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Brenton Cox will look to have a big year for Georgia.

The defensive players who could have breakout seasons for Georgia in 2019

Connor Riley

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Georgia football defensive breakout players candidates for 2019

Georgia’s defense has to replace some key pieces in cornerback Deandre Baker, outside linebacker D’Andre Walker and defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter. But it also has a number of excellent candidates who could fill in and potentially be even better.

RelatedThe five breakout players to watch on Georgia’s offense in 2019

Last week we wrote about which under-the-radar players could go on to have a surprise role in the defense in 2019. Today, we’re going to look at five guys who could go from well-known names among Georgia fans to potential stars in the coming season:

Eric Stokes: redshirt sophomore cornerback 

Georgia fans who paid attention to the end of the 2018 season saw Stokes flash some of serious potential. After taking over for Tyson Campbell in the Auburn game, Stokes played very well down the stretch for the Bulldogs. He could very well follow in the foot steps of Baker.

Related: What happens after the recruiting ends? Eric Stokes defines that UGA process

Stokes may not be the only breakout candidate in the secondary next year as Campbell and redshirt freshman Divaad Wilson also could go on to have big seasons for Georgia in 2019. The Bulldogs are bringing in 4-star cornerback Tyrique Stevenson as well.

Channing Tindall: sophomore linebacker

Georgia has a hole to fill at inside linebacker with Natrez Patrick and Juwan Taylor both graduating. And based off of what he showed in 2018, we think Tindall might be the guy in 2019.

Yes Georgia signed three linebackers, including 5-star Nakobe Dean who is already on campus, but Tindall already has a year of experience under his belt. He wrapped up 17 tackles as a freshman while playing in every game.

Georgia brings back Monty Rice and Tae Crowder, so Tindall will likely have to beat out some tough competition to do so. Tindall, a 4-star linebacker in the 2018 class, could end up on a Roquan Smith trajectory with a big sophomore season.

Jermaine Johnson: junior outside linebacker

Georgia needs to get better at rushing the passer in 2018. The Bulldogs had just 24 sacks last season, which was 12th in the SEC. That’s just not good enough, considering Clemson and Alabama both ranked in the top 5  in the country in sacks.

Georgia has a number of options such as sophomore Adam Anderson or Nolan Smith — the No. 1 overall player in the country for 2019. But we think a guy who might also help out right away is Johnson. He was the No. 1 JUCO player in the country.

Related: UGA recruiting: ‘Wolfpack’ pairing of Jermaine Johnson and Nolan Smith seems lethal

If Johnson lives up to the hype, quarterbacks aren’t going to have a whole lot of time to sit back and make plays. Georgia’s had a long list of productive pass rushers and Johnson could be the next player to join that list.

Brenton Cox: sophomore defensive end

Cox came to Athens with a ton of hype. And he did make some plays as a freshman for the Bulldogs. But he battled a late season injury, and then struggled when he took over for Walker in the SEC championship game against Alabama.

But it’s worth remembering that he was only a freshman. Plenty of players make big leaps from their first to second seasons, much like Jeremiah Holloman, Ben Cleveland and Malik Herring did for Georgia. Cleveland didn’t become a big time player till the end of his second season in Athens. We still think Cox is going to be a big-time player for Georgia, and he’s got an excellent opportunity to do so this year.

Travon Walker: freshman defensive tackle 

With all the talent in Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class, we had to mention one player on this list. And while Smith seems like the obvious candidate here, we’re going to go with Walker.

The 5-star prospect from Thomaston, Ga., end up as 247Sports’ No. 1 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 5 prospect overall. Georgia has a number of capable defensive linemen, but it hasn’t landed one as good as Walker.

He will have to bulk up a little bit when he gets to Athens, but Walker is an unreal athlete. Just watch some of his basketball highlights, and you’ll find it hard to believe that he’s going to be a defensive lineman for the Bulldogs next year.

Georgia makes final 5 for major recruiting targets Brett Seither

Georgia is in need of a tight end following the departures of Luke Ford and Isaac Nauta. And it got some good news on Thursday night when 2019 tight end target Brett Seither named Georgia as one of his finalists.

Seither, a 3-star tight end out of Clearwater, Fla., named Georgia, along with Alabama, TCU, Michigan State and Penn State as his final five.

If new tight end coach Todd Hartley is able to land Seither, it would be an impressive early pull for one of Kirby Smart’s newest assistants. Hartley was one of two new assistant coaches hired by Smart this offseason, as Georgia also added Charlton Warren as the defensive backs coach.

Seither will announce his decision on Feb. 6, which is National Signing Day. That is the same that priority target Kaiir Elam will make his college choice public.

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