Georgia defensive back Christopher Smith (29) during the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship against Alabama at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, Ind., on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Return of super seniors show depth is still a concern for Georgia football secondary

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Return of super seniors show how depth is still an issue for Georgia football secondary

Georgia’s secondary was a weakness all season. The one game it lost against Alabama proved that to be obvious. It helps explain why Georgia went out and signed five defensive backs in the 2022 recruiting cycle.

All five signees are 4-star recruits or better and four of them rank among the top-100 players in the country per the 247Sports Composite rankings. The haul certainly helps boost the talent in Georgia’s defensive backfield.

But talent wasn’t exactly the issue this past season. Derion Kendrick and Lewis Cine were All-SEC defenders. Kelee Ringo made the defining play in the national championship game. A healthy Chris Smith proved to be a difference-maker against the Crimson Tide as well as he intercepted Bryce Young.

Depth was a bigger concern for this group in 2021 more so than anything else. Injuries to Tykee Smith and Jalen Kimber led to walk-on safety Dan Jackson playing key snaps for the Bulldogs. A late-season Chris Smith knee injury nearly derailed Georgia’s season. Were it more serious, Georgia could’ve really been scrambling for answers.

And even with the additions of 5-star players like Daylen Everette and Malaki Starks, Georgia is likely to find itself in a similar situation this coming season.

Georgia has already seen four defensive backs enter the transfer portal. Lovasea Carroll, Latavious Brini and Ameer Speed are all still looking for homes, while Jalen Kimber has already found a suitor. Kimber announced he would be playing for the Florida Gators next season.

Related: Former Georgia cornerback Jalen Kimber commits to rival Florida

Brini and Speed both started for Georgia last season. That’s not to say they would’ve done so for Georgia this coming year but having experience in what will be a new-look defensive backfield will matter.

The roster churn also might not be done with Georgia, given where it sits from a scholarship standpoint. Counting 2022 signees, Georgia is unofficially at 91 scholarship players. That number will need to be under 85 and potentially even lower if the Bulldogs are to use the transfer portal or National Signing Day to add to their roster.

Perhaps the return of Smith and Poole lessens the likelihood that Georgia targets a safety in the portal. Should Robert Beal and Adam Anderson also return, outside linebacker also becomes a position where Georgia is less likely to use the transfer portal.

The Bulldogs and defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae — who himself has been rumored to potentially be coaching elsewhere next season — will once again be operating with limited depth numbers in the secondary next season.

Georgia will take a step back in the front seven, with Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker, Channing Tindall, Wyatt, Jordan Davis and Travon Walker all headed to the NFL. Nolan Smith’s return should help the pass rush but Georgia needs its secondary to take a step forward next season

There are be some very legitimate questions if it can do that given the lack of available bodies Georgia will be working with.

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