College Football Championship 2022: Top Breakout Stars from Georgia vs. Alabama

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2022

College Football Championship 2022: Top Breakout Stars from Georgia vs. Alabama

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Georgia Bulldogs turned in one final impressive defensive performance to secure the program's first national championship since the 1980 season. 

    The normal featured players in the Georgia defense had impactful games, like Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, but a few unheralded stars emerged as key figures in Indianapolis on Monday.

    Defensive back Kelee Ringo made the title-clinching play on an interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. 

    Lewis Cine, another defensive back, was all over the field in pursuit of tackling any Alabama player with the ball. 

    Ringo and Cine were two of the many players that frustrated Bryce Young and the Alabama Crimson Tide offense all night. 

    Alabama's offense managed just one touchdown without its top two receivers, but there were still some positives to take away from the offensive performance, including the impact made by tight end Cameron Latu. 

Kelee Ringo, DB, Georgia

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Kelee Ringo secured his spot in Georgia football history with his fourth-quarter pick six.

    The freshman defensive back made strides in his development this season, but he was overshadowed by the experienced players in the secondary. 

    Ringo stepped up on Monday night to make six tackles and he brought in the game-clinching interception. He then proceeded to sprint down the right sideline to lock up the victory. 

    Ringo's performance was a positive sign for the future of the Georgia program since Derion Kendrick and Christopher Smith will move on after their senior years. 

    Kendrick and Smith were Georgia's best defensive backs for most of the season. Kendrick was named the defensive Most Valuable Player of the Orange Bowl and Smith came up with the first of two interceptions off Bryce Young on Monday. 

    Monday's performance should be massive for Ringo's confidence and development and we should not be surprised if we hear his name on countless occasions next season. 

Lewis Cine, DB, Georgia

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Lewis Cine made hits so hard that you felt them through the television screen.

    The hard-hitting defensive back won the defensive MVP award through a six-tackle performance. Cine's play around the ball made it feel like he recorded much more than six solo takedowns. 

    Cine was one of the first Georgia players to the ball when Alabama's running backs tried to cut to the edge in an attempt to gain extra yardage. 

    Cine's two best performances of the season came against Alabama. He had seven solo tackles in the SEC Championship Game on December 4. 

    The junior defensive back impressed with his closing speed on those tackles. He drew praise for the speed he showed on one specific tackle in the first quarter that was documented by Yahoo's college football Twitter account.

    All of the players on the UGA defense were up to the task, but Cine stood out among the many NFL talents for how well and how hard he tackled the five-star athletes in the Alabama offense. 

Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Bryce Young played most of Monday's game without his top two wide receivers. 

    John Metchie suffered a torn ACL in the SEC Championship Game and Jameson Williams went down in the first half of the National Championship with a knee injury. 

    Young was forced to call on some role players and freshmen in the passing game to combat Georgia's defense. 

    Tight end Cameron Latu filled the role of Alabama's leading pass-catcher with five receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. 

    Latu broke loose for the game's longest passing play in the second quarter. His 61-yard scamper down the left sideline set up the third Alabama field goal of the first half. 

    Latu caught the only touchdown pass thrown by Young in the fourth quarter to open up a five-point Crimson Tide advantage. 

    The junior tight end set single-game bests in catches and receiving yards. He did not have more than three receptions or 58 receiving yards in any contest this season. 

    Latu filled an important role on Monday and he could be asked to do more next season as Alabama asks another set of talented young wide receivers, like Agiye Hall and JaCorey Brooks, to step into larger roles.