Georgia cornerback competition heats up with Alabama transfer Brandon Turnage

Ameer Speed-Georgia football-DawgNation Cover 4
Ameer Speed is the elder statesman for Georgia at the cornerback spot for the 2021 team. He signed in 2017 and has seen limited action in 35 games with zero career starts. (SEC Media Portal)

ATHENS — The Georgia secondary got better with the addition of Alabama defensive back transfer Brandon Turnage, but there’s still plenty to be sorted out.

“If we’re on a one-mile journey, we just hit the first quarter,” UGA coach Kirby Smart said after the G-Day Game in April. “We have a ways to go.”

Adding Turnage is a step in the right direction, though Georgia is expected to continue to seek secondary help via the NCAA transfer portal.

Turnage, a 6-foot-1, 186-pound redshirt sophomore, came out of Lafayette High School in Oxford, Miss., rated as a 4-star cornerback per the 247Spors composite and the No. 102 player in the nation.

RELATED: Georgia adds Alabama defensive back to secondary

The Bulldogs are inexperienced and shallow at the cornerback position with Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell and DJ Daniel moved on to the NFL.

Turnage will likely get his first look at cornerback, even though he was listed as a safety with the Tide.

Turnage’s experience in Alabama pro-style defense gives him a chance to adapt to UGA’s complex schemes quicker than most other transfer options.

That said, Turnage faces stiff competition if he’s to break into the starting lineup.

Redshirt freshman Jalen Kimber and junior Ameer Speed emerged from spring as Georgia’s top cornerbacks.

Redshirt freshman Kelee Ringo gained valuable experience after missing the fall with a torn labrum, but has yet to hit full stride.

Early enrollee Nyland Green got his feet wet before missing the G-Day Game with Covid, and Lovasea Carroll worked to transition from running back to cornerback. Both have plenty of work to do to get the defense down.

“At corner, we’ve got to find guys that are comfortable, make plays down the field, and make plays with their backs to the wall,” Smart said after spring drills .

Georgia opens the season against what’s expected to be a high-powered Clemson team on Sept. 4.

The Bulldogs’ schedule softens considerably after that with home games against UAB and South Carolina before a trip to Vanderbilt.

That time should give Georgia’s secondary time to grow before Arkansas comes to Sanford Stadium on Oct. 2 and the Bulldogs travel to face quarterback Bo Nix and Auburn on Oct. 9.

Georgia’s secondary will also have the advantage of playing behind what’s expected to be one of the nation’s most elite defensive fronts.

Quarterback pressure is a defensive back’s best friend.

Still, depth is necessary with the team expected to get back to playing a 12-game regular season after last year’s campaign was limited on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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