ATHENS — There are already several people at Georgia very familiar with Maurice Smith: Head coach Kirby Smart, who was Smith’s defensive coordinator the past three years, and Mel Tucker, who was his secondary coach last year.
But for casual fans Smith is more of a mystery. He only started two games in three years at Alabama, and last season finished with 15 tackles – though one sack, in the Iron Bowl. After spring practice this year, Smith was Alabama’s first-team nickel back.
The early buzz at Georgia is Smith will have a chance to compete for a starting spot, potentially at any of the five main defensive back spots. For a better perspective on what Georgia is getting in this graduate transfer, we asked three Alabama beat reporters who have covered Smith:
Aaron Suttles, Tuscaloosa News
“The best part of what Maurice Smith will bring to his team is his versatility, especially in nickel and dime packages. He can play the nickel defensive back known as the Star position in Nick Saban’s defense, and I assume the terminology will be the same with Kirby Smart. He can also play safety. Forget about him missing the first week-and-a-half of fall camp. Smith is a smart kid and his experience and comfortability should make for an easy adaptation should he end up in Athens.
“Smith would have played much more last year had he not dealt with injuries. When he was sidelined, Smith lost his role in the defense to true freshman Ronnie Harrison. He couldn’t supplant Harrison after that. That decision was made by Mel Tucker and Smart, so that’s something to watch if he does indeed end up at Georgia.”
Charlie Potter, BamaOnline247
“Maurice is a versatile defensive back that can play essentially anywhere in the secondary. If this whole thing never happened, Smith would be taking reps as Alabama’s first-team Star, or fifth defensive back. But in my interactions with him, and in the brief time we saw him on the field or around the players, he seems like a guy that was well-liked by his teammates. Despite all that’s happened, I don’t see him as a bad locker room guy or anything like that. He should fit in well wherever he goes.”
Marq Burnett, SEC Country
“Maurice Smith’s biggest strength as a defensive back was his physicality. Smith wasn’t afraid of contact, and was always looking to hit someone.