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Georgia must replace cornerback Eric Stokes.

Best of DawgNation: Cornerback, transfer portal intrigue grows as spring practice looms

Georgia coach Kirby Smart made it very clear what his biggest concern is for the Georgia Bulldogs as spring practice is set to start this month.

“The cornerback position is completely open,” Smart said. “We got a lot of guys who are going to be working at cornerback. Every guy on our team is a potential cornerback right now. We’re in search of finding guys who can play that position at a high level.”

Georgia must replace Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson at the position.

Georgia does have some talented former recruits who are looking to step in, but Smart stressed the lack of experience at the position.

“We think that we have very capable, good young players in the position, but we don’t have a lot of experience,” Smart said. “If you get an opportunity to gain experience, which you know we did the first year we were here- we got Maurice Smith and all of the sudden you have a player that makes your team better almost immediately.”

Related: Kirby Smart on Georgia cornerback need: ‘Every guy on our team is a potential cornerback right now’

The lack of experience is why many took note when Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick entered the transfer portal. The former 5-star recruit earned All-ACC honors starting at cornerback for Clemson in each of the past two seasons.

But Kendrick isn’t the only talented cornerback with experience to enter the transfer portal and he won’t be the last. That’s why Smart once again shared his thoughts on the transfer portal this week.

“I don’t think the guys that come out of the portal have issues or problems, that’s just not our normal protocol,” Smart said. “It’s not what we want to build our program around. It’s a need-based deal and we have needs.”

Georgia’s top recruiting target sets decision date

Malaki Starks has held the top spot on Jeff Sentell’s top targets list for the 2022 recruiting cycle since its inception.

And the 5-star athlete announced this week that his recruitment will be drawing to a close by the end of March. The Jefferson, Ga., product announced that he will be committing on March 25.

Sentell caught up with Starks who explained why he has the March 25 date and where things stand in his recruitment.

That’s his father’s birthday. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder will honor his father Larry Starks by making his college commitment known on that day. There’s a special sentiment behind that.

“Just because my Dad means so much to me he does for me and it is a really big deal to him,” Malaki Starks told DawgNation.

Alabama. Clemson. Georgia. There’s one lucky school there that will be getting some kind of athlete.

He ranks as the nation’s No. 4 ATH and No. 29 overall prospect for 2022 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. His pure 247Sports rating has him as the nation’s No. 2 ATH and No. 13 overall recruit for 2022.

Related: Malaki Starks: 5-star Georgia target sets his commitment decision date

Georgia has commitments from two other 5-star commitments in the 2022 cycle in Gunner Stockton and Deyon Bouie. Should Georgia land a commitment from Starks, the Bulldogs will have commitments from three of the top four prospects in the state.

Another top Georgia target will have announced by then as 4-star defensive tackle Mykel Williams announces his decision on March 15. He is the No. 5 prospect in the state for the 2021 recruiting cycle.

Eric Stokes helps his future with blazing 40-yard dash

Stokes had himself a pretty great week when it comes to his NFL future.

On Friday, the former Georgia defensive back ran a 4.28 40-yard dash as apart of the HOA combine.

The stellar testing comes after a strong 2020 season at Georgia where he pulled in four interceptions and earned First Team All-SEC honors.

Prior to his headline-grabbing time, Stokes stopped by to talk with DawgNation’s Mike Griffith to talk about how he is preparing for the upcoming NFL draft.

“There will be a lot going through my mind, I’ve slowly tried to prepare for it,” Stokes said. “When I get down for my practice runs, I think it’s just another run. You just do you. I’ve been trying not to overthink it.”

Fact is, the 40-yard dash time that Stokes runs —this Friday, and again on March 17 at UGA’s Pro Day should he choose to run again — will have impact on his draft status. Anything that starts with “4.3” will be good.

Related: Georgia All-American Eric Stokes shares hilarious stories on Arian Smith, team speed

Stokes won’t be the only one looking to impress at Georgia’s Pro Day, as Azeez Ojulari, Tyson Campbell and others will be hoping to impress NFL scouts and evaluators. The NFL won’t be having its traditional NFL combine this year, preventing Georgia’s draft hopefuls from standing out.

The combine did announce that 11 Bulldogs were invited to be a part of the NFL combine this year, with Ohio State being the only team to have more.

What the Arik Gilbert transfer decision means

Kendrick isn’t the only transfer portal name to draw interest this week, as former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert re-entered the transfer portal after initially committing to Florida.

Gilbert figured to be a part of Florida’s offense, given the Gators must replace Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes.

DawgNation Daily host Brandon Adams details what the loss of Gilbert means for the Georgia-Florida rivalry as well as what the next steps for Gilbert might potentially be.

Related: How Arik Gilbert, Derion Kendrick departures impact Georgia’s two biggest games

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation

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