ATHENS, Ga. — Maurice Smith is the only starter off last year’s Georgia defense that isn’t on the roster this season, but Malkom Parrish’s foot injury could mean the secondary could have a couple of new faces making their Bulldog debuts Saturday as starters.
Freshman Richard LeCounte and Tulsa transfer J.R. Reed could join returning starters Aaron Davis, Dominick Sanders and Deandre Baker as starting defensive backs.
Parrish sustained a broken bone in his foot two weeks ago. Coach Kirby Smart still wasn’t ruling him out for Saturday’s season opener against Appalachian State.
“We’re fighting to get Malkom back,” Smart said Monday. “Don’t know if he’s going to make it back or not, but we’re trying to get him back for this game. The starting secondary will probably be determined throughout this week based on that and a couple of other guys that are in good position battles. It will be close, probably gametime decisions in some of those spots in the secondary.”
Davis can play safety or as star nickel back but Parrish’s injury meant Davis moved to cornerback opposite junior Deandre Baker.
“I feel pretty comfortable,” said Davis, a fifth-year senior. “That’s what I played the first two years that I started here so it’s nothing new for me.”
Reed moved into the star role after Davis shifted to corner. LeCounte, a freshman who enrolled early, slid into a starting safety role with Sanders.
“Richard’s very talented, he’s a freshman, but the older guys are trying to bring him along, get him up to speed,” Davis said. “He obviously hasn’t played in a game yet but at the end of the day, football is football. As long as he’s able to do the things we ask him to and contribute, we can definitely help him out.”
LeCounte is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound Liberty County product who was rated a five-star recruit.
“I feel like he’s developed from the spring as far as picking up on the playbook, I think that speaks volume on who he is as a person and a player,” inside linebacker Roquan Smith said.