ATHENS — Georgia freshmen defensive backs will have an impact on the Bulldogs’ championship hopes this season, Kirby Smart said during a signing day interview on Wednesday.
“I think they are going to have to impact early, whether they can or they can’t,” Smart said on a Rivals.com video chat with Mike Farrell.
“I can’t say whether they can or can’t yet, because they haven’t really been in our system. Obviously, they are talented athletes, or they wouldn’t be coming to the University of Georgia and the SEC.”
Georgia lost four of its five 2019 season starters in the secondary. Safety Lewis Cine the only regular returnee, but Christopher Smith started the second half of the season after Richard LeCounte’s season-ending Halloween Night dirt bike accident.
Latavious Brini also saw action at safety in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, showing there’s some depth at the position.
But the Bulldogs lost starting cornerbacks Eric Stokes, Tyson Cambell and 2019 starter DJ Daniel, and then Tyrique Stevenson transferred to Miami after Smart gave him a start at cornerback in the Peach Bowl.
“Corner is our bigger need than safety,” Smart said, “and we’re going to have to figure out what these guys can play, because we’re in big-time need of corners as we start out the season.”
Smart indicated on a Fox5 television interview on Wednesday that he’s counting on Ringo, who had labrum surgery last summer and missed last season, to be mentally prepared.
“Our system is one that you need some experience in to learn and develop, and fortunately for Kelee he’s really a bright kid, you know he didn’t miss a meeting last year. He knew he wasn’t going to play, he had surgery, but he was in every meeting front row, edge of the seat, answering questions which told me right away that this guy is made of the right stuff.”
Georgia is tentatively scheduled to open spring practice on March 16 working toward the April 17 G-Day Game.
I asked Kirby Smart about Kelee Ringo getting back into the mix and this picture from Monday’s workout on our @680TheFan & @FOX5Atlanta Signing Day Spectacular #UGA https://t.co/mC8fwCl4Tx pic.twitter.com/5Rfm58Wysm
— Cody Chaffins (@Cody_Fox5) February 4, 2021