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Kirby Smart to play even bigger role in molding Georgia football 2021 secondary

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Georgia football secondary to start over in 2021, even with Kirby Smart’s help

In the pre-COVID days, when reporters were able to watch practices, Kirby Smart was always very involved with Georgia’s secondary. A defensive backs coach at heart, Smart was often seen barking out instructions to Georgia’s defensive backs.

With all that Georgia has now lost among the defensive backs room, Smart might have to be more involved than ever ahead of the 2021 season.

Following the news that Charlton Warren will be the defensive coordinator at Indiana, Georgia much now replace its defensive backs coach, its top four cornerbacks, a starting safety in Richard LeCounte and the starting star in Mark Webb.

Related: Georgia defensive backs coach Charlton Warren set to be Indiana defensive coordinator

The Georgia secondary will look very different in 2021. It’s almost certainly going to take a step back from what we saw the past two seasons with Warren in charge of the unit.

The Bulldogs have a number of potential candidates to choose from when it comes to replacing Warren. The biggest name is Will Muschamp, who has been around the Georgia program in recent weeks and his a well-developed relationship with Smart.

The question is whether Muschamp would accept that kind of job after being the head coach of an SEC program in 2020. An analyst role still seems like a very real possibility for the former Georgia safety.

As for an internal candidate, Nick Williams is a big name to know. The former Georgia Bulldog played a significant role in recruiting current Georgia defensive backs Kelee Ringo and Lewis Cine. He most recently served as a defensive graduate assistant for Georgia. Like Smart, he is a Bainbridge, Ga., native.

As for some external names of note, Georgia interviewed LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond prior to Georgia hiring Warren in January of 2019. LSU does not yet have a new defensive coordinator and that situation is worth monitoring.

Marcus Woodson is a name to know as well. He’s currently the defensive backs coach at Florida State, but he worked with Dan Lanning when the two were both at Memphis in 2016 and 2017. Woodson also has SEC experience, as he coached Auburn’s defensive backs coach during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Related: Kirby Smart’s challenge to hire elite cornerbacks coach

Whoever Georgia ends up hiring, they will have to build the secondary from the ground up. We mentioned above the players Georgia will have to replace. Among the list of current players on the roster, Georgia has zero active starts at the cornerback position.

Georgia does bring back two safeties with starting experience in Cine and Chris Smith. Latavious Brini got the start at the star position in the Peach Bowl.

Smart spoke after the win over Cincinnati about how he thought Georgia’s secondary improved over the course of that game.

“They rose up today,” Smart said.  “They played better as the game went on, I thought. Brini got more and more comfortable as the game went on.”

Cornerback will be a massive position of interest for Georgia in the coming months. With Tyrique Stevenson now officially a Miami Hurricane, it becomes an even more inexperienced room.

Georgia has recruited well in the past two cycles, signing Kelee Ringo, Jalen Kimber and Nyland Green. They all ranked as top-110 prospects in either the 2020 or 2021 recruiting cycles. All three will be on campus this spring and figure to fight for playing time with Ameer Speed and Daran Branch.

Whoever Georgia hires as the defensive backs coach will also have to work to secure the commitment of Terrion Arnold. He is the final major recruiting targets for Georgia in the 2021 recruiting cycle and possibly a valuable piece of Georgia’s secondary for years to come. Georgia will have to beat Alabama and Florida to land Arnold’s commitment.

Smart had taken on a big role in Arnold’s recruitment to this point. Smart will also play a significant role in molding Georgia’s secondary next season as well. Even if he’s still the head coach at Georgia, you see why and how he got his start as a defensive backs coach all those years ago for Nick Saban.

In modern college football, games are won by wide receivers, quarterbacks and offenses. Alabama showed that this season. As talented as Georgia’s secondary was this year, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle got the better of them.

Georgia opens the 2021 season against Clemson. The Tigers figure to have a great set of receivers, especially with Justyn Ross returning for the Tigers now. It will be a big and tough first test for Georgia’s secondary and the new defensive backs coach.

Expect Smart though to be a cheat sheet for the group. If the Bulldogs and their new secondary coach are going to play a part in winning that game, Smart is going to be an instrumental reason why.

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