“…at the end of the day some guys get overlooked, some guys get overhyped.”

Seth Emerson has a good story on how Smart and Tucker have built Georgia’s secondary, which as we sit here right now sports the 18th-best defensive passer rating nationally, despite only having two interceptions to its name.  One big reason for that is it’s doing a ridiculous job of limiting the big play:  it’s fourth in yards per attempt with a paltry 4.9 average.

Anyway, what’s interesting about the starting secondary is that even with Smart’s deserved reputation as a great recruiter, it’s populated by guys who weren’t recruiting blue bloods.

Aaron Davis was one of those rare, literal walk-ons. Four years ago, then-Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham might not even have known who Davis was during their one season together.

“Probably not too much,” said Davis, who redshirted in 2013, Grantham’s final year season the team. “I didn’t spend too much time with him.”

… J.R. Reed came to Georgia last year after a nondescript first year at Tulsa. The general thought was Georgia accepted his transfer to get his cousin, 4-star recruit Deangelo Gibbs. Instead, it was Reed who earned a starting spot and might turn out to be one of the great finds in recent Georgia history, leading the team with 10 tackles against Mississippi State.

“He did a good job on the scout team last year. Coaches saying, ‘Hey man, J.R. Reed’s going to be a good player,’” coach Kirby Smart said. “Then when the spring came, and it was like, ‘This guy’s a starter.’”

So are Deandre Baker and Dominick Sanders, two 3-star recruits who each had an interception Saturday.

I continue to marvel at the season Reed is having, but he’s just one of several overachievers back there.  You can’t chalk all of that up to luck.  All in all, the secondary is a testament to the staff’s skills in talent evaluation and player development.  Pruitt probably deserves some of the credit for planting seeds, but it’s exciting to see where this is headed.

Maybe the best part is reflecting on what they’ll be able to raise out of the next bumper crop, considering a lot of those kids were highly sought-after recruits.


Filed under Georgia Football

24 responses to ““…at the end of the day some guys get overlooked, some guys get overhyped.”

  1. Pruitt definitely deserves credit for planting the seeds, but Tucker has this group playing at a high level. Baker has turned into an excellent cover corner, and Davis may be going from walk-on to the NFL. Sanders is a ball hawk, and Reed has exploded on the scene. Throw in a healthy Parrish, and this group takes it to the next level. Then you look at the young talent in the back end led by LeCounte and Gibbs … the future is bright.


    • Macallanlover

      I have had concerns about our secondary all along but felt the Front 7 would throw enough shade to get them through the early games. So far, that has held true, but last Saturday’s performance was off the charts for me. Yes, the Front 7 was rock solid again but the DB group blew me away. It wasn’t just the 2 INTs I saw, it was the number of contested passes and PBUs I saw. It was a strange experience for this old UGA fan, I don’t ever recall a better game by a UGA secondary.

      I know, Fitzgerald and the MSU receivers aren’t top level passing threats, but look at the positions we were in to defend. I won’t say all my concerns are erased, but that is a pretty bright light I see down the track, and it is bright because it isn’t that far away any more. What a game Baker had, wow, and the rest of the DBs had excellent games as well but were not challenged as much. None of this even mentions how good the tackling was from this group. An A+ performance from those guys, and the future looks bright.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Got Cowdog

    It would be nice to be a team that reloads rather than rebuilds. I had a that nagging feeling after Saturday’s game that there will be a lot of turnover on the team after this season. Speaking only for myself, after the last 15 years of up and down season to season performance I’ve become conditioned to that feeling. Moving forward to this weeks game, I’m looking forward to seeing the team play and expecting a solid performance no matter what Booch shows up with. Again speaking only for myself that’s a different feeling for me and I like it.
    EE said above, the future looks bright. For all the gloom and doom of the preseason, I have not seen a performance as dominating as the MSU game since the 08 sugar bowl. I don’t recall ever seeing 3 in a row. FWIW, ND was a close game because the team was gelling. ND was close because there is a time limit, that game gets a 5th quarter and it would have gotten ugly.


    • Mayor

      Let’s not go overboard here GC. If not for the TV refs reversing the bad call on the passing TD Georgia loses the ND game. I am just glad for the one point win. Besides, ND is looking pretty good now and the loss to Georgia may end up being their only loss of the season. We may see those guys again(I hope).


