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Eric Stokes is poised to have a big 2019 season.

Why Eric Stokes is going to be a nationally known name by the end of 2019

Connor Riley

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Georgia football DB Eric Stokes is poised for a huge 2019

Just about every knowledgable Georgia fan knows Eric Stokes had a very strong 2018 season and is poised for a big 2019. Thing is, most people outside of the Georgia bubble don’t. They’ll likely just check that he has a 3-star recruiting ranking and think that he’ll be just a fine player. He almost certainly won’t make either preseason All-SEC team next month at SEC Media Days.

Stokes last season — albeit in a small sample size — that he can be a disruptive player from the cornerback position. According to Pro Football Focus, Stokes finished with an overall grade of 82.2 a season ago. Deandre Baker — the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award winner he is tasked with replacing — finished with an 89.4 last season.

Stokes also gave up just a 40 percent completion percentage and opposing passers had a 54.3 rating when targeting Stokes. Baker’s rate was 40.2. So while he might not be Baker right now, it’s clear he’s shown he’s capable of being an elite cornerback.

While both Stokes and Baker were 3-star prospects, Stokes is regarded as a superior athlete to Baker. While Baker’s speed was good enough to get himself taken as the top cornerback in the 2019 NFL Draft, no one would say it was his best trait. That’s not the case with Stokes, as he has the jet fuel to chase around the likes of Jerry Jeudy of Alabama and Chase Claypool of Notre Dame.

Like Baker, Stokes does seem to carry a chip on his shoulder. He recognizes and remembers when people doubt him. Prior to this season’s SEC Championship game, one prominent columnist expected Alabama to frequently target Stokes and for Henry Ruggs — the player most often lined up across Stokes — to finish with over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Ruggs had just 3 catches for 49 yards in the game. Even in defeat, Stokes showed up could stand up to the SEC’s top passing offense and more than hold his own. And he wasn’t afraid to call out the wrong columnist.

Stokes first made a name for himself in the Missouri game this past season when he filled in for an injured Tyson Campbell. Stokes did score a special teams touchdown that day, but more importantly, he was part of the reason why quarterback Drew Lock failed to throw for a single touchdown in that game.

Campbell got his job back after returning to health against Tennessee. Stokes didn’t resurface prominently until the Auburn game. Campbell had once again been flagged for pass interference and Georgia coach Kirby Smart had seen enough. He subbed out the 5-star freshman Campbell for Stokes.

On that same drive Auburn targeted Stokes on a key third and goal play. A touchdown would’ve given Auburn an early 14-6 lead. But Stokes came up with a huge pass breakup in the back of the endzone. Auburn had to settle for a field goal. It was the Tigers final scoring play of the night.

Stokes played well once again against Alabama and Texas, even though Georgia dropped both of those games. He followed that up with a strong spring game performance, highlighted by his pick-6.

Stokes is one of the many defensive backs on the 2019 team with starting experience. It’s a tall task for him to essentially be Deandre Baker from last season. But if Stokes can build off his strong finish to the 2019 season, he can emerge as the new face of the Georgia secondary. And that secondary has a chance to be one of the best in the country because of all that the redshirt sophomore cornerback brings to the table.

Georgia baseball has two projected top 10 picks on 2020 team

Georgia baseball had eight players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft this week. The first one to come off the board was third baseman Aaron Schunk, who was taken with the No. 62 overall pick in the draft by the Colorado Rockies.

The 2020 MLB Draft could have not just one but possibly two Bulldogs are taken much earlier than that.

Baseball America released a top 10 for next year’s draft on Thursday. Two Georgia baseball pitchers junior Emerson Hancock and draft-eligible sophomore Cole Wilcox landed in the top-10.

Hancock was pegged as the No. 1 overall pick for the 2020 MLB Draft. This past season, Hancock went 8-3 with a 1.99 ERA. He did sputter late in the year after he missed two starts due to injury, but there were times this year when he looked like the best pitcher in college baseball.

Below you can read what Baseball America had to say about Hancock’s draft prospects.

Hancock was outshined by fellow Georgia product D.L. Hall in high school, but the now-Georgia ace has a good chance to beat Hall’s No. 21 selection in the 2017 draft and is one of the favorites to be the first overall pick. After a middling freshman season, Hancock broke out as a sophomore and was one of the best college pitchers in the country. He has plus stuff across the board with a fastball that’s routinely in the upper 90s, a slider, curveball, and a changeup.

Hancock is from Cairo, Ga. and a high school classmate of football player Walter Grant. As a sophomore, Hancock finished with 97 strikeouts in 90.1 innings. He gave up just 20 earned runs all season and 18 walks, exhibiting great control. He was named First Team All-SEC for his efforts.

Wilcox meanwhile spent most of the season working out of the bullpen before transitioning to a starter late in the season. he finished his freshman year with a 4.07 ERA. Wilcox did throw for 100 MPH in one game last season and flashed elite tools. But his game is not yet as refined as Hancock’s which is to be expected given it was his freshman season.

If Wilcox can make a big jump like Hancock did as a sophomore, it wouldn’t be outlandish to see him get picked high in the 2020 MLB Draft. Baseball America has him rated as the No. 8 overall prospect.

A draft-eligible sophomore next year, Wilcox was a part of the incredible 2017 USA 18U National Team pitching staff. It took him a bit to find his footing in college, but by the end of this spring he was thriving in Georgia’s rotation. Wilcox runs his fastball into the upper 90s and mixes in a sharp slider and changeup.

With both pitchers coming back, Georgia should once again have one of the best pitching rotations in all of baseball. And they will no doubt be looking to have a better finish to the season than they did in 2019, when the Bulldogs lost to Florida State in the regionals.

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