Georgia All-American Eric Stokes shares hilarious stories on Arian Smith, team speed
ATHENS — There’s fast, and then there’s NFL first-round fast, and then there’s world-class fast.
Departing Georgia All-American cornerback Eric Stokes fits the mold, bordering between NFL first-round fast and world-class fast as he prepares for a televised NFL combine-like workout at the Athletes House training facility in Weston, Fla.
“There will be a lot going through my mind, I’ve slowly tried to prepare for it,” said Stokes, who draft analysts have figured out NFL teams are targeting after his breakout junior campaign featured four interceptions including two Pick-6 plays.
“When I get down for my practice runs, I think it’s just another run. You just do you. I’ve been trying not to overthink it.”
Fact is, the 40-yard dash time that Stokes runs —this Friday, and again on March 17 at UGA’s Pro Day should he choose to run again — will have impact on his draft status. Anything that starts with “4.3” will be good.
But if Stokes runs a sub-4.35, he could shoot up to the first half of the first round.
And yet, Stokes admitted during the Monday night On The Beat Show, he wasn’t even the fastest player on the Georgia football team. And neither was teammate and fellow projected first-round NFL draft prospect Tyson Campbell.
In typical Stokes’ fashion — he’s always been more comfortable talking how great his teammates are than praising himself — the Covington, Ga., give credit where it was due.
The unofficial crown of ‘Fastest Man on the Georgia Team’ now goes to second-year freshman Arian Smith, who has run a 10.31-second time in the 100 meters and was a member of the USA relay team at the U-20 Pan-Am games in 2019.
Stokes said there isn’t any “might” about it, “Arian is the fastest” and has shown “a different type of speed” since arriving at Georgia last summer.
Stokes saw Smith’s speed in the team’s offseason workouts during conditioning runs, and again in pads after Smith returned from arthroscopic knee surgery.
“During practice, he finally got cleared, and he ran a go-ball on me, and I’m (playing) off,” Stokes said. “This is in the middle of the season, and I’m like ‘Hold up, you are making me actually have to run — run for real.”
Georgia is indeed full of tremendous players, from the powerful ones like Ben Cleveland — who intends to break the NFL combine bench press record — to the extremely athletic like former Bulldogs and New York Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter.
Stokes said Carter was the player who most impressed him when he arrived at UGA in 2017.
“Seeing him and seeing the things he puts up, numbers-wise,” Stokes said, “I was looking at Zo, like, you are a freak of nature, you are different.”
Stokes shared fun and insightful stories from his time growing up and developing into an NFL prospect while at UGA, choosing to celebrate his 22nd birthday with DawgNation on Monday night.