      • Got Cowdog

        I made the Kool-Aid a little strong this morning. 🙂


        • Cojones

          While Mayor has a good point, I find that your Kool-Aid tastes perfect. Yall realize that we just got a 3* recruit from La and with the other 6 onboard, they can be looked at with different eyes than in the past, sorta like your kids growing up and watching what they enjoy doing best.


    • Jack Burton

      I was thinking the same thing. However, I believe we ARE set to reload. Roquan will be a huge loss, but he is a very special talent. Everywhere else will be reloaded. Grant and Walker, Clark is going to be special on the D-Line, Rochester, Herring, and a bunch of talented young DBs. It’s the first time in a while we have too much talent to get on the field each game.

      Best thing about this team is they all seem to love each other and do not mind the heavy rotating that is taking place.


  3. W Cobb Dawg

    “Pruitt probably deserves some of the credit for planting seeds…”

    Yep, planting seeds on the desolate moonscape Lakatosis & CTG left in their wake.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cojones

    These are bonus bones for Dawg fans when you realize they are getting good training that explores their full potential. The pursuit speed is something to watch over and over on YouTube replay, similar to dropping an object from the sky onto a green ocean and watching the red torpedoes zipping in from several directions. And their speed doesn’t slow down during the battle. And their backups are even faster.

    Lucky thing the alcohol wipes are kept close to the computer. My lips are turning red from the red Kool-Aid.


  5. The Truth

    To make it clear, I’m not saying that any of our current 5-stars fit this description, but don’t you think that coaches sometimes might prefer a hungry, coachable 3-star to an entitled 5-star? What is it — the measurables, the eye-test — that keeps evaluators from recognizing the potential in 3-stars that go on to be all-stars?


    • I’m always uncomfortable with the “a hungry, coachable 3-star to an entitled 5-star” comparison. Why can’t a really talented athlete also be hungry? (I know that’s not what you were saying, but still…)

      What I do think is a more relevant consideration is that a good coach can see how some players who don’t get as much credit from the recruiting services might be a better fit for the system he runs than the stars indicate. Maybe that’s a function of hunger, but maybe it’s something else.


  6. TomReagan

    “All in all, the secondary is a testament to the staff’s skills in talent evaluation and player development.”

    Hit the nail on the head. Recruiting isn’t about getting the most highly rated guys but getting the right guys. The highly ranked players have a much, much greater chance of being one of those right guys, but there is a lot of top end talent in the 2-3 star category as well. They just have to be scouted and developed. Great job by the staff.


  7. Greg

    Thought they were playing at a pretty high level in ’15, finished 8th nationally in scoring D’….what is cool, that is exactly where they are now (to date), kudos to the staff:



  8. Scorpio Jones, III

    Ok, I will say it, maybe Kirby and his staff are pretty good at sniffing out kids who can play.


  9. DawgFlan

    Even under Pruitt we didn’t have the DBs getting their hands in between the arms of the WRs and ripping through the ball the way we have seen from this group. As mentioned above,the PBUs are way up,. The players have learned how to be “handsy” without getting flags, i.e. the Alabama method. I don’t know if this is because the players are more coachable, or if the coaches are better, or both. Either way, it is great to see.


    • Greg

      Pruitt schemed around the secondary when he was there. He would press more with his front 7 (blitz, stunt). He also had Leonard Floyd playing a lot in pass coverage, which was a liability imo. Now, it is more man to man… DB’s are better because of experience. Amazing how good the defense was in ’15, thought Pruitt was a master in covering up his deficiencies…..as evidence of the Dawgs finishing 8th nationally in points allowed.


  10. lakedawg

    Think 9 of our D starters were recruited by Pruitt/Richt so Kirby inherited a good group to work with. Best team effort by far Saturday that we have had last two years.


  11. Will Trane

    We will find if we are close to Bama or Auburn [look at their past 14-18 games + how they have held teams to under 14]. Bama is talented and consistent. Auburn went on road, lost, but held Clemson in check. We will see how they fare against MSU.
    QB play for Dawgs against Vols. Always tight at Neyland.
    I’m not sure if he is ready to come back yet.
    I have this gut feeling he may have to play Saturday. Why. Stretch the field and drop the long pass in there. Can Fromm do that. He had 4-5 over 20 at home.
    Can they run the ball. Could be different on the road. UT had trouble with GT.


  12. Not at UGA on this one, but I still am amazed at the coach at one the other school of attendance-UofWA. Seems some folks can spot talent and then coach it up. I wish the same success for UGA on this as Petersen does at UWA and did at Boise.