Part six of a six-part series, highlighting what the Georgia football team needs to win championships in 2019.
Two of the more overlooked players in Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class are cornerbacks. But if those two live up to their rankings immediately, not only will Georgia have a shot at winning the National Championship, failing to do so will be a major disappointment.
The players in question are Tyrique Stevenson (247Sports: No. 37 player, No. 3 cornerback) and D.J. Daniel (247Sports: No. 6 JUCO player, No. 2 cornerback). Yes, Georgia is solid at corner this year with a pair of starters returning. Tyson Campbell started 10 games last season opposite of first round draft pick Deandre Baker while Eric Stokes started three games in the same spot. They both started in the Sugar Bowl and played well together. They’re facing stiff competition, but both should hold off Daniel and Stevenson to retain their starting jobs.
HOW WILL STEVENSON AND DANIEL CONTRIBUTE
Even with the starting roles clogged, Stevenson and Daniel will not ride the bench this season. Both will compete with incumbent Tyrique McGhee at nickel and will probably each play some in dime formations. Giving Georgia quite the defensive backfield to contend with.
Campbell and Stokes will have good seasons. They have experience playing with and against the best. J.R. Reed at safety has been a leader since his sophomore season. McGhee and safety Richard LeCounte are entering their second year’s as starters after performing well last year.
Adding the talents of Stevenson and Daniel will only make the group better. To go beyond just contributing in 2019, the new corners will have to live up to their recruiting rankings early.
HOW STEVENSON AND DANIEL CAN LIVE UP TO RANKINGS
Stevenson and Daniel have to do more than be solid nickel and dime formation players, they have to become slot cornerbacks capable of playing man-to-man coverage against the best slot receivers in the nation. That’s how they’ll differentiate themselves from McGhee, who is good in zone and against the run.
THE IMPACT OF A SLOT CORNER
Stevenson and Daniel playing as slot corners, more-so than nickel or dime players, adds a new challenge for opposing offenses. One that not too many will have an answer for. How can you pass when four defensive backs are playing good man coverage? Especially when you add Reed and LeCounte assisting on deep routes with inside linebacker Monty Rice spying in the middle.
Looking at the schedule, there aren’t many quarterbacks who are equipped for dealing with such a potent pass defense. Maybe South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, Florida’s Felipe Franks and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond based on their maturity and experience. But neither have proven to be all that special. Auburn would like to think they have a quarterback in Joey Gatewood, but he’s still just a safety. We already know how a good pass defense performs against Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.
That’s why anything short of a National Championship should be considered a failure if Stevenson and Daniel live up to their rankings this season. The defense is just too good with them.