ATHENS — Kelee Ringo was the No. 1-ranked cornerback in the 2020 recruiting class, but last Saturday night he may have been blinded by the stars in his eyes facing Clemson.
Coach Kirby Smart remains high on Ringo, but he made it clear entering the game against UAB on Saturday that he expected the Blazers to attack the second-year defensive back.
“I hope that he gets better with game experience, practice experience, playing the ball in and out of phases, he’s got really good ball skills,” Smart said this week.
“So, I’m excited to see him play, because I think some people are going to go after him because of the pass interference calls.”
Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was 19-of-37 passing for 178 yards with an interception that was returned for the only touchdown in the game against Georgia.
Ringo was flagged for two pass interference calls in the 10-3 win over the Tigers last Saturday, and Smart indicated things could have been worse.
“You watch the tape, the tape speaks for itself, there are a lot of area of improvement,” Smart said summing up things on his Thursday night coach’s show. “That’s been our focus this week to cut down on our error and mistakes.
“There was 2 or 3 times we had miscommunication that could have been touchdowns. We’re not going to play guys that can’t execute the plan.”
Ringo has been forced to learn on the fly as he missed playing in games his true freshman season on account of a torn labrum.
There was plenty of work in spring drills, but much still to learn and Ringo remains a work in progress.
Ringo split repetitions with senior Ameer Speed at the corner (34 snaps to 23), opposite starting corner Derion Kendrick (47 snaps), and that will be the case again today.
“I’ll be honest with you, he’s one of our best ball skill guys,” Smart said of the Arizona high school product. “Go up and attack the ball so hopefully, he’ll get an opportunity to do that.”
From the sounds of it, the Georgia secondary will be tested.
“They have an experienced quarterback and pretty good wideouts who can go vertical and go get the deep ball,” Smart said. “If you said what was our Achilles heel last week, you’d say it was PIs and deep balls, and not getting our head around and causing penalties, so I know they are going to take some shots.”