Opportunity awaits in the Georgia Bulldogs secondary next season; the coaches know it, the players know it, and the fans know it.
We all watched with heavy hearts and worried minds as not only Shawn Williams exited stage left on his career at Georgia, but Branden Smith and Baccari Rambo as well, and the departures left a segment of the defensive unit not only depleted of veteran experience, but open to the familiar questions and concerns about who’ll fill the holes those men left behind.
Of course the obvious answer would be to look to the depth chart for an answer, but if last season’s trials taught us nothing, it taught us that the drop-off between the No. 1 and No. 2 player at each defensive position is significant; Connor Norman is certainly an able-bodied player, but he was not meant to be the answer at safety; and while both Marc Deas and Corey Moore have the physical makeup you want, their competency and comfort level with the playbook leaves lingering doubt about their overall readiness.
Hence the talk of 2013 and who will be ready to step in and step up.
Players like Tray Matthews (enrolled), Brendan Langley, Kennar Johnson, and Shaq Wiggins will all have a legitimate shot to break into the starting lineup sooner rather than later, but the 3-4 takes time to learn and one spring and summer of practice will only whet the mind; execution will be another animal altogether.
That said, I am still intrigued by what Shaq Fluker brings to the table.
Fluker, a JUCO prospect out of East Mississippi Community College, has already made it clear that his love for the red and black is as true as any fan or former player. He’s excited about coming to Athens and he’s ready to do what’s necessary to get on the field as soon as possible; and you can’t help but get excited when you see him play:
However, we all know there’s a lot more to being successful at the safety position than having the ability to make the big hit. If that’s all it took, the fate of Jakar Hamilton (a former JUCO standout from Georgia Military College who signed with the Dawgs in 2010, but never really made the impact many expected) would have been the player Bacarri Rambo eventually became for Georgia.
No, what Fluker brings to the table is a tenacity and awareness for where the ball is on the football field at all times; he’s like a heat-seeking missile once the ball is in the air, and his only goal is to destroy or intercept the target. When you couple that ability with both his speed and physical presence, you have a player with all the tools to get the job done—assuming he can grasp the playbook, of course—and that has to get you excited about what he’ll do once he’s on campus this summer.
I expect the position battle between he and Matthews will be fierce this summer and—with Corey Moore still vying to finally make a name for himself at the position as well—it bears watching who takes the decided edge