Georgia football-Fran Brown-defensive backs
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart talks with defensive back Lewis Cine during the first half of the Orange Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game against Michigan, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell

New defensive backs coach Fran Brown faces unique challenge in first season at Georgia

Brown spent the past two seasons coaching defensive backs at Rutgers. Prior to that he spent time at Temple and Baylor. The hire was lauded given Brown’s recruiting ties to the state of New Jersey, along with his ability to recruit the northeast as a whole. Given his time with Matt Rhule at Baylor, he gives Georgia another assistant with ties to the state of Texas. Outside linebackers coach Chidrea Uzo-Diribe also has ties to the state as well.

While Georgia hiring another strong recruiter is unsurprising, the early part of his tenure won’t be judged by how he recruits. It will be how quickly he turns some of Georgia’s young defensive backs into productive players, specifically at the cornerback position.

Brown won’t be alone in coaching up defensive backs. For one Kirby Smart will still spend time with the position. Smart has long been one of the top defensive back coaches in the country and a new defensive backs coach won’t change his involvement with the group.

There is also the question of how involved Will Muschamp will be going forward. When Muschamp first arrived at Georgia last offseason, it was as an off-field analyst. He was promoted to special teams coordinator when Scott Cochran stepped away in August. Following Dan Lanning’s departure to Oregon, Muschamp received another title bump in adding the co-defensive coordinator position. He will split those duties with Glenn Schumann.

For Brown, he’ll have to work with Smart and Muschamp to get the most of the defensive backfield. Jahmile Addae was tasked with doing so a season ago and while the Bulldogs won the National Championship, Addae left for the same job at Miami.

Related: Turnover continues to be a theme at Georgia defensive back position as Jahmile Addae departs for Miami

Addae’s departure continued a trend of departures from the Georgia defensive backfield. Brown will be the fourth defensive backs coach in the last five years. In the last two offseasons, Georgia has also seen seven players depart for the NFL draft and another six leave via the transfer portal. It’s an unsustainable amount of turnover for any program.

Georgia needs stability at the position, both from a coaching and players aspect. All that turnover has left Georgia with just four scholarship cornerbacks on the roster for spring practice. The most experienced player of the group, Kelee Ringo, will be playing for his third different position coach.

Ringo and safety Chris Smith are the most known commodities in the secondary, with each having double-digit starts under their belt. Dan Jackson and William Poole both played key roles for Georgia during the 2021 season and will be trusted veterans for the 2022 team.

With Lewis Cine and Derion Kendrick off to the NFL, Georgia is going to need Brown to get the most out of its young defensive backs. At the cornerback position, second-year players Kamari Lassiter and Nyland Green will aim to start opposite Ringo. The Bulldogs are also bringing in three cornerbacks from the 2022 recruiting class. Daylen Everette is already on campus while Jaheim Singletary and Julian Humphrey arrive this summer.

Related: Daylen Everette: 5-star CB signee was a key 11th-hour addition to the Georgia class

At the safety and star positions, 2022 signees Malaki Starks and JaCorey Thomas are already on campus. They will compete with 2021 signees David Daniel and Javon Bullard this spring for reps. Tykee Smith’s status this spring is in question after he tore his ACL last fall, but he should be good to go once fall practice rolls around.

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