virginia. Grimes announced on Monday that he will be trimming his list of schools down to three, and announcing it on May 31.

Grimes visited Georgia in January and it had a significant impact on his recruiting process. Grimes planned on making a return trip to Athens in March, but that was wiped out due to COVID-19.

Related: Tony Grimes: Nation’s No. 1 CB was set to see UGA amid a flurry of spring visits

“Georgia told us that he was the most important recruit in the class for them,” Grimes’ father Deon Glover said. “Period. Overall. With me hearing that from the coach, that tells me that they are definitely in it until the end.”

There’s also the No. 1 safety in the 2021 recruiting cycle in James Williams. He’s from Opa Locka, Fla., and ranked as the no. 11 overall prospect in the 2021 recruiting cycle. He’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, which would easily make him the biggest safety at Georgia.

Williams has already narrowed down his list of finalists, with Georgia, Clemson and Alabama making the cut. Williams also plays for American Heritage High School, which has produced the likes of Campbell, Sony Michel and Isaiah Mckenzie in recent years.

And Georgia is using the success that those players have had as a recruiting tactic with Williams.

Even if Georgia were to land both Grimes and Williams, an unprecedented recruiting feat as no school as ever landed the No. 1 cornerback and safety in the same class, the Bulldogs will still be looking to add a handful of other prospects.

Related: NFL Draft highlights future value for 5-star UGA target James Williams

There’s cornerback Nyland Green. He’s rated as the No. 86 overall player in the country and the No. 10 player in the state of Georgia. He’s from Covington, Ga., the same hometown as Stokes. And Stokes is making a serious effort to get Green to join the Red & Black.

Green is listed at 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds, slightly bigger than Grimes.

The Bulldogs are also in the running for the likes of Isaiah Johnson and Corey Collier. Johnson is the top-ranked player from the state of West Virginia, but he has ties to the Atlanta area. He’s ranked as the No. 61 overall player in the class and the No. 5 cornerback overall.

Collier is another south Florida defensive back, as he plays for Miami Palmetto, the same high school that has 5-star defensive line target Leonard Taylor. Collier has not yet taken a visit to Georgia but did put them in his top-10 which he released back on Dec. 27. Collier is rated as the No. 59 overall prospect and the No. 3 safety in the 2021 defensive back class.

In total, the Bulldogs have offered 37 corners and defensive backs in the 2021 recruiting cycle. The Bulldogs also extended offers in the month of May to 3-star defensive back Damarius McGhee.

More Georgia football recruiting stories from around DawgNation

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation

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