Georgia lost Asher Allen and RaMarcus Brown, but look to be better than ever with the addition of Branden Smith and the maturation of both Prince Miller and Vance Cuff.
Look for the corners of 2009 to play with an attitude that 2008's guys won't be able to match as they bring speed, speed, and more speed to their game plan.
The guy who takes the mantle from the departed Allen is Prince Miller (pictured above), who feels that the Dawgs have a lot to prove after finishing sixth in the SEC in total defense last season.
In his possible final season, Miller looks to do big things and make people take notice of the Georgia Bulldog secondary yet again:
Prince Miller (Sr), 5'8", 196 lbs.
Miller's greatest asset on the field may very well be his speed. He currently runs between a 4.4-4.50 40 and has the ability to keep up with even the speediest of SEC receivers, because he has no wasted movement in his game.
Last season, while appearing in 10 games, he totaled 50 tackles, two pass break-ups, two tackles for loss, and one sack.
This season he is expected to improve upon those numbers and fill the void that the early departure of Asher Allen left behind.
Miller is small, but he plays his position well. He can get out of his breaks and has above-average closing speed when targeting a receiver.
He does a great job reading and reacting to the play as it develops and has the ability to make the necessary adjustments on-the-fly.
Furthermore, his vertical leaping ability allows him the chance to make a play on the ball and disrupt the completion.
If there is a weakness, it is his size.
He has no problem playing physical, but he will get pushed around a bit by the stronger, more skilled wide receivers in the league. However, he will be able to hold his own against most and should not be underestimated by anyone.
His backup will likely be Vance Cuff (Jr) 5'11", 172 lbs.—a player with both speed and versatility.
Cuff is a little light for his height, but he (like Miller) has no problem making his presence felt on the field.
He is good at making the sure-tackle, using proper technique to wrap-up the ball carrier and get him to the ground to end the play.
Additionally, he makes good transitions to the ball while it is in the air, which is to say that his footwork is disciplined and his breaks are good off the line.
Cuff totaled 19 tackles last year in limited appearances.
Eric Elliot (RSo), 5'9", 190 lbs. rounds out the depth chart here. He was on the scout team for Georgia last season and figures to remain there for this season as well.
It's difficult to assume who will be the corner starting opposite Miller, but it would be hard to imagine it not being Branden Smith (Fr), 5'11", 171 lbs.
Smith has an overabundance of skills at multiple positions and will be a force at Georgia over the next couple years.
As a corner, he will need some work on his technique as he adjusts to the pace and flow of SEC competition, but he has remarkable speed (4.28) and leaping ability (35 inch vertical).
He has a good feel for the game and relies primarily on his instincts to make plays on the ball. In time, he will get better at reading defenses and reacting to the play, but his ability to recover off a bad read makes him something special.
If there is a weakness, it's his ability to jam a receiver off the line. However, this is not something that will be hard to overcome with coaching and more practice at the cornerback position.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo promises to make Smith a part of several of Georgia's wide receiver packages as well in order to take advantage of his speed and abilities as a receiving threat.
All eyes are on Branden this season as Richt and company look to the possibility of making him their first legitimate two-way player since Champ Bailey.
Assuming that Smith wins the job, he will likely be backed up by Brandon Boykin (So), 5'10", 182 lbs. He was named Most Improved Defensive Back at the end of spring and had three tackles and one sack in the G-Day Game.
His strengths are his quickness and ability to make plays on the ball. However, he does need more playing time in order to get a better feel for the game.
Further, he sometimes is choppy when getting off the blocks and that causes him to lose ground when trying to cover a more physical or quicker receiver.
He does have starter potential, but it would be difficult to see him getting the nod over Smith if Smith performs well in the fall.
Sitting behind Boykin would likely be Sanders Cummings (RFr), 6'2", 214 lbs. He is the biggest of the bunch and has sleeper potential written all over him.
He has above-average ball skills and a long wingspan that makes him dangerous when making a play on the ball in the air.
He may not creep into the discussion much this season, but he has both the size and height that you love to see when thinking of a corner who can match-up well against the bigger, taller, and more physical wide receivers in the league.
He won't impress with his speed, but he plays smart and could develop into an outstanding cover corner within a year or two.
Chad Gloer (RJr), 5'10", 190 lbs. rounds out the depth chart here; he's a walk-on.
The corners for 2009 look promising with Miller, Cuff, and Smith all bringing great speed and ball skills to the table.
Look for these guys to be ready to pounce on the SEC this year and leave a permanent mark on the East.
Next Week: The Safeties
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