Georgia will have a new starting cornerback in the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati, as Eric Stokes will not be playing in the game after officially entering the 2021 NFL Draft.
— Eric Stokes Jr (@_jamane_) December 28, 2020
That cornerback will not be freshman Kelee Ringo.
Ringo has still not been cleared for a return to competition following labrum surgery he had back in August. But Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning did give a positive update on Ringo.
“Kelee has been able to actually practice with us more and more as the season has gone on. He’s not ready for competition yet,” Lanning said. “I’m really excited. Sometimes you worry about a guy that has an injury how mentally engaged are they going to be able to be throughout the season. It’s tough when you know you’re not going to play a game.”
Ringo was the highest-rated defensive back Georgia has ever signed, as he was the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2020 class. To go along with his impressive 6-foot-2 frame, Ringo also ran a 10.43 100-meter dash, displaying elite speed as well.
With Stokes and Tyson Campbell at corner this year, Ringo wasn’t required to be a contributor. That won’t be the case though in 2021, as the Bulldogs will lose Richard LeCounte, Mark Webb, DJ Daniel and possibly Campbell as well.
Ringo has the size to play at either corner or safety, similar to that of Georgia defensive back Tyrique Stevenson. Ringo will be asked to learn multiple elements of the Georgia secondary next year and that’s another aspect where he has already made an impression on Lanning.
“I’ve been impressed with Kelee’s attention to detail, really picking up some schematic pieces of our defense,” Lanning said.
As for the Peach Bowl, Georgia could possibly turn to two other freshman defensive backs in Jalen Kimber and Daran Branch. Major Burns, Georgia’s fourth 2020 defensive back signee, has played as well this season, filling in during the Florida game.
Lanning shared further thoughts on his four 2020 signees and how they have gotten better over the course of the season.
“Really all those guys are doing a good job of developing, learning the scheme, and growing,” Lanning said. “I think every one of them will benefit from an off-season in the weight room, getting stronger. Each one of those guys have done a good job of being engaged, ready for their opportunity.
“There’s a great chance you could see them within some of these games, whether it be this next game or in the near future.”
Campbell echoed his defensive coordinator when discussing how he has helped Ringo, Kimber, Burns and Branch.
“We just keeping them under our wing, making sure they’re staying after practice, getting extra film, make sure they’re learning defense,” Campbell said. “Anything can happen. Your moment can come. You want to make sure you’re prepared.
“That’s the main focus, making sure they’re getting better at something each and every day, whether it be mental or physical or something that’s technical, scheme-wise.”
Georgia also signed four defensive backs in the 2021 signing class, as Nyland Green and Kamari Lassiter will line up at corner and David Daniel and Javon Bullard will likely line up at safety. The Bulldogs are also pursuing the services of 4-star safety Terrion Arnold, who will announce his decision in February.
Georgia will have a tough test to open the 2021 season, as it is scheduled to open against the Clemson Tigers. But before that, they will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats at 12 p.m. on Friday. The game can be seen on ESPN.
Georgia football defensive coordinator Dan Lanning
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