Georgia’s dynamic defensive transfer duo of Derion Kendrick, Tykee Smith fitting in, making strides

Georgia added transfers Tykee Smith from West Virginia and Derion Kendrick from Clemson.
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HOOVER, Ala. —Georgia’s talented duo of defensive transfers have been as well-received as they were much-needed.

UGA defensive lineman Jordan Davis, appearing Tuesday along with quarterback JT Daniels and coach Kirby Smart at the SEC Media Days kickoff event, shared insight into the addition of Derion Kendrick (Clemson), Tykee Smith (West Virginia).

“Kendrick and Tykee, man, it feels like they’ve been here for a while, for a season already,” said Davis, the anchor of a UGA defensive line that has led the nation in rush defense each of the past two years.

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“I think that’s a good sign, and it’ll be a smooth transition for them and a smooth transition for us.”

Smart explained why it needed to be that way in a depleted secondary that has lost 10 scholarship players to attrition over the past two years.

“It was a dynamic situation,” Smart said, referring to the Bulldogs losing five players to the NFL ranks and another who transferred.

“The defensive backs, we’re under our scholarship quota of defensive backs,” Smart explained, reviewing the loss of NFL defensive backs Erik Stokes, Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel, Richard LeCounte and Mark Webb and Miami transfer Tyrique Stevenson.

“We had two guys come out early … we’re at a deficit just from scholarship numbers, not to mention experience,” Smart said. “Those two guys (Kendrick and Smith) bring an immense amount of experience.”

Smith steps into the shoes Stevenson was expected to fill at the Star, where he split reps with Webb last season.

The fact Smith played the same position last year for the Mountaineers under first-year UGA secondary coach Jahmile Addae obviously makes for a smooth transition.

Kendrick has slid right into the Bulldogs’ three-man rotation at cornerback with second-year player Jalen Kimber and returning senior Ameer Speed.

From all accounts, the former All-ACC cornerback is picking things up quickly, the Tigers featuring a similar match-zone scheme.

“D.K. is a kid that we knew through recruiting,” Smart said. “We recruited him at University of Georgia, but Coach (Will) Muschamp also recruited him at South Carolina.

“Both of us felt like we had a good feel for his family and his dynamic there. He’s a young man that comes from a program that’s been very successful. He’s played and had a lot of experience.”

Smart’s philosophical take on the addition of Kendrick makes it clear he’s as comfortable as can be with the situation at this stage of the offseason.

“I think that’s an interesting situation when you look across the board at what’s going to happen to the future of college football,” Smart said.

“Whether it be NIL, combination of portal, of the haves and have nots, and that line of parity separating even more because we were able to get a guy that had a lot of great experience playing.”

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