Georgia Freshmen Defensive Backs Making an Impact in Bulldogs' 2013 Fall Camp

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 14, 2013

Georgia scrimmaged for a little over two hours inside Sanford Stadium on Wednesday night, and the performance was very encouraging for the Bulldogs' rebuilt secondary.

Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons had seven tackles and three pass breakups. Cornerback Kennar Johnson picked off a pass and returned it for 24 yards. Cornerback Damian Swann had a pass breakup. Cornerback Shaq Wiggins had a pick. Safety Lucas Redd had three tackles and an interception. Defensive back Brendan Langley had a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown on top of a touchdown-saving pass breakup in the end zone.

In other words, the secondary feasted.

The Bulldog defense is replacing a core of elite starters that included safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams and corners Sanders Commings and Branden Smith. 

If the fresh faces play like they did on Wednesday night, the impact of those departures won't be felt all that much.

Head coach Mark Richt was particularly impressed with the play of Langley, a 6'1", 180-pound freshman from Marietta, Georgia.

"The one pass breakup was a fade in the back of the end zone that would have been a touchdown if he didn't jump up and bat it away," Richt said. "On the pick-six that he had, he did a good job of breaking on the ball."

Wiggins—a 5'10", 165-pound freshman—also impressed the coaching staff.

"Those guys have very good ball skills," Richt said. "Sometimes you have corners who can be in position to make a play, but they just can't catch it. They snatch the ball like a receiver, which is great. They're pretty confident kids for just coming out of high school."

Are either Langley or Wiggins pushing for a major role in the new-look Bulldog secondary? 

Based on Wednesday's performance, absolutely.

"Swanny (Damian Swann) is going to be there, but who the other starter (at corner) is going to be a matter of watching this scrimmage and what happens between now and next Wednesday."

With Swann cemented in a starting role, Sheldon Dawson is the man whose job the youngsters are gunning for. That's a good problem to have for Richt, because Dawson starred in the Bulldogs' previous scrimmage, picking off two passes and returning one for a touchdown, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It isn't "next man up" in the secondary; it's more like a revolving door.

Georgia's defense doesn't need to be a top-10 defense nationally to be successful. With a multidimensional offense that can win either shootouts or slugfests, all the defense needs to be is opportunistic and force turnovers during key moments of games.

Georgia's secondary is certainly built for success in that department.

Will that be enough to place the Bulldogs back into the BCS National Championship hunt? That remains to be seen, but with Clemson looming in Week 1, it's an encouraging sign for a defense that's searching for its identity in fall camp.


*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Statistics were provided by the University of Georgia, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.